Last updated on November 5th, 2022 at 01:31 pm
I see this asked all the time, “Can I Take a Fat Burner While Bulking?”
You know as well as me that bulking is tough.
This is especially true if you’re looking to gain weight solely through clean eating.
However, no matter how clean, a surplus of calories can lead to excess body fat.
In fact, it can get to a stage where you absolutely hate looking at yourself.
It’s easy to see how you can become seduced by the dark side.
So, allow me to answer the fat burner/bulking question.
Can I Take a Fat Burner While Bulking?
No, you should not take a fat burner while bulking. The main purpose of a fat burner is to burn calories, as opposed to actual fat cells. This is achieved in a number of ways, including increasing metabolism, boosting energy, or suppressing appetite. These all go completely against the goal of a bulk. In effect, you’ll have to replace the “lost calories” by eating even more than you were before. If you’re gaining too much fat you should either look at your overall dieting or consider starting your cutting phase.
1. A Fat Burner Defeats the Object of Bulking
I think many people misunderstand the purpose of fat burners.
So, let me start by saying that fat burners DO NOT burn fat cells.
In the main, fat burners increase your total calorie expenditure for the day.
This is typically achieved by increasing your metabolism and core temperature, which will lead to you burning more calories, even while at rest.
Additionally, certain ingredients will also boost your energy levels, which once more can see you burning more calories, e.g. green tea, caffeine, etc.
Some fat burners also contain certain ingredients which are known to suppress appetite, e.g. fibre, proteins, healthy fats, etc.
So, in effect, rather than burning more calories, you’re simply consuming less.
Can you now see how this completely defeats the object of bulking?
Your main aim with bulking is to consume more calories so that you gain weight.
Then through intense strength training your goal is to “convert” this extra weight into lean muscle mass.
Okay, I’ll admit that the theoretical side of bulking sounds easy.
However, we both know that it’s extremely tough.
Unfortunately, these extra calories can lead to unwanted body fat, and I guess this is the reason that you’re considering fat burners.
In reality, all you’re doing is actually making bulking even harder by taking fat burners.
You know that you need to eat at a calorie surplus.
So, if you’re burning additional calories through fat burners then you’re going to have to eat even more than you currently are.
Therefore, I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking a fat burner while bulking.
2. Save Your Money – Go For a Walk
Fat burners must sound fantastic to anyone looking to lose weight or burn body fat.
In fact, there are even more varieties of fat burners.
Some can encourage your body to break down fat for energy, as opposed to glucose.
Whereas, there are some fat burners that literally interfere with carbohydrate and fat absorption into the body.
However, all told, you’re still not going to burn a massive amount of calories by taking a fat burner.
You still have to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to reap the benefits of a fat burner.
With that being said, there are some very aggressive fat burners in the marketplace.
Realistically, a good standard fat burner may increase your calorie expenditure by 50-100 calories a day.
Then again, an “aggressive” fat burner could see you burn up to 200 additional calories a day.
By the way, all of these figures can obviously vary depending on your current body composition and metabolic rate.
Nevertheless, once more, all of these things go completely against the point of bulking – consuming more calories than your burning.
I’ve heard it said that an aggressive fat burner will burn as many calories as an hour’s vigorous walking.
To be honest, I would prefer that you don’t spend your money on an expensive fat burner and do the walking instead.
Walking can help with muscle repair and recovery, plus it’s a great fat burner on its own.
So, if you really want to burn some fat while bulking then a few hours of walking a week will do wonders.
And, of course, it won’t cost you anywhere near as much money as a fat-burning supplement.
3. What About Rest Days?
There are some people who literally try to “cheat the system”.
By this I mean that on rest days they consider taking fat burners.
Basically, due to the lower levels of activity on a rest day you may find that you won’t eat as much.
Plus, it almost makes sense that as you won’t be expending as much energy on a workout you could use this as an opportunity to burn some fat off.
In reality, bulking doesn’t work this way.
Bulking is a long and slow process, and what you do on one specific day won’t make a great deal of difference over the long term.
You can’t pick and choose the days that you will be bulking and cutting.
If you’re on a bulk then it’s likely that you’ll need to be eating at a calorie surplus for at least a couple of months.
So, I would even recommend that you stick to your diet on rest days, this is especially true while bulking.
Okay, I’ll admit that you may not feel as hungry, simply because you haven’t used up as much energy from a workout.
However, as I say, you should view bulking as a long-term goal, so one day isn’t going to dramatically change your physique.
Plus, you should still be eating a calorie surplus on rest days.
Yes, I understand that your calorie requirements won’t be as much as a workout day.
But, you’re simply making your bulk harder by chopping and changing your diet on different days.
And yet again, I will repeat, that fat burners defeat the object of bulking in the first place.
Full Day of Eating While Bulking – Rest Day
4. How “Dirty” is Your Bulk?
I guess the number one reason that you’re considering fat burners is because you’re starting to add body fat.
And I know only too well that sometimes the mere sight of body fat can make you want to give up on your bulk.
I have always viewed a bulking phase as something I do until I’ve added what I believe is enough lean muscle to my frame, or when I’m sick of looking at myself in a mirror.
With that being said, how your physique changes during a bulk is obviously very much down to the food you’re putting into your body.
I understand that even if you are eating extremely clean, you’ll still add some body fat.
Eating at a calorie surplus, regardless of the macronutrients you’re eating, can lead to fat gain.
So, you could in effect be eating chicken and broccoli for every single meal.
But, if you’re eating above maintenance calories, you’re going to put on weight and unfortunately some of this is likely to be fat.
However, you can obviously make matters much worse if you’re not eating clean.
I know many people view bulking as a free-for-all, and they’ll literally stuff anything into their mouths.
It really doesn’t matter, pizza, fried chicken, ice cream, burgers, cream cakes, anything goes.
But, this really isn’t the right way to bulk.
Okay, you may be able to get away with this if you’re extremely skinny and you have trouble putting on weight.
But, even then I wouldn’t recommend it.
So, rather than taking fat burners as a solution, perhaps it’s time to look at your diet and make some changes.
5. Is it Time to Start Cutting?
I’ve mentioned that there are typically two times that I would consider my bulking phase is over.
These are if I feel I’ve added enough muscle mass to my frame or if I’ve added more body fat than I’m comfortable with.
In reality, most of us are in the second camp.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that no-one will ever say to themselves, “I think I’ve added enough muscle mass”.
So, unfortunately a bulking phase generally continues until you can no longer face what greets you in the mirror.
If you’re at the stage where you’re considering fat burners (because you can’t bear your reflection) then perhaps it’s time to start cutting.
I’m not a fan of yo-yo bulking and cutting.
This is why I don’t think there should be a particular timeframe to either.
We are all individuals, and how our body reacts to each specific phase will vary.
So, you have to decide when it’s time to end either phase.
How Long to Bulk Before Cutting?
So, hopefully you understand that you should not take a fat burner while bulking.
A fat burner simply increases your daily calorie expenditure.
Therefore, if you’re bulking you’re simply going to have to replace these lost calories by eating even more.
In reality, fat burners go completely against the principles of bulking, and should therefore be avoided.
If you feel that you’re adding too much body fat during your bulk, either look closer at your nutrition or consider starting your cutting phase.
While I’m on the subject on fat burners, I have also discussed whether you should take pre-workout at the same time as fat burners.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.