A complete shredding meal plan to help you lose stubborn fat. Shredding 101: the perfect shredding meal plan to get and keep your abs! I don't think there's a person in this world who wouldn’t be happy with the washboard abs and toned limbs. It's a look that has been popular for forever and a [...]
I don’t think there’s a person in this world who wouldn’t be happy with the washboard abs and toned limbs. It’s a look that has been popular for forever and a day, yet so few are able to obtain and even fewer people are able to maintain. Whilst building muscle and burning fat can require significant effort, I believe that it’s the understanding of the process which holds most people back.
Firstly, it’s important to recognize that fat loss is the result of the crossover between activity and diet. A good ‘shredding diet’ should have you in a small calorie deficit, be high in protein and keep your hunger under control. Resistance training, low-intensity exercise and NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) will need to be optimized to help create the calorie deficit and maintain muscle mass long term.
For those of you who keep up with our content, I would hope that you are now familiar with why calories are important. For everyone else, listen up!
Calories intake and expenditure determine how much fat you have on your body. Depending on your genetic profile and your level of activity, you will have a ceiling on how many calories you can consume before you start storing energy as fat. Think of it as a bucket of water, once you fill it up, some of the water starts pouring over the edge. In the calorie world, anything over the edge will be stored as fat. To lose fat, we need to keep our energy below the brim of the bucket.
There are a few things that you can do to keep your calories in the bucket. Firstly, you can get active and ultimately create a bigger bucket, the more active you are, the more energy you can consume. Alternatively, you can reduce the number of calories you pour into the bucket. The easiest way to do this is to make a conscious effort to consume whole foods. Whole foods include fresh meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, potatoes, rice, fruit, grains, dairy, nuts, and seeds. Anything that you would consider ‘natural’ is most likely a whole food. Why do we recommend whole foods? They are generally lower in calories per gram and leave you feeling fuller for longer. They are also less palatable, reducing the drive to overindulge.
If switching to a whole foods diet doesn’t work for you, a more drastic approach would be to count your calories. Calorie counting involves researching and documenting the calories found in all of the food that you consume. Apps such as MYFITNESSPAL can make documentation fairly easy, though you may need to weigh your ingredients initially to ensure you are accurately recording your portion sizes. Once you have an understanding of the total calories you are consuming, you can slowly reduce your intake to create an energy deficit.
In a world of readily accessible food, hunger and cravings can oftentimes lead you astray and derail your shredding meal plan. It’s incredibly hard to stay lean without the correct knowledge. To stay on track and avoid binge eating, you need to make sure that your meals are filling you up and satisfying any major cravings.
High protein and high fiber foods have the ability to slow down your digestion and keep you satisfied for longer periods of time. Due to their water content, they also take up extra space in your stomach, limiting the number of calories that you can take in. You should always try to include a protein component (meat, dairy, poultry, fish) and a fiber component (vegetables) to your main meals. Adding salt or a sweet sauce to your mains can also help to satisfy any cravings you may have, without taking in all of the extra calories found in processed meals.
The most common mistake I see made during a shredding diet plan is criminalizing particular food groups. As mentioned above, whole foods should make up the majority of your diet. Sweets, savories, and special snacks can be included as long as they fit within your calorie bucket.
The same goes for eating out. If you know you are going out for a meal and a drink, it’s important to make room for the extra calories that come along with it. One strategy might be to reduce the size of earlier meals, another might be to remove breakfast altogether. It’s simply understanding that fat loss comes down to calorie intake and planning your meals to facilitate a deficit no matter the scenario. This is literally how any shredding diet works, you consume less calories than your body uses in a 24 hour period, consistently.
Losing weight isn’t much fun if you lose all of your muscle mass during the process. Luckily there are particular nutritional and training strategies that you can implement to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss.
A shredding diet designed to maintain muscle mass should prioritize protein intake. A high protein shredding diet has been proven to effectively preserve muscle during a caloric deficit no matter the activity level. A good place to start is 2g of protein per kg of body mass. Most of the research into experienced trainers supports this recommendation and I have found it to work exceptionally well with my clientele.
A shredding training plan has two key objectives: preserve muscle mass and increase energy expenditure. Often times people will focus solely on energy expenditure and forget about their strength training. The methods that best achieve muscle growth are the same ones that will preserve the most muscle mass. Therefore it’s important that you include either heavy powerlifting (1-5) or mid-range bodybuilding (hypertrophy) (6-20 reps) type exercises in your weekly schedule.
Maximizing your energy expenditure should occur away from your strength and hypertrophy training. Increasing your weight lifting in an attempt to increase energy expenditure will only leave you sore and sorry, especially when you are in a calorie deficit. You should instead look to increase your low-impact exercises such as cycling, walking, jogging or swimming.