In the last article I talked about five workout strategies to consistently gain strength throughout a fat loss phase. This is the protocol I use with myself and my clients to lean down to a low body fat with hard, dense and powerful muscle and a chiseled look. Now in this article I will be sharing five nutritional tips that will go hand in hand with the training to amp up your strength to godlike levels, but first, a couple kinobody transformations of people who have built strength while dropping fat.
The Following transformation’s were accomplished by utilizing the workouts, nutrition tactics and concepts from the Kinobody Warrior Shredding Program. In all three cases, body fat went down and strength went up.
Case Study #1 – Jason (4 months)
Case Study #2 – Zach (12 weeks)
Case Study #3 – Shannon (6 months)
How to Build Strength while Getting Lean Part Two – Nutrition Tips
1. Don’t use big calorie deficits
One of the biggest reasons why people adamantly oppose the idea that you can gain strength while cutting is because they only ever had experiences with very low calories when cutting. When you’re eating very, very, low calories then strength and muscle gain is rather futile. As a matter-o-fact, you’d be lucky to maintain the strength and muscle that you’ve built up to this point. This is because your body is in a chronic state of catabolism and the last thing your body wants to do is to direct effort into strength and muscle gain. It is during extreme calorie restriction that your bodies number one priority is survival and to stave off death. Consequently, energy levels drop, testosterone hits the floor and mental burnout ensues.
Not exactly optimal conditions for strength and muscle building, would you say? How low is too low? Shooting for anymore than 1.5 lbs of fat loss per week is going to exaggerate the negative effects of dieting. If you want smooth fat loss with weekly increases in performance then keep the deficit smaller and look for 1 lbs of fat loss per week by averaging 500 calories under maintenance each day. There is an exception, if you have a lot of fat to lose and are new to strength training then you can get away with much faster fat loss while building strength and muscle mass. In this case, feel free to take things a step further by using bigger calorie deficits in the range of 700-1200 calories under maintenance.
2. Consume Adequate Protein
It’s no surprise that protein plays a huge role in building muscle and recovering from workouts. However, few people realize is that when you’re dieting your protein needs go to up to handle training and maintain muscle mass. Therefore if you’re not hitting your protein numbers on a diet then you’re pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. There’s a lot of confusion as to how much protein is optimal while undergoing a calorie deficit in strength training individuals. A recent study has shown, protein needs for energy-restricted resistance-trained athletes are likely 2.3-3.1g/kg of lean body mass scaled upwards with severity of caloric restriction and leanness.
If you’re eating at a reasonable 20-25% calorie deficit then I would suggest eating around 2.5-2.6g of protein per kg of total bodyweight. In the study shown, this was the same exact protein intake of the group that maintained the most muscle mass. As an example, if you’re 180 lbs (82kg) then you’re looking at 205-215g of protein per day. This applies to people who are at a lean or healthy body fat at between 8-18%. If you’re very overweight then you will be overshooting your protein intake with this formula and in that case I’d recommend basing protein off your goal weight in pounds, within reason (no more than 20-30 lbs under your current weight). So if you’re 220 lbs and 20+% body fat then set your protein needs off of your goal weight – for example 200 lbs.
3. Keep the carbs up
If you’ve been holding a low carbohydrate diet for a while, you are not optimizing your strength potential. When carbs are chronically low, glycogen levels are depleted, cortisol levels are high and training performance suffers. When you bring carbs up to a moderate level, strength goes up through the roof! Your muscles are full and your energy levels are high. Working out is no longer a grind and training becomes much more enjoyable. I have coached a number of people who were keeping carbs under 100g per day and had them bring carbs up to 180-200g everyday and sure enough, their lifts sky rocked up. As far as fat loss is concerned, it’s about total calories not total carbs.
As long as you’re in a calorie deficit, you can consume ample amounts of carbs from potatoes, rice and fruits while getting leaner and stronger. Now understand that the point isn’t to go on a very high carb diet, this will work against you if it means cutting out fat. In actuality, the idea is to strike a balance and to eat in accordance to your needs by consuming moderate amounts of carbs without skimping on fat or protein. Here’s a fun anecdote from a client of mine who shared his experiences when I had him double his carb intake.
4. Eat Bigger Later in the Day
Eating more calories and carbs later in the day as opposed to earlier has been shown to improve the retention of lean body mass when eating a low calorie diet. In a study, weight loss was shown to be greater with large morning meals but the extra weight loss was from lean body mass, aka muscle. Overall, the group that ate a big dinner maintained more muscle and had a bigger drop in body fat percentage. Take a look for yourself – Large evening meals are associated with a greater retention of lean body mass. In a more recent study involving a six month trial, participants who consumed more calories with dinner lost more fat, noticed less hunger throughout the diet and saw superior hormonal changes than the group that ate more calories earlier in the day. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes in the late night eating group.
The best way to utilize this strategy would be to skip breakfast and drink water and black coffee in the morning (my absolute favorite is Fasting Fuel for reducing appetite). Set your first meal around lunchtime and consume a big dinner at night. As well, I recommend having a smaller late night meal sometime before going to bed. My favorite option for this smaller meal being cottage cheese and an apple or some scrambled egg whites with 1-3 whole eggs and some fruit. On workout days your training should take place either before lunch fasted or before your dinner. This will allow for a higher intake of calories following the workout, which will help with growth and recovery.
5. Plenty of Water
I have to admit something rather regrettable. It’s been eating away at me for sometime. I rarely, if ever, address the importance of hydration and water intake on this blog. You see, naturally I drink plenty of water each day without having to think about it. In any given day, I’ll drink upwards of 12 tall glasses of water without any conscious effort on my part. Unfortunately, this is something that very few people do and it could very well be sabotaging their fitness progress. You see, a slight decrease in hydration will negatively affect performance in the weight room. What’s more, dehydration slows the rate at which your muscles repair themselves, thereby slowing strength gains.
Do yourself a favor and drink plenty of water throughout the day and during training. Do your best to avoid letting yourself go thirsty, which is a sign that you’re already dehydrated and performance and recovery may suffer. Stay hydrated and stay strong! Here’s a link to a study showing how even a 1.5% drop in bodyweight from dehydration can lead to adverse effects on your bench press strength – effects of dehydration on bench press in resistance trained males.
If you haven’t already picked up the new kinobody warrior shredding program then you will definitely want to check it out! It’s largely based off the work I have done in the last two years working with hundreds of clients and getting them lean, strong and chiseled with a training and nutrition plan that’s enjoyable, lifestyle friendly and brutally effective. Up until now you’d have to become a client to get access to level of information. For the time being, you can learn the system for only 39 bucks. In case you were wondering, this is completely different than the original shredding program. This version is much more enjoyable to follow and will lead to an equal rate of fat loss and superior strength and muscle gains. As well, this program includes workout videos and in-depth sections on eating out and drinking alcohol while making progress.