Got your attention with that title, didn’t I? I bet. I’m coddling your desire for a quick solution at a one-stop shop, for the best aesthetic result.
Except that’s not how it works pudge boy. Ask anyone who's gotten sub 10% bodyfat (and isn’t a genetic freak) and you’ll quickly realize willpower and consistency were the keys to single digits.
Step 1 - Accept It.
“We’re better than you...and we know it!” -Dodgeball
Accept your body isn’t made to easily maintain extremely low body fat percentages. I know you’re drooling staring at Thor and The Rock, thinking you can obtain that size and leanness simultaneously but let me be the first to tell you that isn’t in the cards. Again, genetics, and….other substances, are what allow them to live that life.
Step 2 - Caloric Deficit
“Lunch has been canceled due to a lack of hustle. Deal with it” -Heavyweights
Bottom line is you need it. All these damn new diets touting “it's not about calories man you can lose weight and ignore calories!”
Maybe...to an extent...but sure as hell not to single digit extent.
Dieting isn’t easy. We’re talking 12-16+ weeks of slowly lowering and tracking food and cardio to not just lose fat, but preserve muscle. Don’t be the skinny fat person that just lowers calories blindly, and wonders why they have the body of that old person blow drying their genitals in the gym locker room. Losing weight doesn’t always mean body composition is improving. Make sure more muscle isn’t going with it.
Satiety - Choose foods (veggies, starchy tubers) that have high fiber content and low calories that can add volume especially when calories are low without breaking the caloric budget.
Muscle Preservation - Keeping protein at .82-1 gram per pound is all you need to make sure you’re feeding the muscles what they need.
Micronutrients - In theory, you could get shredded off of just following macros. But then you’re ignoring the health longevity aspect. Even if you didn’t give a shit about your long-term health you’re still doing yourself a disservice.Vitamins and minerals are essential for overall health and making sure your hormones are working correctly. Leptin, for instance, regulates hunger, and if you’re shoving pancakes down your throat you’re screwing with leptin because no nutrients are being shuttled properly. Not to mention the lack of fiber will mess your absorption and assimilation.
Cravings - You may not be able to ride this all the way to the end, but I’m a proponent of (only if needed) throwing just a TASTE of the less ideal foods into your caloric budget for sake of consistency. If 90% of your diet is on point (protein, fiber, micros all met), and you have room to allow for a craving then, by all means, include it. The bigger problem is certain crowds (IIFYM cough cough) aren’t on point and make cravings their entire focus.
Step 3 - Caloric Adjustment.
“I bet if it were a cheeseburger you’d stop it!” - Mighty Ducks
Depending on your starting point, some people will have a longer way to go than others. Your metabolism will adapt and slow down.
Slow and steady wins the race. Think of cardio and calories as tools in your tool shed. You only have so many adjustments of each (men shouldn’t go below 1800, women 1400 calories and cardio should not be hours each day) that you can make each week. A good general starting point is subtracting 500 calories (max) from maintenance. Shoot for losing 1-2lbs a week. Any more you not only risk losing muscle, but you will for SURE plateau super quick.
Try this - to avoid plateau’s, alternate 2 weeks of a caloric deficit followed by one week of maintenance. This will reset leptin and regulate your hormones while keeping progress and piece of mind steady.
Step 4 - Cardio Adjustment
“And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. So I just kept running.” - Forrest Gump
Cardio is the other tool. Again, the less you need to throw in, the better. I’ve had so many clients disregard my advice for starting off with 2-3 days a week of cardio or trying to hit a certain amount of steps thinking my advice was too “slow”. So they double and triple it. They do 7 days of cardio when they’re not with me. On top of that, they tell me they only ate 800 calories all week cause, ya know, why listen to the trainer you hired? Then a month later they’re complaining they can’t lose any weight anymore and binge eating out of depression, ending up fatter then they started. F**king Chuck Norris (name the movie).
What is your baseline? No cardio? Throw in 2-3 days maybe 25-30 minutes. 3000 steps? Shoot for 20-25% increase in movement. It’s about gradual adjustments people. Stop jumping the gun. It never works.
In the end, it comes down to consistency. What discipline do you have to stay on track week after week? The biggest problem people make is they severely underestimate how long they need to diet for to get into single digits and quit too early. Most people need minimum 12 weeks. Prepare for that! That means 12+ weeks of tracking and being fully aware of every single thing that enters your body. It means saying no to Friday night Beerfest with your bro’s at Douche Omega for once and focusing on your goals. It means holding yourself accountable and accepting responsibility when you slip up. But hey, you knew that already right?