For many of us, getting lean for summer is on the forefront of our minds. We want to look our physical best with impeccable muscle definition, chiseled facial features and six pack abs (without flexing). The Warrior Physique is the perfect body to rock all summer long; at the beach, pool and boardwalk. We also want to achieve this physique before summertime hits.
That way we can enjoy the summer in maintenance mode. Having to diet during the summer months with barbecue’s, pool parties and nights out on the town is not fun. So get ready to get your cut on and be beach ripped for summertime! In this guide I will teach you how to cut effortlessly while retaining muscle and building strength. Let’s get started!
STEP ONE – DETERMINING MAINTENANCE LEVEL CALORIES
The first step to designing an effective fat loss diet is to determine the amount of calories you require per day to maintain your weight. This is known as your energy expenditure and it varies wildly depending on your lean body mass and activity level (exercise and non exercise). To get an estimate of your energy expenditure you first need to calculate your basal metabolic rate.
This is the amount of calories you require to sustain yourself if you were bedridden all day. I like to use the Katch Mc-Ardle formula. However, this will require you to know your lean body mass (total weight subtracted by body fat). A good calculator to get a rough estimate for body fat percentage can be found using an online Body Fat Calculator.
Once you know your body fat percentage you will need to multiply that number by your total body weight. That will tell you how much fat you have. So if you’re 15% body fat and 150 lbs then you would multiply 150 lbs by 0.15. This would give you 22.5 lbs of fat. You will then need to subtract this number from total body weight to determine lean body mass.
Lastly you will need to convert this figure to kg by dividing it by 2.2. For example: 150 – 22.5 = 127.5 lbs. Divided by 2.2 = 58kg of Lean Body Mass. Enter your lean body mass into the formula below to calculate your BMR.
BMR (men and women) = 370 + (21.6 X lean mass in kg)
USE AN ACTIVITY MULTIPLIER
The next step will be to multiply your BMR by an activity multiplier to calculate your total energy expenditure.
Lightly active = BMR x 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk)
Moderately active = BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
Very active = BMR x 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
If you’re going to be following this beach ripped program, you will be lifting weights 3x per weekand performing cardio 3x per week. I would go with the moderate activity multiplier to be safe, especially if you are mostly sedentary for the rest of your day.
If you are active outside of the workouts, physical job or involved in sports, then you will probably want to use the very active multiplier. Lastly, if you hate cardio and are just going to be lifting weights 3x per week then use the lightly active multiplier.
STEP TWO – SET THE CALORIC DEFICIT
By now you should have a rough estimate of your daily energy expenditure. Now we need to set the caloric deficit so that you can start losing fat. On this program I recommend using a moderate calorie deficit of about 20-25% below maintenance. If you’re a man and 15% body fat or less (22% for women), go with 20%.
If you’re over 15% body fat then you can use a 25% deficit. For most of you, this will mean eating about 500-750 calories under maintenance. Enough to lose 1-1.5 lbs of fat per week. Trying to lose fat faster than this is usually a miserable experience. Hunger is overburdening, strength and workout performance drops, sex drive is diminished…. It’s just not worth it.
To determine calorie intake multiply your energy expenditure by 0.8 (20% deficit) or 0.75 (25% deficit). So if you are 15% body fat and your energy expenditure is 2800 calories then you would multiply 2800 by 0.8. This would have you eating 2240 calories per day, a 560 calorie deficit. Now obviously this number is not going to be 100% exact.
It will likely need some real world adjusting down the road. If you are losing less than 1 lbs per week you should decrease calories by about 10%. If you are losing 2 or more lbs per week then you can increase calories by 10%. Eventually you should be able to find the caloric intake that allows you to lose 1-1.5 lbs of fat per week.
STEP THREE – SETTING THE MACRONUTRIENTS
If you’re looking at achieving the best results possible, then it’s not enough to just eat at a caloric deficit. You must also get the macronutrients right! Going too low in any one macronutrient can be an absolute disaster.
The first macronutrient to set is your protein intake. Protein plays the most important role when dieting because it will help with muscle retention on a diet. Furthermore a diet high in protein helps keep you full. Protein should be set at 1 gram per pound of goal body weight. This is slightly more than necessary but better to air on the safe side. So if you are 190 lbs and you want to cut to 175 lbs then you would eat 175 of protein per day.
I then recommend setting fat intake at 25% of total calories. There are reasons for this intake. Fat is the most caloric dense nutrient. High fat diets result in a big reduction in food volume. Just think about it, a spoonful of oil is 120 calories. As well, a handful of almonds is easily 200-300 calories. On top of that, fat cannot be used to replenish glycogen stores that become depleted from training.
When glycogen stores are chronically depleted the risk of muscle loss becomes exceedingly higher. Lastly, a high fat diet does not support muscle growth. Yes, it’s true, a very low fat diet suppresses testosterone. However, only a moderate intake of fat is required to stimulate anabolic hormone release.
To calculate fat intake multiply your calorie intake by 0.25. Divide that number by 9 to get grams of fat per day. Round it to the nearest multiple of 5. So if your fat intake is at 63g then you would round it to 65g. Or if your fat intake was 68g you would round it to 70g.
Last but not least we have our carbs. Carbs will be the dominating macronutrient on this diet, making up roughly 40-50% of total calories. This is critical for multiple reasons: A higher carb intake will support recovery and high intensity muscular work (lifting weights and cardio). High carbs will support the testosterone to cortisol ratio in active individuals, leading to better hormonal profile. High carbs will keep you satisfied and promote relaxation and better quality of sleep.
This is because carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin in the brain. When carbs are chronically low, serotonin drops negatively affecting mood and quality of sleep. Furthermore, carbs will support leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. In the long run, low carb diets lead to a lower powered metabolism and ravenous appetite. Finally, carbs will support the maintenance and growth of muscle tissue. Carbs release insulin which plays a critical role in driving amino acids into the muscle cells where they can be used for muscle growth.
To calculate carbs you will need to multiply grams of protein by 4 and grams of fat by 9. Add these two numbers together. Next, subtract this number from total calories. Take that number and divide it by 4 to get grams of carbs per day. Now you should have your protein intake, fat intake and carb intake set. Now it’s just a matter of hitting those numbers with mostly natural foods and the occasional ‘whatever else you want’.
For those of you who are a little bit lost, I apologize. There is a lot of math involved and it can be confusing initially. Let me give you an example to make this simpler.
Let’s say that your calorie intake when dieting is 2200 calories and your goal bodyweight is 160 lbs. This would mean that protein intake would be 160g per day. Fat intake would be 60g per day (2200 x 0.25 = 550, 550 divided by 9 = 61g). Protein calories (160 x 4) + fat calories (60 x 9) = 1180. Total calories subtracted by fat and protein calories = 2200 – 1180 = 1020 (carb calories). Carb calories divided by 4 = grams of carb per day. 1020 divided by 4 = 255g of carbs per day.
Therefore, in this example, you would be consuming 160g of protein, 60g of fat and 255g of carbs per day. For those of you who are freaking out about the amount of carbs, relax! If you’re in a caloric deficit you will burn fat.
STEP FOUR – DETERMINE MEAL FREQUENCY
Now that you have determined your daily macros, you will need to set up your meal schedule. Personally, I have had the greatest success with 2-3 meals per day in a 6-10 hour window. This is known asintermittent fasting. You will skip breakfast (black coffee and tea only), fast until lunch or later and eat your 2-3 meals within a designated 6-10 hour window.
I particularly like Fasting Fuel coffee during the fast, and have it almost every day.
The benefits of intermittent fasting are enormous. As well, it allows you to maintain a little hedonism in your life while cutting. Meals can range in size from 800-1500 calories and thus, cutting will feel like heaven. I have worked with numerous clients who have fallen in love with intermittent fasting and will never go back. It takes some adapting, but eventually the fast becomes enjoyable and the big meals are treasured.
3 MEAL PER DAY INTERMITTENT FAST
For the 3 meal per day option you will fast 4-6 hours after waking and consume 3 meals within a 8-10 hour window.
- Wake up – 7am
- Meal 1 – 12pm
- Meal 2 – 4:30pm
- Meal 3 – 8pm
2 MEAL PER DAY INTERMITTENT FAST
For the 2 meal per day option you will fast 6-8 hours after waking and consume 2 meals within a 6-8 hour window.
- Wake up – 9am
- Meal 1 – 4:30pm
- Meal 2 – 10:00pm
Don’t become obsessive over your feast and fast window. What’s most important is hitting your macros. Don’t sweat it if you break your fast early or extend your feast too late (can’t get home for a meal in time). Don’t let your fast/feast window control you. It’s there to make dieting easier and more enjoyable. I often break my feast late because I am out and can’t get a meal in time. The macros are what matter, stick to the macros and you’ll drop fat like it’s no ones business.
STEP FIVE – DETERMINE FOOD DISTRIBUTION
The last topic I want to look at is food distribution. For many of you, I am going to encourage you to place most of your calories and carbs around dinner time. Having most of your carbs at dinner (instead of spread throughout the day) has been shown to lead to better fat loss, improved health markers, greater satiety and a smaller drop in leptin (hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism). Here’s the study – Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner.
This probably goes directly against what you’ve been led to believe. If you’ve done much nutritional reading you’ve probably been told that you should eat most of your carbs earlier in the day and reduce carbs at night. The reasoning behind this set up is completely flawed. The idea is that carbs are to fuel activity and since activity and metabolism slows down at night, eating carbs would lead to fat gain.
If you’ve been reading my articles for any length of time you are probably already calling BS! The problem with this belief is that it is completely irrelevant. If you’re in a caloric deficit your body will burn fat, period! Eating most of your carbs at night just means that fat oxidation will be higher during the day and lower at night.