If you’re starting a cutting diet for the first time, you probably have many questions. Cutting has recently become a popular and prominent routine in today’s society, especially with Millennials and Gen-Z. People trying to become leaner through weight loss and weight lifting tend to use a cutting diet to speed up their weight loss.
Macronutrients, or macros, are a big part of any diet. They can help with muscle gain and loss depending on the foods you consume. Calculating and recording macros are essential for any diet, but they take on a new kind of importance when it comes to cutting.
Let’s cover what cutting is, how macros are part of the bigger picture, calculating macros, and how they can help or harm your health. Let’s get into it!
While there are general guidelines for dieting, everyone’s journey is different. There will always be changes you can make to help you reach your health objectives during the dieting process.
This is especially true for cutting.
The idea of cutting remains the same for everyone: shed body fat while keeping muscle mass by weight lifting. However, the specifics of a cutting diet will change drastically depending on your weight, sex, movement consistency, and goals. The goal of cutting is to eliminate fat by burning more calories than you consume while developing a weight-lifting routine to promote muscle growth.
By burning more calories than you consume, your body will automatically shed unnecessary body fat. This is a general rule for most weight loss routines. Cutting differentiates from traditional weight-loss diets as it’s accompanied by weight-lifting.
A cutting diet will traditionally last two to four months. As you work through a cutting routine, you should gradually increase the intensity of your weight lifting routine while keeping your macro intake hovering around the same number. If your main goal is to lose as much weight as possible, we don’t recommend starting with a cutting diet. While cutting does involve weight loss, the main purpose is to maintain muscle mass and achieve a leaner physique.
Now that we’ve covered what a cutting diet entails, let’s dive deeper into what macros are and how they can make or break your routine.
When and if you are cutting, you must keep track of your calories, carbs, proteins, and fats. These terms fall under the category of macronutrients, or macros for short. Macros are the body’s main source of energy. Your body needs macros to function properly throughout the day.
No matter your weight, sex, or body type, macros will greatly affect your weight and physique. Macros high in unnatural sugars and fats can lead to expedited weight gain. While on the other hand, not enough macros will lead to malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss. For the most part, you’ll want to avoid food that contains high amounts of sugar and make sure you are fueling your body with healthy foods.
For example, if you eat a handful of jelly beans, there are no nutrients in candy beneficial to your diet. Yes, they are macros, but they are unhealthy and may derail any progress you’ve made. On the flip side, if you eat chicken breast that’s been cooked in a healthy fat like olive oil, you’ll be consuming beneficial nutrients.
Let’s break down the different macronutrients.
Carbohydrates, or carbs, are macronutrients that include sugars, starches, and fibers. They are commonly found in bread, grains, pasta, cereal, certain fruits, and more. When you consume a carb, your body breaks it down into glucose. Glucose is yet another way our bodies produce energy and is one of the most efficient and prominent energy sources. Basically, carbs provide the most energy out of the three macronutrients and are essential for getting through the day.
You’ve probably heard of low-carb diets as they’ve become very common. This doesn’t necessarily mean low-carb diets translate to less energy. Too many carbs can be harmful and can lead to weight gain. Having too little doesn’t mean you won’t have energy, as there are other ways for your body to receive the proper energy it needs to function.
Haven’t you heard? Protein is king when it comes to a cutting diet. When you are cutting, your body breaks down protein for energy at a higher rate. Next time you go to the store, be sure to pick up your favorite protein sources.
Foods typically high in protein include eggs, nuts, meat, yogurt, cheese, and more. Protein is important so your muscles can grow, repair muscle tissues, and increase muscle and body mass.
“Fat” is a very broad term when talking about macronutrients. There are multiple kinds of fat with different functions, benefits, and disadvantages.
Trans fat should completely be avoided when cutting or on a weight loss-based diet. This is the fat typically found in candy, baked goods, and most junk food. This fat has no added nutrients and will only lead to weight gain at an unhealthy rate.
The second type of fat that should be avoided is saturated fat. They can raise the "bad" LDL cholesterol in your blood, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Lastly, unsaturated fat consists of two different types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These fats can help lower your cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve overall heart health.
Most people believe all fat is unhealthy because of the name. This is not true as long as you keep track of what kind of fat you’re consuming. All in all, try to limit the amount of trans fat and saturated fat in your diet. Unsaturated fats are the way to go for a cutting diet.
Macro and caloric intake completely depends on your diet and lifestyle, especially for cutting. It is recommended that adult men and women consume roughly 2,500 and 2,000 calories every day, respectively.
Remember, fat loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. As a general rule, you should be consuming around 500 fewer calories than recommended if you’re on a cutting or weight loss diet. At this rate, you should be losing between half a pound and a pound and a half per week. If you combine this with weight lifting, your body begins to build muscle faster and sheds unnecessary weight.
If you’re cutting, your meals should be high in protein. This increases your metabolism and reduces your appetite. A good rule for protein intake is barely under 1 gram for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should be consuming anywhere from 130-150 grams of protein per day.
For your fat intake, it is suggested that 15-30 percent of your calories per day should stem from unsaturated fats. Trans and saturated fats are okay every once in a while, but you should be aiming for unsaturated fats as much as possible. These are merely recommendations and general guidelines to follow, but your actual intake will likely change based on your needs and goals.
So, how can you keep track of all these numbers? You can try writing and recording your macronutrient intake in a notebook, but this can be inconvenient and take a lot of time. Thankfully, we’re here to offer you a solution.
Whether you’re cutting, trying to lose or gain weight, or just want to be healthier, Able is your new best friend. All you have to do is enter the foods you eat daily into the Able app. We offer the world’s biggest database of foods available to track so that you can better manage and track your calorie intake.
If you decide to try cutting, you can enter every meal you eat to calculate your macronutrients throughout the day. It’s simple, easy, and convenient. It won’t take any time out of your day, and you’ll get the information you need with no hassle.
If you’re worried about not eating enough, the Able app will show you exactly how many macros you are consuming as long as you track the foods you eat. Not sure how many calories you should be consuming? We got you covered. Able’s calorie budget can help you make calculations based on your needs and suggest the number of calories you should be eating to meet your weight goal.
Even if you’re not cutting, you can still calculate your caloric and macro intake throughout the day and get recommendations for what you can do better to meet your health goals. Regardless of your health goal, Able provides a unique strategy to maximize your results and help educate you along the way.
Recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: resistance and cardiovascular training | PubMed
Do You Know How Many Calories You Need? | FDA
Macronutrients | Food and Nutrition Information Center | NAL | USDA
Types of Fat | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health