Looking for the right supplements for mastering the cutting phase? Here are the best supplements for cutting like a certified champion.
During your bulking phase, it’s all about eating to the max and packing on the calories so you can increase body mass.
No surprise that this is the easy part of the cutting vs bulking process.
But when it comes to cutting, that’s when things get a bit trickier.
Because you’re restricting calories, you’ve got to make sure that everything you put into your body is high-quality, tightly focused nutrients, only what’s absolutely essential for turning body mass into muscle and developing that sleek, lean physique you’re working towards.
Thankfully, there are a lot of supplements that can help!
These cutting supplements will ensure that you get quality nutrition in just the right quantity to maintain optimum intake of all the macro and micronutrients you need.
Read on to find out the best supplements for cutting like a pro and seeing the results you want in record time.
The Cutting Phase – Benefits and The Basics
In previous articles, I’ve talked a lot about how to bulk, the best exercises for bulking, and what to eat to bulk up.
Now, however, we want to focus on how to cut after bulking and what supplements will help you get as shredded as possible.
But first, let’s talk about the “why” of it all.
When you bulk up, you gain a lot of body mass—plenty of muscle, but some fat, too.
The cutting phase is all about turning that mass into lean muscle mass and burning off the excess fat.
Through your diet and nutrition, you get rid of all the unwanted fat until only tight, powerful muscle remains, and you have that sculpted physique that looks amazing on the stage or in your photos.
The benefits of cutting after bulking include:
- Trim down your body and get rid of excess/unwanted body fat
- Lose the extra weight you gained during the bulking process
- Tone and sculpt your muscles
- Clean up your diet and focus on restricting calories
- Practice self-discipline in your workout and eating habits
Typically, the cutting phase will last for 4-6 weeks (though some people prefer a slow cut that lasts 2-3 months), during which time you’ll eat anywhere from 200-500 calories fewer per day than is your “recommended intake.”
Add into this a daily resistance training workout with plenty of cardio incorporated into your weekly training, and you’re well on your way to sculpting and toning your body to perfection!
Best Supplements for Getting Shredded During the Cutting Phase
The supplements that help you get shredded during the cutting phase are typically lower in calories (fewer fats and sugars), but rich in the nutrients that accelerate the muscle-building process and speed up your natural fat-burning mechanisms.
The best supplements to use during this part of the bodybuilding process include:
Supplement #1: BCAAs
Branched-chain amino acids are the three most important building blocks for new muscle: valine, leucine, and isoleucine.
They are the amino acids your body needs most during the cutting phase, because they both help to support muscle-building but also enhance post-workout recovery.
Given how intense your resistance training sessions are going to be, you need the extra boost to your body’s natural repair mechanisms.
BCAAs will help you to recover faster so you can push harder at the gym sooner.
BCAAs also have other uses, including:
- Aid in the absorption of protein (from both the food you eat and other protein supplements)
- Increase levels of the growth hormones that naturally enhance muscle-building
- Enhance your ability to produce ATP energy
- Prevent catabolism and protect your muscle mass during the periods of low calorie intake
No supplement is as critical to take as BCAAs during the cutting phase!
Many protein powders contain a dose of BCAAs. However, if you want to optimize nutrition and muscle building during the cutting phase, it’s a good idea to add extra BCAAs to your daily diet.
Supplement #2: Multi-Vitamin
A multi-vitamin supplement is all about the micronutrients!
Your body needs vitamins and minerals during this time of lower-than-average food intake.
Without them, your internal organs and systems won’t function properly, and you may experience negative side effects to the cutting process—effects which could largely be avoided by supporting your nutrition with a multi-vitamin.
Multi-vitamins offer a lot of benefits, providing:
- Calcium needed to maintain healthy bones
- B vitamins that accelerate your metabolism
- Iron, copper, and other minerals critical to supporting your cardiovascular system
- Magnesium and potassium, critical for muscle function
- Zinc to boost your immune system
It’s no exaggeration to say that a multi-vitamin supplement is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT you can take!
Supplement #3: Lean Protein Powder
Protein powder is a concentrated source of the amino acids your body needs to build muscle, produce ATP energy, and keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders to maximize fat-burning.
No cutting phase (or bulking phase, for that matter) is complete without it!
But there is a slight difference between the protein you’ll take during the bulking phase and the protein you’ll take during the cutting phase.
When bulking, you want the extra calories, so you’ll often opt for a protein powder that has extra (or even a “normal” amount of) fat and carbs. Remember, carbs are quick-acting energy your body needs to recover post-workout, and fats provide a steady stream of slower-processed energy that lasts for hours after your training session.
But when attempting to cut, you want to keep any “extra” nutrients to an absolute minimum. That means you want to go for a lean protein powder, one that features MAINLY protein with as little extra carbs or fat as possible.
Whey protein is a standard go-to for many during the cutting phase because of its high protein content, and the fact that it contains only small doses of fat and carbs.
You may want to find an unflavored protein powder that has no added carbs or fats, or one that is flavored using only zero-calorie ingredients (such as stevia or monk fruit). That way, you keep your calories tightly restricted while still maximizing protein intake.
Supplement #4: Fat-Burner/Thermogenic
Thermogenic supplements, also called “fat-burners”, are designed to speed up your metabolism and raise your body’s internal temperature to make it easier to activate stored fats.
They’re really formulated specifically to turn the extra fat you’ve gained into energy that your body can burn, preserving the glucose to be available to turn into ATP energy (combined with protein).
Typically, fat burners will contain either caffeine (from coffee) or theanine (from green/black tea), both of which are known metabolism-boosters. Other thermogenic ingredients may include:
- Garcinia cambogia
- Bitter orange
There are known downsides to taking a thermogenic fat-burner. Side effects may include nausea, constipation, headaches, abdominal pain, elevated blood pressure, restlessness, dizziness, anxiety, and heart palpitations (especially for any containing caffeine). Be aware of these potential effects before taking any supplement!
Supplement #5: Glutamine
Glutamine is one of the amino acids your body needs in order to function properly—in fact, it’s the most abundant amino acid. It plays a role in everything from gut health to immune function to post-workout recovery. It even has potent antioxidant effects and can protect your body from excessive stress.
Unfortunately, intense resistance training workouts can reduce glutamine levels by as much as 50% (for a short time). During this period, you’re more vulnerable to threats to your immune system, and your body recovers more slowly from your exercise.
In fact, if your glutamine levels drop too far, your body may actually break down muscle mass in order to replenish it.
Which is why it’s such a great idea to add a glutamine supplement into your post-workout regimen. It will prevent catabolism and maintain healthy immune function.
It’s critical for protecting lean muscle mass and speeding up post-workout recovery.
Supplement #6: Nitric Oxide Booster
Nitric oxide is the chemical that dilates your blood vessels, increasing the amount of blood that can flow through them.
Not only does this help to keep your blood pressure low, but it ensures your body can send more nutrients and oxygen through your bloodstream to fuel your muscles during your intense training.
Nitric oxide boosters—such as L-arginine, L-citrulline, nitrate, and flavonoids—help to increase nitric oxide levels in your body, ensuring you have the nutrients required to produce nitric oxide in sufficient quantity.
This will do wonders to improve circulation, speed up post-workout recovery, and encourage “the pump”, the visible swelling as your muscles fill with blood. You’ll have increased tolerance to resistance training and last longer because of the increased blood flow resulting from more nitric oxide to dilate your blood vessels.
Supplements for Getting Shredded — FAQs
Should I stop taking creatine when cutting?
Not necessarily! Creatine can help to maintain and increase lean muscle mass during the cutting phase, ensuring your muscles get enough water to function properly and protecting the muscle fibers from sustaining damage.
Creatine contains no added calories, so there’s no real reason you should stop taking it during the cutting phase.
What type of protein is best for cutting?
The best type of protein for you is the protein naturally found in animal and plant-based foods: red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, legumes, whole grains, etc. These contain a balance of macro and micronutrients that your body needs in order to function properly.
However, during the cutting phase, you’ll want to increase the intake of only protein while keeping fat and carb intake low. This means utilizing a source of concentrated protein—i.e., protein powder.
Whey protein is the best type of protein powder for cutting because of its high bioavailability, its ability to encourage weight loss, and its high amino acid content. It’s excellent for encouraging faster post-workout recovery and maintaining your energy levels even while on a lower-calorie diet.
The Bottom Line
Supplements are absolutely crucial to the success of your cutting phase! They’ll ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to function properly while still helping you to maintain your lower-calorie intake and maximizing metabolic function.
The supplements listed above are the most important, but there are many more to consider. It’s worth investing time and effort into further research to help you find all the supplements to ensure you come out the other side of your cutting phase lean, toned, and in peak physical health!
More Cutting and Bulking Guides
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