The cutting phase is generally the least popular part of a bodybuilder’s training. Cutting means eating less and trying to shed body fat to end up lean and ready to hit the beach. Unfortunately, cutting down on food and upping cardio can be a stressful experience at the best of times.
With all of this in mind, most people try to get ahead during their cut by experimenting with different training patterns, different diets and any tips and tricks they can find.
Fortunately, the internet has become a place for active bodybuilders to share their advice and as such, knowledge passed down by people who have been through many cutting cycles is freely available online.
These cutting tips mean less trial and error for amateurs and ultimately, a better cutting phase that gives better results. Here are 10 of our favourite cutting tips to help you shred body fat and successfully become a leaner you.
While water does make your body look a bit more ‘bloated’, it has so many benefits that you need to seriously up your intake in order to succeed during a cut.
For starters, water helps stave off hunger. Having a few glasses with a smaller meal will fill you up and allow you to get by without feeling pangs despite less calories.
The additional hydration will also help give you energy during workouts, so you’ll be able to push a little harder and ultimately burn more calories.
Thirdly, drinking water as opposed to soft drinks means you won’t be adding empty calories to your already restricted calorie limit. Essentially, water is a ‘free’ drink whereas soda or sugary drinks will cost you precious calories that you could have used on meals.
Most bodybuilders become familiar with their kitchens as a matter of necessity. Whether you can quickly master taste or not, cooking your own food means you know everything going into it. During a cut, where excess salt or sugar in ready meals and takeaways can hinder weight loss, bringing your own food to work will eliminate any risky meal choices.
Due to the hard nature of eating at a caloric deficit, there will be a point where even the most seasoned bodybuilder will ‘fall off the wagon’ and have an over-the-top cheat meal or cheat during the week.
If this happens, the key is to not delve into what psychologists call catastrophizing, or thinking the worst. Just because you cheated on your cut, don’t tell yourself, “Okay I’ll get back to my diet tomorrow/3 days from now/next week.” This kind of thinking will mean repeated cheat meals until you get back on track. Forgive yourself for the mistake and then get back on your cutting diet.
When cutting, you’ll have already worked out what your calorie level is and be eating at a deficit in order to lose weight. By performing hard cardio, you’ll heighten your metabolic rate and burn even more calories. This means that you’ll lose weight faster and can also make up for days where you’ve over-eaten and need to burn extra.
Building muscle also helps burn fat. Performing high rep exercises designed to build mass results in more lean muscle tissue. This tissue raises your metabolism, which heightens the rate you burn calories. To put it simply, the more lean muscle you build, the better your cut will go. Ditch the idea of shrinking your body and instead think of reshaping it.
Naturally occurring sugars are fine, but anything refined or processed is not. Sugar is quickly consumed by the body to be used as energy and any excess is stored as fat. During a cut, sugar should be virtually eliminated from your diet. Eat foods high in protein and fibre.
Eating clean means you get to eat more, as sugary foods are far more calorific than vegetables and lean protein.
Caffeine helps to increase alertness and improves concentration. This helps you to focus on your cut. However, it is recommended not to exceed a daily intake of 400mg of caffeine from all sources.
When you’re cooking your meals, you might be adding calories without realizing it. Cooking oil is very high in trans fats, and there are many who lather it into their pan and on their food without ever counting the calories they add. Cut down on the amount you use each time you hit the kitchen.
Of all the macronutrients, protein is most important for cutting. While it will be carbs you miss the most, when cutting down calories, protein is important to build muscle which boosts your metabolism. Therefore, you’ll need to keep up your protein intake.
Fibre is another important food group. Eating raw vegetables helps you to mix up your diet and provides a great way to snack without adding many calories.
In order to get properly shredded, you’re going to feel hungry. Your cut will test your patience and your endurance as you’ll begin feeling hungry when you’re bored and at random parts of the day.
Don’t be tempted to cheat on your diet with mindless snacking or eat more than you should.
At the end of the day, you’re cutting by your own free will in order to look exceptional, so keep that goal in mind at all times and build the mental fortitude a bodybuilder needs to succeed.