In order to get those six pack abs to show you need to get rid of all that fat covering them up. The only way to lose fat is to consume less calories than your body requires. If you are in a state of calorie deficit, your body will break down fat and/or muscle in order to get the energy it needs to continue cutting. For some reason, people seem to think they can get rid of stomach fat by doing hundreds of crunches but the reality is, aside from the calories that you burn from the exercise, you won’t be doing much to get those abs to show.
When it comes to cutting calories, some people go way overboard and get themselves on a crash diet. That means going way under the daily requirements in order to speed up the process. What this actually does is encourage your body to burn muscle. This is how people end up with skinny-fat physiques: too little muscle mass. When cutting you want to burn fat while maintaining as much muscle as possible. That’s why a small deficit of up to 500 calories is ideal. It will reduce the likelihood of burning muscle while still encouraging steady fat loss.
For those looking to hit that calorie deficit there are two important components to consider: diet and cardio. In order to make sure your cut is a success you need to achieve the right balance between the two. That means not too much dieting and/or cardio. Next, we will break down how you can go about making sure you get both parts right.
1 – Planning Out Your Meals
When it comes to just how many calories you should be consuming it’s a bit of a guessing game. There are a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors that influence how much you can eat per day without gaining any weight. The easiest way to start is to go online and find a BMR (Basal metabolic rate) calculator. These will give you a baseline estimate of how many calories you can burn, based on your age, height, weight and activity level. Try consuming that many calories each day for 2 weeks and weigh yourself throughout. If your weight remains stable you know you have found your baseline rate. If your weight goes up, you are slightly overshooting your calories. If your weight drops you are consuming too little.
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Once you have determined your BMR you can start making adjustments to your diet. Aim for a 250-500 calorie deficit each day. This will put you on track to lose 0.5-1 pounds per week – a level that is considered to be safe by the bodybuilding community. Make sure you weigh yourself on a weekly basis to ensure you are losing at the same rate. While it might be tempting to try and speed things up by losing more than 1 pound per week, there is a good chance you will only be burning muscle at that point. Obviously this is going to leave you with a worse-looking physique which defeats the purpose of your entire cut.
The easiest way to make sure you hit your daily calorie target is to plan out your meals in advance. Create a worksheet in Excel or use one of those calorie-counting apps on your phone to create a meal plan that works out to the exact number of calories you are aiming for. Once you’ve done this all you need to do is follow the meal plan. While it won’t be accurate down to the exact calorie it will be close enough that your weight loss will average 0.5-1 pounds per week if you hit that target deficit. We also recommend preparing a lot of the meals on the weekend for the week ahead. That way all you need to do is pull out a tupperware container from your fridge and you will have a meal that has the exact calorie content you are looking for.
In terms of the actual macronutrient breakdown, make sure you are getting at least your weight in protein. This will help fill you up and boost your metabolism. Don’t shy away from dietary fats as these will help regulate hormone levels and help preserve muscle mass. The balance of calories should come from high quality complex carbohydrate sources.
2 – Should You Do Cardio?
Most people associate losing weight with spending hours upon hours running on a treadmill. As it turns out, excessive cardio can actually mess up your cut just as much as it can help it. Look at guys who do lots of long-distance running. Notice how while they are lean they also lack muscle mass? That’s because long-distance running encourages your body to break down muscle tissue as fuel. Sprinters, on the other hand, tend to carry far more muscle on their bodies.
When it comes to losing fat, you don’t actually need cardio at all. As long as you are consuming a calorie deficit you will continue to lose fat, it’s as simple as that. Cardio is simply a tool for achieving a calorie deficit. By doing cardio you can eat more calories and still be at a deficit. In terms of the cardio sessions, try to keep them under 45 minutes as anything above that will spike your cortisol levels and encourage your body to burn muscle.
If you are short on time or want the best bang for your buck, we recommend doing high intensity interval training (HIIT). These workouts involve doing short bursts of intense activity followed by short rest periods. Studies show that they are extremely effective at burning calories while maintaining muscle mass. The thing you need to be careful with, however, is not doing HIIT too often. It puts tremendous stress on your body so it should be limited to 3x per week. Also, make sure you do cardio on non-lifting days so that it doesn’t interfere with your muscle recovery.
3 – Take the Right Supplements
Even the pros struggle with losing those last few stubborn pounds of bodyfat. While food is plentiful in this day in age that definitely wasn’t the case hundreds of years ago. As a result, our bodies have developed certain mechanisms to cope with these difficult conditions. When you eat too much food, your body stores it as fat for times when food is scarce. As you start to cut into those fat sources your body panics and tries to think of ways to preserve it. Those last few pounds in particularly can be stubborn as your body is afraid it might be starving. As a result, your body will slow down its metabolism to stop the fat burning.
This is obviously very frustrating for people who are trying to lose fat. You can only cut calories so much before you start to feel hungry around the clock. That’s where a fat burning supplement can really make the difference. These supplements use natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to increase your metabolism while suppressing appetite. As a result, you will continue losing fat steadily until you achieve that coveted six pack. If you are struggling to lose those last few pounds of fat or you are just starting out and want the entire process to be smooth and steady we recommend taking a fat burning supplement. Click here to check out our dedicated fat burners page to learn more about the benefits.