The winter months are soon coming to an end and with that brings an opportunity to show the world what you’ve been working on. For months on end now you’ve been covered up, not really allowing anyone to see what you’ve been cultivating under the guard of your hoodie and sweat pants but soon, very soon, the sun will be shining bright with your muscles glistening in its presence.
To ensure this event actually happens and you’re ready for it, you’re going to have to rewind things a bit and bring it back to your current status; huge, full, round, and probably a little softer than you’d like. But as we all know, this is necessary for continued gains, and a full press on your dieting protocol is looming, and with that comes the decisions you have to make with regards to the strategies to get shredded that you’re considering.
My approach to dieting has always been completed through progressive stages and I think it’s the best approach for maintaining all of that new muscle you put on when you were heavier. This has worked for me quite well for many years now and I think it will work for you too.
Take a look at the stages below and start incorporating them into your own plan and I think you’ll be happy with the results.
Stage 1: Clean Up
The very first thing you need to do isn’t really all that drastic at all and it’s very simple in nature. If you’ve been allowing yourself a little cheat or a big cheat for that matter here and there throughout the week, simply cut that out and clean up the dirty foods you’ve been consuming.
If you’ve been using your condiments in excess and dumping ketchup over everything, back it off with that. A handful or bowl of chips a couple of times a week has to go. Having a little sweet treat after any of your meals has to go as well and any consumption of alcoholic beverages should be out the window.
In essence, you’re priming and preparing your body for all of the good nutritious foods that you will be consuming daily by allowing things to ‘clear out’ while putting together the actual diet you’ll be following.
Stage 2: Keep Calories High to Begin
One of the biggest mistakes people make when first beginning their new diet to lose body fat is a significant reduction in calories right of the start.
When you’re in full-blown offseason mode you’re consuming calories at an alarming rate and your body has become accustomed to all of that energy. If all of a sudden you cut your caloric intake by half or in some cases, even more, all you’ll be doing is signaling your body to go into a state in which it will hold onto calories rather than release energy. This is because what it was used to is now gone and your natural defense mode kicks in thinking that food is no longer available and it must preserve all of the energy it has to sustain function for as long as possible.
So rather than do that, keep your calories on the higher end of things but get those calories from cleaner sources. Once your body gets used to that, then you begin to adjust and lower calories slowly.
Stage 3: Don’t Assume You Need a Cheat Meal
Another huge mistake often made in the early stages of a dieting protocol is the thought that a weekly cheat meal is deserved. You’ll often hear people just wishing the week away so that they can get to that cheat meal and reward themselves for all of the hard work they put in over the last six days.
Well, sorry to say, but a weekly cheat meal is not a guarantee and you may not need one for a long, long time. In fact, if you start doing this right away, you are most likely delaying your progress because you’re not allowing your body to get accustomed to the food you are eating in your new diet and an influx of calories just throws things off for you altogether.
My advice is to go for as long as you possibly can without a cheat meal and only when you actually need one for further progress, have it but don’t go too overboard with it.
Stage 4: Gradually Decrease Calories and Gradually Lose Weight
To get into the best shape possible, eventually, you are going to have to decrease calories so that the equation of calories in versus calories out works in your favor. To do this you need to be paying attention to how your body is looking and what the weight on the scale is telling you. You should be aiming to lose about 2 pounds or so per week once you get past the initial weight loss that occurs at the beginning of the diet. You’ll no doubt lose anywhere from 5-8 pounds in the first week and sometimes even more.
After that, make sure that any time you decrease calories in the diet that it doesn’t take your bodyweight down too much which can mean that you’re losing muscle while losing body fat which is what you don’t want to happen.
Slow and steady is the name of the game and if you think that losing weight at this rate isn’t fast enough and you won’t be in shape in time, simply give yourself more time with your diet and try not to rush things.
Stage 5: Jack Up Your Fat Loss
Now, having said all of this, there are of course many ways to achieve shredded status, and how you go about getting there will be unique to you.
The progressive stages mentioned above should just be considered general rules to abide by because there are so many intricacies involved in the actual process itself. But, these will work especially if it’s the first time you’re embarking upon such a journey or if it’s been a long time since you last did so.
Simply start at stage one mentioned above and work your way through the rest. Just getting started is usually the hardest stage but once you do, don’t stop and work hard to get yourself into the best shape of your life!