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Cut/Lean Bulk/Eat at Maintenance? I'm Lost

Hi guys, long story short: been lifting for a few years now after having a stomach surgery, lost a lot of weight - very fast - not on purpose (had severe GERD). I wanted to gain back some ‘healthy’ weight. My starting point was 128lbs at 6ft tall. Now I’m at 161lbs, 16% ish bodyfat, 28y/o and I’m not happy with my current situation. There’s some fat covering my abs and I have a little bit of love handles going on. You can see I have some muscle, but not a lot (for instance my arms are 13.5 inches - they’re also my worst bodypart). The absolute amount of fat I carry will be low I presume, but my bodycomposition is off, b/c I also do not have a lot of muscle.

I want to commit to a serious change but I’m a bit lost. I don’t know whether or not to be in a caloric deficit first, to eat at maintenance or to be in a caloric surplus. I read a lot of conflicting advice such as:

  • Either cut first because it will be better to gain muscle afterwards - but that would put me at about 1900 calories a day and there’s not really anything to reveal…
  • Eat at maintenance and you’ll simultaneously lose fat and gain muscle as long as you have a decent program and apply progressive overload - basically recomp
  • Eat in a small surplus because I don’t have enough muscle nor fat for the previous two

On protein I’m a bit lost aswel. I read that 0.7 grams per pound is enough, other sources say that if you seriously want to gain muscle (and maybe even lose fat at the same time) 1+ gram is needed.

I know my maintenance calories are somewhere between 2300-2400 from tracking the consistently over a few weeks. I have a decent amount of weight (at least enough for me to progress for a while) in the form of adjustable dumbbells at home.


How stable are your eating and training habits now? Like are you on a program and you know exactly what lifting you’ll be doing? Do you eat a consistent number of meals at a consistent time? Food types?

How long have you been back at it?

I’ve been keeping track of my weight for three months now. First month I kept track of every macro, even kept track of my cooking spray, but since I roughly eat the same things every day - week in, week out - I stopped doing that and didn’t notice any significant changes in my weight. I do have a good understanding of how to track food intake from when I was trying to gain weight (fat + muscle), but I don’t know how to get out of this specific situation.

I don’t have a big appetite in the morning, so I’ll usually fast until noon. I’ve been trying to change that, but I’m having a hard time finding something that I enjoy eating, which is not just carbs/fat. I also know that ‘enjoyment’ shouldn’t be a determining factor if I actually want to reach my goal, hence why I’m trying to change that. At noon I’ll typically have some pasta with bolognaise sauce (I make this myself with chicken mince, veggies, homemade tomatosauce and herbs - always about 10 portions to put in the freezer), when I run out I always have backup chicken patties in the freezer with buns. I usually get around 40-50 grams of protein here. In the evening my gf and I have our weekly menu, which is roughly the same every week. I have some sort of veggies with carbs (rice, pasta or potatoe) with meat - another 40-50 grams of protein worth. I always take the same amount of carbs and meat (e.g. 400 grams of potatoes, 100 grams of rice - uncooked). At night I always a have a snack (bowl of yoghurt and fruit) worth another 20 grams of protein. I have a couple of hundred calories to spare for snacks - usually nothing related towards my goal to be honest - could be anything. I end up at around 2300-2400 calories every day, some days a bit more, others a bit less. Protein is 100 grams at least - very low day, 150 at most, usually 120 grams.

So things that I know that have to change are: breakfast and maybe a bit more protein in my diet. I eat relatively healthy/clean, no soda, not much junk food either.

Training-wise I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury from falling down a staircase, but I’ve been working out consistently for a good two months now - 3 full body workouts a week. Mostly working on strengthening my shoulder and form. Lately I’ve been adding some reps/weight and it’s going fine, hence why I ordered extra plates. Basic routine, 4 compounds (push, pull, hinge, squat) and 2 iso’s. 3 sets of 8-12, double progression. E.g. DB press, DB row, DB RDL, split squat, biceps curl and french press. On off days I do a lot of stretching, foam rolling etc. Cardio… Not really (I do get in about 8-10k steps just from my work).

This comes up a fair bit and I can understand why but the answer isn’t that motivating to hear.

To build physique changing muscle is going to take years, 5-10 years maybe depending how consistant you are. That’s hard to hear but its a reality for 99% of people.

If you wanna cut first thats fine, you may be better placed to build lean mass. But it will be short lived, at some you will get soft again, then you are caught in a cut bulk cut bulk cycle that isn’t really the most productive if each phase is took to the extreme.

I’m going to tag @T3hPwnisher as I think his let training dictate nutrition is bang on for people in your position. Eat to fuel your training and meet your training goals.

Get consistently stronger over a broad range of rep ranges for many many years and build some muscle. This is going to be a long term thing.

Oh and eat breakfast!


If you’re currently getting stronger, I would ride that pony and eat. Sounds like you have some good habits in place

Thank, i understand that now, regularity is the fucking key and always learn and push yourself, somethime u understand something important only with the time

Best advices

I want to ask u both of u, cut is really good ? I got some idea personally to keep the same calories amount when i stop du gain mass, and just continu to train hard, that e also cut a bit no ? And when u don’t progress, u eat a bit more and so on

It is possible when u keep the same amount, to loose the fat, even for the same training just u improve weight / reps ? Exemple i stop 75 kilo 18 body fat and keep the same amount calories for 5 month but training Always more harder that i can, if i progress maybe i will also loose automatically some fat with the time even if i eat the same amount of calories?

I’ve seen your physique pictures and I honestly see no reason to even think about “cutting” at any point soon, especially if your goal is to build muscle.

I will give an example of how this has worked for me recently. The last few months I have been kinda just eating when I felt hungry, which wasn’t that often. All my main lifts had stalled, maybe up a rep one session but down again the next. My scale weight had also stalled. So still training hard but not progressing. I added an extra set at my top weight and then a double drop set. After a few sessions like this I was hungry alot, my body was demanding fuel. I’m back hitting strong rep prs and scale weight is up 10lb.

If you are super skinny, think about force feeding, if you are super fat think about restricting your eating. If you just lack muscle, eat to fuel performance.


Ok thank dude, will see in 2 month my evolution, i work a lot and can’t train always in the gym but still, i will not give up, even if i need 10 year, the feeling of training is really good, i start to really love behind the only goal of beauty body.

I will not cut but not eat more, because if i steel progress i dont see a reason to eat more, so 73 kilo is good for the moment but if I cant levels up (lift more heavy) i would improve the calories is a good idea no? Because eat to much i will growth with fat that in the futur i want to lose, but if i gain step by step is better even if is more long, no ?