I started off many years ago and fell victim to the advice of eating a huge caloric surplus and worrying about the fat loss later. I went from a skinny-fat 170 lbs to 240 lbs in a short time period. I finally realized how fat I was and decided to lean down. This has been a multi-year struggle due to concerns about the amount of strength I had to lose in order to maintain the caloric deficit for such a long period of time. I am now in the 165-170 lb range at an honest 10% body fat with a 29.5" waist. My lifts have dropped significantly, but I had to accept my mistake and move on. I now feel like I have a good foundation for bulking while staying lean.
I know my maintenance intake is around 2300 Calories unless I need to add in cardio expenditures which is a few times per week. I have proven this by counting calories for 6 months and tracking weight loss versus calculated expected weight loss. When I start bulking, this may increase slightly since I know my metabolism has slowed down.
My question is regarding calorie intake. I know consistent excess is required for the body to put on muscle beyond beginner gains. I plan to consume 2600 Calories per day to begin and track weight gain closely following the initial carb-up period. While cutting, I maintained an average of 1800 Calories per day (500 kCal deficit) and lost 1 lb per week. But, I often altered the consumption based on anticipated events. If I knew I had a party or other event on Friday, I would reduce calories by 300-400 per day for a few days in advance and allow myself to consume these in excess on Friday. This prevented such a huge impact on my social life.
When bulking, how does the body interpret this? If I am going on vacation for a few days and want to consume 3500 Calories per day, would 1500 Calories per day on the 2-3 days leading up to it take the body out of an anabolic state? Or, is it something that should be maintained from a weekly perspective? I find it easiest to alter my caloric intake and consume low calories on weekdays and higher on weekends, so it would be something that I do often if won't have a negative impact on muscle gain during bulking.