If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re either one of the brave souls who have decided to make a change in their lifestyle or you’re simply curious about what cutting is all about. Either way, you’re in for quite a treat. Cutting is possibly the most challenging part of anyone’s fitness journey, but also the most rewarding. One vital component of cutting is nutrition. As someone who has gone through multiple cutting phases, I know how overwhelming it can be to find the best foods for your goals without sacrificing taste. Fear not! I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best foods you need to add to your grocery list right now. Before we get to that, we have the answers to all your questions about cutting and nutrition.
What Is A Cutting Diet?
A cutting diet is a type of diet plan designed to help individuals lose body fat while preserving muscle mass. This diet is specifically used to achieve the fitness goal of weight loss or shedding.
What sets a cutting diet apart from other diets is its specific focus on macros. Cutting diets typically involve tracking and manipulating macronutrient ratios, which is the amounts of protein, carbohydrate, and fat consumed per day. The primary goal is to create a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than the body burns.
How Does Cutting Compare To Bulking?
Cutting and bulking are two different approaches to achieving fitness goals. Bulking involves consuming more calories than you burn to build muscle mass, while cutting involves consuming fewer calories than you burn to lose fat and reveal muscle definition (2).
When it comes to comparing cutting to bulking, it really depends on your personal fitness goals. If you are looking to build muscle mass quickly, then bulking may be the right approach for you. However, keep in mind that bulking can also result in gaining some fat along with muscle mass.
On the other hand, if you are looking to achieve a lean and toned physique, then cutting may be the better option. While cutting involves consuming fewer calories, it is important to ensure that you are still consuming enough nutrients to support your fitness goals and maintain your overall health.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to achieving your fitness goals will depend on a variety of factors, including your individual body type, fitness level, and personal preferences. It is always a good idea to consult with a certified fitness professional to determine the best approach for your specific needs.
What Are The Recommended Macronutrient Ratios For Cutting?
While cutting, it’s common to focus on reducing body fat while preserving muscle mass. One important aspect of achieving this goal is to pay attention to your macronutrient ratios.
Macronutrients are nutrients that your body needs in large amounts, and they include protein, carbohydrates, and fat (8).While everyone’s needs are different, the ranges of acceptable macronutrient ratios are between 10-35% protein, 45-65% carbohydrates, and 20-35% fat.
This breakdown allows for enough protein to preserve muscle mass while still providing enough carbohydrates and fat for energy and overall health. However, keep in mind that these ratios are just a starting point and can be adjusted based on individual needs and preferences.
For example, if you’re more active, you may need more carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. Or, if you prefer a higher fat diet, you may need to adjust your macronutrient ratios accordingly.
Protein is a crucial macronutrient for muscle growth and maintenance, and it’s especially important when cutting (3). When you’re in a calorie deficit, your body may turn to muscle tissue for energy, which can lead to muscle loss.
Consuming a higher amount of protein along with strength training can help counteract this effect by promoting muscle protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown. Aim to consume around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day when cutting. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for around 150 grams of protein per day.
Total Calorie Intake For Cutting
In addition to macronutrient ratios, total calorie intake is also important for cutting. To lose body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than your body burns. This deficit can be achieved by reducing overall calorie intake and/or increasing activity levels.
Aim for a calorie deficit of around 500-750 calories per day when cutting. This should result in a weight loss of around 1-2 pounds per week. However, keep in mind that individual needs and preferences may vary, and it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.
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What’s The Recommended Meal Timing And Frequency For Cutting?
When it comes to cutting, or losing body fat, meal timing and frequency can play a role in your results. Here are some recommended meal timing and frequency strategies for cutting:
- Eat Every 3-4 Hours: To keep your metabolism revving, it’s optimal to eat every 3-4 hours. This allows for a steady stream of energy and nutrients to fuel your body throughout the day.
- Consume a Protein-Packed Breakfast: Starting your day with a breakfast that’s high in protein can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied, which can help to prevent overeating later in the day.
- Incorporate Intermittent Fasting: This eating pattern involves fasting for a certain period of time (usually 16-24 hours) and then eating during a set window of time. Many people find this strategy helpful for cutting since it can reduce overall caloric intake.
- Time Your Carb Intake: To maximize fat-burning, it’s best to consume carbohydrates primarily around your workout. This gives your body the fuel it needs to power through your workout while also minimizing storage of excess carbs as fat.
Overall, the most important factor in cutting is to create a calorie deficit. Finding a meal timing and frequency strategy that works for your lifestyle and preferences can help you achieve your goals while still enjoying your food.
What Should You Eat When Cutting?
When cutting, you don’t need to completely overhaul your diet. Instead, focus on choosing nutrient-dense, whole food sources of macronutrients and sticking to your calorie goals. Here are some healthy foods to consider when cutting:
Salmon is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D (9). Its healthy fats may help regulate blood sugar levels and inflammation, making it an ideal food for weight loss. A recommended serving size is 3-4 ounces, which can be easily incorporated into a salad or used in a healthy stir-fry recipe.
Try delicious baked salmon with a honey mustard glaze. Combine 2 tbsp. honey, 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and 1 tbsp. lemon juice. Brush over 4 salmon fillets and bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are low in calories and high in nutrients like vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. They contain fiber, which promotes satiety and keeps you feeling full longer (10).
A recommended serving size is 1-2 cups, which can be added to smoothies or used as a base for a salad.Make a fruity summer salad with 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of sliced strawberries, ½ cup of blueberries, 1/3 cup of chopped almonds, and 2 tbsp. of balsamic vinaigrette.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are high in fiber and antioxidants, making them a great choice for weight loss (1). They are low in calories and contain high amounts of water, which promotes hydration.
A recommended serving size is ½ to 1 cup, which can be eaten alone or used in a healthy dessert recipe.Enjoy a healthy dessert with a Greek yogurt and berry parfait. Layer ½ cup of Greek yogurt, ½ cup of mixed berries, and 1 Tbsp. of granola in a cup or jar.
Read More: Can You Use Chair Yoga For Weight Loss?
Quinoa is a great source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Its fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes feelings of fullness (11).
A recommended serving size is ½ cup cooked, which can be used as a base for a healthy bowl recipe or added to a salad for extra protein.
Make a delicious quinoa bowl with ½ cup of cooked quinoa, 1 cup of roasted vegetables, ½ cup of black beans, and 2 tbsp. of salsa.
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is high in protein and contains probiotics, which promote healthy gut bacteria and improve digestion. It helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it an ideal food for weight loss (6).
A recommended serving size is ½ cup, which can be used in a smoothie or eaten as a healthy snack.Enjoy a protein-packed smoothie with ½ cup of Greek yogurt, ½ cup of mixed berries, ½ banana, and 1 Tbsp. of honey.
Avocado is high in heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium that can help reduce blood pressure. Its healthy fats may also help with improving insulin sensitivity which could contribute to a healthy weight loss (4). A recommended serving size is ½ an avocado, which can be mashed and used in a sandwich or added to a salad.
Make a delicious avocado toast with a soft-boiled egg, diced tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is said to help in reducing appetite, improving digestion, and boosting metabolism. It may also help improve blood sugar and blood lipid levels (12). A recommended serving size is 1 tablespoon, which can be mixed with water or used in dressings.
Try a honey mustard vinaigrette with 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. of Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. of honey, and 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
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8. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, making them a great food for weight loss. They also contain antioxidants that may help to reduce inflammation (13).
A recommended serving size is 2 tablespoons, which can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, or used as an egg substitute in baking.
Make a nutritious chia seed pudding with 2 tbsp. of chia seeds, 3/4 cup of almond milk, and some honey for sweetness
A recommended serving size is 1-2 cups, which can be eaten alone or used in a healthy smoothie recipe.
Make a healthy summer salad with 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of diced watermelon, crumbled feta cheese, and a balsamic dressing.
Nut varieties such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats that can help regulate hunger and boost energy levels (5).
A recommended serving size is 1/4 cup, which can be eaten as a snack or used in a healthy recipe.
Enjoy a homemade trail mix with ¼ cup of mixed nuts, ¼ cup of dried cherries and 2 tbsp. of dark chocolate chips.
Water is essential for weight loss as it helps to flush out toxins and keep the body hydrated (7). Aim to drink 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and feel fuller for longer. Try adding lemon or cucumber slices for an extra hit of flavor.
What Are Some Helpful Tips For Sustaining A Cutting Diet?
Sticking to a cutting diet can be challenging, but the following tips can help you stay consistent and reach your goals
- Plan meals in advance: Planning your meals ahead of time can help you stick to your diet and avoid impulsive food decisions.
- Track your daily caloric intake: Tracking your caloric intake is crucial for achieving your weight loss goals. Use a calorie-tracking app or keep a food journal to monitor your daily intake.
- Prioritize protein: Protein is essential for preserving lean muscle mass while cutting fat. Make sure to consume lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, and lean beef, regularly throughout the day.
- Incorporate healthy fats: Healthy fats, such as avocados and nuts, can help you feel full and satisfied while cutting calories.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help you feel full and curb your appetite. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day.
- Increase your vegetable intake: Vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Aim for at least 2 cups of vegetables per meal.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods: Processed foods are often high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats, and can sabotage your efforts to sustain a cutting diet. Instead, focus on whole, natural foods.
- Practice mindful eating: Mindful eating can help you better understand your hunger and cravings, and prevent overeating. Take the time to savor each bite, and pay attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to imbalances in hormones that may increase hunger and cravings. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Be patient and kind to yourself: Sustaining a cutting diet can be challenging and may involve ups and downs. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself, and focus on the progress you’ve made rather than small setbacks.
The Bottom Line
Cutting is a popular body transformation strategy that involves reducing calories and increasing exercise to create a calorie deficit. Meal timing and frequency strategies can help maximize fat loss while still enjoying food.
Additionally, some helpful tips for sustaining a cutting diet include planning meals in advance, tracking daily caloric intake, and prioritizing protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- Dietary Strategies of Modern Bodybuilders (2021, nih.gov)
- Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019, nih.gov)
- Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects (2013, nih.gov)
- Health Benefits of Nut Consumption (2010, nih.gov)
- Is consuming yoghurt associated with weight management outcomes? Results from a systematic review (2016, nih.gov)
- Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss (2016, nih.gov)
- Macronutrients and Human Health for the 21st Century (2020, nih.gov)
- NUTRITION (n.d., globalsalmoninitiative.org)
- Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline (2018, nih.gov)
- Nutritional Composition and Bioactive Components in Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Greens: A Review (2022, nih.gov)
- The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (2021, nih.gov)
- The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge (2019, nih.gov)
- Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims (2014, nih.gov)