by James Cant, IFBB Pro
There are many aspects to getting in shape and looking your best, but one of the most important things I have found to remember is that achieving your goal physique will take time. Whether you want to lose 15 pounds of fat or stack on 10 pounds of muscle, it is all going to take consistent effort and perseverance in order to get your body to where you want it to be. However, there are many different ways to achieve this goal physique and I am here to help you. So who am I to recommend ways to gain muscle and lose fat?
For starters, I have trained in the gym for 7 years. The first 4 of those years were while I was playing competitive football here in Australia and the latter 3 being while I bulked up and lost body fat for bodybuilding competitions. In the last three years, I have gained around 25 pounds of lean muscle, trimmed down to 3.5% body fat, competed in 3 international bodybuilding shows (including the prestigious Arnold Classic), placed in the top 3 for all of them and earned my IFBB Men’s Physique Pro Card. It is from my experience and up to date scientific research that I will be drawing the majority of my recommendations to help you guys get bigger, leaner, healthier and stronger!
Reaching Your Goal Physique Part 1: Losing Fat
Losing fat is always the number one priority on anyone’s goals. Nothing is better than being lean and the best part about it is that it’s easy to do! To lose body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit. This means that you must be consuming fewer calories than what you are expending.
In my years of experience in the health industry, I’ve seen an influx of weight loss fads which are as effective as telling a university student to not leave their work until the last minute. These fads simply do not work. That’s right, your lemon detox diet, your fruit only diet and your ‘air only’ diet (yes, some people believe that eating air is a healthy way to lose weight) DO NOT WORK! Not only do they not work, they are also dangerous for your health and will lead to your body being unable to function in a healthy manner.
Let me give you a bit of background information on why this is so.
Food contains calories. Calories are the energy units which your body uses for fuel and every day function. If you have too much energy (too many calories) your body stores it as fat so it can later use this store of energy when it does not have energy ready to be used when you need it. How you lose weight or burn fat is by expending more energy than what you ingest.
Further, food contains vitamins, micronutrients and macronutrients. They assist you as follows:
- Vitamins A, B, C, D, E etc – all help the cells in your body to function
- Micronutrients include iron which is used in making blood cells, and zinc which aids in healthy testosterone production – (this is also critical for your ‘performance’ if you know what I mean)
- Macronutrients include carbohydrates (energy), proteins (muscle building) and fats (hormone production).
Each of these components are critical for cellular function and optimal efficiency within your body. If we do not eat these components, our bodies will deteriorate!
Fad diets, such as the lemon detox diet, deprive our bodies of what they need. By drinking only lemon each day, you will begin to lose muscle, be unable to concentrate and decrease your body’s metabolic rate – meaning that once you stop eating only lemon, all of the weight that you lose will be put back on! This is not an effective way of maintaining that slim body you’ve always wanted.
If you want to lose fat, try using the following 5 tips I have tried and tested for fat loss:
Eat carbs after dark (Carb Backloading)
If someone says “you shouldn’t eat carbs after dark”, slap them. Carb backloading involves eating your carbs at the end of the day before you go to bed and is one of the most effective methods of weight loss while maintaining the most muscle mass possible. During the day, insulin levels are lower which allows your body to utilize its fat stores for fuel and at night you eat a large amount of carbs which prevents muscle loss while you sleep.
Supplement Acetyl L-carnitine
L-carnitine is a potent transporter of fat and helps to utilise adipose tissue for energy. But not only does it help you lose weight by directly transporting fat, it also increases mental acuity and will help you to think better while restricting calories. This in turn will allow you to function better throughout the day, perform better in the gym and perform better at your job! Aim for between 5-10g of Acetyl L-Carnitine
Supplement CLA and Fish Oil
Both CLA and Fish oil have been proven to assist with fat loss. Furthermore they help to ensure that cells are more sensitive to insulin and as you all know, increased insulin sensitivity results in increased fat loss. Aim to consume 5-10g per day of these oils in conjunction with your Acetyl L-Carnitine
Know if you are intolerant to certain foods
A large proportion of the human population have gut sensitivities to gluten and lactose. Simply by minimising your intake of both of these you will begin to lose weight and retain more muscle if you are intolerant to them. Why?
Intolerances lead to inflammation throughout the body which leads to an increase in cellular stress which leads to fat storage. Simply by minimising your intake of these
Running for hours and hours every day will help you lose fat, but not as much as if you were to combine your cardio with weight lifting! Many poorly conducted studies claim that cardio is the best way to burn fat when in fact weights are a far more preferable method for fat loss. Weights boost your metabolic rate, have potential to increase energy expenditure post exercise and nothing is better than lifting heavy iron!!! Cardio on the other hand increases inflammation, (often) decreases insulin sensitivity, causes a loss of muscle mass and slows your metabolism. Have I convinced you to ditch the treadmill and get squatting?
I hope that this article assists you in your journey to your goal physique by helping you lose more fat in a faster and easier way. Stay tuned for my next article on how I build muscle and the methods I recommend.
James Cant is a pro bodybuilder and medical student from Sydney, Australia. He is an IFBB Men’s Physique Pro with several 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards in qualifiers and championships in Australia, including an Arnold Classic. He is also a contributor for Health and Fitness Talk, sharing his experiences and knowledge of competitive training. You can reach James with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.