Most people who are new to bodybuilding or start working out for the first time in their lives have one purpose- to lose fat while gaining muscle mass. The majority does so by joining a gym and following some sort of a workout to get shredded or hiring a personal trainer. In most cases it does not yield the kind of results a bodybuilding cutting diet plan would have.
What countless people still do not realize is that more than a fancy gym or a highly recommended trainer, what they need is a bodybuilding cutting diet plan. As the famous saying goes “abs are made in the kitchen”. If you are going to the gym and yet eating a carb loaded sandwich from the deli everyday at lunch then rest assured that there will no cutting happening. When you start to learn bodybuilding, you must also start to learn nutrition.
The only way you can physically transform yourself into a new you is if you pay adequate attention to nutrition and the meals that you consume throughout your day.
Characteristics of an ideal bodybuilding cutting diet plan
When you start designing the ideal diet to reach your goals you must keep three priorities in mind. A good bodybuilding cutting diet plan should allow you to lose as much body fat as possible. It should prevent you from losing muscle mass. And it should not hamper your ability to train in the gym, owing to a lack of energy.
Muscles take a lot of hard work to build and the last thing you want to do is lose them while you were trying to lose weight (which for most people really means to lose fat). If you go on an extreme cutting diet without a scientific approach, your risk doing just so.
The rule of the thumb is that you should aim to cut out 500 calories every day, bringing the total weekly cut to 3500 calories that, non-coincidentally, is equivalent to 1 lbs. As scientists have proven time and again 1 to 1.5 lbs. (max) is the ideal rate at which a healthy human should lose weight.
It is all in the macros
Eating right in combination with working out leads to cutting, that we have already established and the former can only be done efficiently when you have correctly configured your personal cutting macros for yourself.
Macros or macronutrient ratios simply refers to the percentage of carbohydrates, fat and protein that you should consume on a daily basis to achieve your target fitness goal. So instead of following some fad meal plan or a random diet plan from some off the shelf fitness mag, you design your own customized eating plan for yourself. All you need to keep in mind are the macronutrient ratios.
Let us take a look at how you calculate your very own macros.
Calculating daily caloric intake
First of all, you need to figure out how many calories you need per day. This number helps you draw out a caloric limit that you should stay within to achieve optimal cutting.
Figuring this out is rather easy. Take your body weight and multiple it by the corresponding number according to the kind of life you lead.
Sedentary lifestyle= 14
Light active lifestyle= 14.5
Moderately active lifestyle = 15
Very Active lifestyle = 15.5
Extremely Active lifestyle = 16
For example, if you work at a 9 to 5 desk job that has you sitting in front of a computer all day then you will take your body weight and multiple it with 14. If your lifestyle needs a lot of running around and lifting things then you’d multiple it to 15. If you are active in the gym already and are working out heavy then 16 is your number.
So for Andy who is a 200-pound guy with a desk job, this number will be 2800 (200*14).
Caloric deficit is the magic word
Our goal here is to cut the excess fat without losing muscle. In order to do that we need to initiate a caloric deficit that will allow us to achieve that goal. The key thing to remember with this is that if the deficit you induce is too big, then you will eventually end up losing the hard earned muscle mass. It needs to be well within the optimal range and that range for most of us is 500 calories.
So take the amount of calories you calculated in the last step and subtract 500 from it. Taking the example of Andy again, the number for him would be 2300 calories (2800 -500). From here on it is simply a matter of calculating the right amount of carbs, fats and protein that should be a part of your daily caloric intake.
Fat is not your enemy
By fat, of course we mean the fat content of your meals and not the extra slab of it you got on your belly. A lot of people just assume that eating more fat will make them… fat. That is not true. Foods to eat to get ripped are ones rich in fat help our body regulate vitamins, provide energy, helps in natural production of testosterone and balances hormone levels. Eating fat also prevents your body from using protein as a source of energy, thereby ensuring that you do not lose any muscle mass.
On a cutting diet, you need anything between 0.3 grams to 0.6 grams of fat per pound of body weight. To keep it simple, ask yourself if you like consuming food rich in fat. Things like nuts, bacon, cheese, avocados etc. You are much more likely to stick to a diet if you enjoy eating the food as well.
So for our old friend Andy (who is 200 pounds) a fat heavy approach would see him needing 120 grams (200 * 0.6) of fat per day.
Protein, protein, protein!
It is no closely guarded secret that protein is crucial for anyone looking to get into bodybuilding but like everything else it is really important to ensure that you eat it in the right percentages. This ideal range is anywhere between 0.8g to 1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
To keep it really simple, simply multiple your bodyweight by 1. Protein intake = your bodyweight in pounds. If you are overweight then you could reduce It to ‘bodyweight X 0.8’ ratio and if you are lean and working out regularly, then nudging the multiplier up to 1.2 won’t do any harm. For our old pal Andy, this number would be 160 grams (200*0.8).
Alas, the carbs
To carb or not to carb, is the perpetual question. Eating a low carb diet leads to weight loss, we all know that. The only problem is that a lack of carbohydrates can leave you feeling tired and irritable. It also forces the body to lose muscle glycogen that results in you feeling slugging when trying to workout. Besides the brain uses carbs for energy and without them, it won’t be able to function at 100% of its capacity.
To calculate carbs simply subtract the total of the protein and fat intake that you require from the total calories that you need and you have your number. Let’s take Andy’s example once again.
We established earlier that to function adequately, Andy needs to eat 2300 calories a day. Out of that 120 grams need to be fat and 160 gram, protein.
One gram of fat is equal to 9 calories and one gram of protein is equal to 4 calories. This means that Andy’s required fat intake should be 1080 calories of fat and 640 calories of protein. Subtract the total of these from 2300 (his required daily caloric intake) and we have the amount of carbs that he should eat. That is, 2300 – (1080+640)= 580 calories of carbohydrates.
Since carbs have 4 calories per gram 580 calories of it would amount to 145 grams of carbs. In the end Andy’s ideal bodybuilding cutting diet plan will involve eating 120 grams of fat, 160 grams of protein and 145 grams of carbs. See how easy that was?
It might seem like quite a chore to measure everything you eat but in reality it is not so, especially after you get used to doing it. All you need is a kitchen weighing scale and a My Fitness Pal account. The latter is free to use and can be installed as an app as well on your smartphone. You use it to enter a food item and it spells out the macros for it. Can’t get easier than that.
Once you have learned how to design your very own bodybuilding diets for cutting, you will find the going to be much easier. Now all you need to do is to put your head down and sweat it out in the gym.