In the world of fitness, the term “cutting” refers to a nutrition plan that works towards losing fat while preserving muscle; essentially what’s used during contest prep. It can be a pretty intense time where a lot of planning is required and sometimes many competitors end up eating the same the thing day after day, making it even worse and making the entire prep that much more challenging. Sure there are the usual go-to’s like shakes, green veggies, sweet potatoes, grilled tofu, almond butter, etc. but trust me when I say that this stuff gets boring and unappealing really fast. Although meal prep is made faster when you’re only cooking a big batch of only one thing, after eating the same mix of chickpeas, steamed broccoli, with brown rice and olive oil for three lunches in a row, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to throw my container out the window while shouting “SCREW YOU FIBER!” and then stuffing myself with a crusty baguette. Thankfully I do know better and I completely understand the importance of eating delicious food while cutting; it is the best way to stick with your nutritional plan without feeling deprived or restricted.
That being said I’ve included below several snack ideas and recipes that I am currently using for my contest prep. These have helped me keep things interesting and yummy while continuously working towards my goal of stepping onstage in November.
Fruit & Protein Parfait
I came up with this last week and it is sooooo good! I really dislike fruit, but it is part of my regiment now so this recipe definitely helps make it delish.
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon almond butter
Pinch of cinnamon
¼ cup frozen berries (let them thaw out or pop them in the microwave for 25 seconds)
- In a bowl add the protein powder, flaxseeds and cinnamon and stir to combine
- Mix in about ½ cup of water and stir until well incorporated and smooth in consistency. Note: the amount of water needed may vary depending on the powder used, so slowly add more as needed; it should have a similar consistency to yogurt.
- Mix in the almond butter
- Top with the berries and their liquid from being thawed (this gives off a syrupy taste which is super good)
This is ideal for anyone looking to get a chocolate fix. It’s sweet, rich and creamy without having added sugar or tons of fat. If you can, stick with Pea Protein as it gives the best consistency for this recipe; I’ve tried other powders, but it’s just not the same.
1 scoop chocolate pea protein powder
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon stevia
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- In a bowl add the protein, cocoa and stevia, stir to combine
- Mix in the almond milk and stir until it reaches a thick pudding-like consistency (add more almond milk as needed)
I’ve gotten so fed up with drinking protein shakes, so these have been a huge help. An interesting tid-bit is that studies show that there is an increase in satiety when protein powder is consumed with less liquid than the typical shake. This is mostly due to its creamy texture; it ends up with a richer taste making your body think that you’re eating something a bit more decadent than usual, kind of like a desert.
Here are a few more snack ideas:
- Popcorn – This low-cal whole grain is a great complex carb that’s loaded with fiber. I usually will replace another whole grain (such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, etc) with this at least once per week.
- Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate – When I discovered this hidden gem, it made my life a whole lot easier. I use this to replace a fat in one of my meals (such as cashews or peanut butter). One thing to keep in mind with this is that it does have a slightly higher carbohydrate content than nuts and nut butters so you will need to make an adjustment elsewhere in your meal. This chocolate can be hard to come by, but you can always use 100% dark chocolate, melt it down and then add the stevia to still get some chocolately goodness. Watch out for sugar alcohols; in moderation it’s fine, but if you eat too much in a day it causes some serious tummy troubles.
- Sprouted Grain Bread – Like practically everyone else, I love bread and sprouted grain is definitely the way to go when you’re trying to drop fat. You do have to be careful and go through the ingredient list to check for any added sugars, etc. but I usually opt for the ever popular Ezekiel bread from Food for Life. This bread can be expensive so I suggest that you only have it once or twice a week as a complex carb source, replacing a grain or starchy vegetable.
In general, when you’re going to swap snacks be sure to read the labels to ensure that you are still in line with your portion sizes, macros and overall calories. Each meal should be balanced with a focus on faster digesting carbs and protein both pre and post workout as this the best way to fuel up and recover when it comes to intense training. Cutting season doesn’t have to be this horrendous endeavour where you feel hungry all the time; we should still be able to enjoy and savour each bite of food otherwise the entire process will be a drag. When I step on stage and even when the contest is over, I know that I’ll be confident enough in all of my prep and regardless of the outcome I’ll be able to enjoy my time up there knowing that I gave it my all and actually enjoyed it.
Start It, Finish It