The Conscious Gut

Bodybuilding 12 Week Cutting Diet Plan: Losing Fat While Maintaining Your Muscles

A bodybuilder goes through two main periods in their bodybuilding cycle. During one of the periods, the bodybuilder tries to add as much muscle as they possibly can while in the other period they try to get as lean as they can. Getting lean means losing fat mass while keeping muscle mass. The first period where they try to add as much muscle mass as they can is usually referred to as the bulking phase and the period where they try to get lean is referred to as the cutting cycle or phase (3). In this article we shall look at the cutting phase to provide you with a bodybuilding 12 week cutting diet plan.

What You Need To Know About The Cutting Diet Plan

A cutting diet plan is a meal plan that bodybuilders and other types of pro-athletes use when they want to lose fat mass while keeping their muscle mass (2). This meal plan helps you achieve weight loss while doing all it can to help you preserve your muscle mass. Unlike other fat loss diets, the main difference between the cutting diet plan and the rest of them is that this diet tends to encourage higher amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and is accompanied by a lot of weight lifting.

Why Do You Need High Portions Of Carbohydrates In The Cutting Diet Plan?

Most diets usually emphasize cutting the carbs especially if you are trying to lose weight. Even though that would help in losing those extra pounds of fat, those diets won’t have you working out as hard as this diet will. To lose weight, not only do you need to stick to the cutting diet meal plan, but you also need to workout and in this case we are not referring to the weight lifting that is involved but the cardio exercises you need to do. Cardio exercises are very effective when it comes to burning off those extra pounds. For you to be effective in the gym, you need to have energy and that energy comes from carbohydrates (3).

You don’t need to worry about gaining weight from those carbohydrates if you truly follow the portions that are listed in the later parts of this read. Apart from the portions, the cardio exercises together with the weight lifting exercises will have you burning all the carbs you eat and even more. It is also important to eat enough carbohydrates as it helps you not to lose muscle mass which is the main aim of the cutting phase.

Why Do You Need Proteins In High Portions During The Cutting Stage?

Proteins are required in high portions because they help prevent the loss of muscle mass and help you to build muscles. Since you will be doing a lot of weight lifting, proteins also help with the recovery after a workout session. Proteins will also keep you full for a longer period and this helps reduce your daily calorie intake, helping with your fat loss journey. In addition to all that, proteins also have a high thermic effect as far as food goes. What this means is that they take a high amount of energy (calories) to be broken down. This is something you want during your cutting phase (4).

Why Is Weight Lifting Important During The Cutting Phrase?

Weight lifting is important because it will help you to build more muscles and maintain the ones you already have (2). Building muscles will also help in your fat/ weight loss journey. This comes from the fact that muscles burn more calories at rest compared to fat mass and thus this helps you burn more calories.

Although fats were not mentioned, it does not mean you don’t need them during your cutting phase. You need them just as much as with all diet plans because you need to have all macronutrients to prevent malnutrition. Apart from that, fats are also responsible for producing powerful muscle hormones like testosterone and also help in absorbing vitamins and nutrients (32).

12 Week Fat Burning Diet Plan 

The bodybuilding 12 week cutting diet plan consists of 3 types of eating days; you have the high carb days, moderate carb days and the low carb days. The high carb day is usually one day a week, the moderate carb days are usually 3 days a week and the low carb days are usually the remaining 3 days of the week (1). With this diet, you are reducing your calorie intake every week till the last week. With that said, here is how you can structure your 12 week fat burning diet plan; the section is into two sections on the basis of gender.

Bodybuilding 12 Week Cutting Diet Plan For Men

Week 1 (1)

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 2 

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 3

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2100 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 4

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2000 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 5

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 6

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 7

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2100 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 8

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2000 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 9

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2300 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 10

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 11

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2100 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories

Week 12

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 2000 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 2200 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 2700 calories
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Here are some things to note while making your meal plan, following this structure. The number of calories given are not a good fit for everyone, so it’s better for you to get an individualized calorie intake from an expert then use this structure to create your diet plan. You should take a minimum of 180 grams of proteins per day. 20% -30% of your calories should come from fats then the rest can be carbs (3).

Bodybuilding 12 Week Cutting Diet Plan For Women

Week 1 (1)

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1600 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 2

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1600 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 3

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1300 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1600 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 4

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1200 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1600 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 5

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 6

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 7

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1300 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 8

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1200 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 9

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1500 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 10

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 11

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1300 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

Week 12

  • 3 low carb days with a total intake of 1200 calories on each day
  • 3 moderate carb days with a total intake of 1400 calories on each day
  • 1 high carb day with a total intake of 1900 calories

You should have at least 100 grams of proteins everyday while 20% – 30% of your daily calorie intake should come from fats.

The Bottom Line 

The bodybuilding 12 week cutting diet plan is meant to help you lose fat without losing any muscle mass. There is no one shoe that fits all when it comes to this diet and so this means that you need to make adjustments using the structure provided in the article. You need carbohydrates to provide you with the needed energy to work out and you need proteins to help preserve the muscles you already have and help you to build more muscles. This diet should be complemented with a lot of cardio and weight lifting for efficient results.

Alexandra Danieli

Alexandra Danieli, CHC, The Conscious Gut
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