What Does ‘Cutting’ Mean?
Just like bulking, the term ‘cutting’ is pretty common in the fitness world.
For many people, getting ‘cut’ or ‘ripped’ is seen as the end goal of all of that time spent working out…
Simply put, cutting can be defined as deliberately trying to lose weight, in the form of body fat, which is accomplished by eating fewer calories than you normally do.
The goal of cutting, then, is to get that ripped look, with visible muscles and abs – which is just not possible unless you are at a certain low level of body fat.
How To Cut
Like bulking, cutting is primarily determined by your caloric intake.
When you’re cutting, you need to eat less than your TDEE, which is the level of calories you need to maintain your current weight.
As a general rule of thumb, if you consume 500 less calories per day than your TDEE then you’ll lose about 1 pound per week.
This obviously varies from person to person – but for most people it is a good enough approximation to be useful.
In terms of macronutrients, you want to be getting at least 1.2 grams of protein per lean pound of body mass while cutting.
Yes, you actually need more protein when cutting than when bulking, pound for pound – otherwise, you may find it hard to maintain your strength at the gym.
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The rest of your cutting diet is more variable. Practically speaking, most people tend to reduce carbs while cutting, but this is not a hard and fast rule. You can also reduce fat – or even protein – as long as the appropriate caloric deficit is created.
How Fast Should You Cut?
There are many different schools of thought when it comes to losing weight…
When it comes to cutting, however, there are special considerations that don’t pertain to many people that just want to lost weight.
You see, if you are cutting, you typically care about how much muscle you have, and don’t want to have it melt away as you lose fat.
If you lose weight too fast on your cut, it WILL have a negative impact on your strength and muscle size.
To be on the safe side, you should aim to lose between 1-1.5 pounds per week, if you want to maintain your strength as much as possible.
Yes, you can do more than this – by creating an even larger caloric deficit. This will cause you to lose weight faster, but a greater percentage of that weight will be from muscle, which you’ll subsequently have to build back up on your next bulk.
Should You Change Your Workout?
Many people think that they should lower the amount of weight that they’re lifting while cutting.
This is an absolutely terrible idea. Don’t do it.
You will simply end up losing A LOT more strength and muscle than you would otherwise.
Instead, you want to actively use your workouts to maintain as much strength and muscle as possible during your cut.
This means focusing on lifting heavier weights, for fewer reps.
In fact, you want to try to lift the same amount of weight as you did before you started cutting.
Unless you are new to weight lifting, this probably won’t happen. You’ll lose some strength and muscle on your cut.
Don’t worry, it’s not just you…it happens to everyone.
But you can significantly limit the amount that this happens if you keep pushing heavy weights at the gym.
And if you’re doing cardio as part of your cut, make it HIIT if possible, since this is more muscle sparing than traditional steady-state cardio.
I’ll be frank here – the process of cutting isn’t fun…
Unlike bulking, you don’t get to enjoy copious quantities of your favorite foods.
Instead, you have to restrict your calories and can often feel like you’re grinding against a wall during your workouts.
But there are also some obvious rewards…
If you set up your calories/macros properly, and force yourself to lift heavy, you’ll strip away layers of body fat that reveal all of your hard work.
Just remember not to cut too fast, lest you lose some of your hard earned gains. You want to lose weight at a controlled, steady pace.
Before I wrap this one up, let me leave you with one piece of advice…
If you’re having issues restricting your calories sufficiently to lose weight, then I’d suggest looking into Intermittent Fasting.
This has worked extremely well for several of my clients, allowing them to eat big while still losing weight.