If you’re super-skinny and you want to pack on some muscles, the articles on this site can really help you gain weight and muscle in just a few months. But if you’ve read them already and incorporated the tips into your lifestyle, you may find that you may have gained some fat along with some muscles. So now you’ve encountered a fact of life, which is that knowing what to do to build lean muscle can be difficult if you aim to avoid taking on fat as well.
It can be annoying, knowing that you’ve gained muscle but they’re not well-defined lean muscle. They’re hidden alongside layers of fat and water, which make you look soft and pudgy instead of ripped and strong. This is the situation that calls for cutting in bodybuilding. And like everything else, you’re going to have to adjust your diet and your workout to find the best routine for cutting. You want to get rid of the fat while you keep the muscle you’ve gained.
So what should you do?
Reduced Calorie Intake
Since you’re aiming to cut down on your body fat, your first task is to cut down on your calorie intake. When you started your body building process, you probably added more calories to your diet, didn’t you? Now that has to stop. You’ll need to reduce your calorie intake by the same amount you added, which is probably about 500 calories per day. That’s the amount you added when you needed to gain a pound a week, so cutting that same amount should be a good start.
The precise number of calories you take in a day will depend a lot on your present circumstances. Bigger and heavier people need more calories a day, and of course you will have to take your workout into account. If you’re a male of average size, you’re probably going to need anywhere from 1700 to 2500 calories a day. If you’re heavy then your calorie intake will be closer to 2500 than to 1700 calories.
When you cut back on your calories, most of them should be in the form of carbohydrates and fats. You’ll still need carbs and fats, but you’ll just eat less. Make sure you get high-quality carbs and fats, and your carbs should be slower to absorb.
As for your protein, they should be maintained through this period. You just need enough protein to maintain the muscles you’ve already gained. The protein should be about a gram per pound of bodyweight, and comprise about 40% of your overall calorie intake.
So if you weigh 180 pounds, then that’s 180 grams of protein. A gram of protein is 4 calories just like carbs, and fat is 9 calories per gram. With 180 grams of protein, that’s 720 calories. If that’s 40% of your diet, then your daily calorie intake is 1875 calories a day.
A More Moderate Approach
Some experts, however, ask for a more get rid of the fat to cutting calories. If you’ve been consuming more than 3,000 calories a day in your bulking phase, then for cutting you may want to reduce your calorie intake to 13 to 17 calories per pound of body weight.
So if you weigh 180 pounds, 15 calories per pound of body weight leads to 2700 calories per day. In this approach, protein intake is about 1.2 to 1.6 grams per pound of body weight, and fat makes up 17 to 28 percent of the total calorie intake. The rest of the calories come from carbs.
You’re essentially going on a diet. To make it more doable, you need a diet plan that you can actually stick with for the duration. That may mean cutting your calorie intake by just 10% (or even by just 5%) instead of the more difficult 20% reduction. Don’t put all your favorite foods into your banned list. And take a break from your diet after a month, and return to normal eating for about a week before you return to your diet.
What to Eat
So what kind of foods should you incorporate into your diet during this phase? Here are some suggestions:
- Salmon. You still need protein to maintain your muscle mass, because if you don’t get enough protein your body may break down your muscles as well. Salmon is an excellent choice for protein during this period. It is low in saturated fats, and you also get high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 steadies your insulin levels (which affect your fat storage and your energy production), and fish is also good for your cardiovascular health.
- Turkey breast and skinless chicken breast. Both are excellent sources of protein for the same reason, which is that they offer protein with very little fat.
- White kidney beans. These contain These supplements which help reduce the absorption of carbs. These beans are also high in protein, low in fat, and full of numerous vitamins and minerals. They’re also slow for the body to absorb, so you feel fuller for a longer period of time after you’ve eaten them.
- Leafy green veggies. Try to include lots of cabbage, sprouts, spinach, and raw salad into your diet. They’re very filling so you don’t feel hungry, but at the same time they contain very little calories. They also contain lots of fiber that slow down how your body absorbs the other food in your meal. That means you don’t get hungry more quickly.
- Whole grain bread. In the cutting phase, you need to eat foods with less carbs. Whole grain bread fits the bill, as you get half the carbs you get from rice. This bread also contains more protein than rice, it’s full of nutrients, and you’re more likely to eat less. You just need about three slices of this bread for each meal to feel full, and that gives you 30 grams of carbs. In comparison, you need 1½ cup of rice to feel just as full, except that gives you 70 grams of carbs.
- Almonds. With this snack you get some protein and healthy fats, and even fiber too. It’s an eminently convenient snack food as it’s easy to take anywhere with you.
All these food items should be regularly incorporated into your diet so that you can get rid of your excess body fat while you retain your muscles. Just keep in mind, however, that variety is the real secret to any successful diet. Don’t eat the same things over and over again, or you’ll end up quitting on your diet eventually.
In the cutting phase, the best supplements to get ripped are the ones that do any of the following:
- Burn fat. They may do this by boosting the metabolism.
- Prevent fat storage. These supplements may slow down the absorption of carbs into the body, or divert the nutrients into becoming energy instead of being stored as fat.
- Suppress the appetite. The cutting phase means a reduction in calorie intake, and invariably that may mean you may get cravings that you need to deny. Appetite suppressants keep you from feeling hungry, so that you’re encouraged to stay on your diet.
Some of the other popular suppressants for building lean muscle are protein supplements, which help you retain your muscles. Others also give you more energy so you can work out more effectively.
You may also want to think about taking vitamin supplements, especially when your restrictive diet keeps you from eating too much. These supplements can help you get your recommended daily allowance for vitamins and minerals.
The diet plan is the most important part of any cutting phase, but that doesn’t give you leave to abandon working out altogether. You should still do some strength training, but to burn fat some form of cardio may be in order.
The frequency of your cardio depends on you as an individual, because everyone’s different. Some do cardio exercises every other day, but others do it every day and some others have found it enough to do cardio every third day. But you should just keep it to about 30 minutes of cardio per session.
So what kind of cardio training should you do? Some experts recommend interval training, in which you sprint for a while before switching to light jogging. Or you can just choose to run or ride a bike instead. What’s important is that you find it engaging, so you don’t quit doing your cardio too soon. It’s also important that you change your cardio routine after a while, so the body doesn’t adapt to your cardio workout.
For your weight lifting, the main difference is that you should reduce the weight you lift just a little bit. For each set, aim for about 10 to 12 reps. The point in this phase is to maintain your muscles you already have.
It would be nice if you can just gain muscle without gaining any fat as an accompaniment, but knowing what to do to build lean muscle without fat is one of the most difficult things to achieve in fitness training. So you just have to accept that you will gain some fat along with your muscles, and concentrate on losing that fat while you retain the muscles you’ve already got.