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How To Structure A Cutting Diet
by Steve Holt

The Vegetarian Bodybuilder

Here are some basic guidelines for a bodybuilder to structure a basic cutting diet. This means anyone who is doing proper weight training 3 or more times per week. Actually, I’d recommend 4x week as a good place to be; 5 is better. We assume the weight training session is around 60 minutes in duration.

Step 1: Calculate calories. As a guideline, multiply your total body weight by 12. This will typically yield a caloric deficit around 20%. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs, you multiply 180x12 to get 2160 total calories.

Step 2: Calculate protein. As a guideline, multiple your total bodyweight by 1. (This is a toughie, I know.) The 180 lb. dude will have 180 grams protein. However, if your bodyfat is high (17% or more), multiply lean bodymass (LBM) by 1.1. For example, you weight 180 lbs but 20% is BF, that means LBM is 80% of 180, or 144. Multiply by 1.1 to get protein requirement of 158 g.

Step 3: Calculate carbs. No matter what your weight, carbs can be kept low, and absolute numbers can be used here. Assuming its not going to be ketogenic, use anything from 100g to 300 g carbs. Remember, the fewer the carbs, the better. For this 180 lb dude, lets take middle ground… try 150 g.

Step 4: Calculate fat. To do this, you need to know how many calories you’ve accounted for already. Remember, each gram of carbs or protein uses 4 calories. So add up the carbs and protein, and multiply that total by 4. Our buddy has calculated 180 g protein plus 150 g carbs, which totals 330… and so we multiply 330 by 4 to get 1320 calories so far. But remember, we decided on a total of 2160 total calories. So we deduct 1320 from 2160 to get 840. We have 840 calories left for fat. Recall that a gram of fat uses 9 calories, so divide 840 by 9 to see how many g of fat our friend can have. It’s 93 g fat.  
Total calories – 2160, broken down as 180 g protein, 150 g carbs, 93 g fat.


Since protein is a fairly fixed calculation, you’ll fiddle around with fat and carbs to come out to the required number of calories.  A rule of thumb for fat is a range of 0.4 -0.6 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight. Less carbs, more fat.  More carbs, less fat. As long as the total calories are the same, you’ll lose bodyfat. Experiment a bit and you’ll find the fat and carb numbers right numbers for your own body. In general, more fat and less carbs means you’ll be less hungry. Carbs tend to make you hungrier, and fat tends to make feel less hungry. In addition, if you eat most of your carbs pre and post workout, you’ll be stronger during the workout and thus be using those carbs more effectively.

Really important tip: Recalculate everything as your bodyweight falls.