Blog Diets Cutting Diet Plan: Lose Body Fat And Maximize Your Lean Mass In No Time

Cutting Diet Plan: Lose Body Fat And Maximize Your Lean Mass In No Time

bodybuilder cutting diet plan

Everything You Should Know About Cutting Diet Plan

Have you heard about the cutting diet plan? To whom this eating plan best suited? Is the cutting diet plan the only meal plan you need to help you achieve your bodybuilding and weight loss goals? How long should you be on this diet? Should you count your calories and macros whilst on it? Read on to find out.


What Is A Cutting Diet Plan?

A cutting diet plan is an eating plan mostly used by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts to reduce their body fat percentage while maintaining muscle mass. The bodybuilder cutting meal plan is often done around bodybuilding competitions, athletic events, or occasions like holidays, which require participants to be as lean as possible. Sometimes, fitness influencers go on this diet when they have photoshoots to make them look as shredded as possible on their photos.

As we’ve defined what the bodybuilder cutting diet plan is, there are four main points that you need to take note of:

The first and most important thing to note is that the cutting diet is unlike many weight loss plans that you have come across. Unlike other eating plans that have a specific number of calories to consume in order to lose weight, on the cutting diet plan, the number of calories consumed differs from person to person.

Secondly, this eating plan mostly caters to bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. This is because, while this eating plan is a calorie deficit diet and does induce fat loss and some weight loss, the number of calories consumed is still much higher than what would be recommended for most people looking to actively lose weight.

Thirdly, many weight loss plans recommend that you reduce the number of carbs that you consume in a day. The cutting diet plan, however, is relatively much higher in the number of grams of protein and carbs consumed per day.

Lastly, working out is extremely important in the cutting diet plan. The bodybuilder cutting diet plan requires its participants to workout, especially through weight lifting. This helps in maintaining muscle mass and promoting muscle growth which may be affected by a lower calorie diet.

cutting diet plan

How To Plan A Cutting Diet?

As stated above, this is not like most weight loss plans, and thus you should plan your diet per your desires. Here are some foods that you should consider buying and including in your diet:

  • Leafy Green Vegetables

They may not affect your fat, protein, or carbs numbers by much, but they are essential in any diet. Leafy greens are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are all essential for good health. Great examples include kale, collard greens, Romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, cabbage, and Swiss chard, among others (16).

  • Fibre-Rich Foods

Some benefits of fiber in the diet include lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar levels, normalizing, and maintaining bowel movement. On the cutting diet plan, the most critical benefit of fiber is the fact that it is quite filling (7). These foods keep you fuller for longer, which helps control cravings. Fiber is found in wholegrain bread and pasta, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and sweetcorn, whole grains like oats, barley, and brown rice, in beans and legumes, and in fruits like berries, pears, melon, and oranges (2).

See also
Benefits Of A Juice Cleanse: Do They Outweigh The Risks?

cutting diet plan

  • Drink More Water

Not only does water help with digestion, but it also keeps you hydrated and feeling fuller, which keeps you from snacking and messing up your caloric intake for the day (4). Water also boosts your metabolism, helping you burn calories faster (17).

Read More: Salad And Water Diet: Does This Weight Loss Cliche Combination Work?

  • Avoid Sugary Drinks And Alcohol

These soda, alcohol, and energy drinks are high in empty calories and not filling, making you eat more and going past your set calorie intake for the day. Added sugar is also bad for weight loss as it elevates blood sugar and may cause insulin resistance over time (1). Replace these drinks with water, black coffee, and tea while on a cutting diet plan.

  • Try Meal Prepping

You are more likely to fall off your cutting diet plan if you do not have food ready to eat. This happens on days that you are too tired to cook or are not in the mood to do so. To prevent such mishaps, many people prefer meal prep. Pick one day of the week (mostly Sunday) and cook all the foods you wish to eat for that week. You could go even further and divide it all into ready to eat portions.

If eating the same thing for the next five to six days doesn’t appeal to you, try food prepping. Peel and cut up all your favorite ingredients and put them in the fridge. This will make cooking take a much shorter time, preventing you from ordering food from your favorite fast food outlet.

See also
Clean Bulking Meal Plan For Building Lean Muscle

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cutting diet plan

What Is The Best Way To Do A Bodybuilding 12-Week Cutting Diet Plan?

Here is how to achieve the best results on the cutting diet plan:

  • Calculate How Much Calories You Need

Calorie counting is not for everyone. While some people live by it, others believe that it is very restrictive and can build an unhealthy relationship with eating. However, for this eating plan, taking note of how many calories you should be eating is quite important. When it comes to cutting calories for weight loss, a deficit of 500 to 1000 calories is recommended for healthy and gradual weight loss.

This deficit allows you to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week (6). While a higher calorie deficit may help you lose weight faster, not all the weight lost will be from fat. One side effect of rapid weight loss is muscle loss (11). In 2011 a controlled trial involving 24 athletes showed that fast weight loss made some of the participants lose lean body mass (9). Remember that the goal of the cutting diet plan is to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.

  • Determine Your Protein Intake

Adequate protein intake is important in every diet, but it is especially insisted upon on a cutting diet plan. This is because this nutrient is the building block of your muscles. An increase of this macronutrient in your diet contributes to greater strength and muscle mass gains when coupled with weighted workouts.

It also allows for greater muscle mass preservation when consumed during periods of negative energy balance. You also achieve a greater muscle protein synthetic response when protein is evenly distributed across meals (8).

How do you calculate your protein intake for the day?

The average person requires just 0.8 grams per kg of weight a day (12), but bodybuilders may require 2.3 to 3.1 g per kg of lean body mass (3). Thus, a bodybuilder weighing 90 kgs with 10% body fat will require:

90 kg * 90 % = 81 kg lean body mass

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81 kg * 2.5 g protein = 203 g protein a day

cutting diet plan

  • Determine Your Fat Intake

This diet requires you to reduce your fat, but this does not mean fully cutting them out of your diet. On the cutting diet plan, 15-30% of your daily calories should come from fat (10).

  • Calculate Your Carbohydrate Intake

As stated above this diet requires a higher carbohydrate intake than most weight-loss diets. This is because once consumed carbs are turned into glucose which the body uses as energy. Without enough carbohydrates in your daily diet, your body turns to your fat stores to burn for energy. Without enough fat, the body will begin burning muscle for energy which causes muscle loss. Once you have determined your calorie deficit, then figured out how many grams of fat and protein you need in a day, then the remainder comes from carbs.

Protein and carbs = 4 calories per gram

Fats = 9 calories per gram (13)

If this system is too confusing, you could always use an online macro calculator to figure how much grams of macronutrients you need per day.

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cutting diet plan

A Bodybuilding Cutting Diet Plan Example

Here are 3 samples of a bodybuilding cutting meal plan for a 2100 calorie cut. Remember that these are just examples. You can alter them to fit your macros (proteins, carbs, and fats) needs for the day.

Sample One:

Meal 1 – Cereal bowl

  • 70 g whole-grain cereal and 200 ml semi-skimmed milk

Calories: 362. Fat: 8 g, Proteins: 13 g, Carbs: 58 g

Meal 2 Protein shake

  • 30 g chocolate flavored whey protein and 1 medium-sized banana

Calories: 223. Fat: 2 g, Proteins: 25 g, Carbs: 29 g

Meal 3 – Buddha bowl

  • 2 cups loosely packed, fresh greens, 1/2 cup edamame, 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 10 pitted Kalamata olives, 1 small sliced cucumber, 1/4 cup sliced red onions, and 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • For the dressing – 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 and a half tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 minced clove garlic, 1/2 dried oregano, salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste

Calories: 516. Fats: 34 g, Proteins: 16 g, Carbs: 44 g

Meal 4 – Caesar Salad (14)

  • For the chicken – 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, and 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • For the dressing – 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste
  • For the salad – 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 a large Romaine lettuce, 1 medium-sized avocado, 17 g Parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp chives
See also
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This recipe makes 2 servings.

Calories for one serving: 644. Fats: 36 g, Proteins: 66 g, Carbs: 15 g

Meal 5 – Yogurt and fruit bowl

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 tsp flax seeds, 28 g goji berries, and 1 tbsp almond butter

Calories: 321. Fats: 14 g, Proteins: 19 g, Carbs: 34 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 2066. Fats: 94 g, Proteins: 139 g, Carbs: 180 g

cutting diet plan

Sample Two:

Meal 1 – Scrambled eggs

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, 30 g baby spinach, 1 cup egg whites, and 2 large eggs

Calories: 411. Fats: 24 g, Proteins: 41 g, Carbs: 5 g

Meal 2 – Oatmeal

  • 1 cup oats (dry), 3 tbsp peanut butter, and 30 g whey protein

Calories: 763. Fats: 31 g, Proteins: 46 g, Carbs: 74 g

Meal 3 – Post-workout

  • 1 scoop whey protein powder, and 1 cup blueberries

Calories: 204. Fats: 1 g, Proteins: 26 g, Carbs: 23 g

Meal 4 – Dinner

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, 85 g baby tomatoes, 3 cups mixed greens, 1/2 cup blueberries, and 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

Calories: 628. Fats: 6 g, Proteins: 112 g, Carbs: 25 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 2006. Fats: 62 g, Proteins: 225 g, Carbs: 127 g

Read More: 3 Day Egg Diet: Can It Up Your Protein Intake And Kick Weight Loss Up A Notch?


Sample Three:

Meal 1 – Egg white wrap

  • 200 g egg whites, 1 slice low-fat cheese, 1 whole-grain wrap, 5 cherry tomatoes, and low sugar ketchup

Calories: 308. Fats: 5 g, Proteins: 20 g, Carbs: 28 g

Meal 2 – Pre-workout

  • 1 scoop whey protein powder

Calories: 118. Fats: 2 g, Proteins: 24 g, Carbs: 2 g

Meal 3 – Beef stir fry

  • 200 g beef steak, 300 g pumpkin, 10 g olive oil, 1 cup snow peas, 1 cup sugar snap peas, 1 tbsp miso mayo, and 1 whole-grain wrap

Calories: 781. Fats: 39 g, Proteins: 53 g, Carbs: 54 g

Meal 4 – Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 scoop whey protein, 200 g mixed berries, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 cup almond milk, and 2 tbsp protein granola

Calories: 404. Fats: 15 g, Proteins: 33 g, Carbs: 28 g

Meal 5 – No rice poke bowl

  • 100 g salmon, 140 g tuna, 50 g edamame, 30 g fresh ginger, 4 cups mixed salad greens, 2 tbsp hot sauce, and 2 tbsp light mayo
See also
Ovo-Vegetarian Meal Plan And Diet Guide

Calories: 442. Fats: 17 g, Proteins: 50 g, Carbs: 31 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 2053. Fats: 78 g, Proteins: 170 g, Carbs: 142 g

cutting diet plan

How Often Should You Workout While On A Cutting Diet Plan?

Weight lifting is emphasized on this eating plan, but how often should you do it? Should you do cardio workouts, or will they cost you your gains?

When it comes to weight lifting, it is recommended that each muscle group should be exercised at least twice a week, if not more (15). In light of cardio workouts, many bodybuilders avoid it since it could lead to more weight loss that they desire.

This is not a good idea. Cardio strengthens your heart, prevents diabetes and heart disease, helps you sleep better, controls your appetite, and accelerates fat loss (5). You should try doing cardio once to twice a week. However, these exercises should be lower intensity (meaning no sprints) and should be done for a much shorter duration than usual (15).

What Is The Best Cutting Diet Plan?

No cutting diet that is ‘one size fits all.’ This eating plan is usually made to fit individual specifications. Thus for the best results, find an eating plan that is high in protein and carbs, low in fat, and has fiber-rich foods. Always eat your greens and drink a lot of water.

Can You Use The Cutting Diet Plan For Weight Loss?

In many cases, no, you cannot. While the point of a calorie deficit applies to both a weight loss and cutting diet plan, the latter is still quite high in calories for most people. Also, the goal of a weight loss plan is to shed a couple of pounds without as heavy a focus on building muscle mass.

The Bottom Line

A cutting diet plan is not really as hard as many think it is. As long as you have your macros sorted, then you are good to go. Eating healthy meals that are within your recommended caloric intake and lifting weights will give you the lean physique that you desire. If you are unsure if the cutting diet plan is for you, or are still confused on how to calculate how much food you need, please speak to a licensed dietitian, and they will show you the best way forward.


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!


  1. 6 Ways Added Sugar Is Fattening (2019,
  2. 22 High-Fiber Foods You Should Eat (2018,
  3. A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes (2014,
  4. Can water help you lose weight? (2018,
  5. Cardio 101: Benefits and tips (N.D,
  6. Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics (2020,
  7. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet (2018,
  8. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019,
  9. Effect of two different weight-loss rates on body composition and strength and power-related performance in elite athletes (2011,
  10. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation (2014,
  11. Fast Weight Loss May Mean Muscle Loss (n.d,
  12. How much protein do you need every day? (2019,
  13. How to Count Macros: A Step-By-Step Guide (2018,
  15. Recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: resistance and cardiovascular training (2015,
  16. The 13 Healthiest Leafy Green Vegetables (2018,
  17. Water-induced thermogenesis (2003,
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