When it comes to dieting, many bodybuilders are employing the typical approach of alternating between diets designed for gaining mass and diets designed for shedding the accumulated excess fat as quick as possible. Although this might be suitable in terms of competitive bodybuilding, it can be quite unnecessarily exhausting for the average bodybuilder.
Most people who aren’t interested in appearing on stage in the foreseeable future would be happier with combining the best of both of those worlds, or having a long-term dieting strategy that allows them to consistently grow and stay lean at the same time. And if you’re not sure how that would work, we know just the way to get you there.
The body types
To maximize your chances of sculpting the ideal physique, you have to know your body type and its most prominent advantages and faults, then craft a diet and exercise plan that targets them best. The most important criteria for differentiating the three basic body types are body composition and metabolic rate. That being said, most human bodies are a mix of more than one body type.
If you belong to the ectomorph category, your body is naturally lean and delicately built and gaining weight and muscle mass can be a difficult task for you. The ectomorph’s metabolism is super-fast and these folks can eat a lot without gaining any weight. In order to grow, they need to significantly increase their total calorie consumption, including all major nutrients such as healthy fats, high-quality protein and plenty carbs.
Mesomorphs are also naturally lean, but their build is athletic and muscular. For them, gaining muscle and losing fat are both almost effortless since their bodies responds quickly to exercise and their metabolism is very efficient. Although they have a “genetic gift” for bodybuilding, mesomorphs still need to be careful how many (and which kind of) calories they consume on a daily basis, especially in terms of sugary foods and drinks that can negatively influence their natural ability to burn fat.
People with this body type have a large, curvy and round physique and gain weight rather quickly, compared to the previous two types. They usually have higher levels of body fat and are often overweight, which is partly due to their sluggish metabolism, and their body fat ends up mostly in the lower parts of the body – abdominal area, butt and hips. Losing fat is difficult, as well as keeping it away. Endomorphs can benefit from boosting their metabolic rate by exercising regularly, restricting their calorie intake and replacing a large portion of their carbs intake with protein and an adequate amount of healthy fats.
Total energy expenditure
Now that you’ve recognized your body type, let’s see how the body burns calories.
The total energy expenditure, or TEE, is the amount of calories burned by the human body in one day, according to the type and amount of activity. TEE can be divided into two parts:
• Up to 60% of your daily energy expenditure are associated with the resting metabolic rate (RMR), or the calories you burn to keep your body functioning, including keeping your heart beating and other physiological processes.
• The other 40% of your daily energy expenditure are calories burned due to the thermic effect of consuming food (5-10%) and physical exercise.
This means that the biggest part of the calories burned in one day come from your resting metabolic rate, so one very efficient way to increase your total energy expenditure, apart from training, is to boost your metabolic rate. But first, you will have to calculate your current RMR.
The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation has been proven to be superior in terms of accuracy in comparison with other formulas and is now considered the standard when it comes to calculating your RMR. This is how to use it:
• Multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 4.54
• Multiply your height (in inches) by 2.54
• Multiply your age by 5
• If you’re a man, add the first two numbers and subtract the third one, then add 5; if you’re a woman, add the first two numbers, subtract the third, then subtract 161.
So, for example, if you’re a 5’ 7’’, 27-year-old female who weighs 150 lbs, the calculation would look like this:
• 150 x 4.54 = 681; 67 x 2.54 = 170; 27 x 5 = 135
• 681 + 170 – 135 – 161 = 555
Now that you’ve calculated your RMR, let’s see what you can do to increase it. Read the following advices to learn how to speed up the process of burning fat without sacrificing your muscle mass.
#1. Engage in HIIT cardio
HIIT cardio is a lot more effective for melting fat and will induce greater fat burning in the following 24 hours after you finish your workout, compared to its steady-state counterpart. Some people reap even bigger benefits from performing HIIT cardio on an empty stomach in the mornings, while others prefer to eat a high-protein meal beforehand. Either way, this type of workout is guaranteed to significantly elevate your metabolic rate and maintain it that way for longer.
#2. Increase meal frequency
If you decide to follow a rigorous diet and significantly decrease your daily calorie consumption, the rate at which your body is able to burn body fat will slow down. To prevent this from happening, make sure you consume enough calories to fuel your activity by eating many relatively smaller meals, spread as evenly as possible (every 2-3 hours) throughout the day. And as you may know, the optimal number of meals per day for a bodybuilder is 6-8. Eating frequently will enable a steady flow of nutrients that ensure proper functioning of the organism, enhance the metabolism and fuel your trainings.
#3. More protein
Here comes the no-brainer: if you want to add some lean muscle, consume more high-quality protein from foods like lean meats, whole eggs, fish and beans. Protein is a key nutrient for increasing muscle growth that also helps you feel full for a longer period of time, which makes it very helpful if you’re trying to slightly reduce your calorie intake. In addition to your daily high-protein meals, make sure to take in an adequate amount of protein as soon as you wake up in the form of a protein shake to fuel your muscles, prevent catabolism and enable a faster recovery.
#4. Fat is your friend
Eating healthy fats such as the ones found in oily fish, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, avocados and dairy products will bring great metabolic benefits and help you balance your hormonal activity. In addition, dietary fats will increase your satiety and cause less insulin production, resulting with faster fat loss. Of course, don’t overdo it – your fat consumption should fit with your daily calorie intake limitations.
#5. Carefully choose your carbs
Avoid processed, refined carbs as much as you can. For most of your meals, especially the pre-workout one, it’s best to aim for slow-digesting natural carbs such as rice, beans and yams that produce slow increases in blood glucose and insulin production, providing a steady supply of energy during your workout or any other type of activity.
That being said, the only adequate time to consume fast-digesting carbs is right after your workout, in order to replenish your muscle glycogen reserves and ensure fast recovery. Make sure to never skip a post-workout meal – consuming an adequate amount of fast-digesting carbs and proteins after you finish working out will make sure your body has all the required nutrients to repair the damaged muscle tissue, thus enabling optimal growth.