Do you want to get lean for summer? When it comes to the summer season, for many of us the primary goal is to drop a few pounds and get in shape for the warm weather. The common goal is to reduce body fat as well as maximising gains in lean muscle mass, something that is considerably easier to say than achieve.
If you’re looking to be in prime condition for the beach, it goes without saying that a combination of a stable diet, sufficient sleep/rest and a progressive training programme are going to be imperative in achieving this. In addition, the supplements that you consume are also going to help along the way and will be fundamental in helping you bridge the gap between having that excess fat and being as lean as you can possibly get.
There is no escaping the fact that total calorie intake should be reduced in order to diminish body fat levels. Decreasing the number of calories by roughly 5 kcals per kg of bodyweight can significantly reduce body fat over a period of time. This should be achieved mainly by cutting out foods that are calorie dense and low in nutrients. You can calculate resting metabolic rate (RMR) and energy intake in order to give accurate calculations of how much you need to consume (energy intake) in order to meet your specific training goals.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) = Lean mass x 22 50, Cunningham equation.
Energy Expenditure = Thermic response to total exercise.
Energy Intake = Total food intake, carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
How much protein?
For anyone aiming to get lean, protein intake is the most important macronutrient for the body. Without sufficient protein, our muscles would be in a negative protein balance. This means protein breakdown would be elevated and muscle protein synthesis would not be increased to an extent that would be needed for significant gains in lean mass. The result of this is a phrase no gym fanatic wishes to come to terms with – muscle atrophy.
There is a host of literature to suggest that a protein intake of around 1.5-2g/kg body weight is an ideal amount of protein to increase muscle protein synthesis and subsequently increase the anabolic response (Tipton, and Wolfe, 2004). To put this into perspective an 80kg individual would need approximately 120-160g of good quality protein a day. This should come from a range of sources including the ones shown below:
– Lean poultry: chicken, turkey
– Pastured meat: pork, beef, lamb
– Wild fish: salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna
– Dairy products: eggs, milk, cheese
– Protein supplements: whey, casein, BCAAs
One common problem when people are aiming to lose body fat and maintain lean mass is that they tend to over-consume carbohydrates and also fall short when it comes to nutrient timing. Considering one of most important indicators of nutritional status is insulin, getting this right is vital for anyone looking to reduce body fat and get lean.
Carbohydrate and fat content for dominance as fuel within the body. The use of these two fuels is reciprocal to a degree, with each metabolic pathway inhibiting the functions of the other. In the fed state, the presence of carbohydrate can reduce the propensity of circulating fat to become the body’s predominant fuel. The main objective when wanting to reduce body fat, is to increase fat being utilised as an energy source, below are a few tips to help increase fat loss through carbohydrate intake.
– Ditch refined carbs and calorie dense foods – these are going to give an insulin response followed by a rapid storage of blood glucose to glycogen.
– Stop unnecessary carbohydrate feeding in the day, and base these meals around foods that are high in protein and fat.
– Low-med GI foods will give a sustained energy release and therefore reduce respiratory exchange ratio (RER; rate at which fat and carbohydrates are utilised). This will also increase feeling of satiety and therefore reduce total energy intake
– Choose an alternative selection of carbohydrates that are nutrient dense as opposed to calorie dense e.g. Quinoa, sweet potato, leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli), fruit and vegetables.
It is important to note that no weight loss supplement is a ‘magic bullet’, meaning that you are unlikely to get a huge benefit from them without a stable diet and training programme. To maximise the effects of supplements you need to increase your energy expenditure as well as monitoring energy intake (as mentioned above).
Assuming you’re eating well and training hard, here are a few supplements that may be beneficial in your beach body quest.
– Green Tea Extract: a stimulant and thermogenic agent that helps increase energy expenditure. It also contains catechins that can help increase aspects of cardiovascular health.
– Thermopure: contains Green Tea Extract as well as a host of other thermogenic agents.
– Acetyl-L-Carnitine: plays an important role in fatty acid oxidation in the muscle being important for the transport of fatty acids into mitochondrial matrix (power house of the cell)
– CLA: found in dairy products and meat and can play an essential role for fat utilisation
– BCAAs: help to fight catabolism (muscle breakdown) when dieting. An excellent choice for those looking to maintain muscle mass whilst cutting.
As stated earlier, it is a combination of good nutrition, sleep and training that will help you towards getting lean and trim. Following the same training programme, every week can not only be tedious and unexciting but can also slow down your training adaptations and can prevent you from reducing body fat levels. Mixing up training techniques is one of the most central methods and can be easily incorporated into your everyday training programme.
– High-Intensity Intermittent Training: Repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise interspersed with periods of rest can increase the Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Essentially, this means that the energy consumed during recovery is elevated meaning an increase in fat oxidation and energy expenditure.
– Resistance Exercise: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is proportional to lean mass, meaning that resistance exercise is important for fat loss. In addition to this, the energetic cost of exercise will be increased following muscle hypertrophy. Heart rate can also be sustained significantly after resistance training and therefore incurs a high energy cost proportional to the size of the load being lifted and the number of repetitions.
– Submaximal Exercise: It goes without saying that extended bouts of endurance exercise increase total work-output and energy expenditure. With prolonged periods of submaximal exercise (low carb state), the energy derived from fat is increased and therefore training around 60% VO2 max will decrease the reliance of carbohydrate utilisation for a given intensity and subsequently help with fat loss.
This diet plan is based on a 70kg individual therefore will change depending on body weight. Water = 4-5L, 500ml with every meal. Total Calorie intake = ~2150kcal on rest day.
Add spices/herbs to improve the flavour of meats and vegetables. Use a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs, chilli, garlic, ginger, and coriander are great for bringing dimension to the plate. Soured cream and Greek yogurt can be used to add a sauce to the dish, spice these up with herbs and spices. Be careful of portion sizes for carbohydrates.
Example Rest Day
Example Low Carb Training Day
Example Resistance Training Day
Example HIIT Training Day
Depending on your start point, the tips above should help you reduce your body fat for the summer months meaning you can hit the beach with full confidence. If you liked this piece and want additional info on how to help get in tip-top condition, we’d also suggest you check out our guide on how to get ripped in eight weeks.