A unique carb-cycling bodybuilding diet for cutting fat while maintaining muscle mass and strength.

180 Diet - BodybuilderCredit: Vadim Ivanov 123RF.comThe 180 Diet is a bodybuilding diet developed by Greg Long, former Mr. Universe and bodybuilder with over 40 years of experience.   It is based on gradually cycling carbohydrates based on observing the effects of numerous effects on your body and mood.  If used correctly, this diet can effectively be used during the cutting or lean-bulking phases. 


The “180” stands for 180 grams of carbohydrates, which is the baseline for this diet.  If you are currently above this amount, drop down gradually in increments of 50 grams.  For example, if your current daily intake is 300 grams of carbs, start by taking it down to 250.  Train for two weeks to allow your body to adjust.  Then take it down another 50, to 200 grams, and go another two weeks. 

If you are on a low-carb diet, the same applies in the opposite direction.  Build up to 180 in 50 gram increments, for two-week time periods.

Carb Cycling

Once you are taking in 180 grams of carbs on a daily basis, continually monitor your mood, energy levels, strength, fat levels and appearance.  Adjust as necessary.  For example, if you notice yourself becoming more irritable, you appear flat and your energy levels are low; adjust up by 50 grams (to 230 grams).  Stay there until you start to feel good (should be 1-3 days), then go back down by 70 grams (50+20 additional) to 160 grams.  Assess the effects and adjust accordingly. 


Everyone is unique.  Your body may react differently to different amounts of carbs (and other macros) and different food sources.  It is essential that you closely monitor your body and your mood, and adjust accordingly.  This diet is not reliant on drastic, wholesale changes.  Going extremely low-carb will definitely produce results, but it will likely have negative effects on one or more areas of your life—most commonly on losing lean body mass and a negative mental and psychological state.  Gradual changes (in macros, food choices, etc.) allow you to precisely discover the effects these changes have on your body. 

180 Diet - Good carbsCredit: AuthorFood Choices

This diet recommends cutting out (at least in the early stages) foods such as: dairy, pork, juice, high-sugar fruit, high glycemic carbs (pasta, white potatoes, white rice, and white bread).  Some of these items can be worked back into the diet based on their effects.

Recommended foods include: egg whites, plain oatmeal, fish, yams, sweet potatoes, brown rice, chicken breasts, vegetables, lean beef, good oils, etc. 

Other Macros

Target approximately 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.  Fat, from healthy sources, should hover around 50 grams.  Neither of these numbers is definitive for everyone.  Like carb cycling, adjust both the amounts and types of protein and fat, and monitor the changes in your body. 

Slow and Steady

This is a long-term diet, based on gradual adjustments resulting in gradual improvements.  One of the main advantages of this diet is discovering how diet variables affect your body.  After consistent use of this diet you will be able to discern which foods work best and in what amounts.  


The 180 Diet is a bodybuilding diet aimed at gradually decreasing body fat while maintaining muscle mass and strength.  It is less of a fad diet, and more of tailored approach, with the 180 grams of carbohydrates as a starting point.  It is not an easy diet, but it is definitely one that takes out the guesswork. 

Will it work for you?  It depends on you.  It depends on how your body processes carbs.  It depends on how precisely you can monitor your macro levels.  Most importantly, it depends on how consistent and vigilant you can stick to the diet and its precepts over the long haul.