When it comes to losing weight, many folk’s first instinct is to do endless amounts of cardio, usually in the form of running. This is what you SHOULD NOT do! While on my journey to competing in my first “bodybuilding” show and meeting all the other competitors, everyone’s cardio was structured the same. It was then I realized that not one of them was doing any kind of jogging/light running during their prep. The reason for this is why you can burn fat this way, you will also burn muscle tissue and the end result will leave you with a skinny/fat type of look. Ever watched a track meet and noticed the difference between the body type of a sprinter and long distance runner? (Google it now, you’ll notice it immediately). The type of cardio that is most efficient for losing body fat and retaining muscle is low intensity (stairmaster and incline treadmill are very popular) and/or high intensity interval training (HIIT) such as sprinting. THESE ARE THE FORMS OF CARDIO FITNESS MODELS/BODY BODYBUILDERS UTILIZE! Also, Cardio is always done after weight training, never before. The reason for this is because your body’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates or the glucose. After your body uses all of its stored energy i.e. carbs, it will then utilize your fat OR muscle stores as energy, depending on your activity. Now assuming you’re performing an activity such as steady state cardio or HIIT, your body will utilize more fat as it’s secondary energy source to burn as fuel. If you were to perform cardio first and and then weight training afterwards, you’re more likely to burn off precious muscle assuming your glycogen stores are near depleted. It gets a lot more scientific than that but hopefully I’ve convinced to always perform cardio after weight training. While prepping for my first show my cardio consisted of 95% stairmaster and 5% HIIT in the form of sprinting. For my second show my cardio was maybe 40% incline treadmill and 60% sprinting, both very effective. The amount of cardio you do is also tapered up as you progress through your weight loss regiment. For instance, the first 3-4 weeks you may have 3 days starismaster for 20min. Weeks 5-8 you may increase it to lets say 4 days 30 min. Then week 8-12 you may have 5-6 days 40 min with 2 of those days adding 10 minutes of sprinting. This will all be based on your weekly progress. After hitting a sticking point on your weight loss progression, you can either decrease calories or increase cardio…Or both!
Foods Of The Pros
Why some people will tell you that the type of food doesn’t matter as long as it fits within your set amount of daily calories, I can assure you they are WRONG. If you give 2 people 2000 calories a day and person A eats 1700 calories worth of Salad dressing and person B eats 1700 calories worth of chicken and rice, Person B will develop an overall better physique than Person A, not to mention overall health. Now I know that was a little extreme, but you get my point. Certain foods metabolize more efficient than others as well as build muscle and a host of other functions. So, below is a list of common foods eaten by fitness models/bodybuilders that have been proven to nourish the body why shedding body fat.
-Fish (Salmon, Cod, Tilapia)
-Lean beef (such as 93/7)
-Rice (Brown or White)
-Whole grain Bread (not whole wheat)
Now that you know what to eat, the question now is how much and when should you eat. Let’s say you’re starting out at 2000 calories a day. A typical macro (carbs, protein and fat) split is 40% Protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats. That would be a total of 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs and 40 grams of fats. I got these numbers by taking into account that 1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories and 1 gram of fat is equal to 10 calories ( its really 9 but I’m using 10 for simplicity). Therefore, 200 grams of Protein is equal to 800 calories (200g x 4 cal per gram = 800 cal). 200 grams of carbohydrate is equal to 800 calories and 40 grams of fat is equal to 400 calories (40g x 10 cal per gram = 400). Now that’s 800 calories of protein plus 800 calories of carbohydrate plus 400 calories is equal to 2000 calories total (800 + 800 + 400 = 2000). [See Sample Meal Plan for demonstration of macro calculation} That’s it, that’s how you calculate your daily caloric intake. It’s much easier in a spreadsheet, I’ll be sure to add an example of mine. Now depending your body and how you respond to certain foods, you might want to increase your fats and decrease your carbs, Or increase your protein and decrease your fats, it all varies, but this is a great starting point. Also, please do not cut out your fats thinking it will help accelerate fat loss, because it won’t. The first day you go without any fats you’ll start to get light headed, fatigued, headaches and decrease cognitive ability. Fats are essential for brain function! The healthy fats you’ll be eating and the fat on your body are not necessarily the same. Excess fat intake can cause you to gain “fat” on your body but so can excess carbohydrate and protein.
Sample Meal Plan w/ Macro Calculation
Above is an example of a spreadsheet I’ve used for myself and my clients to create a customized meal plan. As you can see the above macro split is roughly 50%/30%/20% . That’s 50% of total daily calories, which is 1721 in this example, consists of Protein. 30% consists of carbs and 20% is fats. There are also 2 high carbs days in this meal plan. These high carb days are CONTROLLED and extends the “life” of your metabolic rate by preventing it from slowing down as quickly as it would without these days. The body is forever adapting and ensuring its own survival. So if you reduce your calories to 1000 a day, your metabolism will eventually slow down and adapt to functioning on the 1000 calories. If not, you will continue to lose weigh forever and ever and wither away into oblivion, and we don’t want that. So, the body metabolism is constantly adapting to what its being fed, which is why most diets fail, they don’t adapt with the body. Now you may want to start off at a higher caloric intake depending on your metabolic rate. They’re multiple sites and formulas to calculate this number. So lets say you are doing weigh ins every Monday morning and you are losing roughly 2lbs a week on this plan while doing 3 days of cardio for 30 minutes (read cardio post for types of cardio). On the 5th week, the scale doesn’t move and you believe you’ve plateau. [Now to be sure you’ve actually hit a sticking point because the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story, you can wait another week to weigh yourself or perform visual checks w/ pictures or measurements. ] So when you eventually hit a sticking point, because it will happen, you would then reduce your total calories to lets say 1500 a day and increase cardio to 4 days a week 40 minute sessions. And so on and so forth. I may have anywhere from 3-5 of these meal plan for a client, each one containing fewer calories than the previous one. Now you can only reduce your calories so much before it gets to an unhealthy level. When you start to approach this, just steadily increase your cardio as you see fit. After you’ve blasted away your body fat and reached your ideal body, I wouldn’t recommend you start back eating how you were before. Nor would I recommend your calories stay super low to maintain your figure. What I would recommend is that you “reverse diet” to build your metabolism and allow you to consume more calories without gaining an additional weight. I’ll provide a post on reverse dieting in detail to further explain.
My Ah-ha Moment!
I get asked all the time about how to get lose weight, get a six pack, lean out, etc. These are the same questions I had for years! No matter how often I hit the gym or did cardio, I was never able to attain the physique of the guys on the cover of magazines or in the movies. Until one day while scrolling on facebook, I saw a guy I kinda-sorta knew back in college post pictures from a “bodybuilding” competition he was in and he was SHREDDED! Not super bulky like Ronnie Coleman or any of those HUGE guys you see on tv, but a sleak, magazine cover shredded. So I decided to send him a message to ask how’d he do it. He then proceeded to tell me he hired a coach. Now this wasn’t just any coach, it was a guy who competed back in the day and now he coached folks to do the same. So I got his information from my kinda-sorta friend and reached out. After an agreed upon date, I drove an hour to go meet up with him at his office. After waiting about 40 minutes at his office I figured he forgot about the meeting and I left. It appears that I WAS STOOD UP! First time ever actually. Not a good feeling.
So a few weeks pass by and I’m at a bar with some friends. The bartenders are wearing pretty reveling outfits (for tips I’m sure) so needless to say, there’s a lot of skin showing. I noticed this one bartender that was STACKED! She looked as if she belonged on the cover of health and fitness. You can tell this girl worked out! So I proceed to compliment her and ask the typical meathead questions such as “what gym do you go to? smh. So as we’re talking, I tell her about how I actually reached out to a fitness coach about a show (Not a personal trainer) but was stood up. She then proceeds to tell me about HER coach and how great he is and I should reach out to him. So of course, I take her up on that!
So I give this guy a call, lets call him Brian, and tell him how I’m interested in doing a fitness competition. He asks me a few questions such as height, weight, how often I work out and that’s about it. The next day, he lets me know how much It’ll cost for a 3 month Meal Plan. I Venmo him the amount required and over the next few months, my body had a complete transformation. Not to mention I gained more knowledge on nutrition and how the body reponds than most will in their lifetime! I went on to lose 30 lbs over the next 3 months! Most of it was fat mind you. I couldn’t believe it! I had a 6 pack, pecs, triceps, I was SHREDDED!
I soon came to find out that “bodybuilders” and people that participate in fitness competitions are some of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to nutrition and body composition and WEIGHT LOSS. Now I know this sounds quite obvious, but most people still try fad diets to try and lose weight such as Akins, weight watchers, keto, paleo, you name it! As opposed to trying a traditional “bodybuilder” meal plan. Now I am not saying you can’t lose weight on these diets, you can. But many people don’t and they are plenty of factors as to why that is (we can discuss that later). Now, I know some of you are oblivious as to what these “fitness coaches” actually do. Well, let me tell you! It’s simple really, they create a meal plan specific for you! Ensuring you are consuming the correct portions of macros (protein, carbs, fats). All you have to do is eat what they tell you, hit the gym and check in weekly, THAT’S IT! Your coach will adjust your plan as necessary to ensure you continue to lose body fat because you will plateau eventually. That’s why constant monitoring is necessary. After going through my first prep and doing my first show and meeting dozens of bodybuilders, I realized that everyone was pretty much on a similar regiment! I couldn’t believe it! I remember being backstage with dozens of competitors looking as if they all belonged in a magazine thinking to myself “why would anyone do weight watchers when they can just hire a fitness coach?” Now when I say fitness coach, I mean someone who has experience prepping clients for “bodybuilding” competitions. Now I know plenty people wouldn’t even think of reaching out to a bodybuilder to help them lose weight, but they should!! It’s a proven system that’s been around for decades!!! People have been leaning out and losing fat at will using this method! “But I don’t want to be a “bodybuilder” or compete.” That’s perfectly fine, you don’t have to. The typical bodybuilder meal plan is designed to burn body fat as efficiently as possible. Now if you don’t want to have 5% bodyfat, you can stop dieting any time before then, it’s that simple.