Mostly I write about getting big and strong because that’s all I’m interested in but that doesn’t mean you have to look like a fat pig. I like to do enough cardio and eat clean enough to not have to go through periods of ‘dieting’ throughout the year but many prefer to do this. Or some people just might be plain overweight and have some serious lbs to lose. In either case, this is how I think you should go about it. Okay, first you have to decide just how much fat you have to lose. There’s a hell of a difference going from 20% to 12% bodyfat and going from 12% to 10%. Generally, the more fat you have to lose the easier it is, the body can take more of a beating and still perform in the gym. And on that topic, I don’t think anyone should lose any muscle or strength when stripping fat. I fully expect people to keep gaining while they ‘diet’, albeit at a reduced pace but even a few lbs extra of muscle is far better than losing some. Now, there’s either the gentle dieting phase or the more extreme version. If you’re fairly hard and just want to get that sixpack through then gentle dieting is for you. If you’re in the higher bodyfat ranges (20%+) then you need a bit more impetus to let go of fat. If you’re going to be on a gentle diet and are not stuffing your face in order to grow (chugging down 1000 calories over maintainance on a ‘bulk’) then all you need do is be a bit stricter with your carb portions (measure them if you weren’t already) and add daily low intensity cardio before breakfast (6 days a week, not on leg day). Take a scoop of whey in water and then hit the treadmill for 30-45 mins at a brisk walking pace (or another low impact cardio machine, or even just walk around your neighbourhood). Make sure you stop eating starchy carbs (not veggies, I mean stuff like rice, oats, bread, potatoes plus fruits) at least four hours before bed. The addition of daily cardio and cutting off carbs earlier in the evening will create enough of a deficit to initiate the fat burning procedure nicely. A couple of months of consistency will make a huge difference. This is of course, assuming you’re eating clean: make sure your carbs are all low GI, restrict fruit to berries, grapefruit and other low –GI fruits, don’t overmix carbs and fats in a meal, no dairy, fruit juices or daily junk food, no sugars – common sense stuff here people. The above is a diet you shouldn’t even feel, calories are still high (you can still eat over maintainance but not by too much – not that I recommend counting calories in this case) so you can expect strength and size gains almost as much as if you’d been on a dedicated growing phase. For many the increased cardio will probably enhance their muscle gains since I know a lot of guys do no cardio when trying to bulk up (stupid thing to do but that’s another story). Now, if you’ve got more than a few lbs to lose and you want to gain muscle at a reasonable (not rapid) pace then you go for something more middle-of-the-road. Your gains will slow but fat loss will be more pronounced than if you’re just adding cardio and watching carbs in the evening. It’s a great compromise for people who want to recomp (lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously) although like I said, it doesn’t EXCEL at either – it just does a very decent job at both. To do this, you have to make sure your daily cardio sessions are at 45 minutes 6 times a week and that your carb cutoff is 6-8 hours before bed, which is about half your daily meals. So for the first three meals of the day you’re eating carbs and for the last three you replace carbs with veggies. This will be enough of a calorie drop combined with being strict with your carb portion sizes in your carb meals (be a little anal here, don’t eyeball stuff, measure it so you get an idea of how many carbs you’re taking in) to accelerate the fat loss process although at the cost of muscle gains – you can still expect to gain fairly well of course. When and if the fat loss slows (after 6-8 weeks as long as your calories aren’t low) then add 20-30 mins evening cardio (between your last two meals of the day) on the days you don’t lift. That little extra boost should help you out. Remember you’re still eating 2g of protein all the time – this will keep your metabolism high as well as helping you gain muscle and recovery; remember muscle can be built even in a deficit of calories as long as there is sufficient protein in your system. This is why I haven't mentioned changing your training at all because YOU SHOULDN'T. Training must stay the same so you can continue to grow! The worst thing you can do is going to an easier, higher-volume training while trying to lose fat. It's a perfect recipe for muscle loss. Now, if you’re severely overweight then you do have to take some more drastic measures. Eat no carbs except for breakfast, pre-workout and the first post-workout meal and keep all of those low-GI (I recommend oats or oat bran, no rice/bread). Muscle gains will be slow but not non-existant and you definitely shouldn’t lose any muscle. You will or should be in a slight caloric deficit this way solely through diet (2g of protein, one carb meal a day and make up the rest of your calories with fats so you’re eating a couple of hundred below maintainance – yes you’ll have to count calories here. Use fitday.com to find out your daily energy needs and act accordingly). This is in addition to cardio 6x a week in the a.m. Again, when fat loss stalls, add in the evening cardio as above. In some cases you may need to add post-workout cardio as well but don’t do this unless you’ve been dieting in this way for at least 6-8 weeks. Remember that eating fewer calories and low carbs will somewhat suppress your metabolism so it’s vital to keep that boosted up, and also keep your thyroid performance good. You do this with a weekly cheat/carb meal. This applies to any level of dieting, one meal a week (I did say meal, not day) you’re free to eat whatever you want. McDonald’s, pizza, ice cream, whatever. Have as much as you like of whatever you like. You will not get fat on one binge meal a week. Alternatively you can choose to eat more carbs that day, either works, but most people prefer the cheat meal for psychological reasons. Why no HIIT? I have recommend slow steady cardio and this will always be my preferred method. That is not to say there isn’t anything to high intense cardio like sprints, otherwise the sprinters on TV wouldn’t be ripped. However, olympic sprinters tend to have very good genetics (the best ones are black), and are not training/eating to get bigger. This guide is not for athletes, it’s for average guys who want to grow muscle and get a reasonable six-pack. Steady state cardio has all the benefits of high intensity cardio (fat burning, metabolism boost, recovery, nutrient partiotioning) but does not take a toll on your recovery and training weights (plus the likelihood of injury increases). Steady state cardio only enhances muscle growth which leads to more calories burned at rest just by carrying a few more lbs of muscle (which you couldn’t build while ‘dieting’ if you did HIIT but you could with steady state). Does HIIT burn fat better than steady state? Not really, otherwise the pro bodybuilders wouldn’t be shredded. And don’t say they’re on drugs, they still do cardio and eat less just like anyone else, they’re still human. HIIT burns fat a LITTLE quicker yes but not a whole lot. If you just want to get ripped and don’t care about losing muscle mass or strength then do whatever cardio you want, HIIT included. I’m writing this trying to have guys keep all their muscle while losing fat AND building some on top of it (or more than just ‘some’ depending on how gently you’re dieting). One further point, for really lean guys who want to lean out even more (and I’m talking get into single digits) then there is another approach similar to pre-contest bodybuilder dieting which includes only carb-up meals and few if any cheats. This guide does not apply to you if so, this is for the average guy (or girl, anything in this post can be applied to a female trainer as well). Supplementation. There’s no miracle fat burning supplement of course but there a few things that can help you with your fat loss. Not by much but every little helps. First, green or white tea (or a mix). Take as pills or drink the tea; 8-10 bags worth a day or 2-3g in extract, this will boost your metabolism which is vital as well as providing rich antioxidants. Take before your cardio for an extra fatburning boost. (Note: caffeine tabs before cardio are also good especially if you have a sluggish metabolism) Next, fish oil (or salmon oil or cod liver oil). The EFAs contained herein promote a leaner phenotype and help mobilize lipids for use as energy, hence they help you lose fat and keep it off. I’d take in a tablespoon (15g if pills) a day MINIMUM. Use it as a fat source. Flax oil is also good but fish oil is superior. On that note I’d recommend a tablespoon a day also of flax and olive oil for the good fats, again use as fat sources in your protein shakes or on salads etc. I’ll finish by saying that fat loss is like muscle gains, for some people it’s a piece of cake but for the majority it’s just hard work, consistency, dedication and patience. Don’t look for instant results, don’t keep measuring your waist, DO NOT WEIGH YOURSELF EVERY DAY. In fact don’t look at the scale at all. Take measurements and pictures once a month, and look for fat loss in the face, arms and chest first. The waist and love handles are generally the last thing to go and will only do so when you’ve lost fat from other areas first. You do really have to be patient, but keep your head down, keep at it, be consistent and in a few weeks your clothes will be fitting easier already. NOTE: read this too!