Bodybuilding Cutting Diet Plan – How to Cut Effectively

For the definition of ‘cutting’ and detailed information please see the article Cutting V Bulking: Losing Body Fat Whilst Gaining Quality Muscle. You’ll find two sample meal plans there, both of which are designed to encourage fat loss and muscle maintenance – perfect for bodybuilders. This article provides an alternative cutting meal plan, based very much around good quality food choices including some basic supplements, please refer to the information in the article to compliment the information here.

Healthy meal - Grilled Chicken

Exercise and Cutting

Your weight training regimen you follow when you’re not cutting needs to be continued for when you are cutting. High repetitions with low weights are not required; high reps do not ‘tone muscle’ nor do they aid in the loss of fat. Heavy weight training is standard; the only things that change are dietary factors and cardiovascular activity levels. Weight training whilst cutting, must remain intense. You will be able to continue to train hard as you’re the plan provides structured nutrition to fuel exercise.

In order to achieve optimum results, try to include 40-50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise or high intensity interval training (HIIT) three or four times per week. Ideally this should be done first thing in the morning, if it fits in with your daily routine, following a black tea or coffee and nothing else. Intensity should be low, say about 55-60% maximum heart rate, the optimum level for mobilising fat reserves whilst maintaining muscle tissue. In practice, this is the level so when you cease exercising you feel slightly warm and just out of breath.

Weight Loss Supplements

There are a huge number of weight loss supplements on the market, some rubbish and some effective. Some are labelled as ‘fat burners‘ but they do not burn fat; they are thermogenic aids and simply increase core body temperature very slightly and thus metabolic rate is raised.

Although they may be used as an addition to a suitable cutting and cardio regimen, weight loss supplements must not be relied on too heavily. Green tea has mild thermogenic properties and will provide antioxidants in the diet, so is a useful addition. Supplements based on ephedra or ECA (ephedrine โ€“ caffeine โ€“ aspirin) are effective, but not without side effects. Hoodia can be used for suppressing appetite where appetite is a problem, but a well designed regimen, shouldn’t allow for excessive hunger.

Cutting Diet – Meal Plan Example

Meals must be small but regular, and in order to keep growing and maximise your bodybuilding, it is essential to keep protein intake high. The key to effective cutting lies in careful manipulation of your intake of carbohydrate foods, i.e. carbs should be low, but not omitted. Consume complex starchy carbohydrate foods regularly, but in small portions only. Be strict in avoiding treats and junk food.

Following a meal plan similar to the one below should give a steady loss of body fat, and if you are training hard, there will be no loss of muscle. Portion sizes and meals have been structured in such a way to help keep you feeling full up and satisfied whilst dieting.

Wake 6.30 am Strong black tea / coffee
40-50 mins low intensity cardio
7.30 breakfast Porridge: 30g oats + skimmed milk + tsp sugar
3 egg whites + 1 egg yolk scrambled
200ml fresh fruit juice
10.00 100g chicken breast
2 oatcakes
Mug green tea
12.30 180g tuna or mackerel salmon or chicken breast
30g wholemeal pasta or basmati rice
Large mixed salad
Mug green tea
15.00 100g chicken breast
2 oatcakes
Mug green tea
45 mins pre-workout 20g whey protein powder in water
2 oatcakes
Drink water
45 mins intense weight training
Immediately post workout 40g whey protein powder + 5g glutamine in water
Evening meal
60 mins later
150g lean red meat or 180g salmon steak
40g wholemeal pasta or 40g basmati rice or 2-3 small boiled new potatoes
Large serving mixed vegetables
22.00 Serving James’ Super Smoothie โ€“ The JSS Cutting Shake
Bedtime 200g cottage cheese

As with all the plans on MuscleTalk, this is merely a guide and must not be stuck to rigidly! You must eat a variety of different meats/fish, starchy carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. Adapt the plans to suit your own needs and daily routine and adjust according to your results in order to attain a steady loss of body fat.

Photo of author

James Collier

James first started bodybuilding as a teenager back in the 1980s and obtained his degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Surrey back in 1995. After qualifying he worked as a clinical Dietitian for the NHS in various UK hospitals.

Having competed several times during the 1990s, his passion now lies in helping other bodybuilders, strength and fitness trainees reach their goals.

He is a Registered Nutritionist and a full member of The Nutrition Society in the UK. James is also co-founder and developer of Huel, nutritionally complete food.

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