That ideal physique you have in mind will only be achieved through hard work. But if you think that just means pushing yourself in the gym over and over again then you are sadly mistaken. An active regime goes hand in hand with a smart diet and if you want quick, drastic results that means you need a cutting diet.
These take a fair amount of dedication and some proper planning to pull off properly. So, what do you need to consider? Here are some key things to bear in mind if you’re to succeed with your cutting diet:
Don’t just cut the calories
Some people take the ‘cutting diet’ to mean simply ‘cutting’ the calories. If you think that reducing your intake drastically and upping the cardio work in the gym at the same time will do the trick, then you’re wrong. Sorry.
If you don’t eat enough then your body’s survival instincts will kick in and it’ll start storing up fat. You’ll probably find that pushing to try to lose more than 200g or just under 0.5lbs a day then some of that weight will come off as muscle. Aim for about 400-450g or 1lb a week.
That means that you have to be more measured in your approach. You need to eat enough to fuel your active lifestyle and can’t starve yourself. A gradual, steady loss of weight is more sustainable and more likely to help you create the physique you are after.
You can use a calculator to see how many calories is right for your body – one size fits all figures won’t give you the most accurate picture – and make sure you don’t cut this by too much (1,000 calories lower is far too much). Some people suggest taking in 500 calories fewer than you use, but this will depend on how active you are and what your intake is.
Experiment with this and don’t stick slavishly to one programme because ‘it worked for someone else’. Your body is different, find the thing that works best for it.
Protein is key
You can cut carbs in the short term and shed the pounds as a result but a proper cutting diet should help you make a long term difference and, frankly, help you end up looking ripped and not scrawny.
Instead, focus on taking in plenty of protein. This will ensure that you’re not going hungry and that you can build and repair your muscle (check out our guide to protein here).
This is where the smart use of supplements also helps. Use these wisely to top up your diet, slipping powders into shakes and other food (there’s some great baking ideas here).
If you’re in the midst of an active regime, 1.5g of protein per kg of your body weight will be needed.
Tap into the power of superfoods
Not only will a protein-rich diet help you to stave off the hunger as you shed the pounds but so too will a diet packed with superfoods.
We’ve waxed lyrical about these in the past – spinach, blueberries, sweet potato, salmon and the like should be in your shopping basket every week. These foods are packed full of the good things that you need in your life and will allow you to get the fuel you need in as efficient a way as possible.
Measure as you go
Measurement is vital as you go through your cutting diet. You’ll have an idea of what success looks like – you might even have an image that you want to see reflected back in the mirror – but it’ll help to track your progress on the way to that goal with measurements.
Your weight is important, but shouldn’t be the only thing that you look at. Take other measurements – chest, waist, etc – so that you can see where the fat is coming off and the muscle going on. You might also wish to measure your performance in the gym: the amount you can lift, distance/time you can run – so you can see and feel how your health improves.
Find the right exercises
The diet alone is one half of what’s needed. The other comes with hard work in the gym. You need an intense programme that is split between strength, abs and cardio work and every programme should, as we’ve highlighted, start from five key basics – the walk out push up, squat, plant, jumping jack and sit up.
Don’t ignore the basics, build up from them and gradually get more intense as you settle into your new diet routine – making the most of every drop of energy you have to burn that fat and change your body for the better.