One of the best diet plans for weight loss is inspired by bodybuilders. Known as ‘cutting’, the cutting plan combines both early morning cardio with an afternoon weights session as fat burning exercises. Exercises can be targeted to reduce fat in certain areas, such as to lose belly fat.
The food consumed will be low in carbohydrates, but carbs are not completely eliminated from the diet. Carbohydrates are focused on in weight training and at breakfast but are not eliminated from other meals.
In this article, we will examine what cutting is and the best regimen for weight loss.
What is cutting?
Body fat ‘cutting’ is a term in bodybuilding generally referring to the reduction of body fat, whilst maintaining the maximum amount of lean body mass. This is achieved by way of a diet to cut body fat that ensures a suitable calorie deficit, albeit with adequate nutrient balance, coupled with a programme of cardiovascular exercise designed to maximise fat burning while preserving muscle tissue.
Cutting is generally undertaken following a phase of bulking, during which both lean tissue and some fat is gained, as a result of training and consumption of calorie excess with adequate nutrient balance. Whilst bulking may lead to fat gain, there is no need for this to be excessive to gain significant lean body mass.
The cutting phase strips away the excess body fat gained during bulking while retaining the hard-earned muscle mass.
Weight loss or change of body composition?
While cutting, aim to lose no more than 2 lbs a week. While more may be lost in the initial stages of cutting, after the first few weeks, dramatic weight loss should be avoided, as this will become catabolic, resulting in loss of muscle mass.
Weight may be lost by simply reducing calories by around 500kcal a day, depending upon body mass, muscle mass and activity levels. However, this will produce a smaller body overall with the same composition. The aim is to reduce body fat levels, while maintaining lean tissue, meaning you are trying to alter body composition.
Diet for cutting
The key to cutting is to keep carbohydrate intake low but not to eliminate carbs from the diet. Try to keep the carbohydrate from good sources such as basmati or brown rice, wholemeal pasta, sweet potato, fruit, and vegetables.
Some may feel that the sugar in fruit and some vegetables may hinder fat loss and their body fat cutting. However, while there is natural sugar present in fruit and vegetables, the overall energy density is low and the small amount of sugar consumed is more than offset by the presence of vitamins and minerals. Starchy vegetables, like carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes can still be eaten but in smaller portions.
Reserve medium to large portions of starchy carbohydrate for pre and post-workout and keep the portion size small at the remaining meals. This allows hard workouts to be adequately fuelled while still allowing for relatively lower levels of carbohydrate to be consumed overall. Not only does this allow for effective fat loss, but it also provides a diet that is easier to stick to than a very low carbohydrate diet.
At the same time, incorporate fat burning foods and ensure protein intake remains high, to help maintain muscle mass during the period of calorie restriction. Fats should be included in the diet but it is best to focus on healthy fats from sources such as flax and olive oils, avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds rather than saturated fats in processed foods.
It is important to include treats in the diet, both to improve mental attitude and to prevent the metabolic rate from dropping too far, thus hindering weight loss. Many people will have a weekly ‘carb up’, for example, a pizza at the weekend. The importance of a treat meal should not be underestimated. However, it should be kept to a maximum of 1-2 treat meals a week.
The response of the body to diet and training will depend on several factors, such as body weight and body composition. Some of these factors may be genetic and some may depend upon the lifestyle of the individual. As a result, the cutting diet, its composition, meal timings, and portion sizes will be person-specific. It is important to monitor the process of cutting and adjust the intake and training accordingly to ensure optimal weight loss.
Workouts to cut fat
The fat-loss diet plan is a guideline for a non-competing bodybuilder cutting to achieve fat loss with minimal loss of muscle mass. Those bodybuilders who are competing may start in the same way but closer to the competition will require much more sophisticated dietary manipulation. Regardless, adequate fat cutting exercise should be completed in conjunction with a fat loss diet.
Exercise is indicated with pre and post-workout meals as directed. If exercise is performed at different times of the day, then meals will need to be rescheduled, to ensure that the weights workout is sufficiently fuelled and the post-workout nutrition accounted for.
Fat burning exercises include cardio in the morning, unfuelled, and weights in the evening. Consistent workouts are key to shredding fat whilst also toning muscle to create the desired physique.
Should I use supplements whilst cutting?
It is possible to cut without the use of any supplements. However, whey protein or equivalent protein supplements may be a useful addition, as may some protein snack bars. However, with commercial protein bars, look out for the amount of sugar and saturated or trans fats present.
Some may also use fat burners. These are by no means essential and the diet and exercise must be spot on before resorting to such supplements.
The duration of the cut will depend upon the amount of weight loss desired, the success of the diet, and the dedication of the individual to what can be an increasingly restrictive diet.
Here at Performance Meals, we ensure our protein-packed meals are packed with flavour, taking inspiration from tastes across the globe. Our 7-day meal plans and monthly meal packages ensure variety in your diet, meaning you will never get bored, as well as guaranteeing portion control to prevent your weight loss from plateauing.