'Bulk And Cut' Dieting Can Have Negative Health Effects. So Why Is It So Popular?

"Bulk and cut" cycling is popular among those in the fitness community — especially bodybuilders — who are looking to attain a more muscular and toned physique. Bulking consists of periods of eating a surplus of calories to gain weight and cutting restricts calories in an attempt to lose body fat. Simply put, the idea behind this technique is putting on muscle and fat, then losing the fat to reveal more muscle, according to the BBC.

A recent study looked at the effects of bulking and cutting among youth and adolescents and found that it can have some negative effects. For the research, they surveyed 2762 young adults in Canada between the ages of 16 and 30 and found that almost half of them (48.5%) had practiced bulking and cutting during the past year. Of the participants, 53% were male, 38% were female, and 8% were transgender/gender non-conforming. They found that bulking was linked to a "stronger drive for muscularity across the sample," and more severe eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia among men and women. With these negative effects, why is it so popular?

Bulking and cutting gets results

Bulking and cutting is popular because, when combined with a nutritious diet, it generally gets the desired results. Healthline identifies muscle growth, an increase in strength and bone density as some of the benefits of bulking. As for cutting, it promotes fat loss and improves the appearance of muscles.

But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Fred Duncan, a personal trainer in Williamsville, New York, tells Aaptiv that eating a lot of food doesn't exactly mean that you're going to put on muscle — adding that you can only gain so much muscle at a time. He also explains that when you operate at a calorie deficit (as you do when cutting) the body releases ghrelin, a hunger hormone, which means you'll probably be hungry a lot of the time. It's also worth noting that bulking and cutting isn't for everyone. Duncan says that the method gained popularity among bodybuilders and was never meant for the average fitness enthusiast.