Bodybuilding HowTo Cut

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The Best Bodybuilding Tips For Cutting 

The Best Bodybuilding Tips For Cutting

Spring is here, and every bodybuilder north of Florida and south of California is planning their annual summer cut to show off their best physique on the beach. They spent the entire winter in full sweats, pounding weights and smashing metric tons of food. It's finally time to start chiseling away at that proverbial block of marble to show off all of your hard work over the winter. At the beach, a good cut catches the eye and gets guys asking how much you bench (while the ladies continue to ignore you). Anyway, at the very least, you're ripped, right?

Given how important it is for many bodybuilders to show off their hard-won gains at the beach, let's look at some of the fundamentals of cutting, both nutritionally and physically. Before we get started, we should point out that this is a summer-cutting article, not a competition prep piece. This article isn't about peak weak or all of that grumpy pre-season nonsense (thank god).

Cutting-edge nutrition

When a bodybuilder decides to cut, what is the first thing they do? Consume fewer calories. And yes, if you want to shed some pounds and get shredded for the beach in a reasonable amount of time, you'll need to burn more calories than you consume. However, research shows that our metabolic rate slows down in response to a low-calorie diet. As a result, if you want to keep your metabolism going and avoid having to go on a crash diet, you'll need to add some energy variety to your diet.

Calorie cycling is one way to accomplish this. Imagine a 14-day period as the easiest way to do this. You'll be in a calorie deficit for 11 of the 14 days, meaning you'll burn more calories than you eat. However, you'll eat at or slightly above maintenance for the final three days of the 14-day period before returning to the deficit for the next 11 days and repeating the cycle. 

This method has been shown to be more effective than simple caloric restriction at maintaining a metabolic rate close to baseline, and it is also better at returning to baseline metabolic rate after the diet is finished. Because you'll most likely return to maintenance once your diet is finished, sticking to a calorie cycling plan can help you avoid some of the diet's common rebound problems.

So now that we know we shouldn't stick to a constant calorie deficit, how do you go about planning a caloric deficit to lose weight? It's not a good idea to focus on a daily deficit, especially if you're calorie cycling (like you should be). As a result, stick to a weekly deficit plan to see how your diet is progressing. So, how much of a deficit should there be?

To maintain a deficit in this more moderate range, aim to lose about 0.5-1 percent of your total body weight per week. This equates to 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week for a 200-pound bodybuilder. To figure out how many calories are in a pound of fat, assume there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat. To calculate your average daily deficit, multiply the number of pounds you need to lose each week by, 3500 and divide by.nSo far, we've talked about calorie deficits and calorie cycling, but how do you adjust your macronutrient intake to maximize the benefits of your diet? Let's talk about it.

A carbohydrate load, on the other hand, may actually help you improve your appearance for maximum beach dominance. Increases in muscle glycogen concentrations have been shown to increase muscle thickness and have even fooled DXA machines into reading higher lean mass content due to carbohydrate loading. If you're planning a specific beach holiday or pool party where you really want to show off your gains, depleting carbs a week before the event and then performing a carb load for three days before the event could make you appear even bigger!

In the end, cutting carbs can be an effective way to create a calorie deficit, but you don't want to go so low that your workouts become ineffective, your pumps deflate, and your crankiness becomes unbearable. So, how far should they be dropped?

Let's pretend you're the 200-pound bodybuilder from earlier. To keep things simple, we'll put you at 5'10” and 25 years old. As a result, according to the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, your maintenance calories would be around, 3050 calories. After deducting the upcoming protein and fat recommendations, as well as the calorie deficit required to lose 0.5 percent body weight, you're left with about 150-200 grams of carbohydrates per day.

That may still seem like a lot of carbs to some. However, keep in mind that nutrition is a highly personal topic, and some people may respond better to certain macronutrient ratios than others (13). As a result, keep adjusting your carb and fat intake until you find the right balance for you. As we'll see in the next section, getting enough protein is something that every bodybuilder should do regardless of their other macro preferences.


While adjusting carb and fat intake is critical for achieving a calorie deficit, maintaining a high protein intake during a diet is essential for a variety of reasons. According to studies, increasing protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound can help athletes lose fat even when they are on a calorie deficit. This is likely due to the fact that protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient and thus takes more energy to digest and absorb than carbohydrates or fats.

Furthermore, as you get leaner during a cut, your protein requirements may increase. Leaner people need more protein to maintain muscle mass during calorie restriction, according to research. This is most likely due to the fact that the amount of fat you can burn for energy decreases as you get leaner. As a result, as you lean out, it's more likely that you'll tap into muscle tissue for energy production.

During a cut, both recent reviews on protein requirements for bodybuilders recommend aiming for 2.3-3.1g/kg (1-1.5g/lb) of protein per day. As your cut progresses and you become leaner, gradually increase this range to help preserve your valuable muscle tissue. When it comes to body composition and aesthetics, adding calories to your diet through protein is very unlikely to cause fat gain, so don't be afraid to err on the side of higher protein intakes.

With this in mind, our 200-pound bodybuilder should begin his cutting diet with 200-210 grams of protein per day, gradually increasing to 300 grams per day as he loses weight. Because a diet that results in a 0.5 percent weekly weight loss would result in an average daily intake of roughly 2500 calories for this bodybuilder, his protein intake would range from 32 to 48 percent of his total daily calories, depending on how lean he is.


The majority of research into sports nutrition has focused on carbs and protein, so fat intake is rarely discussed when considering non-keto bodybuilding diets. However, when on a cutting diet, keep in mind that dietary fat intake has a strong link to testosterone, and cutting your fat intake may result in lower testosterone levels.

Furthermore, losing body fat in general has been shown to lower testosterone levels, making it critical to maintain proper fat intake during a cutting diet. However, as your diet progresses and you need to increase your calorie deficit to lose weight, make sure you're still cutting fat and carbs rather than protein. Despite the fact that fat is linked to testosterone, cutting fat calories will have a smaller negative impact on your physique than cutting protein calories.

According to a review of cutting for bodybuilders, keeping fat intake between 15 and 30 percent of total calories is the best way to keep testosterone levels stable during caloric restriction. Start your diet with a goal of 25-30% fat calories to give yourself some leeway if you need to reduce fat calories later on. Most bodybuilders will still find it more effective to create a majority of their deficit by reducing carbohydrate intake rather than fat intake. As a result, our 200-pound bodybuilder should aim for 42-83 grams of fat per day, starting on the higher end and working down as needed throughout the diet.

Ratio of Macronutrients

We can mostly nail down the, "optimal," macro split for cutting as 40-30-30 protein-carb-fat based on the above discussions. As previously stated, dieting is highly individualized, and adjusting your fat and carb intake to find your personal "sweet spot" is likely required to get the most out of your diet.

One final point to discuss in terms of nutrition is the concept of processed foods. Processed foods are, in and of themselves, a topic worthy of discussion. However, it's worth noting that eating processed foods can significantly reduce food's thermogenic effect. Processed foods have been compared to whole foods in studies, and it has been discovered that eating processed foods results in a significantly lower metabolic response than eating whole foods.

If your diet's goal is to create a caloric deficit, sticking to whole foods as much as possible can help you achieve that goal. Processed foods are likely to throw off many of your calculations and/or estimates, so it's best to avoid them altogether.

Getting Ready for a Cut

Thankfully, this section will be much shorter, as there aren't many changes to your training that you'll need to make during a cut. The most important thing to remember when cutting is that your overall goal shifts; you're no longer training to gain mass; instead, you're training to maintain your current mass while losing fat mass. Re-comping is possible, but we'll assume you have a 2-3 month window for this cut rather than the 6-months or more required for a true re-comp. As a result, the focus of your training should shift slightly to support the fat-loss goal.

Maintaining resistance training is critical because it can both boost your metabolism and help you maintain muscle mass during your cut. Thankfully, doing a lot of volume isn't required to get an even bigger metabolic boost, so you don't have to worry about going above and beyond during a cut to get the best results. Higher-volume sessions will undoubtedly burn more calories, but you must ensure that you are not overtraining to the point where you are unable to recover. Nutrition should complement your training, and because caloric intake drops during a cut, so should training volume.

The good news is that doing fewer reps with more weight is just as effective as traditional bodybuilding training at promoting growth. As a result, you can easily reduce volume during a cut simply by increasing intensity and decreasing reps. For those concerned about losing muscle mass, studies have shown that you can reduce training volume by a significant amount while still maintaining muscle mass. While a drastic reduction in volume isn't recommended during a cut, a small reduction is perfectly acceptable and probably warranted. You won't lose any significant size as long as you keep the muscle under enough tension to promote maintenance.

Furthermore, during a cut, training to failure multiple times during a workout is probably not the best idea. Too much failure training can increase catabolic hormone production while decreasing anabolic hormone levels, which is not ideal for a cut in any way, shape, or form. You won't need to perform sets to failure if you stick to heavier weights and fewer reps to get the most bang for your buck out of training.

In reality, aside from reducing volume, your workouts don't need to change much during a cut. You can certainly add cardio, but interval sprints or circuit training may be a better option than steady state cardio because they are less likely to interfere with maintaining muscle mass during a cut. To keep any interference effects to a minimum, cardio should be limited to no more than four days per week and no more than 30-minutes per session. Also, don't do any cardio before or after leg workouts, as this can detract from the workout or the recovery process, depending on when you do the cardio.

Last word

Cutting isn't all that different from bulking in terms of goals; you're just switching them. You're on the right track as long as your nutrition and training support your goal. To avoid overtraining or injury during periods of caloric restriction, follow the dieting tips above and reduce your training volume a little to optimize your cutting nutrition. Nothing looks worse on the beach than a leg brace, so pay attention to how your body reacts to your diet and exercise.

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