Achieving a ripped physique is a process. It requires month after month of dedication, discipline, and hard training. And it requires that you are 100% on top of what you eat daily. When it comes to the cutting phase of your program, nutrition becomes more important than ever. However, knowing just what to eat on a cut can be confusing. After all, there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there.
In this article, we will identify 15 key foods and four super herbs and spices that should form the foundation of your cutting phase. Whether you’re zeroing in on a competition or trying to get in the best shape of your life, you’re about to learn what you must eat during those final three months to achieve your dream physique.
Understanding a Bodybuilding Cut
Cutting is a bodybuilding term that refers to a period when you reduce your caloric intake and carefully monitor your food with the goal of stripping as much excess body fat from your physique as possible. It follows a bulking phase, which aims to increase calories beyond the maintenance level to add as much muscle mass as possible.
Bulking and cutting, therefore, go hand in hand. Bulking can be considered like packing slabs of clay onto your frame. During the cutting phase, you sculpt and refine that clay to bring out the detail and eliminate the excess.
The success of a cutting phase often depends on how the bodybuilder went about the bulking phase. If they choose to go on a dirty bulk, where they pay little attention to the quality of the calories they’re putting into their body, they are likely to start the cutting phase with a high level of body fat. It will take a lot of work for them to first get rid of the extra fat they gained during the bulk and then burn their normal fat stores to improve their muscle definition.
On the other hand, a bodybuilder who follows a clean bulk, where they stick to lean protein sources and clean carbs, will put on minimal fat during the phase. It will allow them to start making immediate inroads into their fat stores.
During the cutting phase, your primary goal is to strip the maximum amount of body fat from your frame so that your muscles are more defined. You want every muscle fiber to be clearly visible. Ideally, cross striations in the muscle fiber should also be visible when you flex.
At the same time that you’re getting ripped, your secondary goal is to preserve the hard-earned muscle mass you’ve gained during the bulking phase.
So how long does each phase last? There is nothing set in concrete regarding the length of the bulking and cutting phase, but most bodybuilders tend to follow each phase for 10-12 weeks. We will work on a three-month cutting period for the rest of this article.
Calculating Caloric Needs
The most important thing to understand when you’re on a cut is that you can’t simply wing it. You have got to determine your numbers and stick with them. So, what numbers are we talking about?
It all starts with your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). That number represents the total energy your body needs to meet its needs over a day. This includes your resting metabolic rate, physical activity, and the thermic effect of food (how many calories it takes to digest it). Once you know how many calories you need to function, you can then make adjustments to that number to create a caloric deficit.
Creating a caloric deficit will force your body to take action to meet the energy shortfall. Without enough energy from food, your body will turn to its reserve energy source — stored body fat — to meet the shortfall. And that is how the fat loss process takes place.
So, let’s begin by determining your TDEE.
There are several calculations to work out your TDEE, each based on a slightly different formula that considers your activity level. I recommend using this convenient online TDEE calculator.
You now know how many calories you must consume daily to maintain your physique. You must create a modest caloric deficit to start shedding body fat without sacrificing hard-earned muscle mass. I recommend reducing your intake by 10-15%. So, what does that look like?
If your TDEE is 2,500 calories, you should cut back by 250-375 calories. Start with a 250-calorie reduction to take your daily calorie goal to 2,250. Assess your progress over the first couple of weeks. If you’re not losing fat at the desired rate, reduce it by another 125 calories per day.
Let’s now narrow things down to the makeup of your daily calories during your cutting phase. Here’s what you need to consider regarding each macronutrient:
During your bulking phase, protein is the key nutrient for muscle growth. When it comes to cutting, protein is just as important. Of the three macros, protein is the most satiating, meaning that it fills you up faster than either carbs or fats. Protein also has the highest thermic rate. While it takes about 10% of the energy in fat or carb to digest that food, that percentage skyrockets to around 30% for protein.
Ensuring you get a plentiful supply of protein during your cutting phase will also help preserve your muscle mass while dieting.
As a result, protein should remain the foundation of your diet during a cutting phase — you’ll simply be eating less of it. You should consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight during your cutting phase. Aim for 30-35% of your calories from protein.
Related: Find your daily protein intake.
When it comes to carbohydrate intake during your cutting phase, you need to be strategic about your timing. Carbs can power your workouts, so you should consume them around your training sessions. You should emphasize complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Adjust your carb intake according to your activity level and how your body responds to them. Aim for 40-45% of your calories from carbohydrates.
Related: Find your daily carbs intake.
Healthy fats are an essential part of a successful cutting diet. They help fill you up while promoting nutrient absorption and hormone production. Go for sources of unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to get 20-30% of your calories from fats.
Related: Find your daily fat intake.
Focus on Whole Foods
Even though it can be tempting to grab processed foods, especially when you’re on the go, whole foods should be your priority on a cutting diet. When we talk about whole foods, we’re referring to foods in their natural, unprocessed state. Examples are fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, and seeds. Here are five reasons why you should prioritize whole foods on your cut:
- Nutrient Density: Whole foods provide a lot more bang for your buck in terms of nutrient density. They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to meet your body’s daily needs.
- Satiety: Whole foods don’t contain empty calories. As such, they are more filling, ensuring you get the maximum benefit from your calorie cost.
- Better Digestion: Natural whole foods are easier to digest than processed foods, putting less strain on your digestive system. They also better promote a healthy gut microbiome and provide valuable fiber.
- Lower Calorie Density: Whole foods tend to be lower in total calorie count than their processed alternatives. That allows you to eat more while staying within your calorie goal, making you feel more satisfied and less deprived.
- Greater Ingredient Control: When you focus on natural foods, you have more control over the quality and composition of your food. You can avoid sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives added to processed foods.
15 Superfoods To Add To Your Cut
During your cut, you’re looking for every advantage you can get to strip fat from your body. That means you need to be smart about the foods you eat. The 15 foods in this section have all been shown to maximize fat burn while supporting muscle mass and promoting optimum health. Use these foods as the foundation for your cut:
Grapes are a wonderful snack you can overindulge in without feeling bad since they provide a potent combination of health-improving and weight-loss advantages.
Grapes are a fantastic hunger suppressant when trying to lose fat. They can also help control blood sugar levels. By doing this, they lower insulin levels and stop leptin, the hormone that causes hunger, from being released.
Because of a high concentration of polyphenol phytochemicals, grapes have a hidden healing ability. Although the precise process is still unclear, polyphenols can protect us against cancer.
Additionally, grapes offer more nutrition per calorie than almost any other food. Beta carotene, lutein, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E are just a few of the abundant antioxidants in them.
In addition to all these health benefits, grapes contain a chemical that turns them into a superfood. The skin and seeds of the grape contain the plant-derived substance — resveratrol. It has been demonstrated to have a strong, advantageous impact on the cardiovascular system. It is an effective tool in the fight against blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke because it can prevent blood platelets from clumping together.
Resveratrol has emerged as a crucial tool in the battle against breast, colon, and esophageal cancer since it inhibits numerous crucial processes that result in tumors. Resveratrol also has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that it helps regulate blood sugar levels, lowering insulin levels and preventing binge eating and cravings.  
Nuts, which are packed with healthy fats and protein, represent the ideal cutting snack. When you eat nuts as a snack, they will keep you full while also working to improve your health.
Consuming any kind of nut significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, consuming almonds has been demonstrated to lessen the risk of colon cancer. If that’s not amazing enough, scientists predict that eating nuts daily can add two years to a person’s lifespan. 
Naturally, nuts may provide you with the amino acids you require, devoid of cholesterol and saturated fat, since they are a plant-based source of protein. Magnesium, a vital mineral that aids in maintaining healthy blood pressure, is also abundant in nuts. Additionally, they offer a first-rate supply of B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin.
Omega 3 fatty acids, which are chronically undersupplied in the Western diet, are also abundant in nuts. Omega 3 fatty acids can significantly increase your ability for fat loss.
Nuts are an excellent healthy carbohydrate source for weight loss because they lower leptin levels, improving fat burning by reducing insulin resistance.
Nuts are also a great source of fiber, which plays a significant role in losing weight. It slows down carbohydrate absorption and digestion, enabling a more regulated rise in blood sugar levels.
The best nuts to eat as a cutting snack are:
- Macadamia Nuts
According to scientists, berries are now considered among the world’s top foods for fighting disease. That results from their abundance of antioxidants, which also contributes to their brilliant colors. Berries’ antioxidants have been linked to reducing the incidence of certain malignancies, improving cognitive conditions, and fending off the effects of aging.
In addition, berries are a fantastic source of nutritional fiber. Blueberries have got to be the best disease fighter among all the berries. Antioxidants included in blueberries help lower cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Berries contain a lot of flavonoids as well. Flavonoids have positive effects on the circulatory system and can lower cardiovascular risks. Blackberries, in particular, have a high flavonoid content. 
Although berries are a seasonal food, frozen berries are accessible all year round and have the same health benefits as fresh berries.
A super fruit that offers the antioxidant properties of other berries boosted by a factor of five has recently been made known to the Western world. This extraordinary food has more antioxidants than any other food identified so far. It is raised in the remote Tibetan Himalayas, which have some of the highest elevations on earth. It’s the goji berry.
Researchers refer to goji berries as the Rolls Royce of berries, and they are currently becoming a sensation in the nutritional world. Here are several reasons to eat goji berries:
- Boosts testosterone and libido
- Contain 19 amino acids, including the essential ones
- Comprise 22 trace minerals, including zinc, calcium, and selenium
- Lower blood sugar levels and satisfy cravings faster than other berries
- Contain 500 times more Vitamin C than oranges, vitamin E, which is extremely rare in fruit, and more beta-carotene than carrots. 
Apples are among those common foods that are easy to take for granted. If you’re one of those folks who overlooked the apple’s benefits, it’s time you sat up and paid attention.
Antioxidants can be found in abundance in apples. Additionally, they are an organic source of phytonutrients that support the health of your bones.
They contain both soluble and insoluble forms and are also a fantastic source of fiber. Because of how incredibly full the insoluble fiber in apple skin is, it is fantastic for weight management. Roughage is another benefit that aids in preventing and treating constipation.
Pectin, found in apples, is extremely helpful for detoxifying the body. It is a wise choice when you sense a cold coming on because it also reduces throat swelling and pain.
Blood sugar levels can be effectively managed by eating apples. Fructose, a naturally occurring fruit sugar, is present in them. These sugars are delivered into the bloodstream very gradually due to the high fiber component of the apple. This is a fantastic tool for ensuring consistent blood sugar levels, making apples great for losing weight. 
Salmon provides your body with the perfect one-two power punch to knock fat for six — it is a fantastic source of protein and a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
To appreciate the amazing health-giving benefits of salmon, we must look to the Inuit Eskimo peoples of Greenland. Half a century ago, scientists were puzzled at these people’s low incidence of heart disease. Now they know why — it is all down to their diet, which is extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies of Eskimo people compared to those who follow a typical Western diet have made it clear that the risk of heart disease decreases as the amount of fish in our diet increases.
Salmon is also an effective stress fighter, as it can suppress the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone. And, with stress being a critical factor in binge and craving eating, the link between salmon and fat loss is obvious. 
If you had to choose just one food to eat for the rest of your life, you couldn’t do much better than the avocado. Avocados have all the nutrients you need to survive, thrive, and quickly reduce weight.
A typical avocado consists of 60 calories and 9 grams of carbohydrates, with 7 of those grams being fiber. Additionally, it contains 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fat. Plant sterols, which have been demonstrated to decrease cholesterol levels, are abundant in avocados. Studies have shown that avocados’ high monounsaturated fat content reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Additionally, researchers think that substituting avocado oil for vegetable and palm oils when cooking can reduce visceral body fat in the abdomen area. The avocado is not only low in calories, nutrition dense, and packed with healthy fats, but it also speeds up metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar.
One of the best-known ways to satisfy hunger is a scoop of guacamole. According to a Nutrition Journal study, half a fresh avocado with lunch reduced participants’ appetite by 40% for the next four hours.
According to a 2012 study from Chile, eating half a medium-sized avocado per day was highly connected with better diet quality overall and a 50% lower chance of developing metabolic syndrome. In addition to reporting a lower body mass index and smaller waist circumference, the avocado eaters also reported eating more fruits and vegetables and fiber and vitamin K, two nutrients linked to weight loss.
Your metabolism will continue to run smoothly after eating an avocado, allowing you to burn calories even while you sleep. 
Amazing thermogenic characteristics in green tea can aid in your natural fat loss. Green tea can increase body temperature naturally, which helps burn calories. So, why is green tea so good at accelerating your metabolism? It’s down to two essential compounds — caffeine and a catechin known as epigallocatechin (EGCC).
These two substances cause the release of epinephrine, which in turn accelerates metabolism. EGCC is a very potent antioxidant. Without endangering healthy tissue, it can destroy cancer cells. The prevention of heart disease has also been demonstrated to be greatly aided by EGCC. Additionally, it aids in maintaining normal cholesterol levels.
Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that promote the body’s use of fat as a source of energy. Green tea “increases your daily fat-burning rate by 43%,” claims Dr. Nichola Perricone, a well-known weight loss specialist and the author of three books.
Green tea’s catechins compel the body to produce heat. Because of this, the body absorbs carbohydrates into the bloodstream more slowly after eating, which helps control your insulin levels. 
One particular variety of green tea stands out as the best for losing weight — oolong tea. Another name for oolong tea is Wu-Ling Tea. If you thought that green tea’s capacity to increase metabolism by 43% was impressive, get ready to be astounded. Oolong tea burns fat 220 percent faster than green tea.
Numerous studies conducted in China have revealed that individuals who consume 2-3 cups of oolong tea daily lose weight at a pace that is 8% higher than those who drink green tea. According to one study, this amounted to a one-pound weekly weight loss from simply drinking two cups of oolong tea! 
Oolong tea can help your body burn more fat for energy, speeding up fat burning and causing weight loss. Drinking two to three cups of oolong tea each day will strengthen your immune system, lower your risk of developing some malignancies, and accelerate weight loss.
Recent studies on grapefruit have shown its effectiveness as a fat-loss stimulant. Half a grapefruit was consumed before each meal by a volunteer group in a 2006 trial at the Scripps Clinic in La Hoya, as opposed to a control group. The grapefruit-consuming group shed almost twice as much weight as the other group. 
Grapefruit’s secret weapon is its capacity to regulate insulin. Balanced insulin levels, in turn, regulate blood sugar, which then regulates hunger. Insulin regulates the amount of stored fat because it is also a hormone that causes the body to store fat.
You should include half a grapefruit as a mainstay in your cutting diet plan.
9. Dark Chocolate
It may sound too good to be true, but eating chocolate can help you lose belly fat. Research from the University of Copenhagen shows that dark chocolate reduces the urge for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. In another study, people who ate a candy bar’s worth of dark chocolate for 15 days straight decreased their insulin resistance potential by 50%. This is due to the flavonoids and healthy fats that dark chocolate contains. 
Broccoli is an extremely nutritious, fiber-rich vegetable that is also very low in calories. That makes it a smart choice if you’re trying to curb belly fat. It also contains high vitamin C and folate levels to help ward off heart attack and stroke.
Yogurt is a rich source of protein and calcium. According to a 2015 study, obese study participants who were given three servings of fat-free yogurt daily lost 22% more weight and 61% more body fat than those who merely reduced caloric intake. The yogurt eaters also lost 81% more belly fat than the control group!
12. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter makes a great snack option. A single serving provides you with 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, which assist with fat loss. It is also a rich source of L-arginine, which helps counter fluid retention.
Peas are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you will ever come across. A single cup delivers 8 grams of protein, along with antioxidants and phytochemicals, all at a very low calorie cost. Peas are also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and iron, making them a genuine nutritional powerhouse.
Eggs are among the most digestible forms of complete protein available. They also contain healthy fats with virtually no carbs. Eggs also have good amounts of calcium, zinc, and vitamins D, E, K, and B6. They are among your best options for breakfast. High protein breakfasts have been linked to enhanced weight loss.
Asparagus is filled with prebiotics which positively affects your gut biome. This will increase your levels of healthy bacteria, boosting digestion and helping to eliminate bloating. Asparagus spears are also an excellent source of the B vitamin, folate, which is essential for synthesizing key mood-influencing neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
4 Herbs & Spices to Ramp Up Your Fat Loss
You can significantly increase your fat-burning potential by strategically adding herbs and spices to your cutting diet plan. Here are four herbs and spices that deserve to be part of the equation:
In terms of weight loss, turmeric has established itself as a wonder spice. It is rich in essential nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins C, E, and K. It is known as the “Queen of Spices” because of its many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
The capacity of turmeric to stop fat storage is its most remarkable quality. Curcumin, the turmeric root’s active component, binds to fat cells and induces their contraction and shrinkage by inhibiting the blood arteries necessary for forming fat tissue.
Additionally, turmeric has a thermogenic, metabolism-boosting impact and is very good at lowering blood sugar and insulin resistance.
You should use turmeric as your go-to herb for weight loss during your cut. This golden, powdered spice helps accelerate your weight loss efforts with just one teaspoon consumed daily. You may either consume turmeric as a supplement or utilize it to make scrumptious soups and curries that burn fat.
Basil is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb with great therapeutic properties. It considerably facilitates digestion, which boosts the calorie-burning process. Basil also kills the dangerous bacteria that cause food poisoning. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that this herb aids in stress reduction, which in turn helps with weight loss. Basil leaves also replenish your energy levels and promote the production of new blood cells.
Use fresh and dried basil liberally to reap the most rewards from this incredibly useful herb.
The spice cumin has gained popularity among people who follow the most recent studies on weight loss. In a recent Iranian study, 88 obese women were divided into study and control groups. Both groups completed nutritional education while consuming 500 fewer calories daily for 12 weeks. The study group also consumed 3 grams, or roughly one teaspoon, of cumin powder daily. Five ounces of yogurt was combined with the cumin. The yogurt was also given to the control group but without the cumin.
After the 12-week research, the study group’s percentage of fat reduction was three times higher than that of the control group (14.64% vs. 4.91%). 
Along with these remarkable fat reduction findings, the cumin groups’ triglyceride levels had plummeted by a staggering 23%, as opposed to a 5% drop for the control group. Additionally, compared to the control group, the cumin group’s LDL (bad cholesterol) values were reduced by an average of 10 points.
Consider how such outcomes came about from consuming just one teaspoon of cumin daily.
Researchers have identified that it is high in phytosterols, which are substances derived from plants that can absorb cholesterol. Cumin also can significantly increase metabolism.
For years, people have applied capsaicin topically to relieve pain. However, recent research has shown that it also has a ton of weight loss potential.
The naturally occurring spicy substances in red hot peppers are known as capsaicinoids. One particular member of the capsaicinoid family is capsaicin. It is the primary active ingredient that gives red hot peppers their heat.
In a 12-week trial conducted by the University of Maryland Medical School, obese men and women received 6mg of capsaicin daily. At the conclusion of the study, the capsaicin group had not only lost more weight than the control group, but a significant portion of that weight had come from visceral fat in the abdominal regions. 
The researchers concluded that using capsaicin supplements increased metabolism, leading to faster calorie burn. They also hypothesized that capsaicin stimulated the production of adrenal hormones, causing a strong burst of energy.
7 Tips for Next-Level Leanness
Ready to take your leanness to the next level? If you’re already under 15% body fat and want to drop even lower, these proven tips, in conjunction with hard training and a clean diet, will get you there.
Tip #1: Energy Flux
When it comes to fat loss, the amount of calories you turnover is crucial. This is called energy flux and is the relationship between calorie intake and expenditure.
Most people look at fat loss as calories in (eaten) versus calories out (burned). While that basic model can get you by, using the energy flux method improves upon it. It demonstrates that when you eat more and exercise more — even at the same calorie balance — you maintain a faster metabolic rate and a better lean mass-to-fat mass ratio.
Research shows that a high energy flux can significantly increase your resting metabolic rate. In other words, when your energy flux is increased, there is a corresponding boost in sympathetic nervous system activity. This causes an upward shift in metabolic rate and improved nutrient partitioning.
Let’s say you are dieting, eating 2,000 calories daily while burning 2,500 calories. Because you’re in a negative energy balance of 500 calories, you should be losing weight. Yet, if you were to add 1,000 calories to your diet (3,000 calories total) and burn another thousand calories (3,500 calories total), you would see improved body composition benefits.
First, your metabolism would be about 10 to 15% higher since it won’t detect a reduction in calories.
Second, you’d increase your lean mass because your muscles would be constantly supplied with amino acids through your protein intake.
Both of these factors contribute to significant fat loss.
Third, you’d avoid feelings of deprivation since you’d be eating more. In fact, some bodybuilders consume more calories at the onset of a fat-loss phase in conjunction with increased exercise volume.
So, the take-home message is this: when kicking off an advanced nutrition program, boost both your total calorie burning and your total food intake. As a general rule, the best fat loss happens when you exercise 7 to 10 hours a week and eat the right foods at the right times.
Tip #2: Time your Nutrients
If you’re not familiar with nutrient timing, you are missing out. It could be a limiting factor in improving your health, physique, and performance.
Traditional exercise nutrition focuses on what to eat and how much. Research over the last few years, however, shows that when you eat may be equally important. Think of your daily food intake as falling into one of these three categories:
- Before strength training
- After strength training
- Rest of the day
Before you hit the gym, your focus should be to consume a whey protein shake with 5 to 10 grams of added branched-chain amino acids for cellular energy and the initiation of muscle recovery. Since maximal fat loss is your goal, avoid carbs at this time.
Within 2 to 3 hours after your workout, you should focus on consuming meals high in protein and carbohydrates and low in fat. This combination helps quickly stimulate muscle protein synthesis as well as glycogen resynthesis. The first of these meals should be a whey protein shake with added branched-chain amino acids. Have this within half an hour of finishing a workout. You can also eat some fast-digesting carbs (20-40 grams), such as white bread or a banana.
Have a whole food meal 1.5 to 2 hours after this that is rich in protein and moderate in slow-digesting carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice, or beans).
All of your other meals will fall into the rest of the day category. Keep them high in protein and healthy fats and low in carbs. This helps keep insulin levels down while preserving muscle mass.
In the end, nutrient timing allows you to take advantage of specific windows of opportunity when protein and carbohydrates are most efficiently used. Under these conditions, the perfect balance between fat loss and muscle preservation can be achieved.
Tip #3: Burn Fat with Fish Oil
Omega-3 fats such as flax oil and fish oil can boost resting metabolic rate by 300 to 400 calories per day. In addition, research indicates that fish oil can improve carb tolerance and decrease inflammation, and it has been found to provide a host of benefits across the health and wellness spectrum.
However, be aware that the minimal doses recommended by most manufacturers are too low to offer the physique benefit that most hard-training people seek. To get maximum benefit in fat loss, take about 1 gram of fish oil per body fat percentage up to a maximum of 30 grams. So, if your body fat is 15%, you should take 15 grams of fish oil.
After about four weeks, drop the dose to about 0.5 grams per percentage of body fat. If you don’t know your body fat percentage, go with 12 to 15 grams for the first four weeks and then cut it in half to 6 to 7 grams afterward.
Tip #4: Cycle your Calories
As your diet progresses and your calories drop, your exercise volume will have to increase. This creates a highly negative energy balance that will eventually cause a metabolic slowdown. But that’s not all; sex hormone and anabolic hormone output will also diminish. This means your fat loss progress will drop while muscle begins to waste away.
To prevent this from happening, start cycling your calories in the later stages of the fat loss program (about the 8 to 10-week mark). But instead of just cycling calories, cycle your macronutrients as well. One great way to do this is to devise four different menu plans, such as those below.
Menu 1: Low calories, lower carbs, low fat: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday
- 9 calories per pound of bodyweight
- 50-70 grams of carbs per day
- 30-60 grams of fat per day
- ·Protein makes up the rest of your calories
Menu 2: Moderate calories, higher carbs, low fat: Thursday
- 11 calories per pound of bodyweight
- 100-140 grams of carbs per day
- 30-60 grams of fat per day
- Protein makes up the rest of your calories
Menu 3: High calories, high carbs, high fat: Sunday
- 13 calories per pound of bodyweight
- 200-280 grams of carbs per day
- 60-120 grams of fat per day
- Protein makes up the rest of your calories
Menu 4: High calories, low carbs, high fat: Thursday
- 13 calories per pound of bodyweight
- 30-50 grams of carbs per day
- 60-120 grams of fat per day
- Protein makes up the rest of your calories
By varying your amounts of calories, carbs, and fats, you prevent falling into starvation mode and make your fat loss more continuous. In addition, a varied diet like this one is psychologically easier to follow.
Tip #5: Supplement with BCAAs and Creatine
Many dieters find that their muscle mass starts to drop off as a diet continues. To help combat this, try supplementing with BCAA’s and creatine. The BCAAs, especially leucine, have powerful anti-catabolic effects that can help stimulate protein synthesis and a positive protein balance.
Creatine can assist in the preservation of muscle cell volume as well as performance during a low-calorie phase. Both supplements can also aid fat loss, and together, they can help prevent muscle loss during a strict diet.
The best strategy is to take 5 to 10 grams of BCAA’s with breakfast, pre-and post-workout shakes, and a meal late in the day. Take 3 to 5 grams of creatine with your pre-and post-workout shakes. On rest days, take your creatine with your BCAAs at breakfast.
Tip #6: Eat More Whole Food
When you follow advanced dieting principles that aim to take you into the land of single-digit body fat percentages, you will be hungry. In fact, sometimes you’ll be famished. So ensure that most of your calories come from whole foods instead of shakes.
Whole food meals consisting of lean meats, healthy fats, vegetables, and unprocessed carbohydrates are slower to digest, keeping you satisfied longer. In addition, these foods deliver a steady supply of blood glucose and amino acids between meals.
Although protein shakes are more convenient, they can leave you feeling unsatisfied, causing you to reach for a snack much sooner. As your calorie intake decreases, fill up on whole foods for an easier time sticking to your diet. Of course, you should continue drinking protein shakes around workouts, as they will help build more muscle.
Tip #7: Improve your Sleep
Most people do not associate fat loss with sleep quality. There is, in fact, a huge link between the two. Not getting enough sleep not only triggers carbohydrate cravings but also stimulates appetite-increasing hormones and muscle-wasting stress hormones such as cortisol.
Interestingly, many dieters find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep as their energy balance declines. That is bad news for fat loss. If you begin to suffer from sleep abnormalities, try one of these two courses of action:
- If you think you might suffer from elevated levels of evening cortisol, try taking 100 to 200 mg of Phosphatidylserine at dinner and another 100-200 mg before bed. Phosphatidylserine effectively decreases cortisol levels so you can fall asleep again. It is a phospholipid molecule found in cell membranes, particularly in the brain. It is important for normal cellular function and has been shown to have potential benefits for memory and cognitive function.
- If you don’t believe it’s a cortisol issue, try supplementing with ZMA. Magnesium will help improve your sleep quality, while zinc and magnesium together can help boost fat loss and size and strength gains.
By building your cutting diet around the foods, herbs, and spices profiled in this article, you’ll ensure that you optimize every calorie you put in your body. Be sure to get plenty of lean protein spread throughout the day, along with those complex carbs around your workouts, and aim for a 10-15% calorie reduction of your TDEE. Then adjust as needed to get the results you’re after. Remember, experimentation and adaptability are keys to a successful cutting program.
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