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Getting toned seems to be as easy as tying your shoelaces for some people, including me.
(I’m your typical “hardgainer” – I’ve summarized my favorite bulking supplements here for those interested.)
Chances are if you fit in that category then you don’t need to read this article.
For the rest of you though, lowering your calories by 200 a day just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Now let’s be clear… you CAN get cut by massively reducing your calorie intake, but who would really enjoy that?
I know I certainly wouldn’t!
Life’s too short to be missing out on tasty food after all.
So if you’re one of those who wants to get lean without starving yourself, then this article is all you need.
That’s right, in this article I’ve listed the 5 very best supplements for helping your journey to Shredville.
But first, a couple of disclaimers:
- For these supplements to actually work, you need to be eating a healthy, clean diet. Please don’t think these will help if you’re eating at McDonald’s 3 times a week.
- As I’m a hard gainer, I don’t need supplements to get cut. All of the supplements in this article are advised on solid science – NOT my personal experience with them.
Here’s a list of the best supplements for cutting!
What are BCAAs?
BCAAs (Branch Chained Amino Acids) are the 3 essential amino acids; Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
They’re “essential” because your body can’t make them, so they MUST be obtained from your diet/supplementation.
Like all amino acids, they’re the “building blocks” of protein and together they represent 35-40% of all essential amino acids in your body.
Why are BCAAs good for cutting?
Although BCAAs don’t burn fat directly, they help you get lean in multiple ways.
For example, they’ve been shown to reduce fatigue by blocking the production of serotonin in the brain.
Less fatigue means you can hit the weights even harder, resulting in more calories burned as well as the potential for more muscle growth.
BCAAs also help reduce muscle catabolism (loss of muscle mass) meaning that if you’re burning more calories than you’re ingesting, then you’ll be holding onto your gains.
Best BCAAs for cutting
My gold star goes to Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard BCAAs.
I’ve tried many products from Optimum Nutrition and they’re all top quality, so I have good faith that their BCAAs are great too.
These also contain 220mg of Electrolytes for improved performance, 200mg of Rhodiola Extract to help with endurance levels and 250mg of Wellmune to help your immune system.
(Related reading: 3 Best BCAAs For Cutting And Fat Loss)
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a rapidly absorbed protein made from… you guessed it, Whey.
For those interested, Whey is a by-product when making Cheese and it only became popular in the last 50 or so years.
In fact it was originally seen as waste product, so was often discarded.
(Think of all the gains our parents and grandparents missed out on!)
Why is Whey Protein good for cutting?
Like BCAAs, Whey protein isn’t your typical fat burning supplement, but has lots of benefits for those wanting to get shredded.
When cutting, you want to lose fat without losing muscle mass and hence you should be resistance training to help with this.
But without consuming enough protein, your muscles will break down to provide energy which is the opposite of what we want!
So by taking high-quality Whey protein around your workouts, you can hold on to that hard earned muscle whilst losing fat mass.
Best Whey Protein for cutting
For those with a sweet tooth, MuscleTech Nitro Tech is a solid option.
My personal favourite however is ON Gold Standard Whey.
I’ve been using this for a few months now and it tastes great, is easily mixed and does the job.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is another amino acid which is the most abundant in the human body.
(It’s estimated that around 60% of your muscles’ amino acid pool is made up of Glutamine.)
What’s interesting about Glutamine is that it’s also used as fuel for your gut cells, making it an excellent supplement for gut health.
Why is Glutamine good for cutting?
Like all protein/amino acid supplements, Glutamine is great at preventing muscle loss when getting shredded.
But what makes Glutamine an even better cutting supplement is its effects on growth hormone levels.
A recent study has shown that taking as little as 2g of Glutamine results in a significant increase in growth hormone levels.
This is great news for those on a cut as higher growth hormone levels results in more fat loss.
Best Glutamine for cutting
And the best Glutamine award goes too… ON Glutamine Powder.
It’s fair priced, long-lasting and is 100% pure Glutamine powder so you don’t have to worry about any unwanted additives.
(Or for more info, you can check out my original review of ON Glutamine Powder.)
What is L-Carnitine?
L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative that’s naturally found in red meat.
(Its name is actually derived from the Latin word for meat – carnis.)
Unlike essential amino acids, our bodies can produce L-Carnitine but this is thought to decrease with age, meaning supplementation becomes more important.
Why is L-Carnitine good for cutting?
The main role of L-Carnitine is to transport fatty acids from your blood stream into your mitochondria to be used for energy.
Or in simple terms, it helps your body use fat for energy.
This makes L-Carnitine an amazing supplement for getting toned as low body fat is one of the hallmarks of a ripped body.
But that’s not all…
L-Carnitine also helps to clear out lactic acid build up in your muscles. (Source)
Since lactic acid is responsible for the “burn” you feel in your muscles during exercise, you should be able to delay that burn and squeeze out a few more reps when supplementing with L-Carnitine.
Best L-Carnitine for cutting
When given the option, I prefer to supplement with powder instead of capsules, since powder tends to contain less fillers/binders.
For this reason, I recommend Dual Health’s Acetyl L-Carnitine.
This version of L-Carnitine is more easily absorbed too so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
What are Thermogenics?
Thermogenic supplements contain natural ingredients (usually plant extracts, i.e. caffeine/green tea) which are known to increase fat burning and boost your metabolism.
Why are Thermogenics good for cutting?
Most thermogenic supplements have a variety of active ingredients, with each serving a functional purpose. But generally, thermogenics work in 3 main ways:
- Increase fat burning
- Curb your appetite to help reduce calorie intake
- Boost metabolism so you’re burning more calories
Unlike the other supplements recommended in this article, Thermogenics are created specifically to boost fat loss.
Best Thermogenic supplement for cutting
Bonafide Shred contains 8 active ingredients:
- Alpha GPC
These have all been studied extensively and work in different ways to help you lose stubborn body fat.
It’s reassuring to see a solid set of reviews for this product, so many people like you are seeing results with it.