How to Cut After Bulking – Men’s Guide for Getting Lean

Are you a skinny guy who just finished bulking up? Congratulations on taking the first step towards building muscle! Now that your hard work has paid off, it’s time to cut down and get ripped. Cutting after bulking can be intimidating, especially for those of us with fast metabolisms and skinny frames.

But don’t let this stop you from finally achieving your dream body – with the right game plan, you too can learn how to cut after bulking in an effective manner so that you look sculpted and toned!

In this blog post we’ll cover tips such as nutrition changes, optimal exercise style, and what to expect during your cutting phase, plus more – if you follow our advice then soon enough your shirtless selfies will definitely fill friends with envy!

Before you start cutting!

before you start cutting

I know it can get exciting to want to cut after a grueling few months of stuffing yourself, but don’t cut quite yet. When your body is in a calorie deficit, you don’t build muscle. So when you should start cutting depends on how you bulked up.

If you did a clean bulk, then this buffer period could be much shorter for you and you’ll probably already start to see some gains formed.

If you did a dirty bulk, then chances are you gained much more fat than anything. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just know you can spend some more time building muscle while at this weight.

For example, if you went from 130lbs to 160lbs during a dirty bulk, maintain 160lbs for a month or 2 to build muscle. Then when you’re starting to see some shape, the cut will be much better for you. From experience, if you try to cut right after a dirty bulk, it’s going to take a much heavier cut before you see the muscle you actually built up.

What is the goal of cutting?

how to cut after bulking

When it comes to starting a cut, there are only 2 objectives you are looking for:

1. Maintain muscle mass

You want to ensure that all the muscle mass you built up over the months doesn’t go to waste. As mentioned before, during the cutting phase of your journey, you don’t build muscle.

2. Lose Body Fat

During a cut, the goal is to lose fat so that you can see your muscles. You want to see your arms toned and your abs bulging out for the world to see.

Nutrition/Diet Changes

Now that we have the goals in mind, it’s time to talk about what changes you need to make with your nutritional choices.

  • Calorie deficit

  • Increase Protein Intake

  • Healthy Carbs

  • Healthy Fats

  • Stay Hydrated


  • 10-20% under maintenance calories

If you are looking to cut weight while maintaining muscle mass, it’s important to make some strategic changes to your diet. First and foremost, you will need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn each day. It can help to eat lower-calorie foods instead of just eating less.

However, this deficit should not be too extreme as it can result in muscle loss. Aim to decrease your calories to 10-20% under maintenance calories. (For example, if you eat 2,500 calories to maintain, then aim to eat 2,000-2,250 calories to cut).


  • Increase Protein to 2.3-3.1g per kilogram of body weight per day

  • Consume protein every 3-4 hours

While maintaining muscle mass, it’s important to continue consuming enough protein to support muscle growth and repair. Aim to increase your protein intake to 2.3-3.1g per kilogram of body weight (Mortin, 2017). Increasing your protein can help preserve muscle mass during the cut.

Also, try to eat your protein every 3-4 hours to activate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) more often throughout the day (this is the process that builds muscle).


  • Eat Complex Carbs

  • Stay away from processed foods

During a bulk, it’s normal to eat how you want since you’re gaining weight, but when you’re cutting, it’s best to restrict yourself a bit more. To keep your energy levels up during a calorie deficit, focus on consuming complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

These will provide sustained energy and essential nutrients for your body to function properly (basically, they will help you not feel as drained).

Also, after your workout, it’s best to consume a combination of carbs and protein to help the muscle recovery process start sooner.


  • Eat Healthy Fats

  • Limit Trans Fat

It’s also crucial to monitor your intake of healthy fats, as they are important for hormone production and overall health. Stick to more natural sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Trans fat is commonly found in things like butter, margarine, and fried foods. These should be avoided.

A good way to remember what fats to eat is, if it’s natural, it’s probably better for you. Companies will add things to food to help create longer shelf life and provide better taste. Trans fats are a perfect example of this as they are typically oils that are solid at room temperature and last longer in your fridge.


Finally, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will not only support your weight loss efforts but also help with muscle recovery and overall health.

The general rule of thumb is to drink 8 glasses a day, but everyone’s body is different. Generally speaking, drinking water upon thirst is enough, but if you notice your urine color beginning to be dark, then it’s probably a clear sign you’re not drinking enough throughout the day.

Workout Changes

  • Stick with a strength training method

  • Don’t overdo cardio

During a cutting phase, you can expect to have lower energy levels. While this is true, your weightlifting goals should still stick to progressive overload and adjust according to your energy levels for that day. Obviously, you won’t want to be maxing out on any lift, but you should still train with a high enough intensity to challenge your muscles.

Many athletes will do cardio to burn more calories, but your main focus should still be lifting weights to preserve muscle mass. Cardio is a great way to burn calories and help with cardiovascular health, but this can result in having less energy for weight training and even decreased muscle mass. You can still do cardio such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS), or whatever cardio you like, but your primary focus still needs to be strength training.

Remember, the goal is to keep as much muscle mass while on a caloric deficit.

What to expect on a calorie deficit

  • Lower Energy Levels

  • Mood Swings

  • Decrease in performance

  • Increased Hunger


While cutting weight has the benefit of lower body fat levels, there are some side effects. You can expect to have lower energy levels, mood swings, a decrease in performance, and an increase in hunger cues. This is why it’s crucial to slowly lose body fat rather than at an extreme pace.

While you feel all of these effects, sticking to a clean diet while staying hydrated will be more important than ever. Doing so will help alleviate some of the drained feelings of losing weight.


How long does it take to cut after bulking?

Being in a calorie deficit isn’t sustainable for a long period of time. A cut should last anywhere from 2-4 months.

Should I still be on creatine while cutting?

The purpose of creatine is water retention in your muscle tissue which in turn helps your muscles have energy during intense training sessions and speed up muscle recovery. While this can give you a bloated feeling, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Unless you’re training for a bodybuilding competition of some sort where every bit of fat counts, there’s nothing wrong with taking it. It can actually help increase your performance during the cutting diet.

Final Thoughts

All in all, cutting weight after bulking can be simple if you approach it safely and mindfully. You want to ensure that you are getting enough micronutrients into your diet and that your physical activity is consistent. By finding a balance between nutrition, exercise, and supplementation, you can get your previous lean look back quickly.

This may be a difficult transition at first but with some patience and planning, you will be able to see results eventually. The key takeaway here is to ensure that your body gets the vital nutrients it needs to stay healthy while also boosting fat-burning processes for maximum efficiency. As the old saying goes – practice makes perfect; so remember that as you go about this journey of trimming down from bulk to cut. Good luck!


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Mielgo-Ayuso J, Fernández-Lázaro D. Nutrition and Muscle Recovery. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 20;13(2):294. doi: 10.3390/nu13020294. PMID: 33498579; PMCID: PMC7909540.

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