The Fight To Be Shredded
In the early stages of dieting you have "excess" fat stores that the body willingly gives up to provide a source of energy. However, as weeks pass, less and less fat becomes available, making it hard to conjure the energy for an intense workout. And as if that wasn't enough, the terrible threat of muscle loss is growing by the day.
Here in the treacherous valleys of your hardest days of dieting, there's no easing up if you want to earn that six pack. So here are some tools to help push your fat burning and training as hard as humanly possible while fighting off the pitfalls that come with getting leaner than ever before.
Science Weighs In
Round 1 - A.M. Cardio Starts Strong
Although there are many theories surrounding the claim, basic physiological processes and a significant amount of research support the idea that
cardio is best done in the morning on an empty stomach.
When cardio is performed in the morning, your metabolism remains elevated for a period of time following the workout. Although you would undoubtedly burn calories during an evening session, you fail to take advantage of what is known as the "afterburn" effect because your metabolic rate drops dramatically as soon as you go to sleep.
What's more, following a restful night of sleep, your body's stores of glycogen are somewhat depleted, especially if you are on a reduced
carbohydrate diet and you've cut back on carbs late in the day. Doing cardio in this state causes your body to mobilize fat more readily.
In contrast, if you were to have a meal immediately before a workout, you have to burn that off first before tapping into stored body fat. This is due to the fact that eating causes a release of insulin.
Unfortunately, insulin interferes with the mobilization of stored fat. However, after periods of
sleep, less insulin is present, which is another reason why more body fat is burned when cardio is performed in the morning.
A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that a kilogram of fat is burned more rapidly when exercise is performed in a fasted state in the morning than when it's performed at a later point in the day.
Researchers measured respiratory gas exchange, caloric expenditure and carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism. They determined that the amount of fat burned when aerobic exercise was performed later in the day or during the fed state was only 67 percent of the total energy expenditure achieved when the same exercise was performed during the fasted state in the morning.1
Another study from The Journal of Applied Physiology also examined the effects of aerobic exercise on lipid oxidation in fed versus fasted states. Researchers had similar results, concluding that
endurance training at low relative exercise intensities enhances lipid oxidation in men after a 12-hour overnight fast.
Both studies support the very important fat-burning principle: performing cardio in the morning burns more body fat!
Round 2 - Diet Tips The Scales
Whether you're preparing for a bodybuilding or fitness contest, or just trying to get shredded, you can't overlook the critical importance of a sound
diet. Although you want to start cutting back on foods, you'll also want keep energy and focus high both in and out of the gym.
To do this, you want to maximize your macronutrient muscular energy stores for the amount of calories you're taking in - this is where it gets tricky.
Too many athletes make the fatal mistake of following a low-carbohydrate, high-protein regime for the full period of a diet. Not only will this cause your energy levels to come to a crashing halt and leave you less than focused, but will put you at serious risk of losing hard-earned muscle.
By rotating your carbohydrates, you'll avoid such lows while you carve out a massively shredded physique. For a sample carbohydrate cycling plan, see tip #6 in "Get Shredded With These 7 Diet Tips."
A Unanimous Decision
It's a two-round knockout! From gut-wrenching, early morning training sessions to intense dieting - this is what a serious athlete has to do to reach the awe-inspiring, shredded muscle mass that gets noticed everywhere. It's no easy fight, but the rewards are well worth it in the end.
With these three effective methods to help you through your getting-shredded battle, you're guaranteed to be hitting the stage or the beach in top condition.
Get Shredded With These 7 Diet Tips
Note: Response to diet will vary. All numbers recommended are a basic guide and should be adjusted to match personal needs.
- You must consume six to seven meals per day.
- Protein should be the foundation of your diet as the significance of protein to muscle during dieting cannot be overstated. A maximum of 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is recommended.
- Approximately one-sixth of your daily protein should be consumed during each meal.
- Be consistent - meet your protein requirements every day!
- Keep fat consumption relatively constant throughout your diet.
- Try cycling your carbohydrate intake to keep your energy levels high and preserve muscle. Spend 2 to 3 days on each carbohydrate range before switching.
- Low-carbohydrate days = 0.5 - 1.0 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Medium-carbohydrate days = 1.5 - 1.75 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- High-carbohydrate days = 2.5 - 3.5 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Carbohydrate consumption should taper off throughout the day. The last meal of the day should not contain any carbohydrates.
- Wilcox, et al. (1985). Med Sci Sports Exerc. 17(2).
- Bergman, B.C. & Brooks, G.A. (1999). J Appl Physiol. 86(2): 479-87.