1) Don’t cut calories too far under maintenance
Obviously there needs to be caloric deficit in order to lose body fat, but too many people are dropping down way too low.
What does this mean? It means you become a smaller version of what you were before, but you don’t recomposition yourself like you should.
You need to have an idea of what your maintenance level calorie intake is and then start about 500-800 calories a day below that.
You can go to this calculator to get an estimate of where you’re at: http://www.fitnessfrog.com/calculators/tdee-calculator.html.
Once you have your number figured out, start about 500 calories below that per day.
2) Cardio is good, but living on a treadmill is not!
I used to do cardio sessions at 2 hours per day total sometimes.
Back when I was competing in bodybuilding in the early 2000’s I thought that the more cardio I performed, the better I’d look.
I was wrong, and eventually what happened was I put my body into too much of a catabolic state and the opposite of what I wanted to happen started happening.
I stopped getting as hungry, I stayed depleted with no energy, and I looked flat.
When I finally got smart and decided to do cardio at no more than 3 times per week for 30 minutes a session, I started getting better results.
Let’s think about this logically for a second; you’re killing yourself in the gym, you’re dieting pretty strict, and you’re already doing cardio.
Everything is there to lose fat and sometimes time is the key factor here, not frequency.
3) Carb manipulation is critical!
Some people respond great to low carb diets while others do not.
But one thing is for certain; go too long with no carbs and your body will lose muscle volume.
I don’t care how much protein you eat, when you take away the carbs for too long you will go flat and may find yourself having difficulty at simple day to day tasks at the office, home, or driving your car and not killing yourself.
The brain relies on glycogen stores to function properly, and I have yet to ever meet a bodybuilding competitor who was carb depleted and didn’t act like a zombie.
I’m not telling you not to lower carbs here, but what I am telling you is not to go too many days in a row without adding some back in.
The carbs are what shuttles the nutrients to the muscle and hydrates the muscle. CARBO-HYDRATE, HYDRATE being the key word here.
Since the muscle is made up of 75% water, it only makes sense not to take this away. Manipulate your carbs but do not totally eliminate them.
4) Give yourself enough time to get in shape
Take a look around at pretty much any diet or training routine. They all take around 90 days.
Everything from before and after photos, P90X, beach body, or a typical bodybuilder’s competition prep; they all take around 3 months!
It’s just time, you have to understand that this is the time frame it takes to lose the body fat while retaining the muscle.
When I say “Get in shape fast” I’m not talking about 2 weeks here.
But if you diet properly and eat strict then yes, you can look like a different person in a few months.
5) Take your fat burners before bed
Now, this isn’t the healthiest thing to be doing here, but this is a tip that works well if you’re trying to bust off that last little bit of body fat.
I’m talking about someone who is already in single digit body fat who just wants to lose that last tiny bit for a contest or photo shoot.
I have found that taking a fat burner such as clenbuterol or ephedrine right before bedtime seemed to kick my thermogenesis into overdrive during sleep.
Amping up your metabolism and core temperature in a fasted state can shred body fat very quickly.
I do not suggest this at any other time other than the very end of a diet when you’re already very lean.
But you need to do it right before your head hits the pillow.
You’ll be asleep by the time the fat burner starts taking effect.
6) Keep your testosterone on the lower side
For guys who take testosterone, you want to keep your testosterone at enough of a dosage to stay anabolic, but not high enough to cause bloating.
It took me a long time to figure this one out, but it took my physique to a far better look when I did.
The very best I ever looked was when I was only using 300 mg/wk of fast acting testosterone.
Testosterone can be a nasty compound when taken too high.
The effect it has on your skin is terrible and you’re constantly fighting water weight.
Even testosterone propionate which is faster acting can cause SOME water retention.
Then it becomes more of a guessing game of how much aromatase inhibitor to use, how much more cardio to perform, and at what point to drop your testosterone to lose the water weight.
You only want enough to promote muscle retention when in caloric deficit.
You are most likely not building muscle during this time frame, even on performance enhancers!
7) Eat a grapefruit before bed
Every so often it’s a good idea to throw in a grapefruit before bed.
I know what you’re thinking now; it’s carbs before bed and the natural sugars are still sugar, but the acidity of a grapefruit can sometimes amp up the metabolism.
I would sometimes feel even hot feeling after doing this and that is a good sign it’s working!
8) When you stop feeling hungry, it’s a sign your metabolism isn’t firing!
I hear this time and time again. Someone will be dieting and tell me “It’s going great; I don’t feel hungry at all!”
While initially this can be a good thing, sooner or later it’s a tell-tale sign that your metabolism isn’t working as fast as it could be.
Make no bones about it, you want to be hungry when you’re dieting because it’s a sign that it’s working! Whatever route you choose, be it low carb/high protein/moderate fat, or moderate carb/low fat/high protein, you want to be hungry between meals and upon awakening. ESPECIALLY upon awakening!
This is the primary reason why most people who want to lose body fat will tell me they don’t feel hungry at all when they wake up. 90% of fat loss clients of mine don’t eat breakfast when we start a diet.
They tell me they don’t feel hungry at all in the morning and they eat very few meals during the day.
When you’re dieting your metabolism can come to a halt if you aren’t doing something right.
Most commonly this is going too long without SOME carbs.
More often than not, when someone has a cheat meal that day they are hungrier the following day.
This is because they have spiked their metabolism back to where it needs to be!
9) As you get leaner, lower your volume
It’s very normal to think that as you get leaner you need to increase training volume and frequency to push the envelope even further. But this is usually not the case!
When you are in single digit body fat you’re more vulnerable to injury, you are in no doubt already in a state of over training, and more isn’t always better in this case.
You may find that backing off is what keeps you looking fuller and more muscular and not looking flat and catabolic. Let’s say you’re preparing for a competition, photo shoot, bikini contest, whatever, and you are already in single digit body fat 1 month out from the event.
At this point your diet is solely what is going to bring you in.
There isn’t much more you can do in the way of cardio and weight training that is going to get you in any better condition, and more so than not, it’s detrimental to your look.
At this point it’s all about muscle preservation, and doing 10 sets of biceps isn’t going to do anything more for you than 6 sets of bicep curls.
A stronger muscle is usually a bigger muscle, so the more you can do to promote that last bit of strength you have left, then the better you’re probably going to look come show time.
10) Try to get adequate rest
I have never done a strict diet for a few months without eventually getting worse sleep quality.
It’s just hard to go to bed when you’re THAT HUNGRY.
It can get to the point where taking things like melatonin or Ambien still don’t do it.
When this happens, you may just need to adjust your meals so you have a carb meal later in the day.
I have gotten extremely shredded while still eating a cup of oats at night. Remember that most of the body’s fat loss processes chemically take place during sleep.
When you start cutting your hours and quality of sleep down, it can make it harder to burn fat.
You may find it more beneficial to drop a carb meal at some point during the day and replace it in the evening.
The whole “no carbs before bedtime” isn’t always true. If you’re in a state of caloric deprivation then you’re in a state of caloric deprivation.
You will still get leaner so if you need to manipulate something in order to get some decent sleep then try it.
Hopefully you can take some of this advice and apply it to your own training regimen.
Remember that nothing is set in stone when it comes to bodybuilding or dieting down, sometimes you just have to find what works for you.
But I’m sure following my advice or using some of this as a template will only help skyrocket your progress!
PS – Be sure to check out Straight From the Underground, the new underground bodybuilding anabolic bible!