If you’re looking to improve your body shape and create a more lean physique the biggest struggle you’re likely to find is navigating the plethora of confusing, conflicting and sometimes incorrect advice.
In this concise run-down, Protein Dynamix ambassador and professional body transformation expert Tom Macmillan cuts to the chase and provides his top 16 tips for achieving a leaner you!
1) Don’t Confuse Your Goals: If you want to be leaner then plan to do so, if you want to be bigger, then attempt to become bigger, focus and stick to your goal.
2) Eat Within A Deficit: Various equations can be used to estimate your maintenance calories, a quick way would be to multiply your bodyweight in lbs by 14 or eat at your normal calorie level and see if the scale readings maintain, decrease or increase. A moderate deficit such as 200-500 calories a day would suffice; smaller adjustments can then be made weekly based on progression.
3) Track Macros: Calories are king, macro nutrients are queen, I’d suggest protein at 1g per lb of bodyweight and the rest of the calories predominantly made from carbohydrates.
4) Slow & Steady: Diet too quick and you’ll risk not only sacrificing muscle mass but also down regulating your metabolic rate. Aim for 1-3lbs of weight loss per week.
5) Be Realistic: If you’ve spent two years over eating and under training then you wont have abs in six weeks. Aim for 1-3lb per week, those with more muscle mass should be more cautious, towards the 1lb mark.
6) Hydrate: Water keeps us alive, water fuels cellular processes, water makes us feel GOOD! One method of calculating appropriate levels of fluid intake would be to 100ml for the first 10kg of bodyweight, 50ml for next 10kg, then 15ml for the rest, for example 90kg of bodyweight would require, 2,550ml. However, those involved in exercise should ensure they ingest more fluids around the exercise perimeter.
7) Carbs Before Marbs: Yes, keto dieting will work, but for the majority low to zero carb is simply unsustainable. Secondly, carbohydrates are your bodies primary source of energy, the less energy you have, the more performance will suffer. I’m a firm believer in keeping carbohydrates as high as possible during a period of caloric restriction.
8) Sustainable Eating: The most ‘optimal’ diet is the one you can stick to, find what works for you, for some people six meals may be great, 3-4 may suit your lifestyle.
9) Flexible Dieting: Tracking macronutrients allows you to become flexible with food choices. A caloric deficit will dictate your body composition, becoming flexible with choices will increase one’s adherence. By all means ensure you are consuming plenty of fibre and micronutrients, but don’t be a slave to food groups, you CAN eat the foods you enjoy.
10) Weekly Intake: Think of your caloric intake over a weekly basis, this allows calories to be ‘borrowed’ if necessary. For example, one day you over eat 300 calories, simply deduct it from the next day, the weekly intake will remain unchanged.
11) Monitor: Daily weigh ins (week averaging), measurements, photographs and training log books will allow you to monitor progress, the more information you can gather, the better. If we don’t know what our bodyweight is doing, then we don’t know what to change. If we don’t record what we are lifting then we don’t know how and if we are progressing.
12) Train With Evidence: For example It is known that volume is the overriding factor when it comes to hypertrophy, so track volume, add progressive overload to accumulate more weekly. It is known that higher frequency trumps lower frequency, even when volume is matched, therefore it would make sense to train at a higher frequency. The realm of strength & conditioning is huge and it’s there to help you, use science to your advantage.
13) Sustainable Training: The best workout is one you can stick to, that rules out training four hours a day whilst performing cardio daily. You need to base your regime around your lifestyle. If you live an hour from your gym, then it’s unlikely you’ll go/want to go daily. When something isn’t sustainable, we resent it, in essence we fail.
14) Be Sociable: Abs are cool, memories are cooler. I’m sure the majority would agree that ultimately we improve our physiques for a greater quality of life. What is a life that isn’t shared with others? We need to enjoy ourselves to ensure we can sustain our fat loss journey. You don’t need to live like a monk, you can enjoy yourself. you can eat out, you can have the odd glass of wine, you can certainly strike a balance.
15) Realise That You Will Have Bad Days: Dieting is not easy, I won’t lie and tell you it is, there will be days when your lethargic, they’ll be days when you don’t want to train and they’ll certainly be cravings along the way. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be a world obesity epidemic.
16) Be CONSISTENT!: Consistency is key!, anything that is worth having will not come quickly, hence the need for consistency. Small wins add up, focus on the present to build your future.
Tom is the owner of Body By Mac, which specialises in online body transformations. He is a world champion natural bodybuilder, at under 21 level, as well as a British powerlifting record holder and exercise scientist.