Whenever you hear about someone wanting to lose body fat or get lean, almost 99% of the time you can guess their plan will involve an extremely low calorie diet, long and frequent amounts of cardio and no real structure, not to mention every fat loss supplement under the sun.
In my past experiences and what I have found works best for myself and all of my clients is quite the opposite to what I have outlined above. I’m going to show you below how to properly set yourself up for a successful fat loss phase.
To begin with you need to know what your maintenance calorie intake is. Some of you may already know what this is and most of you won’t. If you’re in the group that doesn’t know, here’s what I want you to do.
Download the app ‘myfitnesspal’ and plug in every meal you eat over the span of a week, eating as normal as possible and exercising as you normally would, no more, no less. At the end of this week I want you to take note of whether you gained, lost or maintained weight and also to work out what your daily average calorie intake was (Total calories over 7 days divided by 7). Presuming most of you will maintain weight on what you are currently eating over the span of a week, we now have your daily maintenance calorie intake.
The next step is to put yourself into a calorie deficit, meaning you are eating less calories than you are burning. Which is what allows you to lose body fat in the first place. Now, here’s where you you are going to be smarter than 99% of people starting a fat loss phase. All I want you to do is take 300 calories from your maintenance intake. Example: If I maintain weight on 2,500 calories per day, to start my fat loss phase I will drop to 2,200 calories per day. As you can see, this will still be a good amount of food and your energy levels shouldn’t drop too dramatically as you are only in a small deficit.
Next area I want to cover is your strength/resistance training. For a natural athlete I have always suggested training each muscle group at least twice a week, putting a big emphasis on the big movements (compounds such as: squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, bench press, rows, pull ups etc) as these type of exercises take a lot more energy to complete because you are using multiple muscle groups and more often than not lifting heavier loads. A key component of your strength training should be to maintain as much strength as possible on all of these compound lifts, after that you want to get in enough volume from accessory work to be burning a good amount of energy/calories, keeping rest times shorter and intensity right up.
The next step is to figure out how much, if any at all, cardio you are going to do. Remember cardio is NOT necessary to lose fat it’s a tool. As long as you are burning more energy than you are taking in you will lose fat. This energy can be burnt from just lifting weights if that’s what suits you, the only problem here is when your fat loss stalls you will have to make larger decreases in calories to ensure you keep losing fat.
For most of my clients I will start them off with just 1 cardio session per week, lasting anywhere from 10-15 minutes. The session can be steady state cardio or a HIIT session, it’s completely up to you.
The beauty of starting with minimal cardio is you allow yourself so much room to move as the fat loss phase goes on, by simply adding in small amounts every time fat loss stalls.
Think about this, if you start your cut with just a 300 calorie deficit and 10-15 minutes of cardio, when fat loss stalls all you need to do is either 1. Take another 50-100 calories from your daily intake or 2. Add another session of cardio or extend the time of your original session. It’s that simple!
This allows you to maintain as much muscle mass as possible while continuing to eat as much food as possible and still making progress. Leaving you in a better mental state and also allowing you to continue training at a high standard while maintaining strength for a longer period of time.
Now lastly, I want to mention supplementation. Fat burners are often overused for fat loss phases. I don’t introduce fat burners into anyone’s program until their training and nutrition are 100% in check and to be honest most of the time I still won’t add them in unless necessary (Extremely low energy levels daily, struggling to concentrate, hungry all the time or fat loss has come to a complete halt). The supplements I would suggest should be staples in anyone’s program while cutting are: Multivitamin, fish oils, magnesium, creatine (if you’ve been using it previously), branch-chained aminos acids and although it’s not completely necessary I do rate Acetyl L-carnitine.
So there you have it, follow the steps above and I promise you that you will have your most successful fat loss phase so far.
I’d love to hear feedback on my recent blogs and emails, feel free to email me back with and feedback you may have 🙂