Cutting Diet Information
Cutting is a term used to describe the process of losing body fat while retaining lean muscle mass. In order for this to happen, the trainee must gradually reduce the number of calories they consume to the point where they are operating at a caloric deficit. This means you will be ingesting less calories than you are expending during your workouts. Most people have no trouble grasping this concept, but problems can arise if the cutting diet is not proportioned correctly or the calories are adjusted at an inappropriate pace. It is also important to follow a cutting training routine in order to maximize one's results while cutting body fat.
Cutting Diet: Calories
A good rule of thumb is to reduce total daily calories by 100. Do this for one week and monitor your weight. If your weight does not change, then reduce by another 100 calories the following week. Keep doing this until you're losing about 1 pound per week. Once you find the appropriate level you should remain there until no more changes occur, and only then should you reduce calories again. Many people drastically drop their calories as soon as they start their cutting diet. This is a sure way to lose muscle along with the fat. By taking it slow you will reduce the chance of losing muscle while cutting.
Cutting Diet: Protein
The most important component of a good cutting diet is protein. Protein intake needs to be high enough to satisfy your body's needs while operating at a caloric deficit. Aim for about 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Without enough protein your body will begin to break down your muscle mass and use it for fuel. This is known as catabolism and is obviously something you want to avoid during the cutting process.
The best sources of protein for cutting are foods which are slowly digested and appetite-suppressive. Since you will be operating a caloric deficit, this means you will be hungrier than normal. In order to counteract this you should focus on eating foods such as black beans, which are a complete protein source and high in fiber. Fiber suppresses the appetite by making you feel fuller. At a cost of around $1.70, one bag of store-brand black beans provides 140 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbohydrates, and 1000 calories. Other good sources of protein are chicken, beef, and fish. It is also a good idea to consume a good whey protein or BCAA supplement between meals so that your body always has protein available throughout the day. This can make a huge difference in preserving muscle and strength while cutting fat.
Cutting Diet: Carbs
When choosing carbs, it is hard to beat rice. Rice is very cheap and versatile, and it is generally more nutritional than many alternative carb choices. Rice is high in several micronutrients, especially if you choose brown rice with the bran intact. The high fiber content will help suppress your appetite as well.
A common mistake that many trainees make in their first cut is drastically reducing or eliminating carbs from their diet. Never do this. Carbs are important as an energy source and fuel your workouts. Eliminate carbs and the glycogen stores in your muscles will be rapidly depleted, leaving you tired and weak. You won't be able to lift as heavy, and your body will respond by breaking down your muscle mass regardless of how much protein you are taking in. The lack of stimulus (lifting heavy) is a signal to your body that you don't need the muscle anymore. As the saying goes, "If you don't use it, you'll lose it".
Cutting Diet: Fat
It may seem strange to eat fat while trying to lose fat, but fat is a very important part of your diet. Fats play an important role in hormone production. Some studies have shown that low or no-fat diets can cause a reduction in testosterone production and an increase in estrogen. This kind of hormonal imbalance can halt your fat loss before it even begins.
A good and cost-effective source of healthy fat is olive oil. Olive oil has been found to improve cholesterol profiles and is a good source of omega fats. Large tins can be purchased for less than $20, leaving you with an excellent fat source for pennies per serving. Avocados are also an excellent source of healthy fats.
Cutting Diet: Vegetables
The black beans, whey protein, rice, and olive oil provide just about everything you need in order to fuel your workouts and preserve muscle, except for a few important vitamins. Vitamins A, C, K and B are all found in high amounts in broccoli. Broccoli also goes well with the black beans, rice, and olive oil. This combination can be prepared in several ways, and can be combined with occasional meats as your budget allows. By varying the spices and cooking techniques, you can wind up eating a different meal every day (despite using virtually the same components each time). Broccoli and other vegetables are also high in fiber, which again is nice when cutting since fiber helps to suppress the appetite.
Not everyone likes broccoli and some people just hate vegetables in general. It is ideal to get a variety of vegetables in your diet, but if you just don't feel like it, then you should seriously consider a good natural multivitamin so your body does not become vitamin deficient. A vitamin deficiency can cause serious health issues if it is allowed to continue for an extended time. Even if you're eating well, you should strongly consider a multivitamin since it is very difficult to get everything your body needs from food alone.
Cutting Diet: Supplements
The best supplements for cutting are those which help your body to utilize fat stores while retaining muscle. Try to consume a BCAA drink or protein shake between meals in order to always maintain a positive nitrogen balance in your body. Fat burners such as caffeine and yohimbine can also help, but these supplements are best used in moderation. Take fat-burning supplements just prior to your workout or first thing in the morning on your off days.