A cutting diet is a common eating strategy that is used to lose weight while maintaining muscles. It involves eating lean meat, whole grains, and yogurt.

Normally, there are two main phases of bodybuilding. Bulking is the first phase that little training but increased intake of food to build mass. The second and last phase is cutting. This is the phase that bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts use to become as lean as possible prior to shows, photoshoots, or competitions. The last phase is always known for intense workouts to complement the followed diet.This article will explain what a cutting diet is and how to successfully follow it.

What Is a Cutting Diet?

A cutting diet is also referred to as shredding diet. This is a special type of diet focused on helping the body lose as much fat as possible while maintaining muscles at optimum training.Fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders usually utilize this diet as part of their training plan for a short time prior the events and competitions.There is adifference between a cutting diet and other diets that are utilized for weight loss.

With a cutting diet, each individual’s needs are catered for. The diet is typically high in protein and carbohydrates and must be followed alongside religious weightlifting. A cuttingwill last for 8-16 weeks depending on how lean a person was before starting on the diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, a cutting diet is normally timed some months to events of athletics, bodybuilding competitions, and or special occasions like holidays.

How to Follow a Cutting Diet Successfully

Before you start on a cutting diet, you need to determine your nutritional need. This is because this diet is typically individualized.

1.      Determine Your Calorie Intake

Fat loss is made easier when you burn more calories than the amount you consume per day. A number of factors determine the number of calories you need to take each day to facilitate fat loss. Such factors include gender, weight, height, age, lifestyle, and levels of exercise.According to the National Institutes of Health, on average, a woman needs up to 2,000 calories each day forweight maintenance but shewill need to reduce it to 1,500 per day if she wants to lose 1 lb (0.45 kg) of fat every week.

 Similarly, an average man will need to take 2,500 calories per day for weight maintenance but to lose fats he will need to take 2,000 calories per day.A slow and uniform weight loss, say 1 pound or approximately 1 percent of your body weight per week is ideal for a cutting diet. It is worth noting that calorie deficit may lead to muscle loss even if it helps lose weight.

2.      Calculate the Amount of Protein You Consume

A cutting diet requires one to adequately maintain their protein intake. Several studies have shown that increasing your protein intake can help you lose fat easily.One study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that increased protein intake facilitates fat loss by boosting metabolism, reducing appetite, and maintaining a lean muscle mass.

Those on a cutting diet should take a high amount of protein that exceeds what they would have taken on regular training focused on maintaining weight or building muscle mass. This is because the number of calories you are getting are fewer as compared to how you train thus increasing protein needs.Based on study findings by the National Center for Biotechnology Information the average protein that should be taken per day for a cutting diet is 1.6-2.0 g per kg of bodyweight. This is enough to preserve muscle mass.For instance, an 80 kg person should not exceed 160 g of protein per day.

3.      Know Your Fat Intake

Several studies have shown that hormone production is affected by the amount of fat a person takes. Reducing fat intake on a cutting is essential, but not taking enough of it can as well ruin your body shape. This is because fats help in the production of testosterone and IGF-1 – hormones that help maintain muscle mass.To help maintain your muscle mass in a cutting diet, most of your consumed calories, that is 15-30% should come from fat, according to the study findings by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. For every 1 g of fat, there are about 9 calories. Therefore, if you are on 2,000 calories per day regimen, you should eat at least 35-66 g of fat every day on a cutting diet.

4.      Determine the Amount of Carb You Take

Carbs are another key macronutrient that helps maintain muscle mass while in the cutting phase. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the body prefers to utilize carbs as a source of energy instead of proteins. Therefore, eating enough of it will help prevent muscle loss. The same study also found that your performance can be fueled with carbs during workouts. When on a cutting diet, carb intake is the remaining amount of calories obtained after subtracting protein and fat.

Simply put, both protein and carbs provide 4 calories for every gram, and fat provides 9 g. Your carb intake will be determined by subtracting both protein and fat you need from your total calorie intake then diving what remains by 4. For instance, a 70 kg person whose calorie needs per day is 2000 on a cutting diet, will need to eat 110 g of protein, 60 g of fat, and 255 g of carbs which represents 1.020 calories.

Some Takeaway Tips for a Cutting Diet

  • Always try to eat foods rich in fiber such as non-starchy vegetables will prolong your feelings of fullness.
  • Consume lots of water to boost metabolism.
  • Do meal prepping to avoid eating unhealthy foods.
  • Stay away from liquid carbs as they increase hunger levels.
  • Do much cardio to boost fat loss.


A cutting diet is used by bodybuilders to help burn fats while preserving muscles. The diet should be followed for 8-16 weeks before competitions or holidays.  A cutting edge det involves determining your calorie needs first and taking fat, protein, and carbs in a well-balanced and calculated ratio.

Elena Ognivtseva

Elena Ognivtseva

Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.