The best way to cut body fat to expose the most amount of muscle tone is to exercise daily and follow a diet high in protein and limited in simple carbohydrates. Before beginning any dietary program, consult your physician. In addition, limit your sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg to 2000 mg to prevent water retention, which can prevent a shredded look.
To lose body fat, you need to create a caloric deficit. Cut your calories by about 500 to do this. The actual number of calories varies by individual and depends on various factors including weight, age, body fat and activity level. If you do not know what your average daily caloric intake is, write down your food intake for one week to get a daily average and subtract 500 from there. Consume your calories as evenly as possible throughout the day, eating five to six small meals a day. To prevent overeating, Mayo Clinic recommends eating healthy snacks between meals -- like fruits, vegetables and nuts -- around 100 calories in total. You'll satisfy your hunger without ruining your appetite for your next meal.
The next factor in getting shredded is to make sure each meal has enough protein. Protein is important for the building of lean muscle mass. The average person should get about 20 percent of their daily calories as protein. When your goal is to shred, increase this percent to about 30 to 40 based on your current activity level, age, weight and body fat percentages. Eating extra protein helps prevent muscle wasting and as you limit carbohydrates, it will be used more frequently by your body as a source of energy. Sources of protein include egg whites, chicken, lean turkey, fish and whey protein. Spread your protein intake evenly throughout your day to maximize utilization.
To get shredded, gradually limit the amount of carbohydrates from your diet. Gradually limiting carbs prevents your body from panicking and going into starvation mode, where it is difficult to lose weight. Start by removing 10 grams per day until you are eating roughly 40 percent of your daily calories in carbohydrates. It’s not healthy to cut carbs completely as your body needs them for energy and the vitamins and minerals they provide. Stick to whole grains, vegetables, fruits and oatmeal.
Healthy fats are essential to your body and should not be cut. Healthy fats such as oil from fish, olives and nuts help promote hormone growth and development. They are also required for absorbing fat soluble vitamins in your body. Since healthy fats promote healthy testosterone levels, getting enough during a shredding phase is very important. Not getting enough fats can lead to muscle depletion which is essential to fat burning. Get 15 to 20 percent of your daily calories in healthy fats and spread them evenly throughout the day.
- "American Council on Exercise: Personal Trainers Manual"; Cedric X. Bryant; 2003
- "ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer”; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010
- Mayoclinic.com; Snacks: How They Fit Into Your Weight-loss Plan; May 2010