It is a well-known fact that almost everyone wants to get as lean as possible for the summer. At the end the day who doesn’t want to look good on the beach? Most people undertake the quest of losing the extra body fat a month or two before their summer holiday. The problem? Well, sometimes it takes much more than a couple of months to get an impressive body. The length of the process will largely depend on what your diet was like in the past 12 months.
Gaining weight (in order to increase muscle mass) and losing weight (in order to burn body fat) is a never-ending rollercoaster and unless you get a good grasp on how to do it properly, then you will strive to achieve your dream physique. The secret of gaining as little fat and as much lean muscle as possible is actually no secret at all – proper nutrition. Yes, that is a vague concept but we will elaborate on it.
A good starting point is to determine whether you need to cut (lose fat) or bulk (gain muscle). If your body fat percentage is around 25%, then it is pretty obvious what your next step will be. Losing fat is going to be covered in more detail in another article. For now we will concentrate on the other option; gaining lean muscle.
Let’s say you are under 20% fat and want to start a bulking phase. Instead of going on a see-food diet (eating everything in sight!), construct a good nutrition plan. This means that you should consume complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and a good amount of veggies. Protein will be relatively high as usual and fat will be moderate. The food you eat should be clean, similarly to when you are on a diet. The only difference is that you will be consuming larger quantities of food in order to increase the amount of calories you intake.
Another thing to bear in mind is that no matter how clean you eat, you will always add some fat. Gaining a bit of fat while on a bulk and losing a bit of muscle while on a cut are both inevitable. However, it is up to you to optimize the ratio and make sure that it is favourable for you. This is why it is a good idea to follow every bulking phase with a cutting phase of a couple of weeks.
Gaining muscle mass takes significantly more time than burning fat. When you try to increase your muscle mass, your body actually needs to construct new material whereas when losing fat, the body oxidises (a.k.a. burns) fat. So a good rule of thumb is that if you are bulking for about 3 months, provided that’s a clean bulk, then you will be cutting between 3-5 weeks. Again, that would largely depend on your nutrition when adding size.
To ease the process, you can also take advantage of the supplements on the market. Many people use fat burners when they are on a diet and want to lose some fat. While this makes perfect sense, you might also consider taking a fat burner even when you are adding muscle size. This way you can make sure that the amount of fat you add in the process is minimal. For example, Thermoxen and Thermo24 are great fat burners, which constantly receive great feedback for the benefits they provide.
As you can see, staying lean all year round is not that difficult. You just need to be organized and plan ahead. If your fat percentage is relatively low, then you will be only a few weeks away from obtaining an impressive six-pack.