Cutting Diet: Everything You Need To Know

Your health is the most critical resource that you have. If your health starts to fail, everything else in your life starts to suffer too. That’s why taking care of our bodies and feeding them exactly what they need is so important. 

Given how vital our health and fitness are, thousands of diets exist. Some are far more effective than others, and the sheer number of diets available can make it challenging to select the proper diet for your circumstance.

One of the most popular diets in the fitness world is the cutting diet. The cutting diet has been around for years and is explicitly designed to help people lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. This type of diet is critical if you are into bodybuilding and fitness.

The best diet for cutting can help you achieve the perfect physique and give you a leg up in your next bodybuilding competition, or help to get the ideal body you are after. By the end of this article, you will be an expert on the cutting diet and know how to implement it into your fitness routine.

What Is a Cutting Diet?

A cutting diet is a specific diet that carefully calculates your calorie, protein, fat, and carb intake to help you lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass. This specific diet plan requires eating fewer calories than you would typically eat while maintaining the same protein levels and increasing the number of healthy fats you consume.

What is a Cutting Diet
What Is a Cutting Diet?

Everyone will have a unique cutting diet because everyone has different calorie needs based on their body type and muscle mass. While you are on a cutting diet, it is essential to continue weightlifting. Since you are in a caloric deficit, you can experience muscle loss and weightlifting and help prevent this from happening.

Unlike other diets, cutting diets are not meant to be followed for an extended period. You should only follow a cutting diet for two to four months to lean down or prepare for a bodybuilding competition. You can experience serious health concerns if you follow this diet too long since it is so calorie restrictive.

How Does Cutting Diet Work?

A cutting diet creates a caloric deficit that forces your body to pull from its fat energy stores. Since you eat fewer calories than your body needs, it has to burn fat to make the difference. 

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Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how our body responds to the caloric deficiencies, decreased insulin levels, increased protein intake, boosted metabolism, and focused exercise you will experience on the Cutting Diet. 

  1. Caloric Deficiency: When we consume less calories than our bodies require to maintain health, our bodies are compelled to use fat stores (body fat) as a source of energy. Over time, this causes a decrease in body fat.
  2. Decrease Insulin Levels: Consuming fewer carbohydrates causes the body to produce less insulin. Lower insulin levels may aid in reducing body fat because insulin is a hormone that encourages fat storage.
  3. Increased Protein Intake: While on a cutting diet, maintaining muscle mass requires a sufficient intake of protein. Muscle tissue that may be harmed during exercise can be rebuilt and repaired with the help of protein.
  4. Better Metabolic Rate: Eating more frequently and in smaller portions may help to enhance metabolic rate. The body burns more calories while at rest when the metabolic rate is higher, which can help to produce a larger calorie deficit and promote fat reduction.
  5. Focused Exercise: To assist retain muscle mass and burn fat, the cutting diet is frequently paired with focused exercise. Since it aids in the development and maintenance of muscular tissue, resistance training is particularly significant.

How To Do the Cutting Diet?

The cutting diet consists of two main parts: diet and exercise. Here are some steps to complete a cutting diet correctly.

  1. Eat healthy and nutrient-dense foods: Eat whole, unprocessed foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Meal Prep: Preparing your meals is essential for the cutting diet as it allows you to plan your meals ahead of time. You can create a meal plan and make meals in advance to help you stick to your diet.
  3. Track your progress: Tracking your progress is critical to ensuring that you are sticking to your cutting diet and making progress. It would be best to track how much weight you are losing, your calorie intake, and the amount of exercise you do.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Water is essential for proper bodily functions and can aid in weight loss. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily to stay hydrated and keep your body functioning correctly.
  5. Exercise: Exercise is essential for a successful cutting diet as it will help you build muscle and lose fat. Aim to do weight training and aerobic exercises like running, cycling, or swimming at least three days a week.
  6. Meal timing and frequency: For a successful cutting diet, you should eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of large meals. Aim to have five or six small meals throughout the day that each contain a balance of proteins, carbs, and fats.
  7. Cheat meals: Cheat meals are essential for staying motivated while on a cutting diet. While it is important to stick to your diet, allowing yourself the occasional treat can keep you motivated and help you stick to your diet in the long run.

However, you should also calculate your calorie intake to ensure you are reaching the low quotas set in the cutting diet. 

Calculating Calorie Intake:

Determining how many calories your body needs is the first and most crucial step. Everyone has different calorie requirements, and you should use a calorie calculator to figure out how many calories you need each day to maintain your current body weight.

Your calorie intake will depend on your weight, height, lifestyle, sex, and amount of exercise. You will use your total calorie intake to determine your other macros.

cutting diet
Cutting Diet

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It may be tempting to keep your daily calorie intake relatively low if you want to lose weight, but a more significant calorie deficit can also cause you to lose muscle, so you must balance the two.

By following the aforementioned steps, you can effectively implement a cutting diet and reach your fitness goals. You can successfully complete a cutting diet with careful planning, dedication, and perseverance.

What Are the Health Benefits of the Cutting Diet?

There are a wide variety of health benefits to following a cutting diet, including weight loss, better sleep, increased energy, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.

What are the health benefits of Cutting Diet
What Are the Health Benefits of the Cutting Diet?
  1. Weight loss: A cutting diet is a great way to lose weight. You can shed excess fat by reducing your calorie intake and following an exercise plan.
  2. Better sleep:  Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help improve your sleep.
  3. Increased energy: Eating nutrient-dense foods and exercising can help improve your energy levels.
  4. Lower cholesterol: Eating a diet high in proteins and low in simple carbohydrates can help reduce harmful cholesterol levels.
  5. Lower blood pressure: Eating nutritious foods and exercising can help reduce your blood pressure.

What Are the Health Risks of Cutting the Diet?

Despite the health benefits, a cutting diet has some health risks such as irritability, nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, and muscle loss. 

  1. Irritability: Following a cutting diet can result in feelings of irritability and fatigue due to the calorie deficit.
  2. Nutrient Deficiencies: Cutting diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies without proper planning. Ensuring that your diet includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals is crucial.
  3. Dehydration: Cutting diets can cause dehydration, especially when exercising regularly. Make sure to drink plenty of water and electrolyte drinks when necessary.
  4. Muscle loss: Being in a caloric deficit can cause you to lose muscle mass, especially if you are not eating enough protein.

What Are the Foods That You Can Eat While on a Cutting Diet?

These are the foods you can eat while on a cutting diet.

  1. Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges 
  2. Vegetables: leafy greens, kale, spinach, zucchini, 
  3. Grains: whole grains, brown rice, barley, quinoa
  4. Legumes: black beans, pulses, pinto beans
  5. Nuts: almonds, cashews
  6. Seeds: sunflower seeds
  7. Healthy fats: olive oil, animal fats 
  8. Proteins: lean protein, protein powder, milk, yogurt

What are the Best Foods for Cutting?

The best foods for cutting on a diet include a combination of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and proteins. An example of the best cutting foods to consume would be apples, leafy greens, brown rice, black beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, animal fats, chicken and yogurt.

What Are the Foods That You Can’t Eat While on a Cutting Diet?

It is essential to avoid certain foods because they are high-calorie and will put your caloric deficit at risk. They are also low in protein, preventing you from maintaining muscle mass. These are the foods you should avoid while on a cutting diet.

  1. Meat: fatty cuts of meat 
  2. Poultry:
  3. Fish and shellfish: 
  4. Meat-based ingredients: hot dogs, bologna
  5. Eggs: 
  6. Dairy products: full-fat cheese and dairy 

In addition to avoiding these foods, you should avoid processed foods like crackers, chips, cookies, processed sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.

Who should do the Cutting diet?

The cutting diet is perfect for people who want to lose weight while still exercising aggressively. It is also suitable for people who wish to reduce their fat percentage without compromising lean muscle mass.

Most people do this type of diet because they are bodybuilders and are getting ready for a competition or want to improve their physique.

What Are the Best Recipes for Cutting Diet?

These are some of the best recipes for a cutting diet. They are all high protein and low-calorie.

What are the Best Recipes for Cutting Diet
What Are the Best Recipes for Cutting Diet?
  1. Egg White Omelette: This low-calorie breakfast will keep you full throughout the day. 
  2. Chicken and Rice: Chicken and rice is a great way to meet your macros without sacrificing on flavor. 
  3. Beef Fajitas: Beef is an excellent source of protein.
  4. Whole Grain Oatmeal: Whole grains are an essential part of any health diet. 
  5. Banana Protein Shake: A banana protein shake is a great way to supplement your protein intake. 

What Is an Example of a Cutting Diet Meal Plan for a Male?

The items on the Cutting Diet meal plan include high-protein, low calorie meals to help keep you in a caloric deficit. 

  • Day 1
    • Breakfast: oatmeal, strawberries, and egg whites and a protein shake 
    • Lunch: green vegetables and chicken breast 
    • Dinner: tuna sandwich with whole wheat bread and lettuce 
  • Day 2
    • Breakfast: egg white bagel sandwich 
    • Lunch: brown rice with veggies and chicken breast 
    • Dinner: vegetables, steak, protein shake 
  • Day 3
    • Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit, and egg whites
    • Lunch: grilled fish with a salad and a baked potato 
    • Dinner: protein shake, chicken thighs, and asparagus
  • Day 4
    • Breakfast: whole-grain cereal, fruit, peanut butter 
    • Lunch: baked potato with roasted veggies and chicken 
    • Dinner: protein shake, a large can of tuna, and whole-grain bread 
  • Day 5
    • Breakfast: egg white breakfast sandwich and fruit
    • Lunch: grilled chicken with fresh fruit
    • Dinner: grilled turkey with stir-fried vegetables and a protein shake 
  • Day 6
    • Breakfast: Fruit shake with protein powder 
    • Lunch: Tex-Mex fajitas with whole-grain tortillas 
    • Dinner: Broiled fish with salsa and vegetables 
  • Day 7
    • Breakfast: Protein pancakes 
    • Lunch: Ground beef with brown rice and broccoli 
    • Dinner: Singapore noodles 
cutting diet
Cutting Diet

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What Is an Example of a Cutting Diet Meal Plan for a Female?

This Cutting Diet meal plan for women includes lower calorie meals since women need fewer than men.

  • Day 1
    • Breakfast: Whole-grain oatmeal with fruit 
    • Lunch: Grilled chicken with quinoa and fresh-cut vegetables 
    • Dinner: Baked tuna steak with sweet potatoes 
  • Day 2
    • Breakfast: Scrambled egg whites with toast and ham 
    • Lunch: Beef mince with cauliflower 
    • Dinner: Chicken burger with salad wrap 
  • Day 3
    • Breakfast: Asparagus soldiers with eggs 
    • Lunch: Grilled fish with kale, peppers, and hummus 
    • Dinner: Chicken stew with black beans 
  • Day 4
    • Breakfast: Breakfast smoothie with protein powder 
    • Lunch: Mediterranean salad with grilled chicken 
    • Dinner: Asian stir-fry with beef 
  • Day 5
    • Breakfast: Protein pancakes 
    • Lunch: Lean chicken wrap with cheese and vegetables 
    • Dinner: Chicken korma with brown rice 
  • Day 6
    • Breakfast: Egg White omelet with ham 
    • Lunch: Chili with grated cheese 
    • Dinner: Roasted chicken and vegetables 
  • Day 7
    • Breakfast: Egg White breakfast sandwich 
    • Lunch: Grilled turkey sandwich 
    • Dinner: Stir-fried noodles with chicken and eggs 

What Are the Facts About Cutting the Diet?

These are some crucial facts about a diet including information about weight loss, low-energy, high-protein intake, the efficacy of the diet, and how long you can sustain it. 

  1. Weight loss: Cutting diet is an excellent way to lose weight, especially when combined with exercise.
  2. Low energy: Since you are at a caloric deficit, you may struggle with low energy levels.
  3. High-protein intake: While on this diet, you will consume a large amount of protein to help you prevent muscle loss.
  4. Highly effective: This diet is highly effective when followed closely. However, if you start to cheat, you will not see results.
  5. Not sustainable: Since this diet is highly restrictive, it is not healthy to follow for long periods, and you should not try to sustain it for more than four months.

How Long Does It Take To See Results From Cutting the Diet?

Results from cutting diet will vary depending on the individual. Generally, you can expect to see results in as little as 2-4 weeks if you follow the diet correctly and regularly exercise. However, it would be best if you were prepared to stick with the diet for over two months to sustain weight loss over a longer time.

Is Cutting Diet Considered a Healthy Diet?

No, the cutting diet is not healthy because it does not give you all the calories you need to live. It would be best only to do this diet for a short period.

Is Cutting Diet Expensive?

No, the cutting diet is not expensive. It does not require any particular foods. However, you may have to cook your food, which is time-consuming.

Is Cutting Diet Effective for Bodybuilding?

Yes, the cutting diet is highly effective for bodybuilding and improving physique.

Is It Possible To Gain Muscle While on a Cutting Diet?

No, gaining muscle while on a cutting diet is impossible because you are at a caloric deficit.

Athletic Insight

Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.