Control Your Calories, Your Macronutrients, and Your Training for an Awesomely "Ripped" Physique
by Matthew Sloan
|Matthew Sloan displays the results of his hard work, both in the gym and in the kitchen.|
This is a very important topic and it is important for one reason: millions of people set their goal to lose fat every year, and only a very small percentage succeed. Some people will say that these people are just lazy, but the simple fact is that the majority of people who fail to lose the fat have been misguided in the way to accomplish their goals. So I am going to attempt to enlighten you on the real way to lose fat and to lose it permanently.
Let me begin by saying that this is not the ONLY way to lose fat, but this is an effective way and many of these principles are necessary in any fat loss journey. The most important factor in losing fat is one thing, and one thing only, and that is calories. You must be expending more calories than you are consuming daily to lose weight. You can calculate your daily caloric expenditure by going to an online calculator( this number will be based on your weight, height, age, and activity level). Some people will be exceptions to this caloric expenditure number, but you probably are not one of them.
Calories are important, but only worrying about calories is not going to give you the optimal results you are looking to achieve. Our goal is to not only lose weight but to lose adipose tissue and not muscle that you've worked hard to build. In order to accomplish this, you must also worry about which macronutrients you get your calories from. When I say "macros", I am talking about the three main macronutrients found in foods: protein, carbs, and fats. Your proteins are primarily your meats, beans, dairy, protein powders, and a few other sources. Your carbs are primarily your potatoes, rice, fruits, and your common junk food. Your fats are primarily your nuts, dressings, and other common junk food choices.( I am a proponent of "flexible dieting" or "IIFYM" , so ,yes, you can get your macros from junk food or non "clean" foods, but for health reasons, I would recommend getting majority of your calories from clean whole foods.) It is important to have a balance of all these macros because they are all important in their own way. You need your protein for muscle growth and to prevent muscle loss. You need your carbs for energy and muscle growth. You need your fats for a few important body functions. Everybody will respond differently to these macros, and some people will need more of a certain thing than another. This is where a coach is able to manipulate and adjust your macros for optimal performance. But a good starting place for everyone is to get 25% of calories from protein, 15-20% from fat, and 55-60% from carbs. (One of the most common macro ratios is a 40/40/20, but this is not optimal because no beginner needs that much protein. 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass is enough.) This 25/55/20 macro ratio will give you plenty of energy from the large amount of carbs( I am a big opponent of low carb diets, but I will explain that in another article), and this will provide you with a protein amount that is effective, while also making dieting easier.
OK, so now we know the first two keys to fat loss—your calories and macros—the next thing is your workout program. I would recommend a high frequency training style while cutting—my dad has written multiple articles on high frequency training so just check one of those out; we have tons of awesome ones here at Integral Strength. The reason for this is that the goal of your workouts should be to conserve as much muscle as possible and to burn as many calories in your workouts as possible. High frequency training is going to allow for more protein synthesis in the muscles, and will allow you to train more body parts per workout, leading to more calories burned.
|Matthew uses a HFT protocol—similar to many of the articles here at Integral Strength—to help him lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.|
Now that we have the three main components of fat loss explained, I am going to explain how you will implement these for maximum fat loss. So fat is basically just stored calories, or stored energy. This fat was very useful for our ancestors because they may have had to go weeks without eating, and would have needed energy to continue living. In today's society, we have no need for this extra fat, so we wish to get rid of it. So it seems simple—if you starve yourself then you will lose the fat (such as commonly found in today's popular low carb and/or low-calorie diets), right? Maybe, except for one giant, fat (pun intended) problem: when your body goes into "starvation mode", it is going to get energy from your fat and muscles, and simply losing fat and muscle is not going to make you look any better or perform better—its simply going to make you smaller (I have made this mistake in the past). In order to lose fat without losing muscle, you must slowly decrease daily caloric consumption, while slowly increasing daily caloric expenditure. So for an example, I will use myself. I am coming off of a caloric surplus, and I have been consuming 3200 calories daily. My macros were something around 160 grams of protein, 450 grams of carbohydrates, and 80 grams of fat. I want to ensure I don't lose my muscle, so I have been decreasing my calories by only 100 calories per week. Every 1.5 weeks, I am increasing cardio by five minutes, as well. ( I jump rope for my cardio but any form of cardio will be fine.) I have a "macro change" every three weeks—keep calories the same, but decrease carbs and increase protein. The only other thing I do is have a "re-feed" day( back up to 3000 calories) once a week. These are the main key components of my "cut".
You should now have a good understanding of the basics of fat loss, and if you incorporate these components into your program, then you will lose fat and change your body. I will go into detail on low carb diets, cardio, food sources, and a few other minor fat loss ideas/methods in another article.