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Cutting is a crucial part of bodybuilding which a lot of lifters get wrong. They might get the results that they were looking for but it may take a lot longer than it should, and the lifter might suffer more than they need to.
What is Cutting?
Cutting is the term used to describe the period of time dedicated to lowering body fat by cutting calories.
It is a term used by bodybuilders, and athletes essentially to describe dieting.
The distinction with the kinds of diets that your mum follows is that cutting should follow rational scientific principles and be part of a longer term outlook. However this is not always the case!
So this article will give you some helpful tips to make cutting as simple and as effective as possible, and will hopefully prevent you from falling into common traps. Read on for those essential tips for cutting.
Tip #1. Track Calories Properly
The most common mistake that lifters make when they are attempting to cut is to estimate calories or “give up carbs“. This is not enough (particularly when you consider how important carbohydrates are) and will leave you with poor results.
You need to have a good idea of what your average calorie totals are before starting, what they should be (check google for useful equations), and what you need to lower them by to lose weight.
Once you have this information you should start tracking the calories you are consuming each day using a calorie tracking app (such as myfitnesspal).
This will not only ensure that you stick to your targets each day, but will give you a good understanding of what food to avoid and what foods to add to your diet.
Lowering calories should be done on a week by week basis rather than all at once, this will not only be easier to manage but it will also prevent you from potentially catabolising muscle for energy.
Assess your progress at the end of each week so that you can adjust your calories if required. For example if you are losing weight too fast then you can raise calories slightly, or if you feel that you haven't made enough progress recently you can decrease calories more severely.
Tip #2. Consume a High Protein Diet
When dieting the trick is to keep your protein intake high, as it is required for muscle protein synthesis.
If you are cutting correctly you should be exercising as often as you always do (sometimes even more) and to prevent your muscles catabolising you need high levels of protein .
Consuming high amounts of protein will protect your muscles whilst you lower your body weight and fat percentage .
Changing the ratio of carbohydrates to protein will help to improve your body composition whilst dieting (provided you exercise regularly) .
It is crucial to spread your protein intake throughout the day, rather than just take the majority of it with your evening meal  so look to increase the protein to carb and fat ratio at breakfast and lunch, and improve the protein content of your snacks.
Tip #3. Supplement with Caffeine
Caffeine really is a wonder drug, it can help improve performance , increases metabolism , and fat oxidation .
Sadly you can definitely have too much of a good thing when it comes to caffeine, as you quickly build up a tolerance. To prevent this you should try to cycle caffeine. In other words there should be periods where you abstain (or severely limit your intake) and times when you supplement it in mid to high doses.
It makes sense to reduce caffeine whilst bulking as you don't need the increased metabolism or fat-oxidation at this point (though the performance benefits would be welcomed).
So once you are cutting you can get the performance benefits (which could counteract the lack of sleep that people get when cutting calories) and the benefits of an increased metabolism and fat oxidation.
Whilst on the subject of caffeine, and coffee. One study found that drinking decaffeinated coffee was an excellent way to lower cravings when on a diet . It does this by increasing satiety between meals, so maybe try adding decaffeinated coffee to your shopping basket next time you're out.
Tip #4. Drink lots of water
No you don't need to drink 6 litres of water per day, you just need to stay hydrated.
This is because water can lower cravings whilst being dehydrated can increase feelings of hunger. That's because dehydration and hunger are very similar to your body and it sometimes struggles to differentiate.
So make sure that you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated and you should be fine.
Tip #5. Bulk Correctly
When most bodybuilders bulk they don't pay attention to how much body fat they are accumulating so long as they 1) gain muscle and 2) get to eat whatever they want.
The problem with this approach is that it leads to the bodybuilder needing to cut for much longer as there is so much more body fat to lose.
If you bulk smart, increase calories slowly. Exercise enough to increase muscle without gaining too much body fat, and keep your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) levels high you will be left with a lot less work to do during your cut.
Remember, a cut is not something you want to prolong as it will prevent you from training properly and can stress your body out when it goes on for months on end.
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