Traditional bulking diets were once all the rage for putting on mass. You’re eating like a champ, lifting like a strongman, and becoming the biggest and best version of yourself. Bulking and cutting cycles go hand in hand with gym life like peanut butter goes with jelly.

You’ll see dozens of bodybuilders, athletes, and casual lifters following the bulking and cutting life to maximize their gains and get to their peak of shredded-ness.

While bulking—i.e. being in a major caloric surplus—can lead to some awesome mass and strength gains, when it comes time to cutting back and getting shredded, it can be challenging.

That’s because while a bulk will increase substrate for muscle growth, the mass amount of food you’re consuming can leave you looking like the Michelin Man, which means getting rid of the excess is going to take some work.

Cutting carbs and counting calories is one of the best ways to torch body fat and maintain muscle, but supplements can also play a significant role.

Whether you want to ignite your metabolic fire, ramp up anabolic processes for maximum muscle mass, or stimulate thermogenesis, a good cutting stack is crucial for anyone looking to maintain lean mass and melt away body fat.

So, we’re breaking down our top 4 cutting products for 2022. It’s an ultramodern stack designed to boost energy expenditure, trigger fat breakdown, maintain lean muscle mass, and ignite your internal fire.

What Is Bulking And Cutting?

Whether you’re an athlete or bodybuilder, cycling through stages of bulking and cutting is one of the most well-known techniques for gaining mass and size.

Essentially, it’s the science of bulking up to slim down, and it generally follows a three-phase protocol:

  1. Mass gain (bulking)
  2. Fat loss (cutting)
  3. Maintenance (strength)

Because each of these phases requires a different type of eating, the diet needs to be suited to match the goals.

For the bulking phase, we’re looking at a few key features:

  • Caloric surplus
  • Sufficient protein to maximize muscle protein synthesis
  • Sufficient fat to optimize hormones
  • High carbs to support high-volume training

The idea with a bulk is that the excess energy you’re consuming is being put towards gains. More food + heavy training = more muscle and more size.

For most people, weight gain inevitably happens with a caloric surplus, but when combined with heavy resistance training, that weight goes on as muscle rather than fat, although some level of fat accumulation is expected.

The cut, on the other hand, is a strategic reduction in calories to ignite fat burn without compromising muscle mass. In this stage, resistance training and sufficient protein intake are key to losing fat mass without losing muscle.

The thing with a cut, however, is that being in a caloric deficit isn’t the most ideal scenario for muscle gain and recovery, so you want to strive to do whatever possible to retain muscle while burning up fat stores. Diet is a great start, but supplements can provide an extra edge—we’ll talk more about that below.

For the cutting phase, we’re looking at:

  • Calorie deficit
  • Sufficient protein to maintain muscle mass (slightly higher than bulking phase)
  • Higher fat intake compared with bulking phase (to avoid hormonal imbalances)
  • Sufficient carbs to support high volume training

The 4 Best Ingredients For Shedding Fat And Maintaining Muscle

While not an inclusive list, before we give you our favorite products for torching body fat during a cut, we’re giving you a rundown of our favorite ingredients that increase thermogenesis, melt away body fat, and maintain lean muscle for the easiest, most effective cut you’ve done yet.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is like the gold star for any athlete looking for a major energy boost. Its antagonistic effect on adenosine receptors prevents drowsiness and stimulates the central nervous system for a huge boost in energy and alertness.

Because adenosine receptors are heavily concentrated in areas of the brain responsible for things like arousal, vigilance, focus, and concentration, caffeine helps to support a more focused, driven state of mind for stronger training sessions 1.

But when you’re grinding down for the cut, alertness and drive are key for workouts, but it’s the thermogenic component of caffeine we’re looking at.

Studies show that caffeine may enhance non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) by elevating locomotor activity and may potentially enhance activity-related energy expenditure by activating thermogenic mechanisms that influence locomotor efficiency 2.

A 1989 study on the thermogenic effects of caffeine found promising results. A single dose of 100mg of caffeine increased the resting metabolic rate of both lean and post-obese individuals by 3-4% over 150 minutes 3.

While it may not seem like a massive amount, by simply adding a bit of caffeine to your supplement stack, you could boost your calorie burn by up to 150 calories.

2. HMB

For anyone looking to drop fat without compromising muscle mass, HMB is gold. We’re all familiar with leucine, the most anabolic of the amino acids, but HMB is a metabolite of leucine breakdown that exhibits some brilliant effects on fat loss.

When you’re in the midst of a cut, a caloric deficit can be detrimental to your muscle mass if you’re still training hard.

However, HMB can help mitigate the extent of muscle protein breakdown that occurs when in a caloric deficit or training in a fasted state and can work wonders during your cut. It does so in a couple of ways:

  1. Reduces muscle protein breakdown: High-intensity resistance training and endurance exercise may increase proteolysis (protein breakdown) in a fasted state, as the body resorts to muscle protein to fuel muscle activity. However, HMB can protect muscle tissue against breakdown and may also attenuate the fasting-related release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is a potent catabolic hormone that interferes with muscle growth and repair 4, 5.
  2. Promotes anabolic use of dietary protein: HMB works on a similar principle as many protein supplements that claim when you increase muscle mass, you decrease fat mass. One study found that compared to a standard protein diet, people following a high protein diet saw more significant weight loss 6. When combined with protein supplementation, HMB may boost muscle growth, promote an anabolic state, and increase fat free mass 7.

3. Forskolin

Forskolin isn’t a supplement we hear about often, but it’s super effective for burning fat. It’s an ancient herb that’s traditionally been a major part of Ayurvedic medicine and is well-known for its unique ability to boost cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) activity; cAMP is an intracellular messenger that triggers thermogenesis, testosterone activity, and synaptic plasticity 8, 9.

Forskolin, the primary bioactive component of the Coleus forskohlii plant, offers potent fat-burning, testosterone-boosting properties that can be a major advantage to any cut.

Studies show that because forskolin increases cyclic AMP production in adipocytes by activating adenylate cyclase, it directly activates lipolysis (fat breakdown) 10.

4. MCT Oil

The rise of coconut and MCT oil has changed the way we look at fat. Fat no longer makes us fat, and in fact, MCT oil may actually help us lose fat. That’s because compared to long-chain fatty acids like those found in avocado and olive oil, medium-chain fatty acids are metabolized differently.

They are absorbed directly from the gut and travel to the liver, where they are either burned for energy or used to produce ketones. Unlike LCFAs, they skip the digestive process along with the potential for storage.

So, for people training in a fasted state, MCT could be an awesome add-on to your morning routine to stimulate fat-burning and increase energy production. Studies show that MCTs can enhance fat oxidation and thermogenesis compared to LCTs in short-term feeding experiments 11.

One study found that subjects consuming MCT as part of their weight-loss diet lost, on average, 1.7kg more than subjects consuming olive oil as part of their weight-loss diet. What’s more, MCT oil may also increase the release of two key hormones involved in regulating hunger—peptide YY and leptin 12.

Top 4 Products For Your Best Cut

Performance Lab Caffeine+

Performance Lab® Caffeine Plus supplies ultramodern stimulation for precision-tuned performance.

Unlike some stim supplements that mega-dose caffeine, Caffeine+ helps you experience balanced, optimized, and productive caffeine stimulation with natural caffeine 50mg plus Suntheanine® 100 mg to deliver greater dosing precision, fewer side effects, and superior performance-tuned stimulation.

It doesn’t stop there.

The ultramodern design of Caffeine+ also helps restore caffeine-depleted brain chemicals with Ajipure® L-Tyrosine + NutriGenesis® B-Complex to support a stronger and healthier recovery from all caffeine-driven activities. It’s a calm, controlled caffeine ‘kick’ without any adverse side effects.

Key features:

  • NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex
  • Riboflavin+, 500mcg
  • Vitamin B6+, 750mcg
  • Folate, 167mcg
  • Vitamin B12, 2mcg
  • Natural Caffeine, 50mg
  • Suntheanine® L-Theanine, 100mg
  • Ajipure® L-Tyrosine, 250mg

Key benefits:

  • Improves caffeine’s performance-enhancing effects with an innovative dual-stack formula designed for cleaner, calmer stimulation
  • Counterbalances the natural caffeine with an ultramodern cocktail of advanced-form nutrients
  • Caffeine enhanced for superior nootropic, athletic, and thermogenic performance
  • Increases alpha brainwaves to balance caffeine energy with relaxation, creativity, and clarity
  • Promotes alert, revitalized performance during multitasking, stress, and fatigue
  • Helps reduce jitters, crashes, and other negative effects of caffeine overstimulation
  • Promotes balanced physiological responses to caffeine-induced stress
  • Helps replenish caffeine-depleted brain chemicals for daily use with less burnout
Get the best price on Performance Lab Caffeine+ here

Performance Lab MCT

 

While old-school diet advice said axe the fats, we’re saying bring it on. If you’re looking for a fat that actually burns fat, MCT is it.

Performance Lab® MCT boosts your mind-body vitality with the fastest-acting metabolic fuel that promotes peak mind-body performance.

And unlike most conventional MCT oils derived from GMO coconuts, hydrogenated, and chemically treated, Performance Lab® MCT is the ultimate upgrade.

It’s produced with only beneficial C8+C10 MCTs and sourced from 100% organic non-GMO coconuts, cold-extracted with hexane-free technology, and 3X distilled for purity.

MCT is the world’s cleanest, fastest-acting oil-based performance fuel using only the most potent and effective MCTs. It delivers quick, convenient mental energy and enhanced results across all fat loss programs in the most convenient possible format.

Key features:

  • C8/C10 MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil from 100% organic coconuts, 12.2g
  • C8 caprylic acid, 7.1g
  • C10 capric acid, 5.1g

Key benefits:

  • Fast-acting performance fuel for cognitive and metabolic function
  • Promotes mind-body vitality during intense exercise and fasted training
  • Optimizes and protects brain cells’ powerhouse mitochondria
  • Improves results across all fat loss programs, including ketogenic
  • Neuroprotective support for long-range brain health and mental energy
  • State-of-the-art MCT—clean, pure, triple-filtered, and calibrated to 60% C8 and 40% C10
  • Flavor-neutral, mixes easily into coffee, shakes, smoothies, dressings
Get the best price on Performance Lab MCT here

Performance Lab Carb

Most people cut carbs when they’re trying to lose fat, but if you want to maintain muscle power and muscle mass through even the toughest of cuts, Performance Lab® Carb is a must.

It’s the world’s fastest-acting, longest-lasting muscle fuel that sparks 2+ hours of stim-free muscle energy for maximum gains in strength, endurance, and power, plus accelerates growth and recovery.

Featuring KarboLyn® technology, Carb is designed to absorb faster and last longer than any other carbohydrate supplement on the market.

With the addition of Himalayan pink salt and organic coconut sugar, Carb is driven into muscles more efficiently to supercharge your athletic performance.

Key features:

  • 40 g of muscle-hyperloading KarboLyn® carbohydrate per serving

Key benefits:

  • Powers muscle across strength, endurance, growth, and recovery
  • Enhances absorption of water and other sports nutrients
  • Fast-acting, long-lasting fuel for 2+ hours stim-free muscle energy
  • Versatile muscle fuel may be taken before, during, and after workouts
  • Optimized with natural carb transporters sodium, glucose, and fructose
  • Carb energy without typical crashing, bloating, or gastric distress during exercise
  • Naturally sweetened with organic coconut sugar monk fruit and stevia
Get the best price on Performance Lab Carb here

Performance Lab Energy

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of all cells, and you want to perform, you need to support them. Performance Lab® Energy supercharges daily performance with stim-free vitality by optimizing mitochondrial function for clean, crash-free energy in the body and mind while supporting long-range vitality and overall health.

Energy works without caffeine for a smarter, cleaner, and healthier energy boost. Featuring MicroActive® Q10, BioPerine®, BioPQQ®, and Bio-Enhanced® nutrition technology, Energy optimizes cellular function for a surge of natural vitality in body and mind.

And unlike energy pills loaded with synthetic additives, Performance Lab Energy is clean. No caffeine, no crash, no additives. Just pure revitalizing energy in 100% plant-based NutriCaps®.

Key features:

  • NutriGenesis® Magnesium, 60mg
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine, 500mg
  • Microencapsulated Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid, 100mg
  • MicroActive® Q10, 100mg
  • BioPQQ®, 10mg
  • BioPerine® Black Pepper Extract, 2.5mg

Key benefits:

  • Stim-free booster promotes energy production in cells’ mitochondria
  • Enhances vitality by helping to multiply, protect, and charge-up mitochondria
  • Helps exercise results by maintaining energy in muscle and metabolizing energy in fat
  • Supports efficient metabolic performance in nearly every cell in the body
  • Safe, natural, and legal way to revitalize mental and physical performance
Get the best price on Performance Lab Energy here

BONUS: Burn Lab Pro

If you want to kick your cut up a notch, why not add a fat burner? Burn Lab Pro® is the world’s cleanest and most effective stim-free fat burner that stacks premium-grade nutrients to target stubborn fat while leaving muscle untouched.

It’s a combination of five cutting-edge ingredients that help you burn more calories and shed more fat, boost training intensity, and recover faster and stronger for maximum gains.

Key features:

  • ForsLean® Coleus forskohlii, 375mg
  • Capsimax® cayenne pepper extract, 75mg
  • ß-Hydroxy ß-Methylbutyrate (HMB), 1500mg
  • NutriGenesis® GTF-Chromium, 90mcg
  • Bioperine® black pepper extract, 3.75mg

Key benefits:

  • Stimulates fat breakdown and maximizes fat burn during workouts
  • Increases fatty acid mobilization and utilization to burn through body fat stores fast
  • Stimulates thermogenesis to boost metabolic rate and increase energy expenditure
  • Enhances muscle strength, growth, and performance through non-stimulatory pathways
  • Protects muscles against breakdown and accelerates recovery
Get the best price on Burn Lab Pro here

References

  1. A Nehlig, JL: Daval, G Debry. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects.Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992;17(2):139-170.
  2. KS Clark, C Coleman, R Shelton, LA Heemstra, CM Novak. Caffeine enhances activity thermogenesis and energy expenditure in rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2019;46(5):475-482.
  3. AG Dulloo, CA Geissler, T Horton, A Collins, DS Miller. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers.Am J Clin Nutr. 1989;49(1):44-50.
  4. F Gerlinger-Romero, L Guimarães-Ferreira, CY Yonamine, RB Salgueiro, MT Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on the expression of ubiquitin ligases, protein synthesis pathways and contractile function in extensor digitorum longus (EDL) of fed and fasting rats.J Physiol Sci. 2018;68(2):165-174.
  5. GM Tinsley, AH Givan, AJ Graybeal, MI Villarreal, AG β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyrate free acid alters cortisol responses, but not myofibrillar proteolysis, during a 24-h fast.Br J Nutr. 2018;119(5):517-526.
  6. I Campos-Nonato, L Hernandez, S Effect of a High-Protein Diet versus Standard-Protein Diet on Weight Loss and Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Obes Facts. 2017;10(3):238-251.
  7. AC Stahn, MA Maggioni, HC Gunga, E Combined protein and calcium β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate induced gains in leg fat free mass: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study.J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2020;17(1):16.
  8. V Beaumont, RS Zucker. Enhancement of synaptic transmission by cyclic AMP modulation of presynaptic Ih channels. Nat Neurosci. 2000;3(2):133-141.
  9. BA Cooke, M Golding, CJ Dix, MG Hunter. Catecholamine stimulation of testosterone production via cyclic AMP in mouse Leydig cells in monolayer culture.Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1982;27(2):221-231.
  10. I Litosch, TH Hudson, I Mills, SY Li, JN Fain. Forskolin as an activator of cyclic AMP accumulation and lipolysis in rat adipocytesMol Pharmacol. 1982;22(1):109-115.
  11. MP St-Onge, A Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil.Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(3):621-626.
  12. MP St-Onge, B Mayrsohn, M O'Keeffe, HR Kissileff, AR Choudhury, B Laferrère. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(10):1134-1140.