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If you’re trying to master a lean physique, then it’s likely that, at some point, you’ll want to enter a cutting phase.
Whether we want to lose weight, show off our toned physique on holiday or shape up for a competition, cutting is the way forward - it’s a sure-fire way to change body composition.
The work and planning can be challenging, but the feeling of getting to the end result is well worth it.
So, whatever your plans, let’s look at the best way forward for the perfect cut.
What is a cutting diet?
Cutting- or shredding- is when you deliberately cut calories and increase fat loss while maintaining muscle mass in order to optimize definition.
Cutting is achieved by paying close attention to your diet and exercising to ensure you burn more calories than you consume to promote weight loss.
A low body fat percentage is the aim, but simultaneously providing that muscle mass is highly visible.
PS: Cutting is NOT a long-term phase. It usually lasts a couple of months to “get into shape” before an occasion where you want your physique to be top-notch, with increased muscle mass and fat loss.
It’s a challenge, requiring discipline, but it gets easier the more you do it. It’s a combination of nutrition, training and recovery. The correct food means packing in plenty of lean protein while restricting calorie intake.
How to do a cutting diet…
Calorie-deficit training means a high protein diet, complex carbs and very little body fat. Training without certain nutrients you typically consume when bulking up means you must be clever with your diet to ensure you can still manage the workouts without burning out. Omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids will be crucial to get you to the final cut.
The diet isn’t much different from bulking up as you’ll still be looking at the same food sources, but you need to eat fewer calories than you are expending during the day.
The calories you burn can occur from walking to an exhaustive session at the gym.
You’ll get to your cutting destination as long as you’re losing weight and doing the work to maintain muscle mass. Thinking about ways to burn calories without doing too much is a good idea. The more you shed, the easier the cut will be.
Maybe switch your desk to a standing one or take the stairs instead of an elevator?
These small wins will eventually help you to reach your jackpot. It’s important not to aim too high to cut the healthy way. It’s generally accepted that losing one pound a week is acceptable, and trying to lose too much can result in health complications unless you are used to it.
What should you eat when cutting?
The key is that you need to burn more than you consume while maintaining muscle mass, which is why it’s not just about eating less but the right foods.
The rule of the cutting diet is high protein and low fat intake. Keeping an eye on the calories to ensure you’re in a calorie deficit is one of the primary aims.
Lean meats such as chicken and salmon and lean beef are great. Whole eggs, low-fat cheese and yogurt are also good high-protein sources. Wholegrain food such as bread, cereal and wholegrain pasta are also perfect. Beans and legumes should be consumed in moderation as some varieties are higher in carbs than others.
You can pack in the fruit and vegetables to fill you with essential vitamins and minerals; if you’re looking for a superfood, quinoa will be your best friend.
Your go-to drink at this time should be water. There are other more tempting options, but if you want to get there as quickly and safely as possible, water should be your number one and, preferably, the only choice of drink.
Process and fatty foods should be avoided wherever possible. Fries and potato chips are definitely off the agenda, as are sugary snacks and desserts, cookies and sugary drinks, which, sadly, will include alcoholic beverages.
How much should you eat when cutting?
This really is key to a good cut!
If you want to cut, you’ll need to figure out exactly how much you should be consuming based on your height, weight and activity levels.
Plus, while it might be tempting to lose weight quickly, a larger calorie deficit can result in muscle loss - so you need to balance between the two in order to maintain muscle mass.
So, how many calories should you eat?
You’ll need to figure out your Total Daily Expenditure and eat around 500 calories less than that. You’ll also want to continue lifting weights to maintain muscle mass.
What is the best diet when cutting?
Certain diets are almost tailor-made for cutting and can certainly help if you’re looking for guidance on what to consume. There are three diets below that are certainly amongst the best.
The Keto diet could have been invented for cutting as it’s as near to the perfect cutting diet as possible. It’s a great way to lose body fat and contains the right nutrients to fuel your workouts. It combines a protein-rich diet with low-carb and healthy fats to shed fat and, at the same time, maintain muscle.
You’ll consume the right kind of meats and protein-packed dairy products during the Keto diet.
At the same time, you’ll be eliminating the wrong choices, such as high-carb options. Because you are taking in a high amount of protein and taking in fewer calories, you’ll be able to lose weight and, at the same time, maintain muscle.
The protein will also help your stomach feel fuller, so there will be less temptation to snack. It’s a diet that some find challenging to get to grips with at the beginning, but the more you try it, the easier it will become, and if you’re looking to get shredded this summer, Keto will be a significant chink in your armor.
Not every diet will suit everyone, but those who can get to grips with intermittent fasting may find their cutting period a lot easier. With 16/8 intermittent fasting, you limit your intake of foods and calorie-containing beverages to a set window of just 8 hours per day.
You must fast during the remaining 16 hours, though water and sugarless coffee or tea are allowed. Limiting your eating window to between 10 am and 6 pm can make it easier to cope with the diet so long as you avoid snacking outside that window. Saving your calories for the period when you’re eating means you can spend your fasting time burning away the calories, which for some, takes their mind off food.
This particular diet is based on how Europeans eat and have often been credited as the reason for their longevity. It's a great way to eat fewer calories consistently. Because the Mediterranean diet concentrates on plant-based foods, it cuts out all unhealthy fat groups, which is excellent for those looking to lose weight. It focuses on packing in plenty of fruit and vegetables, high-fiber food, and healthy fats.
It’s not just about eating, either. The Med diet teaches you how to eat sensibly to enjoy the food so your stomach feels fuller sooner (thus avoiding overeating). It also encourages regular exercise and a positive mental attitude. It’s a diet that promotes a variety of tastes and is one of the easiest to stick with to lose body fat.
Counting calories is also easier as the food you consume will always be low in calories. It’s great for those with diabetes or who require a gluten-free diet, and perhaps the cleverest part of the diet is that the whole and high-fiber food consumed will make you feel fuller much quicker.
What foods to avoid when cutting…
The most important thing is to ensure that you stick within your calorie budget, and many people eat anything as long as it fits their macros.
However, higher fatty foods and processed meats will be less nutritionally dense, meaning that you’ll still feel hungry and may end up eating more.
Eating high protein and complex carbohydrates will allow you to stick to your calorie budget while staying satiated.
When should you do a cutting diet?
Some bodybuilders like to do a cutting phase right after bulk and switch around. Often it’s in preparation for a competition or as part of a regular training routine. It can also be combined with weight lifting as this exercise is particularly good for maintaining muscle mass.
You should be prepared to spend a lot of time on your cut. If you’re new to it and have around 20 pounds to shed, you should be looking at a period of around four months.
If you have less than that and are used to cutting, this period can be reduced to about two or three months.
How to improve your cut…
Cutting can be tough!
Keeping calories low while maintaining muscle mass is as much a mental battle as a physical one.
As tempting as it may be to turn to illegal steroids, natural supplements such as CrazyBulk can help amplify your cut results in a safe and legal way.
The Crazybulk cutting stack is perfect for working alongside your cut to give you better and faster results.
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