TweetLose ItPart 1 of my comprehensive fat-burning plan to get you shredded.
It’s time to take stock of the physical goals you accomplished (or didn’t) so far. If you're in lean-down mode and want to get in the best shape of your life, now is the perfect time to torch fat.
Throughout this series, I’m going to be giving you a very strong overview on how to optimize fat loss across all facets. Each of the three installments will be segmented into specific topics as follows:
- Part 1: Nutrition
- Part 2: Training & Cardio
- Part 3: Supplementation
By the time you’ve covered all three, you will have a strong understanding of what it takes to maximize fat loss, avoid common pitfalls, and ultimately achieve the results you want. Ultimately, when it comes to dieting for fat loss, there is a lot to take in and apply. Patience and staying rational are also essential. In the next installment, I will examine training and cardio.
IT ALL BEGINS WITH NUTRITION
Nutrition will always be essential to achieving your fat-loss goals, and every client I work with has a very structured diet plan he or she has to follow. When there is no structure, people will find reasons to fall offtrack and ultimately miss meals or pick foods they shouldn’t, in turn derailing their progress. Different nutrition protocols will work for different people because everybody has their own circumstances. Variables such as genetics, age, gender, training age (overall years devoted to consistent training), training volume, intensity, and even stress levels will come into play. There is a lot to consider.
Energy balance can never be disputed; that is, in order to reduce your body-fat percentage you need to be in an energy deficit. This requires specific tracking for every meal in order to know exactly what your net caloric intake is. Guessing doesn’t work because, ultimately, if you’re out by 10–15%, then your deficit is gone, which means you won’t lose fat. It goes without saying there is far more to fat loss than simply being in a calorie deficit, but you do have to remember that the laws of thermodynamics can never be forgotten. The accepted mainstream number is that an average man needs to eat 2,500 calories per day to maintain body weight, so going down to 2,000 will net fat loss. However, this is just a general guideline, and you will need to take into account the other variables included in this feature.
MASTER YOUR MACROS
Once your net calorie intake is taken care of, the next thing is filling those calories with specific macronutrient sources. For instance, some people will require 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight, along with an even split in carbohydrates and fats to make up the rest of the remaining energy. Other people will need far more carbohydrates and less fat; some will be the complete opposite. Getting this breakdown correct for your body is essential because it will help sustain performance in the gym, which is where you’re going to be burning a lot of energy. If optimal performance isn’t supported, then you will naturally be using less fuel, thus potentially slowing down your progress.
BASAL METABOLIC RATE EQUATION
Use this formula to figure out your caloric needs:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 X BODY WEIGHT IN POUNDS) + (12.7 X HEIGHT IN INCHES) – (6.8 X AGE)
MIND THE MICROS
Micronutrition is often forgotten about because people fixate themselves on calorie and macro numbers. However, in order for cells to recover and your body to function at an optimal capacity, you require specific micronutrients in your diet. These will generally come from vegetables and fruit. Never forget the importance of wholesome food sources. Numbers alone will not maximize fat loss.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
As well as having your nutritional targets for the day, it’s important certain foods are timed correctly to optimize performance, recovery, and fat loss. More insulinogenic meals would be best suited in the post-workout window in most cases to help maintain better insulin sensitivity.
EAT...AND EAT SOME MORE
All my clients will follow a high-meal-frequency pattern throughout the day, typically eating a meal every two to four hours. The composition of the meals will depend on the overall nutrient profiles I’ve prescribed and the time of day. The reason I feel high-meal-frequency diets are best for fat loss is mainly because of the improved muscle retention you benefit from. As muscle- protein synthesis is heightened, you will fight catabolism more effectively, meaning you hold on to more muscle. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, which means you burn more energy throughout the day by having extra muscle.
FILL UP ON FIBER
Consuming enough fiber on a daily basis is one of the most important parts of losing body fat. Fiber helps manage blood-sugar levels, mediate insulin sensitivity, and also reduce cravings. If you’re not consuming adequate amounts of fiber, expect to find achieving fat loss difficult. Usually I will focus primarily on green, leafy vegetables as a main source of fiber, with a mixture of vegetables, nuts, and seeds thereafter to give a broad spectrum of soluble and insoluble fiber.
THE GOOD OLD REFEED
Refeeds are a very good strategy to use when you’re facing a plateau during the fat-loss process, especially as you become leaner and your net calorie intake is tapering down. The aim with a refeed is to accelerate metabolic output by having an acute influx in calories, usually primarily from carbohydrates.
Don’t underestimate how important consistency is in order to achieve fat loss. Each pound of fat is about 3,500 calories of energy. Although this is a “case by case” thing, in my experience one to three pounds of fat loss per week is where I usually aim. The more weight you have to lose, the more you will need to lose on a weekly basis.
ANALYZE AND ADAPT
This is the bit that a lot of people tend to forget about. Once a plan is put in place, it can still change even if it works at the beginning. It’s essential to analyze progress by taking weight and site measurements, as well as progress photos. The key is to be patient enough to avoid making unnecessary changes, yet being able to recognize when changes are needed. Usually, I allow a seven- to 10-day window during a fat-loss transformation before making changes if I’m not seeing the progress I’d like from a client.
Fat loss can be a very challenging process in any case; therefore, you want to do everything possible to avoid making it harder. Maximizing satiety levels is essential, and this can be achieved through eating volume- dense, low-calorie foods, drinking a lot of water, and managing blood- sugar levels properly. If you’re always excessively hungry, then there is something wrong with your diet.
PITFALLS TO AVOID
There are three main issues people usually face because of mistakes they make at the start of and during the process.
- 1. UNDEREATING
- The temptation when starting a fat-loss plan is to undereat to “get ahead.” However, all this does is lead to more stubborn fat loss down the line because you catabolize muscle tissue that supports energy expenditure, and your thyroid activity becomes suppressed. You want to eat as much as you’re able to while losing fat—don’t be tempted to undereat.
- 2. DOING TOO MUCH CARDIO
- When you start o with one hour of cardio every day, what do you do when your fat loss plateaus? There’s nowhere else to go other than to do more. Very quickly this becomes impractical as well as counterproductive. Do as little as you’re able to get away with for as long as you can, so when you need to increase output you’ve got room to work with. Usually my clients will start their fat-loss transformations with around 20 minutes of cardio four to five times a week.
- 3. MAKING CHANGES TOO QUICKLY
- It’s frustrating when you don’t see results as fast as you’d like, but you must always remember it’s crucial to be patient and realistic. Most people underestimate how long it takes to lose body fat. People tend to make too many changes too soon, which leaves them unsure of what is and isn’t working. If you are making changes, ensure that they are small, incremental progressions so they’re always measurable. Don’t get caught up in fads.
- CARB CYCLING
Although there are a multitude of nutritional strategies available to maximize fat loss, I feel that some variation of carb cycling is going to be one of the best routes to take. Carb cycling is a strategy that can be applied in many different formats, depending on many different factors, including muscle mass, body-fat percentage, training volume, training frequency, age, gender, and genetic tendencies (i.e., carb tolerance).
However, the fundamentals of carbohydrate cycling are, to a degree, the same regardless of application. Here is an overview of why this works so well for fat loss.
1. WHAT IS IT?
Carb cycling simply means to rotate carbohydrate intake across the week, usually between low, moderate, and high days. These terms are relative to net calorie intake: For instance, somebody’s “low” day might be somebody else’s “high” day, depending on the variables I explained above. Usually fats will go up as carbohydrate intake goes down for the day, and vice versa. These two nutrient groups usually have an inverse relationship when it comes to optimizing fat loss with carb cycling.
2. HOW DOES IT WORK?
First, cycling carbs makes it easier to sustain an energy deficit because, collectively across the week, your net carb intake is going to be lower. Psychologically it’s nice to have “high” days during which you know you’re going to be able to eat, making days where there’s short-term hunger easier to cope with (although hunger shouldn’t really be an issue until you’re very lean). However, carbohydrate cycling does have a more specific application than basic energy management. By reducing energy intake for short periods of time and then giving your body acute increases in carbohydrates before backing o again the next day, your metabolism is far more likely to remain optimized. Many people notice a reduction in metabolic activity after spending too long in an energy deficit—periodically feeding carbs back in higher quantities helps stimulate the thyroid. It’s also good for keeping leptin levels high as you become very lean, which can be one of the causes of stubborn fat loss.
3. APPLYING CARB CYCLING
- There is no specific carb-cycling protocol that I favor over another—it’s usually on a case-by-case basis that I create the plan. However, as a starting point, here are some things to consider:
- Have your high days on leg and/or back day—this is when you’ll be spending more energy, therefore your body will utilize the extra muscle glycogen.
- Low days are usually best had on rest days, with medium days falling on smaller muscle group days.
- Ensure your fat intake goes up on low days to account for the reduction in energy. This means that your body also becomes more efficient in using glucagon and insulin pathways to burn energy.
- Even on high days, ensure your calories come from wholesome sources, because these will give your body more nutritional density.
- Analyze how your weight is coming o on a weekly basis and adjust your carb-cycling formation accordingly. Usually you will feel hungrier the day after a high day because of the elevation in metabolic output.
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