The summer heat is a big reason for you to pump up, strip down, and show it off! Most bodybuilders know how to bulk up by eating more chicken, beef and fish as well as enhancing with a variety of supplements, some legal, some not so much. But if you look and feel too thick you may not be showing off your hard work to its true advantage. Chiseling down to look leaner and more cut for a contest, photo shoot or just a new bathing suit takes a little more time and preparation (Photo by Savvas Stavrinos).
Simply cutting calories or worse yet, starving your self, won’t work. Such a strategy will cause you to lose a few pounds of fat, but mostly you’ll sacrifice lean muscle. This will only cause your metabolism to spiral down the toilet. Your body needs good quality, low glycemic index carbs for energy. Your muscles crave lean quality protein to recover and grow after monster workouts. In addition, a certain amount of fat in your diet is necessary to produce and benefit from vital hormones.
When dieting, never miss meals! Instead, try eating 4-6 smaller meals every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Your metabolism increases every time you eat, and a faster metabolism burns more fat and builds more muscle. If you skip meals and end up in a state of chronic hunger, your body will decline into a catabolic state, and you’ll lose lean muscle. Starving your body also causes it to store fat more easily. Especially critical is your first meal: a national survey of several thousand people who had dropped an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for at least a year found that 78% ate breakfast every day.
Your last meal is also crucial to your metabolism. In general, consume most of your much needed carbohydrates after 4 or 5 in the evening. Your final feeding should be low in carbohydrates not only because you will be expending less energy, but also because eating a carb-rich meal late in the day can trigger an insulin response while you sleep. Over time, insulin tends to cause an increase in body fat storage. Never eat at night unless you train late in the day. Naturally, late evening grazing and snacking is a “no, no”!
When planning your meals always try to focus upon a 3-2-1 ratio of carbs, protein and unsaturated fat obtained from good, clean, healthy foods. Emphasize less refined foods and lower-glycemic, fiber- based carbohydrates. Oatmeal, beans and yams are “good carbs.” Beer, cookies and donuts are “bad carbs.”
While chiseling that beefy body, expect to lose no more than ½ lb.to 3 pounds of body weight per week. Losing too much too soon is a recipe for lower metabolism and the lower your metabolism, the less energy you will have and the more your body will cling to fat. Doing cardio-vascular training and increasing activity level is important, but don’t overdo heavy duty cardio. 3 to 4 times per week for 40 minutes should produce the lean muscular results you desire!