Bodybuilding Diet – Cutting 101 : So you want to cut and shred?
A super-lean, ripped physique is the ultimate sign of someone who works hard in the gym, in the kitchen, and in a 24/7 fat-loss lifestyle. Whether you’re cutting for a bodybuilding show, photoshoot or personal goal, you need to get the 101 on getting ripped with a bodybuilding diet.
There’s no down-time if you want to get shredded: meal prep, sleep, training, cardio and lifestyle choices need to be on point. That’s why it’s such an impressive sight. A lean physique says so much more about a person than just their dedication to the gym. It’s an outward sign of their internal strengths: it shows that they’re focused, driven, organised, diligent, consistent and smart. What do you need to know if you want to succeed on your own bodybuilding diet shredding journey? It’s a question of dropping bodyfat, sure, but it’s also a case of hanging on to as much muscle mass as possible.
To lose body fat, you need to create a calorie deficit. That’s the bottom line. Whether you choose to do that through diet alone, or through a combination of diet and energy output, is your choice. But you need to have a small deficit. Track your intake using a calorie and macro calculator or app, learn to read food labels, and invest in a food scale.
The great cardio debate
Some successful bodybuilders do no cardio at all. Others do it on the daily. You can get shredded without cardio, but there’s no denying that daily energy output is important. So, if you have a sedentary job and an inactive lifestyle outside of the gym, you probably need to do cardio (sorry). The next debate is over LISS cardio like power-walking, or HIIT cardio like sprints and intervals. The jury’s still out. Ultimately, the best cardio for you is the one you can actually fit into your day and the one you’ll enjoy enough to do consistently.
Clean eating or IIFYM?
Does food choice matter when you’re trying to get ripped? There are plenty of top bodybuilders out there who get lean using an IIFYM (if it fits your macros) approach, eating a wide range of foods including processed stuff and even junk food. But there are also plenty of top physiques who believe the key to mobilising fat stores and maintaining a healthy fat-burning body is micronutrients. It makes sense that most of your bodybuilding diet should come from real, whole foods which pack a nutritional punch. If nothing else, you’ll get more volume for your caloric allowance, and that will make a big difference when you’re dieting!
Support muscle mass
You need to prevent your muscle mass from being compromised when you’re in a caloric deficit, especially if you’re also doing cardio and doing intense weight training. Protect muscle mass by taking in enough protein, supplementing with a quality whey protein powder after training (and a slow-release casein at night) to stay on top of your protein and amino requirements. Consider using a BCAA supplement, or individual supplements of the essential amino acids, to ward off catabolism and keep your precious muscle mass.
Fat burner supplements can be a useful tool when you’re at the sharp end of a diet. They will boost your energy, giving you the focus, motivation and drive to keep training hard and doing your cardio. They’ll also help manage hunger and cravings, and the thermogenic ingredients will raise your body’s fat burning capabilities, shaving off valuable extra calories from fat.
Sleep is anabolic
Finally, don’t forget the power of good sleep. It’s the most anabolic thing we can do, and it’s free! When we sleep, not only does our muscle tissue repair and regrow, but our bodies churn out significant amounts of the most anabolic hormones: human growth hormone and testosterone. Sleep also regulates our hunger hormones so we’re more likely to stick to the bodybuilding diet the next day. Whilst you’re cutting, sleep as much as you can.