Bodybuilding involves working to both gain muscle and lose fat, and it is incredibly difficult to do both of those things at the same time, especially when you get down to lower body fat percentages. If you are looking to get six pack abs, ripped thighs and defined bis and tris, then you will need to follow an aggressive diet program, combined with some smart eating.
The basics of dieting are the same, whatever your goals. If you want to lose weight then you need to eat at a calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time. If you want to gain muscle then you need to consume enough protein to support muscle growth and put your existing muscle under sufficient stress to encourage new muscle to grow. Gaining muscle is called “bulking”, losing fat is called “cutting” and trying to do both at the same time is called “recomping“.
While it is possible to recomp, most people achieve better results with a slow and steady bulk (where they will gain some fat as well as muscle) followed by a careful, gradual cut to reveal the muscle that they have gained.
A slow, gentle cut would usually involve eating around 250 calories per day fewer than your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). The diet would include as much protein as possible as well as healthy fats, to ensure that your muscles are still supported and you are getting enough of those essential fat soluble vitamins.
While you are on the fat loss diet it is important that you continue to exercise. As you get further along the cut you might start to struggle to hold on to all of the muscle that you have gained, because your body will be burning both fat stores and muscle for energy. You can fight against this effect somewhat if you continue to lift heavy weights, because your body will respond to the stimulus of the weight by preferentially retaining muscle and burning fat.
Try to avoid carbohydrates and sugars while on a fat loss diet for bodybuilding. The reason for this is not that carbs (and sugars in particular) are bad – far from it – calories are the only thing that matters, numerically, for fat loss. However, carbohydrates are digested very quickly, and they are very calorie dense. This means that if you eat a lot of them then you won’t have much left over for healthier foods in your diet, and this means that you are going to feel hungry all the time. In addition, you will experience spikes in your energy levels, followed by rapid dips, and these are not fun to go through. It makes much more sense to just try to eat healthy fats and filling protein, and take advantage of how satisfying those foods are.
During your cutting period you will want to avoid empty calories whenever possible. One good way to do this is to stop drinking soda, milk, beer, fruit juice and sweetened teas and coffees and instead start drinking water most of the time. If you like flavor, choose herbal teas or black coffee, perhaps sweetened with a bit of stevia. It does not make sense to drink calories when you are restricting the amount of calories you take in each day.
It is up to you whether you follow the traditional bodybuilding method of grazing throughout the day, eating several 200-300 calorie meals, or whether you practice the idea of intermittent fasting, limiting your calorie intake to specific times of day. Either way will work out the same in the end (nutrient timing has not been found to have a significant impact on body composition until you get down to the lowest body fat percentages) so the most important thing is to figure out what works for you – be that eating twice a day, or snacking when you are hungry.
The important thing is that you log the calories that you take in as accurately as possible so that you know exactly what you are getting, and how many calories you have to play with for each meal of the day. Plan ahead so you don’t go hungry…
For more advice about fat loss diet for bodybuilding you can also have a look at this video from YouTube…
We hope that it helps 🙂