ProteinAs a personal trainer, the question that I get asked most from my young male clientele is "how much protein should I consume daily?" and "what is the best source of protein?". In response to the first question, the amount of protein that you should consume daily is up for debate. There is a lot of different research out there by various personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and general gym enthusiasts. My belief comes from studying for my BA in Sports Science, and working in the industry for the last few months. The rule of thumb is to aim for around 1 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, which is spread across 5 -7 meals even throughout the day. Specifically, this will ensure that your body always has those proteins at its disposal in the bloodstream, which consequently makes it think twice about tapping into that hard earned muscle tissue. For example, an 80 kg male would ideally need to consume around 176 – 264 grams of protein a day. In addition, a key point to take away from this article, is that research has shown that muscle protein synthesis is stimulated maximally at both a 20 and 30 gram dosage. Any further consumption, 40 – 90 showed no further increase in muscle protein synthesis. This basically means you do not need to shovel protein down like it's going out of fashion, but merely intake optimal dosages to make sure you spread out your protein intake across the day, in the 5 -7 meals that form your cutting diet. With regards to the best sources of protein, I would always recommend consuming dietary sources rich in protein, before using supplements to top up your daily intake. Here are the BV ratings (biological values) of some of the most popular protein sources:
|Protein source||Biological value (BV)|
CarbohydratesThere are two main classifications for carbohydrates, simple and complex. Specifically, simple carbohydrates are found in sugar, bread, white rice. Complex carbohydrates are found in wheat bread, brown rice, and whole grain cereals. You should consume as little simple carbohydrates as possible when on a cutting diet. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are broken down slowly and severely reduce "spikes" in insulin levels which basically means that you will not get any sudden sugar cravings but remain fuller for longer. Complex carbohydrates which I would highly recommend are the following; wholegrain rice, quinoa, and sweet potato. For example, an 80 kg male would ideally want to be consuming in and around 200 grams of carbohydrates daily, again broken down over each of your 5 -7 meals.
FatsFats are categorised into two main categories, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are cooking oils and butter. Therefore it is critically important to eat as little saturated fat as physically possible. However, we do need fats in our diet, and the healthy fat is most commonly referred to as monounsaturated fat. The reasons why we need fat in our diets and that it cannot be completely cut out is down to a few key reasons. Firstly, fats provide protection of vital organs and also provide us with insulation. Secondly, it helps and aids with the locomotion of the body so performing daily movements, and thirdly during the cutting phase it's the source of substrate energy we want to be using during high intensity interval training. Monounsaturated fat is found mainly in extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, almonds, avocado, and fish oil. Additionally, another type of healthy fats is the EFAs (essential fatty acids) which can be found in flax seed oil, leafy vegetables, fish, shellfish, and walnuts. In conclusion fats should always be part of your diet and are the only way your body can absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, whether you're following a cutting diet or not.
Cutting diet meal planBelow I've included an example of a cutting diet meal plan for a 70-80 kg male looking to go from 15-20% body fat, to under 10% body fat. This cutting diet meal plan is designed to reduce body fat over a time scale of 3-4 months, not weeks, in order to maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible.
|Meal A||65g instant oats 30g whey protein 4 scrambled eggs (1 brown, 1 white) 5-10 almonds||Protein: 45g Carbs: 50g Fat: 10g|
|Meal B||1 tin of tuna 30g rice (dry weight) Steamed broccoli (handful) 5 almonds Green tea (optional)||Protein: 45g Carbs: 25g or less Fat: 10g|
|Meal C (pre-workout)||Chicken breast (100g) 1 medium to large sweet potato (100g) Mixed vegetables (frozen) Green tea (optional)||Protein: 40g Carbs: 60g Fat: 10g or less|
|Post-workout shake||Lean mass gainer L-glutamine (necessity)||Varies|
|Meal D (post-workout)||1 salmon fillet 1 medium sweet potato Spinach and beetroot 5 almonds||Protein: 45g Carbs: 30g Fat: 10g|
|Meal E (30 minutes before bed)||Casein shake (30g) Peanut butter (10g)||Protein: 25g Carbs: 7.5g Fat: 5g|
|Overall macro consumption||Protein: 200g Carbs: < 175g Fat: 55g|