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An introduction to cutting

Following my previous article on bulking, here in this article I discuss the other side – ‘cutting/shredding’ weight. 

The objective of cutting weight is to decrease the percentage of body fat, while trying to maintain a healthy balanced diet. This is done by consuming fewer calories and ensuring that calorie expenditure is more than calorie consumption.

For both bulking and cutting, it is mainly based around calorie consumption and calorie expenditure.

Cutting = Low calorie consumption

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High calorie expenditure

Bulking = High calorie consumption

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Low/medium calorie expenditure

This is dependant on the trainer of course. More established trainers and bodybuilders do incorporate a lot of cardio/fitness regimes into their training when bulking (as well as when cutting), which can increase calorie expenditure. 

Body fat

To decrease body fat and achieve the main aim of cutting, cardio and a clean diet is imperative. This is where eating your greens really matters, as it is vital to consume the correct micronutrients as well as macronutrients.

There is an optimum % for body fat, and this ties in closely with BMI (Body Mass Index), see below:

To be classed as ‘underweight’:

  • Below 18.5% body fat.

To be classed as ‘normal weight’ or ‘healthy weight’

  • 18.5 – 24.9%

To be classed as ‘overweight’

  • 25 – 29.9%

To be classed as ‘obese’

  • 30% and above

This isn’t truly accurate (in my opinion), as some people may fall into one of the categories but may not actually be classed under that term, or even have the physique for that term. For example, some bodybuilders/professional athletes’ body fat may be below 18.5%, but although this classes them as underweight, technically by physique and overall health, they may not be underweight.

Cutting/shredding effectively – diet

To cut/shred effectively, it is important that you don’t drastically change your calorie consumption/body fat. Treat it as carefully as you can as losing a big % of body fat in a short amount of time isn’t always a good thing, it needs to be a gradual progression/decline.

Doing this too quickly can have a negative impact on appetite and metabolism.

To work out how many calories that you need to expend per day, as well as how many to consume, please refer to https://www.calculator.net/tdee-calculator.html).

To set the record straight

Missing meals/starving yourself will not allow you to cut effectively. You most likely will lose weight and body fat, but it is an unhealthy way to achieve this as your body is not consuming the vital nutrients needed to function day by day. This approach can also have long-lasting effects on your appetite and metabolism, as frequently missing meals will make it a habit and you will get used to the feeling, therefore, not feeling the need to eat when hungry.

Cutting/shredding effectively – fitness (physical)

It is also important to switch up your training plan in order to meet the goal of losing weight. It is better to aim for high reps when exercising, this is more important than high weight. Again, this can depend on the trainer, an established trainer/bodybuilder can perform a high weight with higher reps and still achieve weight loss.

An important thing to remember is that weight training is vital to weight loss. A lot of beginners may think that the only route to weight loss is through cardio, however this is actually a common misconception.

Weight training can aid weight loss, arguably more than just cardio – purely for the fact that it is more intense. Intense exercises will enable you to sweat more, meaning water weight is being extracted from the body, therefore = weight loss.

Cardio still holds its importance and can help with overall health. As a qualified Personal Trainer, if you are looking to attempt a clean cut, complete a weight training workout, working on a focused muscle group and then at the end of each session, complete a cardio session aiming to hit between 250-300 calorie expenditure. This can be done with all types of cardio, inside & outside of a gym (run, bike, row, treadmill, cross-trainer etc).

Mindset matters

A clean, healthy, and organised diet & training plan dedicated to cutting/shredding weight can provide many benefits to the mind as well as the body. 

It can reduce the lethargic feeling that you get with bulking and replace it with a light, healthy feeling. It can also provide high energy levels because of the good quality nutrients that are being consumed.


Want to talk to me about a personalised approach to your fitness? Drop me a line via Linkedin

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Anish Mehan
Anish Mehan is an aspiring nutritionist/dietitian. By day, I am a technology recruitment consultant and by night, I am a part time Personal Trainer with a passion for fitness & health.

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