T Nation

1600 Calorie Cutting Diet


Disclaimer *This diet is aimed at those who struggle to add up their macros, find a fairly cheap diet that is basic enough and tasty enough to do consistently * *This is not intended for the advanced bodybuilder or anyone who can do this for themselves. If you can do it for yourself, you will do a much better job so I advise to learn to do it yourselves! *

I often struggled to come up with a diet I could consistently follow during a cut. I failed many times to cut my bodyfat significantly without losing hard earned muscle gains. Bulking was always easy for me and I've gained 30lbs in the last year following basic principles outlined on this site. Of course 30lbs of weight gain isn't all muscle. So I want to do some damage control.

I'm 5'8, weigh 185lbs and this is the diet I've outlined for myself that I think others can follow with some success. I've often noticed most cutting diets go from anywhere between 1200-1600 calories. Unless you are a tall lifter. In which case. Sorry.


Meal One:

Half Mackerel Fillet. 140 Calories, 20.9g Protein, 5.7g Fat - You can buy 3 halves for about �£2.00 here in the UK
Half Cup Oats. 109 Calories, 3.5g Protein, 17.5g Carbs, 2.8g Fat - Cheap lol
Two Hole Eggs Fried. 180 Calories, 12.5g Protein, 13.7g Fat - Only Eggs in this diet
Protein Shake. 130 Calories, 20g Protein, 5g Carbs, 2.5g Fat - Cheap

Add in any multi-vits and fish-oils into this meal slot. For digestion reasons.

Total Calories: 559
Total Protein: 56.9g
Total Carbs: 22.5g
Total Fat: 24.7g

Meal Two:


Half A Banana. 52.5 Calories, 13.5g Carbs. - Whole Banana on moderate or high carb days for carb cyclers.
1 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter. 95 Calories, 3.8g Protein, 3.5g Carbohydrates, 8g Fats. - Way healthier in terms of sodium.

This is my pre-workout snack. About half an hour before. You could add the peanut butter into your oats if you like that sort of thing. Take BCAAs or similar supps during workout.

Total Calories: 147.5
Total Protein: 3.8g
Total Carbs: 17g
Total Fats: 8g

Meal Three:

Post-Workout Shake. 130 Calories, 20g Protein, 5g Carbs, 2.5g Fat

I advise adding some waxy-maize or something similar in. The carbs are a bit low for a post-workout but this is my personal brand, which is cheap. Also add in creatine if you take it.

Total Calories: 130
Total Protein: 20g
Total Carbs: 5g
Total Fat: 2.5g

Meal Four:

Chicken Breast Fried Olive Oil. 141.5 Calories, 26g Protein, 9g Fat
Half Cup Long Grain White Rice Boiled. 102.5 Calories, 2.1g Protein, 22.2g Carbohydrates.
Broccoli - I don't count these, many people don't.

Total Calories: 244
Total Protein: 28.1g
Total Carbs: 22.2g
Fat: 9g

Meal Five:

Chicken Breast Fried Olive Oil. 141.5 Calories, 26g Protein, 9g Fat
Half Cup Long Grain White Rice Boiled. 102.5 Calories, 2.1g Protein, 22.2g Carbohydrates.
Broccoli - I don't count these, many people don't.

Total Calories: 244
Total Protein: 28.1g
Total Carbs: 22.2g
Fat: 9g

Meal Six: Before Bed

Chicken Breast Fried Olive Oil. 141.5 Calories, 26g Protein, 9g Fat
1 Glass 2% Milk. 122 Calories, 8g Protein, 11.7g Carbs, 4.8g Fat

Total Calories: 263.5
Total Protein: 34g
Total Carbs: 11.7g
Total Fat: 13.8g

Give or Take Overall Calories/Macros.
Overall Calories: 1600
Overall Protein: 173g
Overall Carbs: 100g
Overall Fat: 50g

Important Notes:

100g Carbs following the one hundred gram carb cure. http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/one_hundred_gram_carb_cure

Protein Consumption. Why not 185g? / My weight. Because I've talked to a lot of people I consider to have great physiques at over 200lbs who only eat 1g/lb of LEAN body mass. I'm not 173lbs of lean body mass. But I always add in a bit more. Again if you're a lot heavier, just think about your lean body mass. Or how much you would weigh at your ideal BF%.

Carb Cycling. I thing Carb Cycling is perfect for this since 100g of carbs is puny!

You can make simple changes to these diets to add in extra carbs. Such as another serving of rice with the before bed meal. Or increase the serving size of the rice in other meals, perhaps add in more oats at breakfast. More banana. This works for removing calories as well.


1200-1600 calories? For who, women?


For cutting serious amounts of fat I've seen this used and recommended by plenty of coaches who probably know a lot more than you and certainly more than myself.

Certainly no man would eat that for maintenance or even gaining.


This is how it adds up for me. I don't add in any info about fish oils which works out at about 40 calories for me a day. I also don't add in info about olive oil use etc.

For anyone interested, I use CRON-O-Meter for calorie tracking. It's free so it's pretty good.

Edit: Don't pay attention to the % bars. That's just my old macros from when I was 'bulking'.


To each their own. I'll stick with eating 2500-3000 calories and losing ALL fat and preserving muscle/strength.


I understand what you are getting at, and don't agree jumping into a 1,600 calorie-a-day diet is the best idea starting out.

But it would also be flat-out ignorant to assume that everyone can get away with what you do with dieting. C'mon now.

  1. Buy Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.
  2. Grow a pair of balls.
  3. Buy a ton of Coke Zero to satiate your sweet tooth.
  4. ???
  5. Profit!


Yeah but you'd also be an idiot to jump straight in to 1600 calories....tapering is one thing, starting right off? Come on now.


Don't get me wrong, I lower my cals. But as long as I am losing fast, why would I until I stall? Ultimately, for me anyway, preserving muscle is my main goal so I try not to lose more than 1.5 lb/week.

I know everybody is different, but I still believe this is optimal. You don't go from a cut, decide to bulk, and jump straight into 4-5000 calories without adverse side effects....shouldn't be any different on the opposite end of the spectrum.


If someone is obese and leads an inert life, I could see my way to those daily levels. For lifters or otherwise active people, falling below 10 cal/lb of BW for any length of time is usually a bad idea.


I know you guys are serious about your stuff, I'm not claiming this is the best way to diet... Everyones different, and for the most part food is expensive these days. Especially for younger people who may not have had long to establish themselves in a career yet.

Last year I gained 30lbs eating between 2200-2400 calories with a fairly clean diet and gained very little fat. Check out my log for pics of that period. It amazes me that some of you can lose fat eating more calories than I did when I gained so much weight. Especially considering I lifted 6x a week twice per day.

I agree tapering down to this amount of calories is better. I can tell you from experience that the average man in England eats little more than 1800 calories a day and I'm being serious. I've gone out and asked people on the street about it, family, friends. Almost 60% of their diet comes from carbohydrates and 30% from fat. These people eat insane amounts of crap and for the most part look totally normal. I think eating the right percentage of macros is far more important than sheer calories for body composition. The body can adapt extremely well and I think it can add size or lose fat on any amount of calories you just have to adjust it compared to what you usually eat. Explain to me how almost every man over here weighs about 180lbs when they eat less than 2000 calories a day, even the active ones.

In America I'm guessing most men eat the 'recommended' amount of calories or over a day. Not dissing you guys because you're a great country but you have the highest obesity problems in the world even though you probably all eat way more protein than the men here in the UK. It doesn't matter much though because generally those extra calories are probably killing you. Why do it with more if you can do it with less? Yeah some of you eat a lot of calories and look great. No denying that but usually you have the macros in the right percentages.

The diet I posted above in England per week costs me about £50.00 for 1600 calories. If I doubled that it would cost £4000 a month for 3200 calories per day. The average under 30 year old here earns about £900 a week in the South West. Housing is about £600 a month. Bills etc. It's different over here guys and you need to start wondering how these 'women' calories produce average and above average sized men here.

I'd just like to add in... When I'm not being strict with my diet in an attempt to either bulk or cut. I eat around 1200 calories a day. Not purposely, it just works out that way and I haven't lost any weight, strength or gained fat. 1600 Calories for me personally will probably make me gain lean bodymass while my cardio and clean eating take care of the fat.




I'm glad it's good for some laughs.

But honestly I'm not kidding about the amount of calories people eat here.

The pic attached is 25lbs of weight gain between the months of April and August last year. I've already mentioned how many calories I was eating.

Are you really that ignorant to deny evidence that you don't need to eat 3000 calories plus to gain weight? With very little fat gain difference to boot.

If calories are all that matters, please explain why you can't eat a breakdown of 60% carbs 20% fat and 20% protein and look decent.



The amount of calories it takes to build/cut depends on a ton of factors. That being said, I don't wanna look anything remotely like that. Guess I really am a fool.


You think I want to look like that? I guess you just popped out of your Mother built like that? We all start somewhere so don't be like that. I've made good progress and I really don't appreciate those sorts of comments...

Your huge, what you did has worked for you. I wish I looked more like you than I how I look now, but it takes time. I'm just saying that people here eat very little compared to American Men. I also gained a shit load of weight in a few months eating very few calories.

Why do you find that so hard to believe? And I'll admit I'm wrong if I am, but I want to know your reasons not just random 'Lmao' and other comments that really have no place in a proper discussion.

I don't know if you have ever tried the paleo diet but do you honestly believe all those thousands of years ago we were eating 3-4k calories a day? We are survival machines. Is all I'm saying.


If you're trying to look 'decent,' you're going into it with the wrong mindset. Aiming for anything but 'fat loss with 100% muscle retention' is not going to lead to great results. Obviously you won't get that, but if you go into the diet willing to give up muscle, you'll probably give up more than you need to.

I did a diet with similar caloric restriction to what you outlined. I lost 30-35lbs (220ish-185ish) over about four months, and started to look 'good' by normal standards. That level of leanness was not even remotely sustainable and I'd pack on 5-10lbs every time I refed and had even 'normal person' quantities of food. My strength went to shit as well.

I've since adjusted my mindset to one of 'raise the work volume before dropping the calories' and am up 10-15lbs. I'm also leaner, and am judged as much more impressive by the same standards. I HIGHLY recommend that you try to keep calories up while adding work volume by making use of a higher-volume training plan or adding conditioning volume on top of whatever training program you already have.

If you insist on restricting calories, make sure it's only for a short term or as part of a more cyclical approach that has you at a more reasonable caloric total MOST OF THE TIME. The previously-mentioned RFL would probably be effective. You could use other similar approaches, but it is very unlikely that you will retain a substantial amount of muscle with a breakdown like 60/20/20 with breakfast. If you're fucking around with any calories that aren't from protein or veggies on a diet that works through heavy calorie restriction, they should probably come around workouts.

That's my .2, and I'm speaking from experience. Take it or leave it- I'm not one of the coaches you mentioned above, and I'm sure as hell not trying to look "decent."



^^Keep dong what you're doing then. I told you I didn't believe it was optimal, if you don't agree, keep on keepin on. My methods are based on those that have been tried and proven, time and time again by WAY WAY more advanced and bigger guys.

To live the lifestyle I live, lift as heavy as I do, going low in calories like that is gonna cause me to lose a shitton of muscle. Protein has to be kept reasonably high to preserve the little muscle I worked my ass off to gain. I could point you to tons of studies proving my reasonings, but there is no point. If you read around this site, you will see many people agree with my logic.


Nice job there guy!


I would never expect someone your size to eat how I outlined above. It's really more for guys my size. I'm 185lbs and probably like 155 or less at under 10% bodyfat. I don't see the point in adjusting my calorie or macro intake to accommodate for the extra fat I carry. If I could eat more I would. For myself and many like me it's just not possible.