Get Shredded! Cutting Diet Plans & Eating Tips From Freaky Physiques

Eight of the best natural bodybuilders and fitness models in the world share their nutrition tips, cutting diet secrets and detailed meal plans. Learn from the experts in the business!

Layne Norton on Diet and Nutrition

Layne Norton

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

Again it varies from person to person.  In general I prefer moderation in all things.  Protein is about 1-1.15g/lb bodyweight, fat is about 20-30% of total kcals, and the rest of the calories that I need are filled in by carbohydrates.  In the off-season this ends up around 250g protein, 450-500g carbohydrate, and 80-90g fat.

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

My macronutrients are always very consistent but my food choices change everyday.  I do not believe in being a slave to a ‘meal plan.’  Many people act like chicken/broccoli/rice is magic and it’s really not the case.  Your body doesn’t ‘see’ foods.  It sees amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and fiber and that’s it.  Your muscle could care less if it got the amino acids from a chicken breast or a steak so long as it gets them in the proper proportion for maximal anabolism.

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

It changes every contest season depending upon how my body responds and typically I will have to change my macronutrient intake as I get further into the prep.  A ‘normal’ prep intake for me would be anywhere from 250-300g protein, 150-250g carbohydrates, and 45-60g fat per day.  I also have 2 days per week where I will moderately increase carbs to 300-350g while simultaneously lowering fat and protein by about 10%.

What's the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Just like with training, be consistent!  I do not believe in restricting yourself to the point where you are miserable but I also don’t believe in cheat days and all out gluttony.  I believe in moderation and consistency.  If you want to learn how to be successful in natural bodybuilding, read the book “The tortoise and the hare.”  The tortoise wins every time.

Francisco Montealegre on Diet and Nutrition

Franciscon Montealgre

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

I believe in eating clean all the time and staying lean during offseason in order to take advantage of the improved insulin sensitivity.  Insulin sensitivity is crucial to body composition and it will help you to put on muscle by shuttling the nutrient that you eat to your muscles. I learned this the hard way.

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

During offseason I have more food variety and I have one cheat meal per week. This is just one sample because my foods vary almost every day.

  • Breakfast: Power omelet (Whole eggs, egg whites, spinach, fat free mozzarella, fat free turkey, green and red bell peppers) + oatmeal
  • Lunch: Extra lean ground beef, baked beans, cashews
  • Pre-Workout: 94% fat free popcorn, whey protein shake
  • After-Work out: 94% fat free popcorn, whey protein shake
  • Dinner: Turkey breast, sweet potato, green salad with olive oil and vinegar

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

My diet during pre-contest changes a lot too based on the amount of carbs/fats and proteins scheduled for that particular day. This is a sample of the foods that I typically ate while I was getting ready for my last contest.

  • Breakfast: Whole eggs (2), egg whites (4), spinach (1 cup), whole grain bread and whey protein shake
  • Lunch: Tilapia (8oz), veggies (350-400g), cashews (25g)
  • Pre-Workout: 94% fat free popcorn, whey protein shake
  • After-Work out: 94% fat free popcorn, whey protein shake
  • Dinner: Tilapia (8oz), veggies (350-400g), fish oil (5g)

What's the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Eat clean all the time! And schedule your cheat meals.

RJ Perkins on Diet and Nutrition

RJ Perkins

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

A lot of people may crucify me for this but I am a firm believer of it's not WHAT you eat as compared to HOW MUCH you eat. Now I am not saying making doughnuts, cookies, and ice cream as part of your diet is ok. Far from that. What I am saying is that I feel it is more important as to how many calories you do put in your body a day and keeping track of that as compared to worrying about the type of foods. Now I am not saying to take this to heart and you can just start eating foods you feel are ok and adding them into your regimen. No.

But do not be afraid to eat outside the some what called NORMAL bodybuilding foods. During a show prep I keep my food very clean, but do eat my foods in variety. Some stuff that I do eat would be looked at as being absurd. As far as off-season I am a bit more lenient with the food choices but do keep everything within my caloric daily intake and still keep them moderately clean. I do have a cheat meal once a week to keep myself sane and to treat myself for all the hard work I put in. I am only human.

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

  • Meal 1: 3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites, 1 cup of oats w/ cinnamon and Splenda.
  • Meal 2: 2 scoops protein (Big Blend), w/ 1/2 a cup of oats, 2-3 tspn natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 3: 6-8oz chicken or fish, w/ 1 cup brown rice, 2-3 tspn natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 4: 6-8oz chicken, w/ 10 -12oz yams (pre-wo).
  • Meal 5: 4-6oz chicken, w/ 2 servings of whole wheat pasta + sauce (post-wo).
  • Meal 6: 1½ - 2 cups fat free cottage cheese, w/ 4 tspn natural peanut butter.

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

  • Meal 1: 10 – 12 egg whites, w/ ½ cup of oats.
  • Meal 2: 4-6oz chicken or fish, w/ ½ cup oats, 2 – 4 tspn natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 3: 4-6oz chicken or fish, w/ 1/2-1 cup of brown rice, 2-4 tspn natural peanut butter.
  • Meal 4: 2 scoops protein (Big Blend), w/ 1–½ cup of oats (pre-wo).
  • Meal 5: 4-6oz chicken or fish, w/ 10oz yams (post-wo).
  • Meal 6: 4-6oz chicken, w/ ½ cup of brown rice, 2-4 tspn natural peanut butter.

What's the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Same thing as the weights. Experiment with your diets. It is a trial and error process to find out what works best for you and what your body responds to. Play around with different things. One thing people are afraid of I see are natural fats. Do not steer away from them they are great for support not only muscle strength and growth but greatly support natural testosterone. So figure out what you needs are, set up a plan, and execute. Diet is the hardest thing in bodybuilding, but I would rather miss a training session before I miss a meal.

Stu Yellin on Diet and Nutrition

Stu Yellin

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

I try to keep things as simple as I can, but there are definitely some outdated ideas that need to die.  If I see one more thread where someone’s cutting edge advice is to simply “eat 500 calories less than you need and you’ll cut up”, I’m going to smash my computer –lol.  Your body sees nutrients, not calories, and it’s not always a simple matter of numbers to reach your goal, but understanding the hormonal effects that ingesting different macronutrients at different times will have on your body.  If I had to sum up the two key concepts that I worry about in regard to my own nutritional approach, as well as those I coach, it would be nutrient timing, and carb cycling.

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

As long as I’m eating every few hours, and managing to get a decent amount of protein at each feeding, I’m usually fairly loose during my off season.  Of course if I notice myself starting to get softer than I’d like, I pay more attention.  Obviously knowing that I’m going to have to diet down for my next show keeps me from allowing my weight to get too far from what I need to weigh on contest day.

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

While each contest prep is somewhat different, here’s a page out of my last contest prep journal (Spring 2010):

  • 6 am - Cup egg whites with diced raw broccoli, cauliflower and turkey pepperoni, ½ cup oats.
  • 9 am - Cup cottage cheese with Splenda and cinnamon.
  • 11 am - Chicken Breast, bowl of lettuce, ½ cup oats.
  • 2 pm - ½ cup oats with 2 scoops low carb Metabolic Drive protein powder.
  • 4 pm - 3 Finibars (pre-workout).
  • 4:30 pm – Anaconda mixed with Mag10 (peri-workout).
  • 7:30 pm - 1 chicken breast, ½ cup oats, raw veggies.
  • 10 pm - 2 scoops low carb Metabolic Drive, 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter.

What’s the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Even in ‘off season’, make sure you eat the good stuff before the bad stuff.  I’m certainly not ultra strict when I’m not dieting, and I’d hate to miss out on the rest of my life because of my bodybuilding hobby.  If I know I’m going to be going out with some friends for dinner, I always eat something beforehand, whether it’s a chicken breast and oatmeal, a couple of cans of sardines, or even just a quick protein shake, it ensures that not only will I not be famished while waiting to be served wherever we go, but it also ensures that I downed some quality nutrients, no matter what I end up munching on the rest of the evening.

Dickens Lambert on Diet and Nutrition

Dickens Lambert

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

I believe nutrition is responsible for 80% of the health and look a person wants to acquire.

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

I eat the same thing every day with little variations. I eat 6 meals a day:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal mixed with ALLMAX vanilla AllWhey protein.
  • Meal 2 & 4: Horse meat, red potatoes and green vegetables (any kind).
  • Meal 3 & 5: Chicken, basmati rice and green vegetables (any kind).
  • Post work-out: ALLMAX vanilla AllWhey protein mixed with juice (orange and banana) or ALLMAX waxymaize.

I usually have a cheat day per week in the off-season; Saturday or Sunday, depending on my plans with my family or friends.

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

Same as my off-season diet…I’ll do more cardio to obtain a particular look!

What's the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Your food is your fuel. Always consume excellent quality foods to be at your best, both mentally and physically.

Philip Ricardo Jr on Diet and Nutrition

Philip Ricardo Jr

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

In order to achieve the ultimate condition that my body could achieve without losing too much muscle mass, nutrition is definitely the number one ingredient for getting that desired look.

I changed my preparation from a mere 4-6 weeks of dieting and cardio to 8-12 weeks and that made a major difference in my physique. The extra prep time allowed me to slowly get used to dieting (no longer eating cheeseburgers and pizza is very tough for me), and to hold on to as much muscle as possible, optimally losing no more than a pound or two a week. Any more weight loss per week will risk you stepping on stage or for a photo shoot looking smaller and flat from excessive muscle wasting. If you give your body the right amount of nutrients and calories to lose that one to two pounds per week, you will find yourself looking bigger and better naked (which is what counts our line of business) than you normally look in the off-season, even though your clothes will be a bit baggy on you by the end of your diet.

Nutritionally, I kept a high protein low fat and carb approach that included High (200grams), medium (125grams), and low carbohydrate days (50grams) rotated throughout the week dependent on my training and activity level. For example, if I had a double cardio day and a hardcore weight training session (Legs) I would have a high carb day. On the weekends when I'm sitting around watching movies or football, I would have a low carb day. I would also have a cheat day once a week where I allow myself to eat anything, and also a day when I would throw in a steak for the red meat to help energize my muscles.

Another important ingredient is Water, and I would drink around 1.5 to 2 gallons a day!

What is your nutrition plan for the on and off season?

My diet basically looks like this for pre-contest:

  1. 0600 - 8 eggs (1-2 yolks) 1 bowl of oatmeal (enough for about 30-50 grams of carbs...about 1 cup) and multi-vitamin.
  2. 0830 - protein shake with 16 oz of with water and omega 3 fatty acid, CLA, or Flax Oil.
  3. 1030 - 1 can of tuna with mustard and 1 cup of brown rice and 5 grams of Glutamine
  4. 1300 - (after workout) Protein shake with Glutamine and yams and Vitamin C/E.
  5. 1600 - 2 chicken breasts, 1-cup brown rice or yam.
  6. 1900 - 2 chicken breast or fish (tuna, salmon, or whatever you like w/out oil) and broccoli and or green beans or salad w/balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
  7. 2130 - Lean Sirloin or Flank Steak w/salad w/balsamic vinegar (eat Steak at least 2x per week.)
  8. Bedtime - 1 scoop of protein powder and glutamine in water.

Off-season is similar except I add carbohydrates with all of my meals (mostly brown rice) and I would eat more steak and chicken thighs in some meals and an occasional pasta meal as well twice a week.

Shaun Clarida on Diet and Nutrition

Shaun Clarida

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

If you want quality gains you have to eat quality foods. Eat to win!

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

Off-season is dedicated to packing on the size, so I eat any and everything I want. My training is very intense so that is why I am able to stay pretty lean even in the off-season and not have to worry about being out of shape.

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

  • Breakfast - Oats, egg whites
  • Meals 2, 3, 4 - Chicken or fish, sweet potato or rice, vegetables
  • Dinner - Chicken or fish, vegetables

What's the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Again, I stress that eating properly for your goals is important. If you’re dieting for a show, stick to your diet and don’t let up. Remain disciplined.

Daniel Grissom on Diet and Nutrition

Daniel Grissom

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

Be consistent with your diet and try to keep it as clean as possible. It's ok to have cheat meals every now and then.

Give us a typical day in your off season diet:

Off-season diet I usually take in about 300 grams of protein per day. The foods I use to accomplish this are whey protein shakes, ground turkey meat, grilled chicken, tilapia fish, and egg whites.

I take in about 350 grams of carbs per day. The foods I use to accomplish this are grits, rice, baked potatoes, and salad.

Give us a typical day in your cutting diet:

My contest prep diet I try to match my protein to my body weight, so it may start a little high around 210 grams per day, and then gradually decrease as I drop weight - but never going under around 190 grams per day. I pretty much stick to having whey protein shakes, grilled chicken and tilapia fish.

As for my carbs, those start around 185 grams per day, and gradually drop as well as I come down in weight. I eat grits, salad, and carbs from shakes.

What's the best nutrition tip you could give to others?

Try to stay consistent with your dieting, sometimes it is ok to have a cheat meal, but make sure it is reasonable and doesn’t effect all your hard work.

Join over 500k subscribers who receive weekly workouts, diet plans, videos and expert guides from Muscle & Strength.

About The Author
M&S writers is a collection of all the other writers that have published content on Muscle and Strength.

18 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 05/29/2015 - 13:24
Marky Marc

I really want to know and have been wanting to know for a long time. Is pre-workout absolutely NECESSARY? I can't really afford it along with supplements and whatnot.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 05/30/2015 - 08:43

Not at all.... I use pre workouts when I train in the morning as they give me a lot of energy within about 15mins of taking them. When I train in the evening I don't use them as I don't need the energy because I've been sitting at my desk all day and eating.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 08/31/2013 - 02:04
Vikaas G Sharma

I am 86 kg and 4t years old. I am vegetarian. I am regular in my workout, 5 days a week. Need sugestion on veg diet to reduce my fat and increase muscle mass.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/05/2013 - 12:49
Karan Vaya

I am desperately trying to get rid of the lower belly fat but it just keeps on coming back. My coach says i have a lean body and my upper abs are good but the problem lies with the lower abs...please help. Ps my coach says he will only let me lift weights when i have a flat stomach :(

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/25/2013 - 05:48

Duh.. you have to cut. If you have a flabby tummy, then you are not lean.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/11/2017 - 06:45

Fire you're coach. Nutrition should be on point but to cut weight training is foolish. Is your coach in high school? That's the worst advice I've heard. Weight training has a positive effect on your hormones which will benefit fat loss.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 03/05/2013 - 01:45


I'm trying to make a diet plan for myself but I really can't because I have late basketball practises finishing them and 11pm and I can only have dinner after practise.
Any help? Thank you

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 01/29/2013 - 05:13

Hi Im just a weekend warrior , trying to drop fat build muscle and get from 108kgs down to 100 eish, using preworkout and oxyelite pro for the morning workout, can I bring in clembeutrol
on longer endurance ie cycling, running , will it help fat loss and cut more and help me lift more with better recovery obviously sticking to a reasonably strict low carb diet , sorry Im a novice at this

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 01/21/2013 - 08:29

FUUUUARK! Just eat CLEAN and drink WATER and train HARD.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 01/13/2013 - 13:46
Pranav Shinde

If your calorie intake is more than your calorie output then you'll gain fat.
If it is less then you'll loose fat....
So you just need to add 600 more calories than your daily calorie requirement..
And these extra cals you need to burn by you achive your calorie maintenanse leve
Distribute your food in five times...each time you need to take 25 gms protein...
Consentrate on lower abs and chest......
So rohit please feel free in ne querries...

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 01/12/2013 - 23:59

It certainly wasn't 30 lbs of muscle Buffneck!

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/08/2012 - 03:14

i like this

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/24/2012 - 15:16

creatine+protien works amazing, glutamine is great for maintaining size. but to actually get tht size cobo protien and creatine. my sophomore year of high school, i gained 30 pounds in 1 month. 155 to 185. needless to say i was just starting out so some of it was beginner gains but. thts still:30 lbs.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/07/2012 - 04:40
Joe Bloggs

These experts don't seem to eat much fruit do they?... and it seems that Whey is the main supplement and that Glutamine is preferred over Creatine? Any advice on this would be good :)

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/07/2015 - 06:32

Glutamine is, primarily, a muscle repair tool. It helps build strong scar tissue, that hopefully beomes quality muscle. As for fruits, they are packed with sugar, natural sugars yes, but sugar none the less. The only fruits I'll eat are pineapple and maybe bananas in peak week (more for the potassium than anything). Hope that helps Joe.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 08/02/2012 - 08:39
Jonel Lonzanida

Rohit Sharma, everybody knows that we spend a lot of money specially on a pre-contest diet because lots of meat, fish, veggies, beans, cottage cheese, whey protein, glutamine etc. are needed to stabilize your condition. If its very hard for you to get those, just eat what's available and do it in small meals 8-10x per day. Just avoid sugar, salt and oily foods and do a lot more cardio for at least 1 to 1-1/2 hour with intervals of high and low intensities followed by a paced cardio for 20 minutes and that's it. You're on your way closer to a fit body but not much of that of a bodybuilder. Hope this helps.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 03/15/2012 - 04:57
rohit sharma

thanks alot freinds but i need some more diet schedule actuly i cant follow it ..
because there are some issues regarding my financial problems..
so will you please provide me some easy schedules..

again thanks alot.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 10/06/2011 - 22:35

Great interviews,it would be really helpful if you could interview some vegan or vegetarian bodybuilders,as I am a vegetarian it would be of great help to me.