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Guide To Gettin Lean

By Patrick D

In the beginning there was food; non-processed, wholesome food. And it tasted good. People who wanted to gain muscle ate this food in larger quantities, but soon realized that they had eaten too much. This was not good.

Anyone who’s ever embarked on a mission to gain more muscle knows that in order to accomplish this goal, fat gain is inevitable. And in order to restart the bulking process one must shed the body fat accumulated during the “bulking up” phase.

This is a general introductory guide on how to lose body fat in a healthy manner (reducing body fat, while maintaining lean body mass).

Nutrition

If losing body fat were an easy process, then everyone would do it. The two toughest requirements, when “cutting,” are willpower and dedication. If you’re halfway through a cut, and you find yourself reaching for that Beer or Candy Bar, just ask yourself this question: How bad do you want it?” How badly do you want to see that 6-pack? How much do you want to be in control of your body? Do you really want to reach your goals? No one said getting lean was fun, but unless you want to become some big muscular fat guy, it’s a necessity.

Cutting is a slow process and requires patience. Don’t expect to be completely ripped in 2 or 3 weeks, because it just won’t happen. You should be aiming to lose one pound per week. If you lose weight too fast, then you run the risk of losing some of that hard-earned muscle. It is, however, important to note, that individuals have different body types, and different metabolisms. Some people are able to readily lose fat easier than others. Some people have stubborn fat in certain areas that just won’t seem to go away. This doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with that spare tire for the rest of your life; it just means that you’ll need to work a little harder.

Diet is the most important aspect of cutting. It will be very beneficial to track your food that you eat every day in terms of both overall caloric intake, and macro-nutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat). The first step is to find out how many calories you should be eating. To calculate this, you can use a simple formula. Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 12. For example:

200lbs x 12 = 2400 Calories

This is a general guideline, and can be increased or decreased depending on the person. If you have a fast metabolism, it is suggested to start at a multiplier of 13. If you stop losing weight for 2 or 3 weeks, you may lower your calories, or increase cardio (see the training section).

What you eat is almost important as how much you eat. Cutting is the time for you to clean up your diet and stick to “clean” foods. Let’s take a brief look at the 3 macronutrients.

Protein

Protein is the life-blood of an avid strength-trainer’s nutritional regimen. Sufficient protein intake is necessary for maintaining muscle mass. Eating at least a gram of protein per pound of body weight is a general rule of thumb and can easily be achieved by eating 30-40g proteins at every meal. Main sources of protein include: Lean Steak or Ground Beef, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Fish, Turkey, and Supplement Powders (Whey, Casein, Soy, etc.).

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. There are two types, simple and complex carbohydrates. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a rating system for the length of time it takes for your body to convert carbohydrates to glucose (sugar). If a food is rated high on the Glycemic Index, then by itself it will be quickly metabolized. High GI foods play a vital role after lifting weights, for muscle recovery. Types of high glycemic foods you could take post-workout include Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Potatoes, and Pasta. Post-workout, however, is generally the only time these types of food should be taken in. This is due to the effect they have on blood sugar levels (a quick increase in blood sugar levels due to the release of a hormone called insulin). All other carbs throughout the day should come from lower GI carb sources that include some fiber. Low GI Carb sources include Oats, Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Green Vegetables, Oat Bran Cereal, Whole Wheat Bread (or Tortillas or Pitas).

Fat

To ensure that you’re getting your fat from healthy sources, look to Olives or Olive Oil, Natural Peanut Butter, Nuts, Flaxseed Oil, and Fish Oil. Saturated fat sources, such as cheese and butter should be avoided for the most part. A tablespoon of butter with your dinner won’t kill you, but bear in mind, all good things in moderation.

Cheating

Cheating can be defined when you eat something that does not fit into your dietary regimen. It serves no purpose in moving you towards your goal of fat loss. It’s okay to cheat on your diet once in a while to maintain your sanity, but don’t go overboard. Try to limit your cheating to once a week (or less).

Beverages

Beverages help you fight feelings of hunger and give your stomach that “full” feeling. Drinking at least a gallon of water per day is the norm for most active strength trainers. It is important to keep the body hydrated Besides water, you can drink some hot beverages, such as black coffee or green tea, both of which have caffeine (see supplement section below). Diet sodas are also acceptable, as they have zero calories. Milk (low fat or nonfat) is another good beverage, but just make sure that you’re counting it towards your overall calorie intake. If you are concerned about the carbohydrates in milk, keep your milk intake to 32 oz. or less, due to the high lactose content. Lactose is basically another form of sugar, and fairly high on the Glycemic Index.

Training

This is divided into two sub-sections, Weights and Cardio.

Weights

Possibly the hardest part to losing body fat is the consistency involved in lifting weights for months at a time without getting any bigger or stronger. Although it is possible to gain some muscle or strength on a cut, chances are, size and strength changes in the body will be difficult to attain during this period. Keep in mind that this is a cutting guide, and not a body recomposition guide. You can choose several different weight training routines when cutting. Ultimately, the best one is the one that works for you. However, a good starting point would be to use a training volume of 8-10 sets per body part per week. There is no need to work muscles twice a week. Again, your goal here is to just stimulate your existing lean body mass, not to grow any new muscle. You should still be lifting heavy, and close to muscle failure. Here is an example of a routine that can be used:

Day 1: Off or Cardio or Shoulders (optional) Day 2: Legs Day 3: Push (Chest and Triceps) Day 4: Off or Cardio Day 5: Off or Cardio Day 6: Pull (Back and Biceps) Day 7: Off or Cardio

This routine leaves some flexibility to either take rest days if you feel the need for recovery, or do cardio (see cardio subsection below). If you feel the need to do some direct shoulder work, you can fit it into Day One.

What about abdominal work?

Abs can be worked on any day of the week, no more than twice a week, and at least 48 hours in between. Anywhere from 4-8 sets would be ideal.

Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is another key element to getting lean. It helps with fat burning by raising the body's metabolism, and contributes to a healthy heart (the strongest muscle in the body). When you first begin cutting, you should have one or two days per week dedicated to cardio. As you progress further into the phase, you may feel the need to increase cardio if you reach a plateau in your weight loss.

There are several forms of cardio, however, as I mentioned before, the most important factor with cardio is finding something that you enjoy. If you hate cardio, chances are your efforts won’t pay off as much as if you chose an activity that is bearable. If you can’t stand running on a treadmill, don’t do it. If you love to play tennis or basketball, go for it.

The duration of your cardio depends on your intensity level. Some individuals get good results with medium intensity cardio (such as cycling or elliptical) for durations of 40-50 minutes while others like to use short but “intense” sessions to get the job done. The main objective is to keep your heart rate at an elevated level for an extended period of time.

Others have good results with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). This involves short bursts of maximum effort (such as Wind Sprints, Heavy Bag, Jump Rope) followed by short periods of rest, repeated over and over. There is scientific data to prove that HIIT is quite effective for fat loss.

Supplementation

There are a wide variety of supplements that can benefit you when on a cut. This obviously depends on your budget. Here is a list of some supplements that may be of use in their order of importance.

Vitamins

If you have less than $40 to spend on supplements, get some vitamins before anything else. Get a Multi-Vitamin, Vitamin C, and B-Complex. Take these Vitamins every day with your meals.

Protein

If you’re not getting enough protein from your daily food, you should use a protein powder supplement. The most common is Whey Protein, which is fast digesting, and ideal for right after a weight training session. Casein and Soy Proteins are slower digesting and can be taken any time of day. Keep in mind that all 3 of these proteins can be found in food as well.

Ephedrine & Caffeine (ECA)

These can be used separately, or combined together. They are both similar in the sense that they are both stimulants, which raise heart rate and body temperature. Take ECA about 30-45 Minutes before a cardio session. A ECA stack can be taken every day, or even 2-3 times/day, but again, it depends on how much money you’re willing to spend. Recommended dosage is 25mg ephedrine and 200mg caffeine. It is also important to note that some people combine Aspirin with the two, but its effectiveness is still in question.

Green Tea

Green Tea is a thermogenic like ECA, and also promotes antioxidant activity. You can drink it or take pure Green Tea Extract in pill form. Recommended dosage would be 2-5 cups/day or 400-800mg of the extract. The pill form is fairly inexpensive, and if you’ve got an extra $10, go for it.

Conclusion

By using this information, losing body fat will become a much easier task, especially if you are consistent in your efforts. Most of the guidelines outlined will work for anyone but they are not, by any means, the only way to get the job done.

Happy Cutting!


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