Whatever your road to achieving those highly-defined muscles, a bodybuilding cut diet is the glue holding the plan together. Some people pursue the cut look by building muscle mass first, then going into the cutting phase. Others simply work on getting cut by eating a specific diet while adding more resistance and cardio. There are specific foods you can include on that meal plan that will help with fat loss and calorie burning while supporting muscle mass training.
Ingredients You Can Include Your Bodybuilding Cut Diet
1. Cottage Cheese
The same food your grandmother used for “reducing” is still a great tool for keeping muscle while losing the fat. Of course, you need to cottage cheese products made from skim milk to keep the saturated fat content low.
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein. One cup provides a whopping 28 grams of protein, but only 163 calories. It also gives you 14 percent of the calcium you need for the day. Calcium has been linked to successful weight loss. One caveat? Don’t eat cottage cheese with every meal. Salt creates the curding effect that makes it cottage cheese. One cup of cottage cheese gives you about 30 percent of the sodium you should have for the day. That’s a reasonable amount — but only once a day.
If you didn’t like the taste of cottage cheese in the past, experiment with different low-fat types. Some people prefer small curd over large curd or vice versa. Getting a flavor like chives might also make it more palatable for you. Or just blend cottage cheese into some cooked spinach or other greens, and use it as a spread.
2. Brewer’s Yeast
Derived from the beer making process, brewer’s yeast is a powdery substance you can sprinkle over other foods or include in smoothies and baked goods. The product’s natural GTF chromium content helps regulate blood sugar so that even good-for-you foods like fresh fruit won’t turn into body fat. Stabilized blood sugar also prevents your body from wanting additional starches and sugary foods. Brewer’s yeast is a protein, containing all of the amino acids. It’s also a great source of trace minerals.
Even better? Brewer’s yeast only has about 55 calories per tablespoon. That means if the rest of your day’s meal plans are low on protein or other nutrients, you can double up on the amount of brewer’s yeast you add to your oatmeal or smoothie — with minimal caloric impact.
The benefits of mushrooms are similar to brewer’s yeast in that the presence of chromium stabilizes blood sugar to enhance your muscle to fat ratio. They’re also a great source of B vitamins and provide protein and fiber. Unlike brewer’s yeast, mushrooms have bulk and texture, meaning you psychologically feel more satisfied due to their “meaty” quality — especially if you’re a vegetarian. And if you’re a vegan, you’ll appreciate the vitamin D content you normally can only get from dairy or supplements.
Raw mushrooms are richest in nutrients, but cooked ones also provide plenty. Add fresh mushrooms such as button or cremini mushrooms to salads. Portobellos can be stuffed with ground veggies and baked. Sauteed shiitake, oyster, or other gourmet types are great with a bit of light cream on toast or over pasta. Alternatively, add various mushroom types to stir-fries and stews.
4. Flaxseed and Sesame Seed Oils
Seed-based oils are low in saturated fats, making them ideal substitutes for fatty salad dressings and creamy sauces. Like all plant-based oils, flaxseed and sesame seed oils have their own unique blend of nutrients. As it happens, these two oils, especially, have “magic powers” that lend themselves to a bodybuilding cut diet.
A substance called sesamin is found — not surprisingly, given the name — in sesame seeds and sesame seed oil. Sesamin is a useful tool for fat loss. It encourages the oxidation of fats that are so important for the cutting phase of bodybuilding. The sesame seed oil rather than the actual seeds work best because it contributes sesamin, but the fat content isn’t as concentrated.
Flaxseed oil is extremely high in Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). One of the many benefits of ALA is it helps metabolize fat. It also regulates your blood sugar. Having a large amount of carbohydrates with your meal? Including flaxseed oil helps prevent those glucose spikes.
Keep in mind that both sesame oil and flaxseed oil have low smoke points. That means they can’t be used to saute, stir-fry or sear other foods without burning. In addition, high heat destroys their delicate flavors — and their nutrients. But you can add the oils to just-cooked foods. Drizzle them over vegetables before serving, for example.
Sesame seed and flaxseed oils are also tasty in salads, especially when blended with a bit of vinegar or lime juice. Try adding a splash to your favorite smoothie. You won’t be able to detect an “oily” quality, but you’ll be getting the nutritional benefits. For example, flaxseed oil allows you to get the vitamin gain of a fruit smoothie while balancing out the higher carbohydrate content.
Sesame oil also adds a welcome “creaminess” to foods, without the fat of actual cream or buttery sauces. It’s great tossed with whole grain pasta or drizzled over sweet potatoes.
Grapefruit contains an enzyme known as AMPK. This enzyme helps boost metabolism. Specifically, AMPK becomes activated as you’re working out so that muscles release fat and sugar stores. Animal and human studies have concluded that grapefruit can be even more effective as a fat loss tool than prescription drugs used for weight loss.
A half-grapefruit is better than a glass of grapefruit juice because it’s higher in fiber. It’s also a bit more “work” to loosen the zesty flesh from the non-edible membranes. That slows you down more than gulping a glass of the fruit’s juices will. Have a half-grapefruit in the morning with toast. Or make an old-fashioned dessert by putting it under the broiler for a minute or two, then adding a low-glucose sweetener or syrup on top.
6. Chicken and Turkey Breast
There’s no way around it: You need sources of protein to build muscle mass. Yet, to keep your fat down for that cut look, you need lean protein. For bodybuilders and dieters alike, turkey and chicken breast meat fills the bill.
Both chicken and turkey breast are low in calories and saturated fight, but high in protein. A 3 ½ ounce serving delivers 31 grams of protein, with only 1 gram of saturated fat and 165 calories. White breast meat is also packed with iron and B vitamins.
Because these white meat choices are so versatile, they’re something you can eat literally every day without getting bored. For cold, portable meals, stack sliced chicken or turkey breast between whole grain bread, with lettuce and tomato. Or make a salad with diced chicken or turkey breast. At night, poach or broil a breast for dinner, sprinkle it with herbs and serve with steamed veggies.
7. Lean Beef
The less fatty cuts of red meat have many of the same advantages of white turkey and chicken selections. It provides at least 20 grams of protein, depending on the cut you choose. It’s also a great source of iron and other minerals, as well as B vitamins. Best of all, lean beef types have only a couple of grams of fat. That means you’ll have a great source of protein for muscle building and workout energy, but the low-fat content will get you the cut look you crave.
But which types of beef have high protein, low-fat ratio? Eye of round has an impressive protein-to-fat ratio of 7 to 1. In descending order, the other great types to look for include: sirloin tips, top sirloin, bottom round, and skirt steak. (The fattiest categories of beef to avoid when getting cut include porterhouse, T-bone, and ribeye steak.)
Try to keep your servings to 3 to 4 ounces, and cook it simply. Grill it or pan-sear your lean beef selections. Beef is a classic hot main entree. But you can also slice and chill it, and serve it over a green salad. Or dice up raw lean beef, brown it briefly, then toss it into a slow cooker with other chili ingredients.
Interested in seeing actual results of a bodybuilding cut diet? Watch the Diabetic Aesthetics video below.
Your bodybuilding cut diet may not be the same as your gym buddy’s. After all, the calorie count alone will be determined by your specific Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Your TDEE is the calorie count you need to keep your current weight. Subtract calories from your current TDEE. For bodybuilders, subtracting about 500 calories from your TDEE is often the safest way to enter the cut phase. You probably already have your own magic formula of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Introducing new ingredients to your bodybuilding cut diet can make it more efficient — and chase away the boredom, too!
Do you know which ingredients work for you? Share your own bodybuilding cut diet in the comments section below.