After a long bulk, you might be hitting the dreaded cutting phase in bodybuilding. Here are my 25 tips for cutting when bodybuilding.
I tried to make this list something more realistic that didn’t just cover the usual “no carbs!!! high protein!!” and something that helped in other ways and tried to provide tips you’ve probably never heard before.
So, let’s get into this!
But first of all, good luck- I know it’s tough. 🙁
#25 – Water is your best friend. (I used to never drink it.)
Look, I’m writing this because here’s the truth: You either drink water regularly or you don’t.
I used to be apart of the crew that didn’t drink water at all. I even wrote a whole post about diet soda and bodybuilding. Here’s the truth though you don’t necessarily need to cut out all of your soda or whatever, but you NEED to drink water.
Being dehydrated causes your body to send you ‘hunger’ signals. Obviously, when you’re on a cut, you don’t want to eat more calories than your TDEE allows. With less hunger signals, you are more likely to stay under your calories for the day and lose weight.
Plus, drinking water will keep your energy up on your cut. This one may be one of the best tips for cutting when bodybuilding because anybody can do it and it literally changes everything.
#24 – Caffeine Can Help Your Appetite
Most bodybuilders have a seriously bad caffeine addiction. I seriously do.
I’ve been trying to reduce it a little bit, but many of my fans know that I’m probably better on caffeine than not. (helps manage my anxiety)
Regardless, most people drink caffeine so regularly. If you’re feeling hungry, a cup of coffee or a small soda may be enough to get rid of the appetite.
If you’re having a really bad hanger pang, it might be worth it to have a small cheese stick and a coke zero and that will be enough to hold your appetite over for a long time.
#23 – Vegetables are KING. (200 calories to fill you up completely!)
People always forget about how important vegetables are when it comes to bodybuilding.
Here’s the thing, to completely fill your stomach with vegetables, it takes around 200 calories worth of them. That means you’ll be full for the next 4-6 hours from 200 calories.
That is far different than other things. It can take 2,000 calories of chips to fill up your stomach.
Plus, vegetables are incredible for you. I don’t think this can really be disputed anymore. If you don’t believe me, read my post all about broccoli and how it’s not only good for bodybuilding- but warding off cancer!
Trust me, a cup of broccoli can get rid of your hunger pang for 50 calories. Not only that, but it’s great for your body and tastes great. (steam the broccoli with water and it will taste like it came from a restaurant)
#22 – Avoid Candy/High Carb Foods
In my dirty bulking guide, I recommend carbs as a fast and easy way to get calories in and put on muscle.
However, when you’re cutting- it’s not what you really want.
Carbs will generally be accompanied with a lot of sugar. This is going to cause your blood sugar to spike and make you super hungry about 30 minutes – 1 hour later.
Of course, that’s great if you’re trying to put on weight. But when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not that fun.
#21 – Try Low-Calorie Whole Grain Bread/Tortillas
This is one of my secret tricks i’ve always done to help me on a cut.
Many of us love bread, I personally don’t, but for sandwiches, it’s required. Instead of dropping 200 calories on two slices of bread, I get the low-calorie whole-grain stuff.
Each slice is something like 45 calories and 3g of protein with tons of nutrients and fiber. This means you can significantly reduce your calorie intake on some of those ‘essential’ foods.
Plus, if you’re into tortillas for things like burritos and tortillas, whole-grain tortillas can cut calories and are way better for you anyways.
I do cover more of this in my 10 Best Dirty Bulking Foods post.
#20 – Get rid of junk food in your house, now.
Okay, the first few days of the cut go fine.
Then days 6-7 you’re going to be eyeing up that box of goldfish crackers in the corner of the room like it’s the last drop of water and you’re in the Sahara desert.
We obviously don’t want this. But, if there isn’t any junk food in your house, it becomes incredibly hard to actually cheat on your diet.
Also, there’s a psychological effect to all of this. If you go up to your kitchen and see a ton of bags of chips lying around, you’re going to start thinking about it way more.
Out of sight- out of mind. You know?
So just get rid of it now and save yourself the hassle later.
#19 – Greek yogurt is your best friend. (200 calorie filling snack)
I don’t see bodybuilders on greek yogurt yet. And I have no idea why.
Here’s the thing. Many bodybuilders aren’t trying greek yogurt because they see it as a ‘feminine food’ or a ‘weird’ food.
Both of those statements are just stupid, and I don’t think I really need to explain why.
Greek yogurt tastes incredible, has around 13g of protein, 200 calories, has candy/other good stuff in it, and has incredible health benefits.
I swear you can eat 2 of those and not be hungry for the next 5-6 hours. Eat one and it can hold you over for 3-4 hours. I don’t see why bodybuilders are skimping on this.
If you’re having a serious hunger pang, go for the greek yogurt. That high amount of protein, low calories, and great taste will surely hold you over.
#18 – Think CONSISTENCY.
Not going to try and ruin your world, but the fact is you’re probably going to overeat one day.
Or, you’re going to check yourself in the mirror constantly for a few days and try to give up.
Stop, reset, and just take a day off. Eat normally, enjoy your day, then go back to your cut the day after.
This whole cutting thing in bodybuilding is really just a game of consistency. And truthfully, it’s the same thing with bulking. You don’t get 23 inch arms overnight, it takes years of hard work.
Think long term with this cut. Don’t use that as an excuse to have cheat days every other day, but if you mess up, just continue the next day. Don’t throw the towel in after one mistake, it’s really just a long-term game.
#17 – Sleep Like It’s Your Full-Time Job
I recommend sleeping even more than usual. If you’re used to getting 5-6 hours of sleep everynight, knock that off.
First of all, it’s really bad for you. Secondly, the more you sleep, the less hungry you’ll be throughout the day. And thirdly, a weird way to think about it, but the more you sleep is fewer hours throughout the day you’ll have to eat.
But seriously, sleep.
#16 – Pick up Shifts/Go to Work
This is something I always did when I was bodybuilding in high school. In order to take my mind off eating, I would pick up shifts and go to work.
For instance, if you get home from school and know you’re free all night. You might be tempted to eat. Instead, go to work and pick up a 4-5 hour shift. That will help you stop eating and focus on something else.
Plus, this is pretty good advice for life in general. Instead of just watching TV all day when you get home, pickup a shift and get that bag up.
#15 – Buy Actual Meat. (It’s actually pretty easy)
When I was in high school, I often had to eat whatever was in the house. But, this made cutting incredibly hard because not all the food in the house was easy to eat on a cut!
That was until I manned up and started going to the store and buying actual meat.
Now, this sounds really complicated. And trust me, 16 year old Tommy was just as dumbfounded at this process as you were. But it’s actually really easy.
First, just buy a cheap $20 George Foreman grill at like target or walmart. All you do is plug it into the wall in the kitchen, it’s like 8 inches wide and it warms itself up to cook your meat.
Then you just have to go to the fresh meat aisle, buy some cheap chicken breast ((that’s like actually pretty reasonably priced ($5-7)) bring them home and slap them on the george foreman.
Now let me tell you. Eating three chicken breasts will only give you 300 calories and 80g of protein. But that’s not the important part, it will FILL you up. It will take up your entire stomach and you won’t be able to eat for a long long time. At least 4 hours.
And it tastes really good, just toss some cheap $3 pepper on there and it will taste gourmet.
#14 – Have The Right Mentality
There are going to be times when you get really hungry. If you’re 7 weeks into a cut and you got a bodybuilding show coming up you have to have the right mentality.
You have to suck it up and get through the hunger. Take your mind off of it, go on a walk, call a friend, something- but get your mind off of it.
Those hunger pangs will suck, but you need to realize what your end goals are as a bodybuilder. Stick through it!
#13 – Hang Out With Friends
You might not have expected this on the best tips for cutting when bodybuilding list, but I’m serious.
Hang out with your friends, go for a drive, go to a park with them- something. It will take your mind off of the food and boost the calories you burn throughout the day because your metabolic rate will increase by being active.
#12 – Do Some More Cardio At The Gym
Rich Piana said it best: If you put on too much fat, up the cardio!
Rich Piana would do 60 minutes of cardio every single day when he was bodybuilding. Truly, it was inspiring.
But Rich Piana had a serious point. Cardio is a great way to burn calories, but also take stress off of your head for the day. When you’re cutting weight, things can be really stressful with your hormones going crazy- so cardio is a great way to keep that all under control.
#11 – Protein Burns Calories When You Eat It
This is something many people don’t know about bodybuilding.
But some researchers and scientists have tried to get the USDA to change the protein label to saying protein only gives around 3.1 calories per gram instead of the standard 4.
This is because protein is way harder to digest than any other type of macronutrient. It takes about 20-30% of the calories from protein off the top just because your body uses increased energy to burn it.
So if you eat 100 calories of protein, expect to only actually ‘absorb’ 80 calories.
While this doesn’t make a huge difference, over a long period of time that adds up. If you have 500 calories of protein everyday, that is around 100 calories that would be being burned by your body.
That means you would lose 1 lb of fat just from eating protein every month. Sometimes the small things do add up!
#10 – Look At The Keto Diet
The keto diet is a great way to lose weight and not feel much hunger.
Plus, it’s scientifically proven that keto burns more fat than any other diet. The entire keto diet revolves around the idea that your body enters ‘ketosis’, that way you’re in a constant fat-burning state.
This removes most of the hunger pangs. However, you will have to cut out carbs completely to do the keto diet.
But, the diet is way more sustainable and will promote healthier eating choices. The keto diet is the only real diet I would ever recommend to anyone.
And as Ian says, “what is a man without his word”, so I do not lie with that. Trying the keto diet might help you this cut season!
#9 – Remember, weight training burns more calories than cardio.
A lot of people get this confused ALL the time.
They think to lose a ton of weight, they need to constnatly be doing cardio. This is actually really wrong.
Weight training burns more calories than cardio does. And furthermore, weight training increases the metabolic rate of you over the next 24-48 hours, ensuring that your TDEE remains high so you keep losing weight.
Pair it with cardio, and you’ll be having a successful cut.
But seriously, don’t cut out weight training, that is NOT the right move.
#8 – Chew gum constantly.
Chew gym constantly.
Okay, so I have a gum addiction. Like I would usually go through 7 packs a week at school.
It helped managed my anxiety, I always had great breath, it made my jawline look ripped, and it helped my hunger.
And there’s not really any downsides to chewing gum that often, especially considering it’s relatively cheap to purchase.
Anyways, chewing gum actually reduces your hunger emotions. There’s something about chewing and your body thinking that you’re trying to chew food so it removes the hunger signal. People who chew gum regularly burn 5% more calories than their counterparts, just saying!
And regardless, it does burn a tiny bit more calories with all that chewing, and that jaw line will REALLY start popping once the weight starts coming off too.
And nobody will be complaining about your minty breath.
#7 – Halo Top/Low-calorie ice cream can be a LIFE-saver.
There’s not really advertisements for it, but there are low calorie, high protein ice creams that actually taste good.
Halo Top ice cream is my go-to. For a pint of ice-cream it’s something like 300 calories and 23g of protein. Plus, the ice cream tastes really good.
Many people always say that the low-calorie ice creams don’t taste good. But, it’s 2020 (almost 2021) and that’s just simply not true anymore. They taste really good.
There are other brands out there, but I’m just putting it on this list to remind you that your cut doesn’t have to suck. You can still have ice cream and good foods, just look for the healthy alternatives.
And no, a cookie dough ice cream pint from halo top isn’t disgusting, it’s fantastic. And it’s saved me when I’ve had spontaneous cravings before.
#6 – Study. Like, seriously, it will take your mind off of hunger and boost your grades.
Hunger is one of those things that you’ll really notice if you’re not doing anything.
Start studying, get really into it. Watch some khan academy videos, review the lecture, or even learn something new.
If you manage to get so into studying, you’ll forget you were hungry- but better yet: you’ll get even higher scores on your exams.
#5 – Iceberg Lettuce IS YOUR NEW FAVORITE FOOD.
Iceberg lettuce is a food that’s basically water. But, it’s incredibly filling and basically zero calories.
I’m serious, you can eat a ton of this and feel full with barely any calories added to your day.
Whenever I feel incredibly hungry, I just start snacking on this stuff. It will honestly fill you up and barely put any calories in you.
#4 – Try avoiding eating breakfast.
Many people recommend this on a cut, and it seems a little counterintuitive.
Generally in bodybuilding, you want to maximize your protein in the bloodstream at all times. That means eating frequent meals every 2-3 hours and as soon as you wake up.
But some experts say that doing that during a cut just isn’t a good idea.
Truthfully, I would just recommend having something very small for breakfast, but I personally tend to avoid eating breakfast on a cut.
And to be honest, I’ve never been one that loses a lot of muscle nor strength on my cuts and I’ve been known to avoid eating breakfast. So, from my experience and most other people’s experiences, you’re probably good.
Now, if you’re trying to compete at Mr.Olympia or a very serious competition, I recommend following the diet advice of your coach. This is something that can be very different if you’re 315 lbs of pure lean muscle.
#3 – Play online video games.
Are you a gamer? Play some video games, but try to aim for online video games specifically, here’s why.
In a single-player game, you can always pause and get up for more food. However, in an online video game, you’re expected to be playing constantly and you’re not able to get up.
Queue up with some friends in a a League of Legends or Rainbow Six Siege match and let the time fly. It will take your mind off of the hunger pangs and make the cut go by faster.
#2 – Fiber One Bars Are King.
When I did my longest cut ever which ended up being around 5 months (never do a cut for 5 months, it’s very dangerous for your body.) I needed a way to keep up my energy.
By the way, that 5-month cut was just undiagnosed anorexia. Not lying, you can read about my experience here, and always feel free to reach out to me if you think you are suffering from the disease and need help too.
Regardless, point is- these fiber one bars actually really helped.
It’s no secret that protein and fiber keep you fuller, longer. Plus, it help keeps your digestive tract more regular. Also, the fiber one bars lowkey taste incredible.
I got sick of the brownies after eating them everyday for 5 months and eventually switched to the chocolate peanut butter bars.
But the point is: these are really, really good. They will keep you full, taste amazing, and are literally like 80 calories each.
However, DO NOT BUY THE PROTEIN ONE BARS. I had to write about how bad they were. The Protein One bars are NOT IT. STICK WITH THE FIBER ONE BARS.
#1 – Brush Your Teeth After Your Last Meal
This was something my friend Toby at the gym shared with me. He had to lose 40 lbs from his bulk and he needed help staying away from the food.
He told it to me straight like this: “I’m a lazy guy Tommy, if I brush my teeth at 6 PM, I don’t want to brush them again, so I won’t go and eat anything”.
And honestly, he isn’t even wrong. When you get older you just hate brushing your teeth, it’s seriously boring and just takes a lot of time. I know what it is personally, and I’ve had the same situation happen.
I recommend trying this out. Just brush your teeth after your last meal (wait 30 minutes or so, that way your enamel won’t be damaged) then
And you might find yourself avoiding eating at all costs just because it’s annoying to brush your teeth.
Conclusion of 25 Best Tips For Cutting Bodybuilding
Hopefully, this list of 25 best tips for cutting bodybuilding will help you in your endeavors.
Unfortunately, cutting is NEVER easy, but it’s essential in bodybuilding. So, let’s get through it and push through this hard season!