Junk Food While Cutting (Can You Include & How Often?)


Have you ever wondered if you can eat junk food while cutting?

Well, this is something that I wondered myself back when I did my first cutting phase a few years ago, and here’s what I’ve learned since then:

Can you eat junk food while cutting? Yes, you can eat junk food while cutting and still see good results, as long as you can fit the junk food within your target calories and macros. Now, even though it’s fine to eat some junk food while cutting, both the amount and how often you eat it will greatly impact the quality of your fat loss results.

In this post I’ll discuss why including some junk food in your diet can actually be a good thing, what makes it possible to include junk food while cutting and how you should include it if you want to see great fat loss results.

let’s go!

Why Including Some Junk Food While Cutting Can be a Good Thing

Often when people start cutting they turn to the classic bodybuilding meals of having chicken, rice and broccoli day in and day out. Even though this approach can work well, as long as they’re in a calorie deficit, it’s often not sustainable long-term.

Eating like this is extremely restrictive and very few people can sustain it for long. Now, even if you eat a more varied diet with more food choices than just chicken, rice and broccoli, often the biggest struggle people experience when they start cutting is not having too little healthy foods to eat from, it’s that they believe they can’t include any junk foods at all.

Having an exclusive mindset, where you don’t allow for junk foods at all, is often negative in the long-run… Especially if your goal is to build a lean and muscular physique that’s also a part of your lifestyle.

If you instead have an inclusive mindset towards your diet, you can remove tons of stress, and also enjoy life as much as possible while you improve your physique at the same time.

For example:

  • Want to eat from the cake at your mother’s birthday party? Then no worries, just include it.
  • Want to go see a movie with your friends and have a bit of junk food? Again, no worries, just include it.

Now, it’s important to know that you can’t overindulge in junk foods. In order to stay healthy, energetic, satiated and happy you must ensure that you’re getting in enough wholesome nutrient dense foods as well, this is especially important when you’re cutting as well.

What Makes Including Junk Food While Cutting Possible?

When it comes to dieting for fat loss there’s a clear order of importance, which looks like this:

Junk Food While Cutting (Can You Include & How Often?)

The dieting hierarchy of importance

As you can see, the most important factors by far are a calorie deficit and a well set up macronutrient intake (high protein, moderate to high carb and low to moderate fat). If you get these two factors set up correctly you will be able to lose body fat while preserving muscle mass no matter what your food is composed of, at least in the short-term.

In other words, you can get the same amount of calories and macros from a diet composed of mostly junk food as you can from a wholesome healthy diet, which means that you can effectively lose body fat on such a diet as well.

The problem with a junk food diet is that it’s not the most effective way to hit your goal of fat loss, it might work the first few weeks, but it won’t work very well in the long term.

The reason for this comes down to the third factor in the dieting order of importance, which are micronutrients and fiber. Lower quality foods like hamburger, pizza, chips, donuts and sugary drinks etc. contain very low levels of micronutrients and fiber.

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals that are required in small quantities to ensure normal metabolism and growth as well as physical and mental well‐being. Fiber slows down your digestion of food which improves satiety and provide the body with a more consistent availability of energy.

So, even though it’s enough hitting the first two, calories and macros, to achieve fat loss, in order to also support a normal metabolism, growth, energy, training performance and long-term well-being you should ideally include a lot of fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich foods in your diet.

When you’re cutting you already consume fewer calories, which means you consume less food in total, which also means you’re probably having a harder time hitting a healthy micronutrient and fiber intake, even if you’re eating mainly from healthy food sources.

So, the question becomes:

How can you include junk food while cutting and still remain as healthy and energetic as possible in the meantime?

How to Include Junk Food While Cutting

In order to stay healthy, energetic and also feel good when cutting while still being able to eat some junk foods, I recommend following the 80/20 approach to dieting.

The 80/20 Approach

Junk Food While Cutting (Can You Include & How Often?)

As you can see in the picture, the 80/20 approach is when you eat 80% wholesome nutrient dense foods and allow for 20% lower quality junk foods.

This approach is great because you can still have some lower quality foods, while still getting both your macronutrient and micronutrient needs from eating mostly higher quality foods.

Aiming for mostly higher quality foods like potato, rice, ground beef, chicken and of course vegetables is great as it tend to saturate better per amount of calorie, compared to lower quality foods like hamburgers, pizza and sugary drinks etc.

Just think about it, 600 calories of potato and ground beef do make you feel fuller than 600 calories of hamburgers (approximately 2 cheeseburgers at McDonald’s).

With that said, a neat trick that you can do if you want to be able to eat a bit more lower quality foods, is to add a big bowl of fruit, salad and/or berries as a side dish, just to compensate. By doing this, you´ll still be able to eat junk foods while providing your body with much of the micronutrients and fiber it needs, as long as all of this fits your macros.

This is something that I do very often when I’m cutting. I love ordering a small sized pizza (around 800 calories) and add a huge bowl of mixed vegetables as a side dish:


By doing this I’m basically turning a “junk food” meal into a decently healthy meal, which works great when trying to lose body fat.

Now, there are one concern with this approach though, which is that it’s usually less satiating than what basing most of the diet on more satiating foods are. But, this is easily solved with another dieting tool:

Intermittent Fasting: The Key For Incorporating More Junk Food While Cutting

Diet periodization for fat loss

By utilizing intermittent fasting it’s much easier to incorporate more “junk” such as pizzas and burgers etc. into your diet. With intermittent fasting you can buffer a ton of calories for later in the day by skipping food earlier in the day. This creates room for large pizzas (if that’s your choice) in combination with bowls of various vegetables which then becomes extremely satiating.

Trying to do the same on a “regular” eating schedule on the other hand is nearly impossible without starving. If you eat 5-6 times per day and try to incorporate pizza into your diet, then each meal will be extremely tiny and unfulfilling. If that’s your choice of strategy I’d recommend staying away from these “junk foods” completely.

Just briefly, here are the five benefits of intermittent fasting that I covered in this article; Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss – The 5 Big Benefits That Will Help You Get Ripped:

  1. Create a huge food budget for later in the day – The main benefit of intermittent fasting is that you can save up on huge amounts of calories for later in the day, where most of us are genetically more hungry and want to eat.
  2. Improves satiety and satisfaction when cutting – By postponing your calories for later in the day you can eat a ton of satiating and satisfying foods without gaining fat. The sympathetic nervous system activity will reduce hunger in the morning.
  3. Enables you to more easily participate in social events and gatherings – By saving a large budget of calories for the evening you no longer have to say no to social events and gatherings because you don’t want to experience the hassle of resisting food all night. Instead, you now have room for it!
  4. Saves you time – Not having to spend a ton of time cooking and eating food leads to huge freedom feelings for most people. This aligns perfectly with how we live today as well, we’re always in a rush heading to work or school during the morning and days, while we’re relaxing and enjoying time together at the night.
  5. Every meal will feel like a cheat meal – A lot of people feel the urge to have large cheat meals when cutting to lose body fat. With intermittent fasting each and every meal will be huge and satiating. Essentially you get the feeling of a cheat meal each time you eat, even if the meal is made up of mostly “healthy” foods.

So, in short, combining intermittent fasting with a flexible approach to dieting where you can incorporate “junk foods” every now and then is an incredibly powerful combination for effortless and enjoyable fat loss.

Hit Your Daily Goals!

Now, before finishing up this post I want to remind you of the most important parts of the diet, which is hitting your daily calorie intake, macronutrients and micronutrients.

How you decide to hit these is entirely up to you. I recommend tracking your calories and macros as this makes it easier to control your junk food intake as well. Combining this with intermittent fasting and you have a deadly combo for shredding body fat!

Now, there’s a lot that goes into setting up a successful fat loss diet. And if you want to learn more about doing so I recommend reading the complete dieting guide on this website, you can access it by clicking here

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas Lampi and I work as a fitness writer, nutritional consultant and personal trainer. My favourite exercise is the bench press and my favourite food is pizza!

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