Find 10 ripped human beings and ask them how they eat. You would probably get 10 different responses. One might say low carb is the way to go. Another might say moderate carbs, high protein, and low fat. Another might say If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). Another might say they eat six times a day. Another might say they do Intermittent Fasting.
I say do what works for you. If you like eating extremely low carb and high fat and protein…DO IT! If you like a more balanced approach…DO IT! If you like eating all your food in a 4-8 time period…DO IT! If you can’t stick to a diet lifestyle, it is not going to work. The point of “cutting” is to burn fat and retain muscle mass. The most important thing that you can do is to burn more calories than you take in. So the diet that works best for you is the one that prevents you from taking a daily trip to the donut shop. Below I will go over the good and bad of a few popular cutting diets.
A Keto/Atkins or whatever trendy name is simply a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. The diet should not consist of more than 50 carbs per day. Some sources will say 20-100 carbs per day. I say a good rule is no more than 50.
PROS OF KETO/LOW CARB
- This style of diet is great for dropping weight fast. You will drop significant water weight in just 1-2 weeks and look leaner.
- This style of eating allows you to eat fish, steak, beef, bacon, and eggs. So if you are a carnivore this is the style for you.
- This diet allows for plenty of green vegetables such as broccoli, organic wheat grass, lettuce, spinach, and peas.
- This diet encourages the use of healthy fats such as organic coconut oil, olive oil, and almond butter. Keto offers flexibility with eating as you don’t get as hungry on this diet as many others.
- If you don’t want to eat 5-6 times a day this style works well.
CONS OF KETO/LOW CARB
- This style of eating is not very fruit and complex carb friendly. If you are a fan of getting antioxidants from fruits such as apples and blueberries it will be hard, because you have to stay under 50 carbs.
- I like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit. I use these as my main carb sources. Keto does not allow for that.
- Another downfall which could very well be dependent on the individual is a lose of strength and lower athletic performance. Our bodies use glycogen to fuel our muscles for activity. When you go into Ketosis your body flips the switch to use fat for energy. Your not going to see many if any high level athletes doing a Keto diet long-term.
FINAL SAY FOR KETO
I think Keto is great for fat loss. If your goal is to lose fat and get leaner and you could care less about performance then this diet plan might work well for you. I have done this type of diet about a handful of times. I have used it to jumpstart my fat loss gains, before transitioning back to a more balanced approach. In my opinion it is great short-term.
This strategy uses a mix of high-carb, medium-carb, and low-carb days. Generally speaking, your high-carb days are reserved for your hardest training days. Think squat and deadlift days or longer running days. The medium days are for upper body workouts or days that don’t require as much effort. Low days are for rest days or easy days. Based on your weight and your goal you would set a total calorie amount per day and set your macros based on the day. For example, I eat 2500 calories a day. On my high-carb days I will eat around 250 carbs. On my medium-carb days I will eat around 175-200 carbs. Finally, on low-carb days I will be around 100-125. On the lower and medium days you would replace the lost calories with more fat. Protein is usually set around .8 grams per pound to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
PROS OF CARB CYCLING
- You get to eat carbs.
- You have flexibility and don’t have to eat the same foods every day. This leads to a positive mental boost and a boost in the weight room.
- There tends to be a little more pep in your step on the high carb days. Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty because you will make up for it on the medium and low days.
- Great fat loss plateau buster. Due to cycling your carbs and foods you send you force your body to burn fat, because it does not know what is coming.
CONS OF CARB CYCLING
- If you are a regimented man/woman who loves structure this may not be for you.
- If you are a machine who wants to eat the same food at the same time every single day this is not for you.
- Low carb days are harder.
FINAL SAY ON CARB CYCLING
Carb cycling can work great long-term if the individual pays enough attention to what they are doing. I personally recommend a calorie/macro counting app if you are going to use this strategy. You can adjust your carbs daily and make sure you stay on track. I really like the aspect of saving your higher carb days for your most intense training days. This just makes sense. You can’t tell me overhead pressing and bicep curls take as much energy as squats and deadlifts.
IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS (IIFYM)
This is probably the most flexible style of eating. You simply set your macros (protein, fats, and carbs) for the day and you eat what you want to meet your goals. This style of eating does not care if you take 20 grams of carbs from an apple, cereal, peas, or candy. Essentially a carb is a carb, protein is protein, and fat is fat. You can look on social media and see ripped people eating “cheat meals” and tagging them with IIFYM.
PROS OF IIFYM
- You don’t have to stress as much as many other diet plans (That slice of pizza might not destroy your fat loss if you make up for it later in the day).
- You develop a healthy relationship with food instead of becoming a slave to it.
- It allows you to live a more normal life while still making progress.
CONS OF IIFYM
- Not a good idea for people who have had issues with food.
- People can go overboard if they are not careful.
- Doesn’t always encourage the healthiest foods.
FINAL SAY ON IIFYM
I think this style of eating is great for those that have self-control. You can have your cake and eat it too. Assuming you are getting the vast majority of your foods from good clean sources you can eat of the foods that you like. Another thing to consider is that the flexibility of this plan allows you to set your macros how you see fit. You can even change them based on the day.
INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF)
Intermittent Fasting is a strategy that limits your eating window during the day. You typically fast for 16 hours and eat all of your food in an 8-hour period. Some take it a little further and eat all their food in a 4-hour period. Others go as far to eat just one big meal per day. I know jacked actor Terry Crews has a video about this.
PROS OF IF
- You can take advantage of your hungriest time of day.
- Less meals per day (1-4 for most folks).
- You get more done during the day when you aren’t always eating.
- Mental clarity during fasting. Food can slow you down.
- Increased fat burning response during fasting. If you lift or do cardio and you continue to fast you keep burning calories at an accelerated rate.
- If you are an evening lifter, you can put your biggest meal post workout.
- You can use various eating styles with IF.
CONS OF IF
- You are limited in the times you can eat.
- You can’t break the fast until your eating window opens.
- Very different from the conventional broscience of 5-6 meals per day.
FINAL SAY OF IF
If you are not a breakfast person this will work great for you. If you like bigger meals this will work great for you. I break my fast around 11 am and I eat my last piece of food at 7 pm. I consume about 60% of my calories from 5:30 pm to 7 pm, because that is when I am hungriest. I believe as humans we are wired to eat the most at night. I think this is one of the most effective fat burning eating styles that there is and it is adaptable to just about anyone’s lifestyle. Also, I find it harder to reach my goal of 2500 calories per day on this diet plan, because I am not eating all day long.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP IN A BURRITO
The style of eating is going to be dependent on the person’s lifestyle. That is most important. I have tried about every style of eating under the sun. I included these styles of eating in this article because I think they are the best for cutting body fat. Right now, I am using the combination of IF with Carb Cycling. I am very happy with the results. My energy is much better throughout the day, my workouts are going well, and I feel good overall.
THE FINAL WORDS
Cutting should be done slow and steady for optimal results. You could lose 30 lbs in 6 weeks if you really wanted to. However, you aren’t just losing 30 lbs of fat in that timeframe. You are losing valuable muscle as well. I personally prefer losing .5 lbs to 1 lb per week for optimal results. It takes longer to build muscle than it does to lose fat. I don’t want to sacrifice my hard-earned muscle just to drop some fat. Even if you have a lot of fat to lose…do you want loose saggy skin to go with it? Slow and steady wins the race.