Many natural bodybuilders and figure competitors fall under the powerful spell of specific types of dieting especially when it comes to losing body fat.
Some bodybuilders say the ketogenic diet (Gironda, Atkins, or South Beach) is the only way to lose fat. Some bodybuilders say that the low-fat diet is the only way to eliminate body fat. You even have bodybuilders who say that the most effective ways to lose fat are using the carnivore diet or even the vegan diet.
The truth of the matter is this: the fat loss diet you use or choose will not work without you being in an energy deficit and consuming the properly calculated macronutrients.
Many natural bodybuilders love popular fat loss diets because when they initially start them, they see fast results.
For example, if you are currently overeating and change over to a ketogenic diet, you will definitely lose weight fast during the first week. The average lifter then thinks the diet is responsible for their weight loss.
The reason that the diet worked was not because the diet is some magical way of eating. The reason that this ketogenic diet worked for you is because you eliminated all of the carbs. And when you removed the carbs, you removed a lot of calories.
This action automatically reduces your overall caloric input which leads to the weight loss. But when you do the drastic caloric drop at the beginning of your fat loss phase, you have nowhere to go when you eventually stagnate.
Losing body fat is a gradual process. If it took you 5 years to add 50lbs of bad weight to your frame, you cannot expect to instantly lose it.
You Can Do It All
You do not have to eliminate carbs or fats to get lean.
There are two things you must do to get rid of body fat and retain the large majority of your muscle mass when your goal is to get leaner. They are:
1) Lower Your Overall Caloric Intake
If you were on the ketogenic diet, but you were still eating in a caloric/energy surplus then guess what? You will not lose the body fat that you want to.
If you were on the low-fat diet, but you were still eating in a caloric/energy surplus then guess what? You will be gaining fat instead of losing it.
And if you were eating a vegan diet, but you were still eating in a caloric/energy surplus guess what? You will still be adding fat to your gut instead of dropping it like a bad habit.
You have to adhere to the rule of reducing your calories (reducing energy intake) enough so that you are in a slight caloric/energy deficit. The magic is not in the ketogenic, low fat, or vegan diet. The magic is in the number of total calories you eat.
And while being in a caloric/energy deficit is very important, this does not mean you can eat whatever you want to. You will absolutely lose weight while in a caloric/energy deficit. The weight loss will occur even if you were eating at the Golden Arches everyday like Morgan Spurlock. That is the power of the deficit.
But the caloric/energy deficit is not the Infinity Gauntlet. If the majority of what you eat is low quality, high carb/high fat/high sugar/low protein foods your body will not look or perform well. You will not be anywhere near optimal condition.
2) Get Your Macronutrients In Order
Some natural bodybuilders think that the caloric deficit is the end all be all in terms of losing body fat.
They cut calories hard and while they lose weight, they look flabby and sick at the end of the diet. This will always happen when your diet is high in carbs and fat and very low in protein.
Macronutrients are broken down into three categories. Carbohydrates, fats, and protein. This is how we identify the foods we eat.
Your calories definitely matter, but your macros matter too especially when it comes to retaining muscle mass and improving your performance. Using a hypothetical male natural bodybuilder who is consuming 2000 calories a day to lose body fat, here is how I would set up his diet.
Daily Caloric Consumption: 2000 Calories
Calculate protein requirement by taking 2000 x .35 = 700 calories
Then take 700 calories and divide it by 4 = 175 grams of protein
Calculate carbohydrates requirement by taking 2000 x .35 = 700 calories
Then take 700 calories and divide it by 4 = 175 grams of carbohydrates
Calculate fats requirement by taking 2000 x .30 = 600 calories
Then take 600 calories and divide it by 9= 67 grams of fat
His daily calorie intake would look like this:
Total Calories = 2000 calories
Total Carbohydrates = 175 grams
Total Protein = 175 grams
Total Fats = 67 grams
This is a basic breakdown of how I would set up a diet that puts our hypothetical natural bodybuilder in a caloric/energy deficit. The key is that the macronutrients are balanced so that he can develop the lean and athletic physique he desires.
- These are general numbers. I adjust the numbers based on the individual athlete or natural bodybuilder’s goals.
- 1 gram of protein and carbs are equivalent to 4 calories. 1 gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories.
- The formula for determining how many grams of carbs, protein, or fat that you need is: calories multiplied by the percentage / 4 or 9.
How much you eat and what you eat matters big time when you are on a specific fat loss diet.
If you eat whatever you want and as much as you want, you will get exactly what you deserve: a bad body. Success requires sacrifice.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer