You’ve reached the point where it’s time to diet. Maybe you’re ready to get on stage, could be you just want to seriously rip up for the sake of looking like steel. Either way, dieting is a daunting task and in many cases can be very overwhelming.
When planning out your diet, there are many things to consider, but there are a few things that apply to all; how lean do you want to get; how much fat have you put on before dieting; and last but certainly not least, how mentally tough are you; can you hack it? Of course there is more, and it is this question that has caused so much confusion for so many; what type of diet is best? Which diet will help me lose the weight the fastest, prevent muscle loss and help me keep my sanity?
No matter how you choose to diet, there are two things that are certain with all. You must be in a calorie deficit, meaning you must eat fewer calories per day then your body needs for maintenance. Further, no matter how perfect your diet is, no matter what supplements you take, you will lose some muscle tissue; the idea is to shed the fat while keeping as much of this hard earned tissue as possible.
There are a million and one ways to diet. As the old saying goes “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” But for our purposes here, as there may be many ways, and there are many ways that do work, which ways work the best? Some will say that there is only one way that works, that their way is best and it is not open for discussion. In some instances this may be true; they may have found the perfect diet for themselves. From my experience I have learned that although there are many diets out there, two methods seem to stand above the rest. There are many variations of these methods but the principles are the same; adjustments are made according to the individual who is the one dieting.
When it comes to dieting, the most common methods are:
- Moderate Carb and Low to No Fat throughout.
- Carb Cycling and Low to No Fat throughout.
- Carb and Fat Cycling.
- Low Carb with structured High Carb Load, and Low to No Fat throughout.
- No Carb, Moderate-High Fat throughout.
- Very Low Carb, Moderate Fat throughout.
The above five methods, all five will produce weight loss, but from experience, not simply with myself but from those I have helped diet, the 3rd and 5th option have been proven to be best. Let’s briefly talk about what’s wrong with the others first. This is not to say there are not other ways to do things, rather these five are the most common.
Moderate Carb and Low to No Fat throughout. The biggest problem here is stagnation; the metabolism slowing down. Further, glycogen stores will remain very low, and there is no fat to pull from for energy and this is a problem. This diet is a sure fire way to lose more muscle tissue then you should have.
Carb Cycling and Low to No Fat throughout. While a much better choice than the previous, it still lacks efficiency. On a carb cycling plan, you have low, medium and high carb days. On your low days with this diet, it is easy to see how structurally flawed this method can be. Although what we eat the day before often has more effect on the present, when training hard on a diet, eating like this can lead to sever energy crashes, extreme blood sugar crashes and simply a feeling of lethargy that is easily avoidable.
Low Carb with structured High Carb Load, and Low to No Fat throughout. Very similar to the previous diet, however the difference here is usually on the high carb days, instead of simply high carb it becomes high cheat day. Dieters will gorge on carbs all day thinking this will aid in filling their glycogen stores back up and get them through the rest of their week. On paper this doesn’t sound too bad; especially since you would get to eat junky carbs all day long; who doesn’t like pancakes? And while a good cheat meal can rev up your metabolism when dieting, these carb gorging days can end up taking things way too far and do more damage, cause you to go past the threshold and end up needing to burn more excess calories then need be.
No Carb, High Fat throughout. Very effective for losing weight, and you may even be able to hold on to a large portion of your muscle tissue; but this does not make it a good thing and this method is certainly not best. This type of diet has been the rage all over the globe for quite some time thanks to Dr. Atkins. But its overlying problem remains in the extremely high fat foods and the types of fats ingested. It is a type of ketogenic diet and keto diets are by no means bad things, but there is a right way and a wrong way; or rather a good way and a best way. Fats have a place in a diet, but only the right ones and in the right amounts.
We are now left with two methods; Carb and Fat Cycling or Very Low Carb, Moderate Fat throughout. Both methods will get the job done; both methods will allow you to spare minimal muscle loss, and that is the idea. In both instances, cheat meals can be placed in the diet, however, more sparingly when on a carb and fat cycling diet. Let’s briefly overview how these diets work.
Carb and Fat Cycling. Just as in the other carb cycling diet listed above, here you have low, medium and high carb days. The difference and it is an important one, is that you now have added fat in your diet. On your low carb days, you will replace your removed carb calories with calories derived from fats. But they need to be healthy choices and good fats. Because fats carry a large number of calories per gram, you may need to adjust your protein intake on these days to a slightly lower number to ensure you’re still in a calorie deficit; design your diet to keep the protein the same on medium and high carb days. You may experience blood sugar drops on this diet, but if you plan it right this can be avoided. Make your low carb day after a high carb day and make sure you get those fats in there on your low carb days. For your low carb days, place them back-to-back, two per wk; this will really pump your metabolism into overdrive once carbs enter the system on the third day.
Low Carb, Moderate Fat throughout. This is a type of Keto diet, where the body relies on ketone bodies (fats) for energy rather than carbs. The hardest part of this diet is the first initial week; you may feel very weak the first few days and a bit groggy, but once your body makes the switch, you become a fat burning machine. As the diet says, it is “low carb” not “no carb” but for your purpose here, carbs will only come from indirect sources and green vegetables. For this diet, fats are the key ingredients, but it’s the types of fats that make this diet work. Healthy fats, lean cuts of meat fatty acids, etc. It is also important to have a re-feed meal or “cheat” meal on this diet but not sporadically and randomly; it should be planned out from the get go. The best part of this diet is the body’s ability to remain in a constant level energy field; no extreme highs and more importantly, no extreme lows.
With both diets, changes will need to be made throughout. On the carb/fat cycling plan, as the diet nears its end, fats may need to be lowered or even cut out to get that final last few pounds of fat off; but don’t do this to soon. The same can be said for the other diet, you may need to cut those fats out at a certain point; but again don’t do it too soon, and whatever you do, if you’re preparing for the stage, don’t wait too long to where all hope is lost.
Now you’re wondering how these diets work in detail. What are some sample meal plans, how do I need to space my meals, what amounts, what foods? For a complete detailed diet for either method, check out probodybuilding.com exclusive recommended dieting outlines for the perfect answers to all your questions. You’ll find detailed explanations and how to go about reaching your goal to a ripped hard physique.