Mistake #1 - You're Not ConsistentThe first thing I would suggest when I'm dieting or cutting is consistency. When it comes to diet a lot of people think I'm going to do a twelve week cut and that's it.
People always ask me about conditioning, and how to bring that shredded look to stage. The thing I found that worked best for me is to be consistent throughout the full year. Treat it as a lifestyle rather than a temporary diet or a competition prep.
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When you step off stage after the diet you are going to want to try food you haven't eaten in a long time. But remember, it's all in moderation. Indulge a little, and then get back into consistency.
You need to find food you're going to enjoy 365 days a year. Granted, there are going to be times when you're going to eat the foods that aren't allowed during contest prep or on your diet. But that's the whole point of bodybuilding - find that formula that's best for you.
So that's one thing I would suggest. When you're on a cutting diet and trying to lose fat, look for foods that are sustainable; meal choices that you won't get tired of quickly.
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Mistake #2 - You Don't Give Yourself Enough TimeObviously, if you've never dieted before your body is not used to getting down to a low body fat. For me, I always give myself a lot longer period of time to reach my goals.
It's harder that way. It's more monotonous and you're going to diet for longer, but it means you can asses the process a lot better. You can improve the fat burning. You can hold on to more muscle.
It's all about trial and error.
For me, it's about coming down nice and slow. And again, finding the foods you enjoy and that your body is reacting well to.
If for any reason you're not losing weight, that's when you go back to the drawing board. You look for different types of food within the same group. You look for your output. It's all about output. As long as your calorie output is more than your calorie input - you're burning more calories than you're consuming - you're going to be in a deficit and you're going to lose weight.
Mistake #3 - You Focus Too Much on CardioI've found that too much cardio and you're going to lose muscle as well as fat. They key to dieting is not how much weight you lose, it's how much muscle you an hold on to while chipping away at that stored fat.
For me, I've found that it's better to add in weighted circuits, more supersets, and drop sets rather than massive amounts of cardio. That way you're still stimulating the muscle fibers. You're still forcing blood into the muscle and giving it a reason to grow and stay it's current size.
All while expending calories at the same time. It's a proven fact that you burn more calories through weight training than through a cardio machine.
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Mistake #4 - You Assume High Intensity Cardio is BestFor the final tip we're going to talk about cardio. For me - and this is personal, for myself and my metabolism - I've always liked low intensity fasted cardio first thing in the morning rather than high intensity cardio.
The reason for that is when you start to speed your metabolism up, and I've got a very fast metabolism, it's very hard to control how many calories you're burning. Obviously, in a high intensity setting you're going to raise your metabolism through the rough and it's going to burn for a longer period of time.
For me, when I'm dieting I'm trying to hold on to as much muscle mass as I can. With low intensity cardio I've found during all my preps that I can control my fat loss a lot better. It's a slower process but I've found the end results to be better for my body.
I can maintain greater fullness in my muscles. If for any reason I'm losing weight too quickly I can pull back off that work and increase my calories. Whereas the high intensity, if you're massively overweight it's great for that. I would advocate high intensity in this scenario if you're trying to lose body quite quickly.
But when you're trying to sculpt your body and get that crisp muscle fullness; to get in state ready condition, I've always felt that low intensity cardio while fasted was a better option. What I mean by fasted is that you've slept or fasted over eight hours. You've got no fuel and no readily available food in your body.
So when I'm training first thing in the morning the only thing my body can use as energy is stored fat.