Memorial Day isn’t just the unofficial start of summer; it’s that time of year when many people — especially those who lift a lot of weights — go on a "cut" diet.
A “cut” is when people shift from bulkier foods and heavier weights toward low-fat foods and cardiovascular exercise to shed fat without losing muscle. It’s a dreaded process that requires a lot of discipline, but if you keep a few vital things in mind, you will achieve that beach-ready body just in time for your first trip to the shore.
You may have heard that fitness is 70% or more nutrition — and that’s completely correct. A cut requires a strict diet of lean meats, moderate amounts of complex and simple carbohydrates, and low fat. The other 30% comes from a mix of cardiovascular and weight-training exercises. Though it may not add up mathematically, fitness — and cutting in particular — is also 100% mental.
Keeping yourself mentally invigorated and optimistic is the key to completing your cut. This process is a big transformation that can lead to decreases in the weight you lift and insecurity toward your body image. Since cutting requires you to restrict calories — some people lose more than 20 pounds! — you will not be able to lift as much weight as you normally do.
Instead of comparing your lifts with what they were in the winter before your cut, track your performance in proportion to your body weight. A diet full of lean meats during your cut will allow for maximum fat loss while preserving as much muscle as possible.
Also, weigh yourself weekly as opposed to daily. Factors like water retention affect your weight on a daily basis, making weekly weigh-ins a much better indicator of your progress.