So your bulking phase is over and you’re ready to declare war on fat and get lean. You’re one huge step closer to your ideal body, hooray!
However, burning fat can be a challenging endeavor, especially after a period in which you got to eat as much as you wanted.
It will take a lot of willpower to give up those tasty desserts!
Now you have to cut down the calories while producing the same amount of sweat in the gym – not that easy if you don’t have the right plan.
There are many things to think about: food choices, calorie count, exercise routine and supplementation, just to name a few.
But don’t worry, we won’t let you drown in the endless ocean of possibilities – instead of trying everything to see what works best for you, learn the 9 rules of getting lean to make sure you’re on the right track at all times!
The 9 basic rules to help you get lean
#1. Consume Less Calories
Here’s a no-brainer: in order to lose excess fat and get lean, you have to consume less calories than you’re used to – this will push the body to dig deeper in your fat reserves in the search for fuel.
No matter which diet you choose, this rule applies to them all and there are no shortcuts. Carefully plan the needed calorie restriction and stick to it.
A good way to start is by cutting down on excess carbs ( primarily ) and dietary fat.
Every little change that you make in your current diet, such as ditching sweetened drinks, fatty cuts of steak, whole eggs and butter, will eventually add up and allow you to burn more fat.
#2. Limit the Carbs
The thing about carbs is that they are great for powering muscle performance, but they also stimulate fat storage by promoting your levels of insulin.
And insulin is the hormone that tells your body to keep piling fat around your waist instead of utilizing it as a source of energy.
So reducing your consumption of carbs will lower the levels of insulin and support your fat loss goals.
#3. Choose Complex Instead of Simple
However, what we said above doesn’t mean that you should avoid carbs altogether – they’re still an important part of a healthy diet, even when it comes to getting leaner.
You simply need to replace fast-digesting carbs that cause insulin peaks with slow-digesting carbs, such as whole-grain products, potatoes, legumes, corn and pumpkin in all meals except the post-workout meal (that’s actually the only time when simple carbs are preferable since your muscle glycogen stores need immediate replenishing).
These foods release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, offering a steadier source of energy and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels under control.
Bonus tip: never eat carbs alone or before going to bed.
Instead, pair them with protein or green low-carb high-fiber veggies to ensure a slower nutrient breakdown and more stable insulin levels, and eat your last meal at least two hours before going to sleep to avoid fat storage.
#4. Increase Protein Intake
Increasing your protein intake will keep you feeling full while lowering your caloric intake, while protecting your gains at the same time.
Also, protein is especially useful for directly stimulating your metabolism and a faster metabolic rate is the first thing you’ll need in order to spark up greater fat loss.
As a bodybuilder you already know the importance of protein in your diet, but when you’re trying to burn a drastic amount of fat, your focus on protein should grow even bigger.
A general rule of thumb is to eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis, while limiting your intake of carbs.
Opt for lean meats, fish, egg whites and protein powder.
Also, your last meal before bedtime should only consist of protein – as we said before, eliminate all carbs from your dinner or late night snack and stick to protein shakes or low-fat dairy products.
#5. Add More Fiber
To furthermore slow the release of carbohydrates, include more high-fiber foods in your diet.
As you know, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t break down into glucose, and both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are beneficial for the organism in many ways.
Soluble fiber helps keep you feeling fuller longer and lowers blood cholesterol, while insoluble fiber promotes a healthy digestive function.
In addition, an adequate intake of fiber will cause a slow and steady stream of glucose in the blood stream, helping you avoid fat-storing insulin spikes.
What more can you ask for? Best quality high-fiber foods include broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, celery, spinach, beans and green leafy vegetables.
#6. Include High-Protein Post-Workout Meals
If you starve yourself after a strength workout, you’ll risk your recovery and prevent optimal growth.
Contrary to that, consuming 20-30 grams of protein within an hour after your workout will help you build lean, fat-burning muscle and support faster and better recovery.
More muscle equals more fat being burned up as fuel due to an increased metabolic rate and higher energy requirements, so that’s another great reason to enhance your muscle building efforts.
For best results, pair your post-workout fast-digesting carbs with 30 grams of protein powder right after you finish your training.
#7. Use Nitric Oxide Supplements
Nitric oxide is a compound that acts as a signaling molecule in the vascular system, dilating blood vessels and increasing nutrient and oxygen delivery to all muscle cells.
These benefits are crucial for athletic performance since they increase your endurance and strength.
There are a number of nitric oxide supplements on the market now, and their main ingredients are arginine and citrulline, which are amino acids that act as potent nitric oxide precursors.
Taking nitric oxide supplements before your training session will enhance your blood flow, support your pump, increase growth hormone levels and speed up your metabolism, but another great time to utilize the superpowers of nitric oxide is half an hour before you go to bed (a 5-10 gram dose will work great).
That way you’ll also stimulate the burning up of fat as fuel together with improving your results at the gym.
#8. Use Cardio Wisely
First of all, you should know that cardio training is most effective at promoting fat-burning hormonal activity when it’s done on an empty stomach.
Fasted cardio stimulates the release of norepinephrine, which allows for optimal fat-burning.
So the best way to avoid fat storage is to perform 45 minutes of cardio on an empty tank, preferably in the mornings before breakfast.
We encourage you to drink a cup of unsweetened coffee before starting the workout since caffeine will furthermore increase the fat-burning potential of cardio, and HIIT cardio is the no.1 enemy of body fat!
Needless to mention, the only road to shedding a significant amount of fat is by pairing cardio with growth-promoting resistance training, so don’t rely solely on your cardio sessions to do all the work.
#9. Avoid Оvertraining
Different goals demand different training styles. And regardless of your goals, effective training begins with choosing the right exercises and workout duration.
When fat loss is your priority, you should emphasize big compound movements that target major muscle groups and train until you’re decently fatigued, but not completely dead.
Overtraining has a reverse effect on your efforts by lowering your levels of anabolic hormones, slowing down your recovery and putting your lean muscle mass at risk – don’t forget, you need to maintain those muscles in order to keep your metabolism running high.
This doesn’t mean that your workout shouldn’t be as intense as possible, it simply means that you would benefit the most by limiting it to 60-70 minutes. More is not necessarily better.