If you’re like most guys, you wouldn’t mind packing on an extra 5-10lb of muscle to your frame. Maybe you are contemplating starting a muscle building program, or even actively using one. Before you start pounding more protein shakes and killing yourself with heavy weights, I’ll ask you to seriously reevaluate your fitness goals.
If you are attempting to build muscle and you do not have a lean physique, I strongly recommend you focus on losing fat without losing muscle before attempting to add some bulk to your frame. Keep in mind on average most guys substantially underestimate their body fat percentage by AT LEAST 5% body fat. If you are in the gym every day trying to build muscle, you may already have the body you envision, you just need to lose the fat. Building muscle and dropping the fat is your primary goal when dealing with your physical form.
In a desperate attempt to lose weight fast and look better, a lot of people implement and stick to some brutal restrictions when it comes to what, how much or when they eat. The choices are endless – type the word “diet” in your favorite search engine and get amazed with how many diet plans you can utilize. The varieties range from simply esoteric to borderline crazy.
Do not fall victim to ads promising that you will lose weight with some strict tasking diets. If you are waiting for miracle cures and fast solutions that can help you lose weight – you may keep searching for the rest of your life. These solutions already exist – and they are relatively simple.
Let’s face it: Not many people like the idea of dieting. So the thought of only having to stick to a diet part of the day, or even every other day, can seem quite attractive. After all, knowing we can stuff our faces with donuts, pizza, and cake tomorrow makes struggling through a bland diet of chicken and broccoli a little more bearable.
As glorious as this sounds, there has to be a downside, right? In the case of intermittent fasting (IF), the “diet” actually refers to periods of fasting, meaning you are restricted to eating very little—or nothing at all—for periods of time lasting anywhere from 16-24 hours. It may sound a little crazy, but intermittent fasting has been suggested as an effective weight loss tool, with research supporting its ability to increase fat oxidation, reduce body weight, and accelerate fat loss.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
In simpler terms: it’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals. By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting means eating your calories during a specific window of the day, and choosing not to eat food during the rest.
Now, there are a few different ways to take advantage of intermittent fasting:
- Regularly eat during a specific time period. For example, only eating from noon-8 PM, essentially skipping breakfast. Maybe an 8-9 hour window.
- Skip two meals one day, taking a full 24-hours off from eating. For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day.
Have the animal mentality routine i.e. Wake up…hunt (work)…then eat. You have to work for your food. Your concentration is extreme in the morning in a fasted state mixed with coffee. Engage that mentality.
Do wait for 5-6 hours upon waking up before eating. For instance if you wake up at 7am your first meal should be around 12-1pm. Then you’re free to eat from 1pm to 9pm. So your fasting shoud be 14-16 hours from your last meal which includes sleep.
The central idea behind the implementation of intermittent fasting is to reduce overall calorie consumption, ideally resulting in weight loss. Typically, IF protocols will have the individual undergo a period of intentional severe calorie restriction (ranging from 0-25 percent of the individual’s normal daily caloric intake) for a period of 16-24 hours. Following the restrictive phase, the individual returns to relatively normal energy intake for 8-24 hours, depending on which version of IF they are following.
Make sure to use coffee or tea, green tea to curb hunger in the morning. Also, no sugar! You can use seltzer water if you don’t like any of the mentioned drinks, but I personally use coffee.
Like intermittent fasting, the carb cycling diet has some pretty big shoes to fill if you listen to its more fervent advocates. Carb cycling delivers the holy grail of bodybuilding: rapid fat loss while preserving, or even building, muscle.
The carb cycling diet is very simple. It works like this:
- Throughout the week, you rotate through high-carb, moderate-carb, and low/no-carb days.
- All days require a high protein intake.
- Your fat intake is inversely related to your carbohydrate intake. That is, your fat intake is low when your carbs are high, and vice versa.
- Exact protocols vary in terms of specific numbers, but all are based on that simple structure. For example, you may do 4 low-carb days, followed by a high-carb day, and then a no-carb day, and then start over. Or you may do 3 low-carb days followed by 1 high-carb day, and then back to the low-carb and so on.
Here’s what these days often look like numerically:
- A high-carb day will generally have you eating 2-2.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Your protein intake will be around 1 gram per pound, and your fat intake between 0-.15 grams per pound.
- A moderate-carb day will call for about 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Your protein intake will be between 1-1.2 grams per pound, and your fat intake around .2 grams per pound.
- A low-carb day will call for about .5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Your protein intake will usually increase to about 1.5 grams per pound, and your fat intake to around .35 grams per pound.
- A no-carb day means less than 30 grams of carbohydrate per day. To achieve this, you basically can only eat a few servings of vegetables per day. Protein intake is around 1.5 grams per pound, and fat intake goes up to .5-.8 grams per pound.
The theory behind the diet is as follows:
- Your high-carb day will refuel your muscles’ glycogen levels and flood your body with insulin, which has anti-catabolic effects (but not true anabolic effects like some people claim–insulin does not induce protein synthesis, but rather inhibits muscle breakdown). Most protocols recommend that you do your toughest workout on your high-carb day.
- Your moderate-carb day gives you plenty of carbs to maintain glycogen stores, but doesn’t put you in enough of a caloric deficit to cause much weight loss. You train on these days.
- Your no- and low-carb days are the days where you’re in a caloric deficit, and where some people claim the “magic” happens. These are the days where you “trick” your body into burning fat at an accelerated rate by keeping insulin levels low. It’s usually recommend that you use cardio or rest days for now/low-carb days, but if you lift more than 3 days per week, you will have to lift on 1 or more of these days.
Can you use carb cycling to lose fat? Absolutely.
Any dietary protocol that puts you in a caloric deficit, whether it’s daily or weekly or even monthly, will result in weight loss, regardless of the macronutrient breakdown.
Let me state this again:
So long as you keep yourself in a caloric deficit–meaning you give your body less energy than it expends–you will lose weight, regardless of whether the energy comes from protein, carbohydrate, or fat.
Part of the appeal of carb cycling are the claims that you don’t have to “count calories” or really “watch what you eat.” You simply follow a set of simple rules regarding eating “a lot” of carbs on high days, less on moderate days, and very few on no/low days.
This loose style of dieting works decently for maintenance, and may work for weight loss to a degree, but never works for getting shredded.
Getting below 8-9% body fat (men) or 18-19% (women) requires that you plan and track your macronutrient intake closely. Period. You need to know exactly how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat you’re eating every day, and you need to manipulate these numbers to keep yourself in enough of a caloric deficit to continue losing fat, but not so much that you sacrifice muscle.
HITT (High Intensity Interval Training)
If you’re already a fan of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or have heard the buzz surrounding it, you know that it’s a super-fast, very effective way to work out. Basically, HIIT involves short, intense bursts of exercise with less intense moves or complete rest in between. Essentially, it’s crazy-efficient—which means you could be spending less time in the gym each week while still cashing in on all the fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, and heart-pounding benefits.
The popularity of high intensity interval training is on the rise. High intensity interval training sessions are commonly called HIIT workouts. This type of training involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times.
The intense work periods may range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long, and are performed at 80% to 95% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, the maximum number of times your heart will beat in a minute without overexerting yourself. The recovery periods may last equally as long as the work periods and are usually performed at 40% to 50% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate. The workout continues with the alternating work and relief periods totaling 20 to 60 minutes.
An application of HIIT can be seen when you take a look at a sprinter, you notice they have big muscles and are shredded compared to a marathon runner who are slim and have low muscles.
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