After bulking – dirty bulking – for several months, I’ve slowly made the switch to cutting. I say slowly, because I didn’t want to shock my system by reducing my overall calories by 1400 kcal overnight. Instead, I took the approach of decreasing my caloric intake by 350 kcal a week for 4 weeks to allow my appetite to adjust – and ultimately avoid suffering all day.
I have several scientifically-backed methods that I’ve tried-and-tested for cutting, that work wonders for me. Still, cutting isn’t rocket-science – it’s mainly about knowing the basics and having the will-power to come through.
This brings me to using supplements for fat-loss. If anyone tells you that you can just take a pill, sit back, and watch your fat melt away, they’re either selling you something illegal and highly dangerous, or – more likely – they’re just lying to lighten your wallet a little bit. So, while supplements won’t give you the body of your dreams on their own, and you definitely don’t need them, taking the right ones can significantly speed up your process of melting your body-fat away, while also helping you get better results.
There are many bad supplements out there – and some good ones too. After years of doing online research and experimenting around, I’ve found, that – along with a good diet, high protein-intake, and a good training-routine – these supplements boost my fat-loss the most, while also preserving my muscles – and my health – in the process.
One of the most basic supplements you can – and should – take, Omega-3 fatty acids have a wide range of positive effects, all the way from improving your cardiovascular health to enhancing your cognitive functions and mood. Still, omega-3s aren’t the magic pills that most supplement companies want you to believe…
When it comes to fat-loss, studies have shown that omega-3s have only a small (but still notable) direct effect on fat-mass and fat-oxidation. Why are they on the top of my list then? Well, besides the wide range of health-benefits omega-3 fatty acids have to offer, they still have – both a direct and an indirect – effect on the success of your cut!
- Although only slightly, omega-3s do increase fat-oxidation and decrease fat-mass directly in humans
- Omega-3s can slightly decrease cortisol (a hormone that can contributes to gaining fat)
- An increase in exercise-induced NO-production has been noted in people supplementing with omega-3s (this is good for getting the pump during a workout, supplying your muscles with more blood)
- Finally, the mood-enhancement and stress-reducing characteristics of omega-3 fatty acids help you stay human while cutting (I’ve seen the nicest people turn into total assholes – or zombies – while doing slightly more extreme cuts, due to their constant hunger and fatigue)
Omega-3s are one of the most basic supplements you should be taking regardless of whether you’re cutting, bulking, or just being. A lot of omega-3 supplements out there are under-dosed – while also containing harmful chemicals (such as mercury) in high amounts. If you decide to take omega-3s, you should make sure that you’re spending your money on the highest quality product out there!
This omega-3 supplement is my absolute favorite: it’s properly dosed, it’s in a form that has a high bioavailability, it’s basically free from harmful chemicals, and as a bonus: it’s farmed and processed in an environmentally sustainable fashion!
I always take a pre-workout before my training sessions. Still, I’ve found them to be especially useful when cutting. If you’ve ever tried to cut down, you’ve probably noticed that your energy-levels are lower throughout the day. You feel less motivation to go to the gym, and once you drag yourself there, you still feel weaker: you get tired more easily, and you might even cheat just to finally get through with your workout.
If you don’t hit the gym hard enough when cutting, and you let your performance drop, you’ll be more likely to lose more of your hard-earned muscles in the process. While this is a tragedy on its own, less muscle-mass also means slower fat loss, since:
- You’re losing some of the tissues (muscles) that burn calories – therefore body-fat – the most efficiently
- Your body is burning muscle for energy, instead of using fat
My top recommendation for a pre-workout is definitely this one: it has all the right ingredients in the right dosages, contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors, and it will give you insane energy and focus for your workouts. The higher levels of caffeine will also contribute to burning more calories during your workouts, increasing the effectiveness of each and every training-session!
Now, if you’re doing fasted workouts – which have been proven to burn more body-fat than unfasted sessions – you might want to check out this pre-workout fat-burner as well to take with your regular pre-workout. Since fasted workouts not only increase your body’s ability to burn more fat, but unfortunately also lead to higher levels of muscle-wasting, you’ll want to find a way to counter this effect. This supplement does just that: it maximizes the amount of fat you lose while training on an empty stomach, while minimizing the amount of muscle you lose while training in this state. It will also help you maintain intensity and focus throughout your workouts, which can otherwise suffer when “training empty”.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning creatine – more specifically: creatine-monohydrate. It’s the most well-researched supplement out there, has tons of benefits, and – despite the fact that most gurus recommend using it only when bulking – is great for cutting!
The reason why many would advise against taking creatine when cutting is that creatine makes you gain weight (mostly water-weight, and indirectly some muscle too). But whenever, you’re cutting, your primary goal shouldn’t be to lose weight anyway; if you lose weight, you could be losing fat, but also muscle, or water-weight – hell, if you get a haircut or use the toilet, you’ll also lose weight! Your goal should be to burn fat while preserving your muscles, and creatine helps you achieve that in multiple ways:
- Slightly increases your testosterone levels – making burning fat easier, and losing muscle harder
- Helps preserve your strength – the harder you can hit the gym, the better
- Decreases catabolism (muscle breakdown) – the more muscle you have, the easier it is to lose fat
There are many fancy creatine supplements out there, but in reality, you just need the most basic micronized creatine-monohydrate you can find (obviously in a pure form). I recommend this one: it’s dirt-cheap and works perfectly.
HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. It’s very effective at preventing muscle breakdown – significantly more effective than leucine or other BCAAs. For this reason, I think HMB is a nice-to-have when bulking, but an absolute must when it comes to cutting!
While the main role of HMB is definitely preserving your muscles, studies have also shown that it can slightly decrease your fat-mass, and slightly lower blood-glucose levels as well. HMB comes in many forms (sometimes combined with other ingredients), but I usually go for this one, as it’s pure, highly dosed, and great quality overall.
Finally, probably the most aggressive – and most controversial – supplement on this list: a fat-burner. There are many types of fat-burners out there, but most of them are either dangerous, or just overdosed on stimulants (most often caffeine) – causing fat-burners to have a bad reputation. A good fat-burner, however, is not only safe to use, but it also promotes fat-loss in multiple ways:
- Increases your basic metabolic rate, meaning that your body burns more calories simply by existing
- Promotes fat-mobilization, which means that body-fat is more easily used as an energy-source
- Prevents hunger, cravings, and hormonal-crashes – making eating less food less of a struggle overall
I also believe that having safe ingredients that work synergistically with each other in the right dosages is key if you’re not only seeking short-term results, but also long-term health benefits.
I’m not saying you need fat-burners to achieve results; in fact, you don’t need anything on this list. But using an all-natural safe and effective fat-burner like this one (by far the best one I’ve ever tried) can really boost your results to the next level, making your cut way shorter and much more efficient.
You really don’t need supplements to cut down – they just make the process easier, more effective, and more enjoyable overall. All you really need is a good diet and a good training-routine – without that, no supplement will give you results; but if you have that, these supplements will help you get results beyond your wildest dreams! Let me know in the comments if you want me to write a post where I break down the basics of cutting and burning fat (while preserving your muscles)! Also, if you liked this article, drop it a like and smash that follow button – I release content just like this twice a week, and you don’t want to miss it!