There are countless ways to lose fat and transform your body, which is both a blessing and a curse. With such a vast array of fat loss plans at your disposal, you have the fortunate opportunity to pick and choose which plan best suits your lifestyle and personality. Trouble is, with such a huge variety of options at your finger tips it can become a daunting task to filter out the quality advice from the nonsense.
To avoid much of the confusion and overwhelm I tend to gravitate toward a simple, no-nonsense, and straight forward fat loss approach, while focusing little attention on the trivial solutions based upon “1 weird trick” or “1 little known secret”. The minutia can be helpful, but only after you’ve mastered the fundamentals.
Newsflash: Fat loss isn’t magic. You can’t pull it out of a hat, wave your wand, or click the heels of your ruby red slippers to make it disappear. Getting ripped is hard work, requiring consistency and dedication toward your plan… whatever that plan may be.
I’ve been very transparent in regards to what it takes for me to go from lean to ripped. During previous cutting phases I’ve documented my training, every meal I ate, and the mental hurdles I had to overcome. It’s been ridiculously rewarding to hear from my fellow Physique Artists who let me know how much they have benefited from my behind the scenes video journal and appreciate how I “Keep it real!”
And now that I’ve recently completed a successful muscle building phase, having gained 10 pounds while staying pretty darn lean, it’s time for me to begin a new cutting phase while capturing the entire fat loss process once again in my video journal.
Height: 5′ 6.5″
Weight: 159 pounds
Before I begin documenting this cutting phase, I’d like to break down my no-nonsense fat loss approach with you.
Set A Goal
My goal for this cutting phase is to burn off 0.75 to 1.5 pounds from my body per week. It’s aggressive enough where I should see visible results in the mirror each week, but not overly aggressive to ensure that the majority of weight loss comes from fat being burned from my body.
I’ll aim for the higher end of the range (1.5 lbs/week) early in this fat loss process, then taper it down to the lower end of the range (0.75 lbs/week) as I get closer to my goal. Being a bit more aggressive when you have more fat stored in your body and less aggressive as you get leaner is a smart strategy that bodybuilders use to help prevent muscle loss during a cutting phase.
The date for achieving this goal is December 18th, 2015 (8 week cutting phase). We’re going on a mini vacation that weekend and I’m looking forward to hanging around the pool while sporting some ripped abs. One of the benefits of being shredded at this time is that I won’t feel guilty about indulging a little bit during the holidays. My body will be primed to soak up the Christmas meals. It will be a fun and exciting way to kick off a new muscle building phase while experiencing those rebound gains. It’s also going to feel great finishing the year strong with a great sense of achievement, which will carry over into 2016 where I achieve even bigger goals.
I’m going to begin this cutting phase with a 20% caloric deficit. Based on previous experience, this should result in a 1.5 pound weight loss for me each week. I determine my 20% caloric deficit by first calculating my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) using the Harris-Benedict Formula. This will provide me with an estimation of how many calories I would burn if I didn’t move at all throughout the entire day.
66.5 + (13.75 X weight in kg) + (5.003 X height in cm) – (6.775 X age in years)
655.1 + (9.563 X weight in kg) + (1.85 X height in cm) – (4.676 X age in years)
Based on this calculation, my BMR is 1634 calories
Now I need to factor in my activity for the week in order to determine my Total Daily Expenditure. The moderate activity factor seems to work best for most Physique Artists. It accounts for 3-5 days of exercise per week. If anything it will cause you to slightly undershoot your caloric target, which is better than overshooting when you are in a cutting phase.
You will calculate your TDEE by multiplying your BMR by the moderate activity factor of 1.55.
My TDEE is 1634 x 1.55 = 2533 calories.
Now it’s time to calculate my caloric intake based on a 20% deficit. Simply multiply your TDEE by 20% and subtract that number from your TDEE.
2533 x .20 (20% deficit) = 506.6
2533 – 506.6 = 2026.4
Therefore my daily caloric target would be 2026.4 calories during this fat loss phase. I’m simply going to round things off and aim to consume 2000 calories per day or 14,000 calories for the week.
I prefer to look at my diet on a weekly basis rather than daily. Some days I’m not quite as hungry and can get away with consuming 1700-1800 calories. Other days my appetite is a bit larger and I may end up consuming 2100-2300 calories. It’s kind of an intuitive calorie cycling approach. As long as I achieve my target of 14,000 calories for the week I’m golden!
NOTE: As with all caloric intake calculators, this is simply an estimation. You could use more detailed equations or the most basic formula of multiplying 12 x bodyweight for men and 11 x bodyweight for women. Either way, this is simply your starting point. From here you will need to pay close attention to how your body is responding to the caloric intake. If you are within the target weight loss range for the week… Great! If not, make the necessary adjustments.
After setting my caloric target I like to give myself some macronutrient targets to aim for.
Protein = 1.2 x bodyweight
Fat = 0.3 x bodyweight
Carbs = remaining calories
NOTE: I’m not rigid in my approach. These are more like ball park goals to me. As long as I’m not too far off for each macronutrient and I hit my caloric target for the day, I don’t get overly concerned or stress over it.
Based on these calculation and my caloric target, here’s what my macronutrient breakdown would look like;
190g protein (760 calories)
48g fat (432 calories)
202g carbs (808 calories)
NOTE: Protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram, whereas fat has 9 calories per gram. After subtracting the protein and fat calories from my daily caloric target I had 808 calories remaining for my carb intake. I divided that number by 4 to convert the carb calories to grams.
I track my caloric and macro intake with MyFitnessPal. It’s not a perfect tool, but it’s helpful.
My Approach To Flexible Dieting
My #1 diet rule is that I MUST enjoy every meal I eat, with 90-95% of my calories coming from natural, minimally processed, nutrient rich foods. In fact, I absolutely crave every meal I eat. This approach makes it much easier to comply to my calorically restricted diet.
The remaining 5-10% of the calories in my diet can come from heavily processed food, which is 100-200 calories per day based on my caloric target. This may be a few Oreo cookies, a small bowl of Chapman’s Caramel Pecan Crunch frozen yogurt, or a very large handful of Sun Chips.
There are days when I look forward to these processed foods, but other days I have absolutely no desire for them, mainly because I freak’n love the nutrient rich foods I consume. I’m not going to eat heavily processed food each day just because it fits my macros. If I want it, I’ll have it. If I don’t want it, I’ll bank those calories for another day in the week where I can have a larger portion. As long as I stay within 700-1400 calories of processed food each week, I’m good to go.
I tend to be a creature of habit with nutrition. I eat many of the same meals whether I’m in a fat loss or muscle building phase. The portion size is the only thing that differs. There are three meals that I eat most days of the week. They are;
Meal 1 – Eggs and Veggies
351 calories | 20g carbs | 13g fat | 39g protein
8 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
Ketchup or salsa
Meal 2 – Oats, Blueberries, and Protein Powder
435 calories | 60g carbs | 4g fat | 36g protein
2/3 cup oats
1/2 cup blueberries
1 scoop protein powder
Meal 3 – Greek Yogurt and Berries
265 calories | 32g carbs | 0g fat | 32g protein
285 grams plain Greek yogurt
1 cup mixed berries
I crave each of these meals. I have a tough time going without either of them. Once or twice a week I may substitute the scrambled eggs and veggies for three sunny side up eggs with two slices of toast, which is another meal that I absolutely love. Having three staple meals in my nutrition plan makes it easier to follow. It’s somewhat mindless. Dinner is where I get creative and add some variety.
Up to this point in my day I have consumed approximately 1051 calories, 113g carbs, 18g fat, and 107g protein. Basically half of my daily calories and macros are remaining. I can either have a large meal for dinner or a moderate meal and decent size snack.
Meal Timing and Frequency
On average I’m consuming 4 meals per day. It’s simply a preference of mine. If you prefer fewer meals with larger portions, go for it.
I typically wake up, have a cup of coffee with a drop of milk, then have breakfast an hour or two later. Some days I’m hungry right away, so I’ll eat. Other days I’m not hungry for a few hours, so I’ll wait. No rule set in stone. I just listen to my belly.
I also don’t have a set rule about not eating beyond a certain time in the evening. I do prefer to go to bed feeling a little hungry though. I enjoy waking up in the morning feeling light rather than still feeling full and uncomfortable from the previous night. It’s just a personal preference though. Something that I respond well to. You may prefer the opposite… and that’s cool too.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about creating a plan that suits your lifestyle and personality.
I don’t get caught up in pre and post workout meal details. All of my meals are pretty well balanced, providing me with fuel for the workout and fuel to recover from the workout. You won’t find any magical shakes or potions here.
I’m not going to eliminate alcohol from my diet during this cut, however I will keep my alcohol consumption to a minimum. I may have a light beer after my Wednesday night hockey game if I feel like it and a shot of whisky with Pepsi Max when I play darts every other Friday night. I’m definitely going to enjoy a glass of red wine with my wife Angie this Friday to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary and I’ll enjoy a drink or two at a Halloween party next Saturday.
My plan is to have no more than two drinks per week and I’m certain there will be a few weeks where I don’t drink any alcohol at all.
As you can see, other than those initial calculations, which only take a couple minutes to complete, my nutrition approach is pretty darn straight forward. No secret fat burning foods. No cleanses or detoxes. No forbidden foods. No miracle pills. Speaking of which…
There isn’t much I’m taking in terms of supplements right now. I enjoy whey protein powder for the convenience, flavour, and health benefits. I’m also taking 300mg of magnesium. If I’m feeling sluggish pre-workout I’ll take 200mg caffeine. That’s it for the moment. I’ll start taking creatine again soon.
I am 100% bro! I’m a bodybuilder who views training as an art form and the body as a work of art. I love the feeling of iron in my hands. I feel empowered by lifting some heavy shit and I get a rush from the pump of a high rep set. Physique Training is my preferred method of resistance training. It fuels my passion and simply ‘feels right’ on so many levels to me.
As with diet, there is no single best fat loss workout. There are countless workout plans that can help you achieve your goal. Don’t follow a workout plan based on hype and big promises. Follow a plan that resonates with you. One that suits your goal, lifestyle, and personality. One that you’ll truly enjoy and stick with for the long term.
As is the case 95% of the time, I’m following workouts from the Aesthetic Muscle Plan, which strategically incorporates a variety of training techniques, training frequencies, exercises, and rep ranges.
80% of the time I’m lifting in the 6-10 rep range, 10% in the 3-5 rep range, and 10% above 10 reps.
At the moment I’m in the middle of a four week 4 day body part split routine where I’m training each muscle with high volume once every 5 days.
Day 1: Chest & Triceps
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Shoulders
Day 4: Back & Biceps
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Repeat cycle
I have a preference for high volume body part splits while cutting. I find that it allows me to get more work done and I recover better, especially while incorporating cardio and HIIT.
I’m also hitting abs and calves a bit each day and really blasting them along with forearms once a week.
Once this four week phase is complete I will follow a one week full body Metabolic Resistance Training plan. Then we’ll move onto a new four week split workout.
For cardio I take my dog for a 30 minute brisk walk daily. We move at a pretty darn good clip, which usually has me work up a bit of a sweat. It’s great for active recovery and stress relief.
Twice a week I’ll be performing 20 minutes on the Stepmill at a steady pace.
Twice a week I’ll be performing 20 minutes of battle ropes and skipping, alternating back and forth for 30 seconds each.
Once a week I play hockey in a competitive mens league.
Cardio isn’t necessary for fat loss. There have been plenty of cutting phases where I didn’t do any cardio at all. Cardio is something that I’ve pretty much avoided (aside from walking my dog), for quite a while now.
I just recently started adding it in toward the end of this recent muscle building phase to improve the removal of waste from my working muscles and the delivery of nutrients to my recovering muscles. After adding cardio into my weekly plan, I noticed that my performance improved during my workouts. I wasn’t sucking wind as much after a set of squats or deadlifts. I also noticed that I could extend some of the high rep sets I was doing. Not to mention the health benefits that come with improved cardiovascular conditioning.
I’m really enjoying the battle ropes and skipping combo. It’s a great challenge and a great upper body pump. The skipping sets my calves on fire too.
It may sound bizarre, but I actually enjoy the Stepmill as well. It’s definitely a great calve workout for me. It helps that it’s only 20 minutes and I usually get caught up watching sports highlights while I’m on it.
Cardio has the potential to accelerate the fat loss process by increasing your daily caloric burn. You just need to be careful and pay close attention to how your body is responding. Make note if the cardio of your choice is suppressing your appetite or increasing your appetite. If it causes you to eat more than you burn, it can be counter productive. Some people like to do cardio so they can eat more. Know yourself and what works best for you.
Also be aware of how your body is recovering. Push the cardio too hard and you may run yourself into the ground. I’ve been there. Doing too much cardio had a negative impact on my workouts. I couldn’t push as hard. It also impacted my life outside of the gym. I found that when I was away from the gym I just wanted to sit on my ass. I was exhausted. I may burn a few hundred extra calories from the cardio, but if I’m less active throughout the day it’s a trade off. I’d rather burn 300 calories playing with my kids than go out for a jog.
NEAT – Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
NEAT is the energy expended while doing activities that aren’t exercise related, such as walking around the house or to the mailbox, gardening, household chores, standing around, or even fidgeting. Calories expended from NEAT can make a VERY big impact on your weekly fat loss.
NEAT has been shown to decrease when you are in a caloric deficit. If you don’t have the energy coming in to fuel your needs, you may feel the urge to simply loaf around any chance you can get. This makes it that much more important to make a conscious effort to get off your butt and move around. Just because you went to the gym and did some cardio today, doesn’t give you a free pass to lazyville the remainder of the day.
I find any excuse to move around throughout the day. I do spend a fair amount of time in front of my computer each day, so I have two different work stations… one where I can sit down at and one where I can stand up and comfortably type away. I spend at least half the time using the standing work station.
My wife loves it when I’m in fat loss mode. She tells me that she’s only thinking about me and my goals after creating my honey-do list of stuff that needs to get done around the house 😉
Your daily success all begins with a good night sleep. Studies have shown that it’s much more difficult to burn fat and build muscle when you are sleep deprived. Make every effort to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Here’s some of the things that help me get a great night sleep.
*** Turn off all screens 60-90 minutes before bed.
*** Write out my to-do list for the next day and prioritize it.
*** Do a brain dump on paper and just let out everything that’s on my mind.
*** Read a book.
*** Snuggle with my family.
Stress management is another important factor during your fat loss journey. Daily walks with my happy-go-lucky dog, hot baths, and warm hugs are my cures when dealing with stress. Having an attitude of gratitude is also very helpful.
I have an UNSTOPPABLE attitude and a firm belief in myself. Nothing is going to stop me from achieving this goal. This doesn’t mean that I will be perfect or that I won’t face setbacks during this 8 week cutting phase. It simply means that no matter what challenge I am faced with, I will continue to push forward until I achieve my goal. In many cases, the challenges cause me to push even harder than ever before.
I’m doing this for me. I know how much it means to me. I know how much I thrive from this lifestyle. I know how it helps me grow as a person. I know my standards and my desire to continuously strive for my true potential. I don’t care what others think… This is about being true to myself… following my heart and passion.
Every time I get selfish in this way, countless important people in my life win. Whether it’s friends and family who feed off my enthusiasm and zest for life, or my fellow Physique Artists who become inspired by my progress and use that inspiration to fuel their actions… it’s always great to see how my extraordinary efforts positively impact those around me.
As you can see, a great deal of thought goes into my fat loss plan. It may be straight forward and no-nonsense, but it’s also very strategic and well thought out.
Every cutting phase presents me with new opportunities to learn and grow. I’m really looking forward to sharing this journey with you so we can learn and grow together.
If you have any questions for me throughout this fat loss process that you would like me to address in my daily video journal, please do not hesitate to ask.
Let’s finish this year strong together!
Sculpt a Masterpiece,
About The Author
Scott Tousignant, BHK is a Physique Coach and Elite Natural Bodybuilder with the UFE.
Scott specializes in helping regular men and women sculpt their body into a chiseled work of art.
Viewing training as an art form and your body as a sculpture is a simple shift in mindset that brings out the beauty in your ongoing body transformation.
The art of molding and chiseling an aesthetically pleasing physique with spectacular symmetry, proportions, and carved out detail is one of life’s most rewarding and fulfilling experiences…
…It’s an opportunity for self growth and self discovery that will impact every area of your life.
Learn more about Scott’s physique-focused training programs:
AMPlify Aesthetic Muscle Gains and Strip Away Stubborn Sacks Of Fat with AMP – Aesthetic Muscle Plan
Get a taste of Scott’s hardcore physique training programs with Physique Phreak
More Places For Us To Connect…