Hello everyone! My name is Peter (@riseandclaim) and I am the owner of RisandClaim.com. I write about male self-improvement to becoming the best you. I am recently new to the scene but expect bigger things coming soon.
Growing up I was always fat, that just seemed to be my ‘natural’ body composition. I thought this was the way it would always be. I always wanted more though. Seeing ripped bodybuilders on YouTube motivated me to want to get in shape. Observing close family members like my brother (follow his instagram here), who is in incredible shape, proved to me it wasn’t merely genetic as well.
I therefore had no excuse, I just needed the right environment. Taking time away from the gym due to a vacation proved to be the catalyst that I needed to finally lose the fat which I always had.
My hard work and effort was being sold short. I was never confident enough to take my shirt off and when I did, no one could see the true amount of muscle I had underneath. Putting on muscle for me was the easy part but without losing the BF it was no good.
I decided I needed to start tracking my calories. As I have a big appetite I tend to over eat. Ever since tracking my calories I never doubt myself as to how much I’m actually eating.
If you think you can get away without tracking calories then go for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not weighing out every single grain of rice I eat. But, having a good idea of what I am eating has gotten me to where I am – in the best shape of my life. I generally eat the same foods to keep the number of ‘surprises’ in my diet to a minimum and to help keep me consistent when it comes to calorie counting.
Anyone can lose weight
Sure, for some it is more difficult than others (me included) but it is definitely possible. I have always had a big appetite growing up and while that is great for putting on size and strength, it put me at a disadvantage when it came to getting lean and mean. Therefore, I had to employ tactics that others didn’t have to.
To lose fat properly, I knew I would have to give myself plenty of time for the process to happen. Time is key. You must trust the process my child.
In the past I have lost weight too fast only to hit a plateau. This would cause me to be discouraged by having very little energy or motivation to continue as my strength levels had dropped so drastically. I would end up returning to my old ways and putting all the weight back on.
People are always waiting for the perfect time and place to get lean but what I have learned is that there is no perfect time or place. Everyone’s goals are different but you don’t have to get fat to put on size (which is what I thought beforehand).
Now that I have reached a lower, more optimal body fat, I will maintain this as I prefer how I look and fit in my clothes.
There is a fine line between maintaining a lean but healthy physique and getting to what is known in the fitness community as ‘stage lean’. This is perhaps a discussion for a future article. For me, it is unnecessary to get too lean as often the associated diet and cardio regime is unsustainable in the long-term and as well as the drop in mood, libido and all-round energy that is associated with getting to sub-ten percent bodyfat.
The end result was that recomposition occurred. I lost fat and gained a little muscle slowly over 10 months. To do this you need to be in a small calorie deficit.
The exercises you need to do get lean and mean
Essentially when you want to lose body fat, you want to burn more calories than you take in to put yourself in a deficit. This means you are burning more calories than you are consuming throughout the day. Its all about energy balance.
Personally I find cardio in the gym ,like climbing a stairmaster boring and uninteresting. When I do cardio, I want to go somewhere and explore my surroundings. I want it to serve a greater purpose than just burning calories.
I find that having a destination as my end goal rather than just a number to reach on a machine to be a better fat-burning driver. What is even more beneficial is to include cardio as part of your daily routine and not have it just added onto your routine before you go to bed. In that case instead of getting a ride to university with my friends, I chose to walk every day to and from class.
Not only did this give me 40 minutes of cardio daily but I also found it to be an extremely relaxing way to start the day. To make it even better, I listen to an educational podcast while I walk to learn while I burn (get it?). Making low intensity, steady state cardio a staple of your routine can provide you with that extra calorie burn to help with weight-loss.
I also took up Brazilian Jiu-Jisu, a martial art, before I got injured. This was twice a week for 2 hours which was extremely high intensity and great fun. Cardio can be boring but if you are going to do it you may as well learn an awesome skill that you can kick ass with (literally).
Getting relatively lean until you get to sub 10% BF shouldn’t be a chore. You want to make it as entertaining as possible to make it fit in with your lifestyle as seamlessly as it can. Many find that walking as opposed to other forms of cardio does not initiate hunger like other forms do.
Some eat more when they do cardio which completely takes away the benefit of it. Whatever it is, you need to find your preferred source of cardio and embrace it. Don’t overdo it though, cardio if taken to extremes, can limit your performance in the weight room which none of us want ( or else I hope we don’t).
What can you do?
If you get the train or drive to work, how about you park or get off early and walk the rest of the distance. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Little things like this throughout the day will add up to big results.
In regards to the gym, keep lifting heavy and with intensity. Don’t let the excuse that your trying to get lean bring you down. Of course strength levels will eventually drop when cutting but it is often over hyped due to psychological reasons.
Instead of allowing yourself to get weaker, make it tough to get weaker! The more new you are to the gym, then it will be easier to maintain or even grow your strength. If you are relatively new (1-2 years) then you can absolutely build strength and burn fat with the right programming.
Depending on your experience level in the gym, if you can keep adding weight to the bar then do. The number one principle in building muscle is Progressive Overload. Each time you set foot in the gym seek to better the last workout by either a rep, a set, more volume, more frequency etc. This will ensure you are always growing and improving.
What is the best diet for fat loss? There is no perfect diet. Everyone has their preference from If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) to Atkins, Paleo; you name it. Whichever is easiest for you to maintain your desired calorie deficit in with the least amount of effort is the best diet for you.
Personally I have found the discovery of intermittent fasting (IF) to be a god-send. Some who follow IF only eat in a eight, four or six hour period and fast for the rest of the day. That means they will only be eating one, two or three meals a day.
For me, I followed a relaxed version of IF. All I did was skip breakfast. For me, I found that breakfast was not the most important meal of the day and that I could go without food in the mornings and thus break my fast later in the day, at lunch time.
However, like a lot of things in the world of training and nutrition it comes down to personal preference – what works best for you. I found that due to my large appetite, if I skipped breakfast it would allow me to ‘save’ my calories for later in the day and thus enjoy larger and more satiating meals.
How I did it
Essentially, all I would do is push my first meal back to the afternoon (2-3pm). This creates a smaller eating window for the day, allowing me to feel more satisfied during the evening as this is when I prefer to stuff my face! If I ever got hungry early in the morning I would just eat some fruit and drink coffee to stave off my grumbly tummy.
Eating a high fibre fruit keeps me going and ensures that I am hunger free until my first meal when I can finally pig out and roll in my own filth. A banana, for example, is just roughly 100 calories out of my 3000 limit for the day, basically nothing!
In the mornings before I left the house I would load up on water and black coffee, which are both appetite suppressants. Coffee is also a healthy stimulant which ensures I get that early morning kick when I need it most. Personally, I found breakfast, especially when high in carbs, to make me sluggish. It is for this reason, again my personal preference, that I have altered my daily eating schedule.
Many talk about IF like it is magic. And while it may have some good metabolic effects, the main benefits to me are the appetite suppression it creates. If you are new to IF then give it 2 weeks to adjust. Initially you will be hungry in the mornings as you get used to it. After that you should start seeing and feeling it’s benefits.
Not eating breakfast in the mornings gave me a clarity and alertness in the my classes. If you are someone who needs to train early in the morning then you should eat beforehand to give you the fuel you need. If so, that just means that you should just eat less in the afternoon – its all about hitting your caloric goal for the day.
Find a routine that works for you
There is no point sticking yourself to something that is impossible. If you do that, then all you are doing is setting yourself up for failure.
Regarding what foods to actually eat, you want to eat foods that will fill you up for a long period of time. You need to eat high vitamin content, nutrient dense foods. I’m talking foods like lean beef, chicken, fish, potatoes, rice and eggs. These will be the most beneficial for your health and well-being, not just in the gym but for your mental faculties as well.
A high protein diet is necessary for maintaining muscle mass while in a calorie deficit. Some say 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight is necessary, but others say less. The higher body fat you are , then the less proportional protein you will need to maintain your muscle mass, as opposed to someone who is at a much lower body fat level and is carrying much more lean muscle tissue. Muscle cells actively burn more calories than fat cells.
Eat whole foods
Roughly speaking, you want to eat 80-90% of your diet from whole foods. What will happen if you go lower than 80%? Unimaginable suffering! Just joking, nothing will happen but this is a good guide to maintain a healthy diet.
Whole foods, often referred to as ‘clean’ are not foods soaked in dishwater. These are just foods which are not highly processed with a lot of sugar. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good snack now and again but be careful not to go overboard. There is no reason to be afraid of having something you enjoy in moderation as long as you can fit it into your calories for the day.
One bad day of eating won’t make you fat just like one good day won’t make you lean. If you go out to party one night and indulge, you’re not screwed, don’t worry. Just get back into the swing of things the next day and be consistent.
Fruit and especially vegetables are key. They are low calorie and high volume foods which means you can eat a lot of them at minimal caloric cost! I don’t care if you don’t like broccoli, you will learn to like it. You will become the broccoli and then you can find true happiness… OK that’s enough.
Filling your plate up with some greens is a great way to feel fuller for longer. Another trick is to eat a full plate of veggies before your main course. That way you will be walking away fully satisfied after.
Things which I like to do to avoid hunger
Don’t drink your calories, eat them! When you only have a certain amount of calories to eat in the day you don’t want to waste them, those guys are precious. Saying that, don’t spend it drinking milk or any soda. Not to mention soda is terrible for your health as well, so stick to the 0 calorie stuff. Everything in moderation.
Brush my teeth – Crazy right? The minty smell makes me crave steak and eggs a little less.
Out of sight out of mind – Don’t keep food around while you work or else you might trigger hunger like an angry feminist TRIGGERED! Keep that shit locked up in the kitchen bro! Another point; if you don’t have it then you won’t eat it. If you have been craving a muffin, you will be less inclined to eat it if you have to go to the store to get it as opposed to to the kitchen. In that case, don’t keep them in your house at all. If you have good self-control then don’t worry, this one is for the guys who can’t resist the muffin on their shoulder whispering dirty things into their ear.
Drink water – Staying hydrated is key. If you’re ever feeling extra hungry drink 2 glasses of water and that should suppress it. Often times when we think we are hungry we are just dehydrated. It is vital when you are doing extra cardio.
Take your mind off food – Often times when we are bored, we start to think of the fridge. To stop that you need to keep concentrated throughout the day. Sometimes when I am focused and working hard I will almost forget to eat. Doing this is a good excuse to get even more productive, not bad eh?
Drink coffee or tea – Coffee is a great appetite suppressant. Just be careful with all the extras. No added sugar, cream or anything else. Add a little milk if you must but only if you can afford the calories.
If you need a kick up the ass to get what you want in life, who better to look up to than Arnold? Check out his 6 rules of success to accomplish your goals in and out of the gym!
What you need to do
OK, so if you like the sounds of what I did to get lean and you want to do the same then here is what you need to do:
- Include some for of cardio for at least 30 minutes every day
- Continue to lift heavy as fuark with high intensity
- Push back your first meal to lunch time/afternoon
- Be in a small calorie deficit (100-200 kcals) every day
- Eat filling and nutritious foods
- Track you calories to make sure you are eating enough/not eating too much
- Weigh yourself frequently to ensure you are slowly losing weight (1-2lbs per week depending on your goals)
Thanks to Philip from Manosphorium.com for allowing me to post here, it was a pleasure. We share a lot of common interests and it was great working together. I hope you guys enjoyed the post and more importantly get lean!