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Tip 2 for cutting: how should you eat?

I’m sure you’ve heard of the bulking phase, which goal is essentially to increase muscle mass in athletes, something that will also influence body composition and weight gain.

Another strategy in the fitness world, and which is followed, usually at a later stage to bulking, aims to reduce fat and muscle definition.  The cutting phase.

See now everything you need to know about this strategy and some diet tips: number of calories to ingest, macronutrients ratio and an example of a food plan for one day.

Diet during the cutting phase

cutting diet

During the bulking phase, whose objective is essentially to increase body mass, there is an increase in the calories consumption, but with this, there may be some fat accumulation, something that, at a cutting phase will be essential to reduce to the maximum and that will help to show the muscles built during the bulking phase.

The cutting, in this turn, is a strategy used by some athletes who want a greater body definition, using the loss of fat mass. Going to the origin of the word, “cut” means cutting.

Therefore, cutting is characterized by the “cutting” of body fat and the restriction, in particular of energy and carbohydrates, and the clear decrease in calorie intake.


With regard to the recommended caloric value, it is something variable.

It’s something that will vary depending on:

  • Body composition
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Level of physical activity
  • Metabolism

In order to result in the burning of fat, the important thing is to generate energy deficit: for example, to reduce daily consumption of calories, making a reduction of, for example, 500kcal daily.

That is, if an athlete has a daily energetic expenditure of 2500kcal, a balanced plan could be from 1800 to 2000kcal.

We need to be aware that there must be restraint, but that this is not severe so that there is no compromising of muscle mass and physical resistance. This is something that depends on the person itself and the ease (or not) in losing weight.

Distribution of macronutrients

The macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat – are essential independently of the person’s goal.

So, in the cutting phase, that’s no different.

The distribution of macronutrients during the cutting phase presents differences compared to the bulking phase.

When you want to increase muscle mass you cannot let go of carbohydrates and proteins because they are essential for muscle building and mass gaining.

When the goal is to reduce body fat, one of the strategies that can be adopted is to reduce the percentage of carbohydrates ingested, compensating, in some way, with protein and fat, thus not committing the muscle mass.

Example of organization – percentage of calories from macronutrients:


Something you should also take into account is the fiber, so that you do not feel hungry (fiber and protein help to increase the sense of satiety) and to allow your body to function properly, helping to reduce the accumulation of liquids in the body, something that is also important for you to get a shaped and lean body.

Protein is determining when the priority is to define and build muscles, so in this case it should be one of your priorities.

The restriction of the amount of carbohydrates is related to the priority of spending of the nutrient reserves, if we ingest large amounts of energy expressed in carbohydrates, the body will give priority to the burning of the reserves of that nutrient and not the fat, and that’s not what you want, since the goal is to burn body fat.

In excess, carbohydrates can contribute to the accumulation of fat.

Thus, in cutting, the quantity must be moderate, it is not necessary to cut all the sources of carbohydrates, but rather to reduce and control them.

Opt for complex carbohydrates – they naturally have more fiber and take longer to digest (something that will help you stay sated for longer periods).

Fat (healthy) is something that will be essential not only to keep your body healthy, strengthen the immune system, support the nervous system and hormone production, but also to give you energy, something that will be important to your day-to-day, but also to assist in the practice of physical exercise, another determinant component at this stage.

This is my suggestion of distribution of macronutrients, but it can be variable according to the type of body, the phase in which you find yourself and your goal.

Meal Frequency

meal frequency

Another important aspect is how often you dine.

At the level of the frequency of meals, three main meals must be carried out:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

And you can make two intermediate meals if justified (for example mid-morning and mid-afternoon). Something fundamental and should be taken into consideration especially when you’re going to work out. Some intermediate meals can serve as a pre-workout.

This way, my suggestion is not to be more than three hours without eating, so you can make meals once every three hours.

Food examples

The energy restriction is not a synonym for starvation, but it is necessary for you to have the most suitable foods with you in order to have complete and balanced meals.

See now examples of foods that are indispensable in your kitchen during this phase:

  • Carbohydrates: quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown or basmati rice, oats, fruit, vegetables and legumes
  • Protein: chicken, turkey, tuna, hake, cod, eggs, yogurt, quark cheese, fresh cheese, curd, tofu
  • Fats: nuts, peanut butter/almond, oil, coconut oil, seeds

If you still feel lost, check 5 examples of meals for a whole day adapted to this goal.

Food plan for one day – example


  • 2 scrambled eggs in little olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 portion of fruit (1 apple or 2 kiwis or 8 small strawberries)

Morning snack

  • 1 Natural yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of oat flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of varied seeds


  • 2 tablespoons of quinoa + 1 tablespoon of beans
  • 1 portion (160g) of grilled chicken
  • ½ plate of sauteed broccoli

Afternoon snack

  • 3 medium Oat pancakes
  • 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
  • 1 portion of fruit


  • Vegetable soup
  • Fish in the oven with varied vegetables


In this process, in addition to food, sport and supplementation will also be decisive.

See some tips on how your training can be during this phase here.

In short, try to plan your meals and give priority to natural foods rich in protein, healthy fats and fiber.

Restrict some sources of carbohydrates, such as biscuits, toasts, bread and other processed products.

Bet on full and complete fruit and cereals to provide you with energy.

In addition to the food, do not forget also the presence of the water and ingest it in a regular way to stay hydrated.

If you are out of food and meal ideas, then follow these tips and share your results in the comments.


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Liliana Silvestre

Liliana Silvestre
Liliana Silvestre is a nutritionist with a degree in dietetics from ESSLEI. She has professional experience in various fields of nutrition, and she has a passion for healthy cooking. Her goal is to help as many people as possible to transform their lifestyles adopting more healthy habits.

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