60 DAYS ‘TILL SUMMER | ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN
We have 60 DAYS ‘TIll SUMMER and everyone wants to get ripped and peeled, but usually only a few ever make it. With the hot months on the horizon, everyone at the gym starts talking about their upcoming diet and how excited they are to get the ball rolling.
A common scene really, but it’s uncommon that someone’s efforts actually payoff the way they originally intended. Within a month most find themselves pretty frustrated. They are halfway done cutting at best, and feel like they are climbing a mountain. As a competitive bodybuilder and in the scene for a respectable amount of time, I get to hear my fair share of rants from individuals and it’s the same issues over and over. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome each time. In this article we will name a few of the most common traps that slow down, discourage, often leave cutting phases unfinished, and with results that leave so much more to be desired.
“What’s your body fat dude?”
“What’s my body fat at?”
“So what bodyfat should I get to?”
“This has got to go!!”
Be it if you are trying to compete in a bodybuilding show, gain attention from the opposite sex, or just look good for your upcoming vacation. Nobody is going to look at you, point and say “WOW! Check out his 5.62934% bodyfat!” Truth is you are either in shape or not, and aiming for bodyfat percentages is a waste of time, a distraction at best. When I start dieting for bodybuilding shows I will get that question quite a bit. “So what bodyfat are you going to cut down to?” Truth is I just keep losing weight until I have achieved the look I desire. While your goal might not be striated glutes, I am sure you have a look in mind. Bodyfat testing may be a great tool in gauging your progress but there are too many variables to account for when testing and is generally hit or miss, at least all the affordable ways are. Your bodyweight and your “Look” in the mirror should be your guide when dieting down. You are either ripped or not, and it’s that simple. Numbers are great and may sound impressive but they do not mean a thing if you are not in shape.
CONSTRUCTING THE PLAN
Fat loss and carbs just don’t go together in the eyes of most people looking to get into shape. Dieting is synonymous with low carb, and even no carb diets. While you will have to cut out some of your carbs when you start your mission towards getting lean, usually the amounts that are cut are too extreme. I will get asked often “so how man carbs should I take when dieting?” The answer is simple: as many as you can while still losing fat at the desired pace. Most individuals fall short here because they want to get in shape in a last minute effort with a vacation planned 30 days away or the summer approaching quickly and they realize they are completely out of shape. What ends up happening is that calories and carbohydrates are drastically cut and while it will initially work you will find your progress eventually coming to a screaming halt as your body becomes more efficient. Cardio needs to be increased dramatically to see continued progress and muscle ends up being lost.
*Carbohydrates are the one variable that varies from individual to individual.
Two individuals with similar training programs, ages, and weights will often require two different approaches nutritionally. Some people might need to diet on 100 grams of carbs, others might require double or triple that amount. One thing is for sure, most folks low ball their carbohydrate threshold and diet on too little food. When you diet on less carbs than you require you will see the following occur: You will come out flying at the start, and then it will drastically slow down, and from there you will likely have to apply more aggressive protocols. Either dropping food lower or adding ungodly amounts of cardio will be required. You will then plateau to where nothing seems to work and progress will simply stall. This is where most guys end up a few weeks into their diet plan.
- Low Glycemic Carbohydrates
Here is a preferred list of some of the foods that are “Low Glycemic”, and are recommended for sustained energy levels (slower absorption, lowered insulin response):
- Pasta (Boiled 5 min.)
- Rice (polished), or brown
- Sweet potato
- Most Vegetables ( exceptions- carrots, corn, root vegetables)
Low GI foods can benefit your health and athletic performance. Being that low GI foods are assimilated at a slower rate, they supply a steadier supply of energy. Lower GI foods alleviate hunger, leading to a more controlled appetite. Selecting lower GI carbohydrates will prevent mood swings. Lower GI foods can also result in higher muscle glycogen levels (storing more carbs in the muscle), and less chance of storing the extra glucose as fat. You see elevated insulin levels can turn on your fat storing mechanisms.
- Carbohydrate Timing
The timing of your carbohydrate intake is essential for success during a cutting diet. Since carbohydrates are the bodies main source of fuel, you will want to take them at times when you are going to be most active and most likely to use up the energy they provide. This means eating larger quantities before and immediately after your workout when your body is recovering.
Generally, eating the majority of your carbohydrates around this training, as well as in the morning hours is the best approach as when you eat them in the morning you are more likely to use them up throughout the rest of your day.
Later in the evening you will want to start tapering down your carb intake focusing more on the vegetable sources in an effort to reduce total number of grams.
The next element to consider is protein intake. While cutting, it is especially important to keep this up otherwise your body might start turning to it’s protein sources for energy which could result in a loss of muscle tissue.
- King of food protein is the humble egg. …
- Red Meat (lean cuts)
- Fish and seafood…..
- Protein Powders
- Chicken and turkey
- Protein Intake:
Men: 1.5 – 2 grams per lb of lean weight or target lean weight
Women: 1 gram per lb of lean weight or target lean weight
Abs & Cardio
I see it time and time again, the guy performing countless reps performing crunch after crunch, and never having abs. I’m not saying ab work shouldn’t be incorporated, it definitely should be part of your routine but it shouldn’t take an hour of your time at the gym. It’s a waste of time and that time can be used for other things to keep your body performing optimally. You cannot spot reduce fat and all crunches in the word are not going to do that for you. Truth is a little goes a long way since abs are involved in some of the bigger movements we do in the gym, and also what works best for other muscles works best for your ab development. Definition and true sculpting is going to come via fat loss, but like any other muscle in your body it can be very well developed, but if you are not lean enough it won’t show.
We have all heard this: “When you want to cut up you want to use lighter weights and more repetition to define the muscle”. That couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Offseason or during a dieting phase you always want to keep the weights as heavy as possible. Heavy weight cause the muscle to grow in the offseason and it also allows your muscle to stay full during a diet phase. Lighter weight will only cause your muscle to shrink down and it something we definitely do not want that.
I suggest to increase the volume and intensity of your training by reducing the rest periods, shorten your workouts periods, and even incorporate other techniques like supersetting body parts. There is no cookie cutter way. Train hard and train heavy!
You always want to have as balanced a diet as possible and never completely cut out one macronutrient. Yes, there may be periods where you may need to cut out carbs completely but I wouldn’t cut out carbs for the entire duration of your diet phase. Be creative and learn how to season food without the added sugars of dressings.
Your diet is only as good as your ability to adhere to it. Being creative and coming up with ways to flavor your food will allow you to stick to the plan and avoid pitfulls. We have all been there, your dieting for weeks and one day you lose control and cheat.. If your smart and have a slow and balance approach your need to cheat on your diet will be less of a temptation.
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