If you’re looking to build muscle, burn off body fat and boost testosterone, you’ll want to follow these four rules.
RULE #1: Eat More Fat
Low-fat diets will not get you the results want – in fact, they may do just the opposite. Low-fat diets have been shown to result in bigger waistlines and less lean mass compared to diets that are higher in protein and fat. Fat is a critical factor when it comes to hormone production. In fact, men who eat higher fat diets have higher levels of free testosterone versus their low-fat counterparts. Testosterone is the key male hormone that drives muscle building, strength and even fat burning. So if you’re looking to lose body fat and add muscle, you need to make sure you’re getting adequate healthy fat in your diet. Choose from fats that are high in monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats such as fatty fish like salmon and tuna, avocados, walnuts, cashews, whole eggs and pumpkin seeds.
RULE #2: Eat More Food
Most guys think they need to eat a very low-calorie diet for extended periods of time to give them results. But this is simply not true. If you’re working out hard in the gym and burning tons of calories, you need to eat to replenish your muscles and help them recover. In fact, low-calorie diets for extended periods of time have been shown to increase catabolic cortisol – the hormone that breaks down muscle. So by not eating enough you could end up looking skinny fat instead of lean and muscular. Research has also shown that eating very low-calorie diets for extended periods result in metabolic slow down and weight regain compared with weight loss achieved through a more moderate restriction in energy intake. Yes, it is true you need to eat less and exercise more to create an energy deficit to cause weight loss, but eating too few calories and exercising too much can result in more harm than good. Aim for about a 500 calorie deficit every day, which can be achieved through both less eating and more working out!
RULE #3: Switch Up Your Macronutrients
If you really want to make a difference in your physique you need to be on top of your macronutrients –your protein, carbs and fats. Protein is the building block of muscle, and when you eat more of it you not only get leaner, but you also gain more of it! There is plenty of evidence to show that eating a high-protein diet results in a change in your body composition to more lean mass and less fat mass, along with more weight loss. One study showed that athletes who consumed up to 2.6 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day maintained the majority of their lean muscle mass during a period of restrictive dieting while weight training, in addition to losing body fat. Aim for a diet that provides about 1 to 1.5 g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily, or a minimum of 40% of your daily caloric intake, while carbs and fat can each make up to 30%.
RULE #4: Stay on Your Diet Most of the Time
By “diet” in this sense we mean stick to a lower-calorie plan that provides you the macronutrients your body needs to recover and stay metabolic. However, as just discussed, staying on a restrictive diet for too long can result in metabolic slow down. So switch up your calorie ratios every few weeks to cause an up-shift of your metabolism.
Hemmingsson E, et al. Effects of anti-obesity drugs, diet and exercise on weight-loss maintenance after a very low calorie diet or low calorie diet: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013.
Helms E, et al. A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes. Int J of Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014. 24: 127-38.
Tomiyama AJ, et al. Low Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010. 72(4): 357-64.