Fat loss is a process that occurs when many steps are taken and executed consistently. It takes time. And the leaner you get, the slower the process goes.
Understand and practice the first steps – what to eat and how much to eat (PART 1), which alongside proper training will take you a long way – and then stick to it. This is where meal frequency and timing can play an important role – making a plan practical and sustainable:
6) STRUCTURE EVERYTHING IN A WAY THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Although how often you eat is not as important as eating the right foods and the right amount of food when it comes to fat loss, the best fat loss diet by far is the one that allows you to most consistently stick to the plan.
All the above is useless if you give in and eat a pastry every morning, or give up entirely after a month. Structuring a diet properly can make being ‘disciplined’ much easier.
There are a lot of different approaches on when and how often to eat; the standard three meals a day, the classic fitness prescription of five to six meals a day, intermittent fasting etc. People have had success with all of them. And, they are all supported in the scientific literature.
Take from that; there is no definitive solution. Experiment. Find a structure that fits in with your life and does the best job of controlling your hunger, your energy, and your cravings. Then stick to it.
Up next on the road to advanced leanness; fine-tuning the diet to keep the fat coming off. The next step adds a level of complication that’s not often necessary until you are a good way along your fat loss journey. So, if you’ve been consistently eating well, training hard, you’re already pretty lean and progress has begun to stall:
7) CYCLE YOUR CALORIES AND CARBOHYDRATES
At this stage, unless you’re training for the olympics or are genetically gifted, you likely can’t eat tons of calories and carbohydrates all day everyday and lose fat. Remember, total calories count. If you want to lose fat, unless you’ve figured out a way to circumvent the laws of physics, you need to be in an energy deficit. Calorie and carbohydrate cycling is one way to reduce your overall energy intake.
Calorie and carbohydrate cycling is simply eating fewer calories and carbohydrates on days when you’re not training, and more on days when you are training. It can get more complicated than that, but that’s a good place to start.
Note: ‘fewer carbohydrates’, and not ‘no carbohydrates’.
Carbohydrates are important. They are the body’s preferred source of energy during high intensity activity, so they will help you perform optimally and recover from training (and not act like a grouchy turd the rest of the time), which is key if you want to get seriously lean. However, at rest and during low intensity activities carbohydrates aren’t quite as vital; the body predominantly burns fatty acids, which it will get either from dietary fat, or if you’re in an energy deficit – body fat stores.
So when it comes to cutting further calories from the diet, the place to start is with carbohydrates far removed from workouts. Keep protein and fat intake constant and eat fewer carbohydrates on days when you’re not training.
Again, by how much will depend (as you will be aware from previous steps) on the amount of activity you’re doing, your current body fat level and how your body is reacting to what you are eating.
There’s plenty more to talk about, but your basics are covered here. As I said at the start; getting lean is mostly down to diet. Mostly. It’s hard work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is to start at the beginning and take one step at a time.
HOW TO GET LEAN (IN THIRTY THREE WORDS)
Make better food choices.
Eat fewer calories than you burn.
Train properly and consistently. Now you can eat more starchy carbohydrates.
Eat the right balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Keep doing it.