Having a skinny fat body type can lead you to question whether you should start with a bulk or cut. You want to get leaner and lose excess body fat in your stomach but you also want to build muscle and tone.
After working with countless clients who have asked if they should cut or bulk when they are skinny fat, the answer is it depends on your short term #1 primary goal. If you want to begin toning your skinny fat body, you’ll start with a bulk to build muscle by going into a calorie surplus. If losing body fat is the most important thing to you, start with a skinny fat cut to trim excess weight through a calorie deficit.
If your #1 main priority right now is to lose body fat, you’ll begin with a skinny fat cut.
I used to tell clients that they needed to start with a bulk but after having conversations with multiple skinny fat clients, some of them told me they were really self conscious of their body fat in their midsection and wanted to prioritize that.
Awesome! Let’s start with that then I said. There is not one choice that is better than another it terms of skinny fat cut or bulk so do the one that is most important to you. If a “guru” is telling you that you HAVE to start with one versus the other, I doubt they have worked with many actual clients.
Let’s start by explaining what a cut will look like and how much you should eat.
Skinny Fat Calorie Deficit
A calorie deficit is when you eat less calories than the amount of calories your body needs to perform all it’s daily functions. These daily functions include your organs doing their job properly, your muscles that are keeping you upright as your read this, exercise, fidgeting, digesting food, etc, etc.
Here’s an example of a skinny fat cut that would help Denise lose body fat.
The amount of calories Denise’s body needs on a daily basis is 2000 calories. She decides to cut 500 calories off that and eat 1500 calories per day. As long as she is consistent with her skinny fat calorie deficit, she will lose weight.
In addition, Denise is going to want to eat enough protein so that her body will lose fat and not muscle. A good rule of thumb is to eat least 0.7grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. If Denise weighs 150 pounds, she’ll want to eat at least 105 grams of protein each day.
For an effective skinny fat cut, multiply your weight by 8 - 12 to find a range that will put you in a calorie deficit. You should also eat at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. Be at least 80% consistent with this skinny fat calorie deficit for 6 - 8 weeks and monitor your progress.
If you are happy with where you are at, switch into a bulk. Want to continue getting lean? Run with your cut for a few more weeks.
If your #1 main priority right now is to tone your body, you’ll begin with a skinny fat bulk.
Toning your body means you want to build lean, defined muscle on your body and the best way to do this is through a calorie surplus.
You can build a little muscle while in a calorie deficit if you are a complete beginner but it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight. If you really want to build muscle, bring the gun and get yourself into a calorie surplus.
The most important thing to be ok with during a skinny fat bulk is that you won’t be losing body fat and may even put on a little bit. That’s fine! You can always switch to a cut in a couple months after you put on muscle.
Skinny Fat Calorie Surplus
A calorie surplus is when you eat more calories than the amount of calories your body needs to perform all it’s daily functions. These daily functions are the same ones we explained above with the previous example.
Let’s use Denise as the same example but instead of eating 1500 calories per day, she eats 2500 calories.
Since Denise has a calorie maintenance of 2000 and eats 2500, those 500 extra calories will be stored as either fat or muscle. You want to tone your body so obviously you want extra calories to be stored and built into muscle.
How do you make that happen? Eat your protein!
For an effective skinny fat bulk, multiply your weight by 15 - 18 to find a range that will put you in a calorie surplus. You should also eat at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. Be at least 80% consistent with this skinny fat calorie surplus for 6 - 8 weeks and monitor your progress.
Ready to start shedding body fat? Switch it up and lower your calories to go into a cut. If you want to keep building muscle, continue with your bulk.
If you want advice on building a meal plan while you bulk, check out these articles:
The amount of calories you consume will dictate whether you gain or lose weight but there is one thing you must do regardless of where you start.
You want to be lifting weights. A true skinny fat transformation is built around strength training and then manipulating your calories to put yourself into a bulk or cut.
Lucky for you, I’ve got you covered on the workout front too.
Here’s your skinny fat cut or bulk game plan:
- Determine your #1 priority. Do you want to bulk or cut?
- Once you’ve decided on your goal, find your optimal calories and protein to get you into a calorie deficit or surplus.
- Read The Definitive Guide On Skinny Fat Workouts to get your first workout program and learn how to workout with a skinny fat body type.
- Be at least 80% consistent with your nutrition for 6 - 8 weeks and monitor your progress through weigh-ins, measurements, and pictures.
- After 6 - 8 weeks, decide if you want to switch up your goal and focus on the opposite of your current goal.
- You may have to do this cycle multiple times until you have your optimal physique!