Summer is already here and you have been working hard since the holidays to get in tip-top shape. The season of bulking is officially over, and most of us are starting a cutting diet.
Contrary to popular belief, cutting is not as easy as just eating less. Not all calories are created equal. Different foods trigger different metabolic pathways in our bodies and can have vastly different effects on hunger levels, hormones, amount of calories burned, etc.
If you’re trying to cut (aka get lean), follow the guidelines below and you’ll surely reach your goal. Just keep reading!
What is a Cutting Diet?
A cutting/weight loss diet is generally used by fitness enthusiasts to lose weight while maintaining lean muscle mass.
Each cutting diet will slightly differ from person to person. Cutting diets should be specifically tailored to ones macro-nutrient needs. Meaning, a five foot five woman will not need the same protein, carb, and fat intake as a six foot male.
Using an online cutting calculator you’ll easily get the needed numbers.
Quick Cutting Tips for Better Results
1. Choose more fiber-rich foods. Foods with high fiber content (such as non-starchy vegetables and fruits) usually contain more nutrients and can help you stay fuller for longer; especially while in a calorie deficit.
2. Meal Prepping! Preparing your meals ahead is a sure-fire way to ensure you stay on track, avoiding those temptations of comfort foods. Also, meal prepping can save you lots of time, and money as well.
3. Intermittent fasting! Instead of the standard six small meals a day approach, why don’t you try intermittent fasting? Use an 8-hour eating window and consume all of your calories in this time frame. 2-3 solid meals per day within your calorie boundaries will do the trick.
4. Cardio is necessary. I know you didn’t want to hear this, but pairing cardio alongside weightlifting and a cutting diet can do wonders for your fat loss progress. The form of cardio doesn’t necessarily need to be high-intensity, a simple walk is just fine.
5. Hydration! Water is the key to losing weight. It is essential for our well-being and overall health. More so, staying properly hydrated will help curb appetite and temporary speed up your metabolism.
The Top Cutting Foods You Should Eat
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the absolute best foods you need for a successful cut!
Despite what most people believe, whole eggs are actually very healthy and won’t raise your cholesterol.
They are one of the best foods to eat if you’re cutting. Eggs are high in protein and fat, making them quite satisfying if prepared right.
The nutritional profile of eggs is incredibly dense. One large whole egg contains almost 7 grams of protein. So if you’re on a cutting diet, these bad boys will make a great addition to your meals.
However, be aware that even though they are a great source of protein, the yolk contains most of the fat content. If you’re tracking macros and want to stay in a calorie deficit, try adding more egg whites instead. For fat loss, you should probably not eat more than 3-4 whole eggs per day. Egg whites on the other hand, can be consumed in larger quantities.
2. Leafy Vegetables
Alright, no one actually likes leafy greens…
Okay, but still foods like kale, spinach, and collards are one of the best choices when it comes to losing weight. Among the many properties that make leafy greens good for slimming down, being low in calories, carbs, and being packed with fiber are probably the most important ones.
Leafy greens are an amazing way to increase the volume of your meal without adding almost any calories. They are also a great source of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
3. Chicken Breast and Lean Beef
These two types of meat are your go-to protein options when it comes to cutting.
Protein is by far the most filling nutrient and eating a high-protein diet can help you feel and stay fuller, for longer.
In fact, in my experience, most people who feel like they just “can’t lose weight” are probably severely under-cutting their protein intake.
Chicken breast will give you around 31 grams of protein per 3.5 ounce serving, including valuable vitamins such as Niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, and minerals such as Zinc and Selenium.
Lean beef has a cool 25 grams of protein per serving, vitamin B12 and minerals such as Iron, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
Salmon is loaded with high quality protein, healthy fat and various essential nutrients.
Fish and seafood in general present a great source of iodine; a nutrient necessary for proper thyroid and metabolism functioning. Both of which impact your weight loss progress significantly.
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which play a major role in reducing inflammation.
A half fillet of salmon contains almost a whopping 40 grams of protein!
Another brilliant protein source. Containing almost 7 grams of protein per ounce, tuna is low in fat and calories.
Very popular among bodybuilders and gym goers, it is a convenient and cost effective way to get your daily protein while maintaining a low calorie diet.
6. Cottage Cheese
This powerhouse food delivers 28 grams of protein with just one cup.
Cottage cheese includes a healthy dose of an extremely important mineral, calcium. Even though there are many versions of cottage cheese, some have higher fat contents, I would still recommend you to go for the fat-free or at least the low fat options.
An avocado is packed full of nutrients and represents an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which are perfect for adding healthy calories to your diet.
Avocados are also extremely versatile; add them to salads, on top of stir fry’s, as a side with eggs, etc.
If you follow a more plant-based approach to eating, then nuts are a must have protein source.
Recent studies indicate that nuts may help prevent risk factors, such as inflammation and chronic disease. Another great thing about them is that they’re easily accessible and widely available.
Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts have the highest protein content.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is really popular in the natural health community.
Several studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can be useful for weight loss, providing numerous health benefits alongside.
About 1-2 tablespoons of ACV per day is recommended to induce optimal weight loss benefits. Mixing it with water is probably the best way to consume it.
10. Sweet Potato
One of the best complex carb options are sweet potatoes. One medium sweet potato has 105 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.
They are not only filling, but also packed with high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin A.
Make a sweet potato mash, add chunks to your stir-fry or chili with a touch of cinnamon.
11. Chia Seeds
Small but powerful, these little seeds pack a major nutritional punch. A tablespoon contains 69 calories, largely thanks to its heart-healthy fats, and 5 grams of fiber.
They make a great addition to everything from smoothies to puddings.
Giving up pasta is a hard choice to make when it comes to losing weight. Luckily, zucchini noodles are a healthier alternative.
Consider them as a low-carb pasta that is rich in vitamin A and C, fiber and potassium with only 33 calories per zucchini.
Make zoodles, roast them, or add to salads.