In Part 1 and 2 of the series, “From Powerlifter to Bodybuilder – Why and How I dieted to 7% Body Fat”, I outlined the process of getting into contest shape for my first bodybuilding show on the 9th November 2014. In the 3rd part I documented how I fared in the show and my thoughts on the peculiar spectacle that is bodybuilding! If you’d like to read those instalments before this one they can be found here – http://www.deluxenutrition.co.uk/blog/.
In the last part of this series “Dieting to Single Digit Body Fat”, I discussed the means of how you can do it too. Again, this can be found at the following link – http://www.deluxenutrition.co.uk/blog/.
Please read part 1 before you delve into this part, which will be a continuation and the final part in the series.
Dieter’s Shopping List Notes
The best thing to do when creating a shopping list is to use this list below (or your own similar personalised list) and only go and buy these foods from the supermarket – no others.
Moreover, it is critical that you keep things simple with your list. I avoided all foods that weren’t on it, out with the occasionally bought treat (which I wouldn’t buy during my main shopping spree).
An example of a shopping list for cutting that I created for myself was exactly as follows:
- ‘Zero’ drinks – Coke, Fanta, 7up, Monster, Coffee, Green Tea etc.
- Hot sauce – Tabasco, Frank’s Red Hot Wing’s Sauce or equivalent
- Salt & Pepper
- Hartley’s 10 calorie jelly (great for cravings/hunger)
- White Wine Vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar
- ‘1 Calorie’ Cooking Spray or Olive Oil
- Chilli Flakes
- Leafy Salads
- Lean protein sources – chicken (ideally without skin), fish (particularly white fish – cod, sea bass etc), Turkey, Eggs (particularly egg whites), lean beef.
- Deluxe Nutrition 100% Protein and Casein Powder
- Quest Protein Bars (invaluable for anyone with sweet tooth/cravings)
- Quark (similar to cottage cheese but better)
- Sweet potatoes & Red potatoes
- Rice (microwaveable)
- Frozen vegetable packs (microwaveable)
- Instant Porridge (microwaveable)
- Fresh vegetables – onions, broccoli, carrots etc
- Canned tomatoes
I personally got most of my fats from other foods, as my fats were set rather low anyway. Here are the best choices for you though –
- All-Natural Peanut Butter
- Fish Oil Capsules
- Almonds & Cashews
A quick note on ‘zero’ drinks or foods – these are foods or drinks with generally <20 calories in a serving. These were another asset for me on my shopping list to stunt cravings and hunger when I was dieting and they could be for you too.
When I was fasting in the mornings (16 hour fast, 8 hour feed) I would have 1-2 zero drinks, usually one Monster Zero Energy Drink and one Coke Zero.
Moreover, there are also some great zero calorie foods that you can consume such as Bare Naked noodles (https://www.barenakedfoods.co.uk/ – good for increasing the volume of your meals), Waldens Farm Sauces, Hartley’s 10 Calorie Jelly (great for cravings) and Hot Sauces (for taste). Many vegetables are also pretty much zero calorie, including leafy salads.
A lot of people like to spice up their dieting with lots of good recipes; some interesting ones can be found here – http://proteinpow.com/. There are so many resources out there for good high protein recipes.
Personally, I didn’t make anything you’re going to swoon at. I kept it very simple and bare bones, but still enjoyed my food.
Further, to be honest, I found when I was dieting that I welcomed any type of food no matter how subtle or strong the taste. One thing I did do though was purchasing a slow cooker/crock pot which allowed me to cook up a weeks’ worth of meals for putting into Tupperware.
I personally didn’t prepare all meals at all times, but I often would. Ideally, you should prep your meals for the week every Sunday. Include all 3 macronutrients in each meal; divide them evenly between meals and put them in Tupperware for the fridge or freezer.
- It’s not complex – Sorry fitness world, but getting lean is not complicated.
- Set weekly bodyweight goals (i.e if you are wanting to lose 0.5kg a week then the scales should reflect this).
- Your diet should fit your lifestyle (IIFYL) – foods should be convenient but still healthy. For example, I ate microwaveable vegetable packs and rice more than the standard types.
- You can diet flexibly – If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) and calories – see above.
- Choose high volume/filling/nutrient dense/low calorie foods for satiety and meeting your calorie/macro targets. I loved quark and vegetables for this. Salads played an important part for keeping me full in the latter stages of the diet. Use your calories wisely.
- Play your ‘cards’ at the correct time, not all at once. Don’t add in every aid to help you lose weight at first. An example of this is if you are losing weight week to week just through altering your diet and progress hasn’t stalled you shouldn’t throw cardio in there too. Wait till these things become truly necessary.
- Eat enough fibre from your food sources – will not only keep you fuller but also help you with digestion and bowel movements. Add in fibre supplement if necessary.
- To fight cravings and hunger use what’s at your disposal – diet drinks, black coffees, Hartleys 10 calorie jelly, salads etc (see above). Caffeine is good at stunting hunger, but try not overdo it early on..you will need it later on in the diet!
- Be honest with yourself – if you log less food than you’ve actually eaten each day you’re only kidding yourself.
- What it really comes down to is if you don’t hit your calories each day that you have set, you will not lose weight.
- Stick to the diet for as long as necessary and you will be rewarded.
Training (Weights and Cardio)
Weight Training –
Although your diet is king, you should obviously still be training in the gym. Pick a program that is suitable and sustainable for your goals/stage of training. Ideally, you would want to train in the gym consistently 3-5 times per week. I personally still trained with a powerlifting high intensity (high weight), but with low to moderate volume approach due to energy levels being low.
You are not going to gain muscle on a calorie deficit if you are a natural athlete but you could lose some if you don’t train! Keep things simple, do not overdo the volume and be sensible. Still try and keep the program as a progressive overload system.
This refers to increasing weights, sets or reps week to week so the body is forced to adapt to stimulus that it has not previously experienced. I’d recommend keeping heavy weights in the program but also doing ‘pump’ or isolation work for lagging body parts to cover all your bases. Log and track your sets/reps/weight week to week.
As stated previously, play your ‘cards’ at the correct time, not all at once. Don’t add in everything to help you lose weight at first. An example of this is if you are losing weight week to week just through altering your diet and progress hasn’t stalled you shouldn’t throw cardio in there too.
Wait till these things become necessary. Identify when they do and add in as required. When adding in cardio I’d recommend just adding in low intensity 1 hour walking sessions 2-3 times per week (including maybe some fasted walking in the mornings).
From here, you can adjust as necessary to add in high intensity treadmill/bike/stepper etc if you feel the diet and training has stalled and you need to burn off more calories. The higher body fat you are the more cardio you can tolerate without it harming your strength performance.
Final Steps to Constructing Your Plan – All You Need to Know
- Seek out some good sources of diet information – read around the topic for your goals (but not overkill).
- 2. Set a start date – not next month, not next week but tomorrow or evern better – today.
- 3. Download ‘My Fitness Pal’ (MFP) from the app store (as discussed in the last article).
- Search and log your normal calories/foods you have eaten in MFP for a week and log your scale weight every day (be honest) to find your maintenance level and if you have stayed at the same bodyweight for that whole week, this is known as your maintenance calories (the amount of calories you eat where you maintain your bodyweight).
- Take 500 calories off your maintenance level to start with (500 calorie deficit) in MFP, make sure it is a sustainable/sensible number you can stick to. Remember, it’s not a race – whats the rush? Think about the process, not the outcome/destination. Start the Monday with this new level. Aim for 0.5kg per week of weight loss.
- Set you macronutrients in MFP in relation to your calories. I would recommend 1g protein per 1lb of bodyweight, and then set your carbs second highest with your fats coming last. However, MFP will select your macros for you just in case.
- Search and log daily foods after you have eaten them, in MFP (takes 2 seconds).
- Record morning fasted scale weight every single day in MFP.
- Take progress photos under similar conditions weekly (same location & same time ideally) to track fat loss and other indicators such as vascularity and increased striations. As an example, I genuinely took gigabytes worth of photos form July-November. The mirror and progress photos don’t lie; the scale may, depending on what you have eaten.
- Make sure weight loss is on track each week – losing 0.5kg per week. Look at average from each day over each week as a whole.
- Read the training and cardio advice above.
- If need be, hire a diet coach as their knowledge and accountability can be extremely helpful.
- Get Shreddy/Yoked/Diced.
There you have it, your complete guide to dieting success from someone who knew nothing and had to work hard to find the optimal approach for dieting success. If someone told you to simply eat less and move more, that generally would suffice.
But you do have to get a wee bit more complex than that and I hope I have given you the means to do so in this article, while still keeping things understandable. But if you could just think and act on that mentality – simplicity, then you would be further ahead than many people who try to diet, don’t understand the inputs for success and ultimately fail.
Don’t fret the small stuff, the main importance is a calorie deficit and a progressive overload training program.
It really doesn’t matter how much exercise you think you’re doing, how healthy or little you think you are eating or how much weight you think you should be losing if you don’t even track your calories – the diet is king.
What it really boils down to in the end is how bad you REALLY want it. Too many people speak about wanting to lose weight, but that’s where it ends. No action or process – they just kinda want it. It doesn’t have to consume your life (especially on an IIFYM approach) and if you just see it out correctly you have no choice but to reap the fruits of your labour.
If you need genuine inspiration before you start, watch this film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK2kX7VE2Bg. Good luck!
In closing, I’d like to thank my good friends Sam Bingham and James McIlroy for opening my eyes on nutrition and diet; it served me well for the bodybuilding show and will be instrumental going forward. I would also like to extend my appreciation to Matt Hickman and all at Deluxe Nutrition for the unwavering support they have shown me over the past year and giving me the opportunity to be part of the DN team in the first place. I appreciate it hugely.
Finally, thank you so much for reading! It means a lot that you would take time out your day to consider my views on numerous topics I get the urge to write about.