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When to Take Supplements: Cutting

Your nutritional needs for when you’re cutting are very different to when you’re bulking. Therefore it is advised that you tailor your supplement stack specifically to meet your goals. Cutting is a little more complex than bulking, because there are more possible interactions between certain supplements, and sometimes taking too much is not recommended. In this article we will take a look at how to make the perfect stack for when you’re cutting (or simply trying to lose some weight), and when to take these supplements.

List of Supplements for Fat Loss

The following is a list of the supplements you could consider taking when you’re in your cutting phase.

  • Fat loss protein: A good two in one way to help meet your daily protein requirement while also providing fat loss ingredients such as thermogenics, fat blockers, fat metabolisers, carb blockers, etc. Protein is also important during your fat cutting period, because it preserves your muscle mass. A large muscle mass also contributes to a higher metabolism, which adds further to helping you burn fat.

  • WPI or hydrolysed whey protein powder: These fast proteins are essential for post workout recovery and to protect your muscle mass and make the most of the anabolic window created from pumping iron. Furthermore, these contain little to no carbs, so if you're carb conscious, these will fit in perfectly with your diet.

  • Fat burners: The go to supplement for fat loss, the ingredients in these supplements can vary greatly from brand to brand. However, more often than not, they tend to contain some type of thermogenic stimulant that is designed to boost your metabolism.

  • Meal replacements: As either a meal replacement protein powder or a bar, these are generally more nutritionally balanced than other shakes and bars. Using meal replacements can be fairly effective in helping you lose weight (Heymsfield et al, 2003) and can provide your body with everything it needs, and nothing it doesn’t.

  • Pre workout supplements: To get the best workout, take a pre workout supplement. These are designed to keep you pushing


    harder and longer. Better workouts mean better muscle stimulus, which leads to a better “after burn”, which ramps up your metabolism post workout. Furthermore, depending on the type of pre workout you use, they may also have an effective thermogenic effect. However, if you are already taking other stimulants already, it may be a good idea to switch to a stimulant free pre workout, so you can safely stack it together with your fat burner.

  • Creatine post workout supplements: This is a tricky one, because these tend to contain fairly high levels of sugars with creatine, which may be off putting for people cutting. This is because sugar is often avoided during weight loss (for obvious reasons), and other people worry about creatine causing bloating and water retention. However, it is this writer’s opinion that some sugar post workout is beneficial for glycogen replacement and recovery and offsets any potential negatives of sugar consumption. Likewise, the benefits of high muscle creatine help to preserve your training intensity while you’re losing weight.

One important thing to note is that some of these supplements may contain the same active ingredients. Therefore, it is necessary to be careful when stacking these supplements to make sure you’re not getting too much all at the same time.

How to Take Supplements for Fat Loss

Here, we will explore a way to put all these supplements together and take it in a timely fashion. There is of course room for adjustment so that things fit in with your schedule. But try to keep these principles in mind when you’re making up your own routine, this is especially important when you’re taking multiple supplements that contain stimulants.

  • First thing in the morning: Taking a thermogenic supplement first thing in the morning before breakfast can kick start your metabolism for the day. Choose between a fat loss protein as part of your (or replacement for) your breakfast, or a fat burner. Do not take both as both tend to be high in stimulants and you do not want to double dose.

  • Before meals: Many fat burners and other fat loss aids have ingredients in them that are designed to supress your appetite, increase your metabolism from eating, and block fat and/or carb absorption. It is therefore recommended to consume a fat burner before a major meal. However, if you have already taken a stimulant based fat burner less than 4 hours prior, then it may be a good idea not to take another dose.

  • During meals: Depending on your goals and personal preference, it is possible to replace an entire (or part of a) meal with a meal replacement supplement. If not, remember that portion control is important during periods of weight loss, and to eat clean.

  • Before training: Sometimes it gets hard to find a way to time your pre workout in a way you do not run into problems with double dosing from the same ingredients in your fat burner. A good way to overcome this problem is to take your fat burner before a workout, and stack it with a stimulant free pre workout supplement. Together, these will give you a potent combination of ingredients to support your body and mind while training.

  • After Training: As stated above, it is not the end of the world if you decide to use a sugar and creatine based post workout creatine supplement. However, regardless of whether or not you choose to do this, what is important is getting some protein into you at this time. Depending on what you had before the workout, you can choose to have either a fat loss protein, or a WPI/hydrolysed whey protein. Go for the WPI or hydrolysed whey if you had a stimulant before training. If you had a stimulant free workout, now would be a good time to have a fat loss protein.

Example Routine

The above guide may be a little confusing with all the dos and don’ts. So here’s a sample routine that will illustrate one way of combining all these supplements in a safe and effective way.

  1. 7:00 AM: Wake up and take a fat burner before breakfast.
  2. Optional small snack/meal replacement in between.
  3. 1:00 PM: Fat loss protein with small meal for lunch.
  4. Optional small snack/meal replacement in between.
  5. 5:00 PM: 2nd serve of fat burner together with stimulant free pre workout before training
  6. 6:30 PM: WPI or hydrolysed whey together with optional post workout creatine supplement
  7. 7:00 PM: Dinner

A note of caution though, if you are sensitive to caffeine and other stimulants and do not wish to have disturbed sleep from stimulants, you may move taking your second dose of fat burner to an earlier hour.

Heymsfield et al (2003), Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies. International Journal of Obesity, 27: 537-549

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