When asking different fitness enthusiasts about their ideal look, the answers will probably be very different. So how much muscle mass is considered perfect and even what is perceived as balanced with respect to physical attributes is very individual and purely subjective. However, most fitness freaks probably agree on one thing: a low body fat percentage represents discipline and an athletic body.
Are you generally slim and are striving for an obvious six-pack and more muscles, or are your well-defined muscles hiding behind fat? Your starting condition determines if you first need to focus on building muscle or can start with fat reduction straight away. If you are naturally very slim but long for a more muscular, athletic body, reducing your body fat percentage may be counter-productive with respect to your actual goal. When reducing body fat the body not only uses fat but also muscles. We will address why and how to best prevent minimising muscle mass loss later.
... it truly is! If you supply your body with less energy in form of food than it needs to survive over a longer period, you will lose weight. And if you eat more than your body needs, it will store the excess energy for “times of famine" – and you will gain weight! Seems logical – and it is! But wait, this is only the weight portion! Your body weight is made up of water, muscle and fat, among other things. These are the three elements you can lose or gain when losing or gaining weight. It is important to know that your body is a very economic system. It only thinks about survival, and will therefore hold on to energy reserves, i.e. fat, for the longest possible time and do away with water and muscle the fastest. For the body, excess muscle is merely dead weight which is not essential for survival yet also needs to be supplied with nutrients. So there is simply no need to maintain it during times of famine.
So we need to distinguish between non-specific weight loss and intentionally reducing body fat.
To lose fat we utilise the body’s survival instinct. With a sort of continued calorie deficit it resorts to the body’s emergency stores, our fat stores, to ensure the body’s vital organs and processes are supplied.
There is no magic number of how big the calorie deficit needs to be to guarantee losing fat and maintaining as much muscle as possible. Every body is different and how quickly or slowly the body responds to a calorie deficit depends on a number of factors such as age, gender, weight, physical activity level, physique, basic metabolic rate, and much more. So a man 1.75m tall weighing 75kg could rapidly lose fat when consuming 2500 calories a day whilst a woman of the same height and weight will gain weight.
Men have clear advantages over women with respect to losing fat*. Having more muscle mass and on average a lower body fat percentage, along with hormone make-up by nature give men a better basis.
Despite differences between men and women with respect to the calorie deficit, we can use the following pyramid as a general rule for success:
At the top is your energy use. This is the basis of your diet plan. Know your basic metabolic rate and determine the number of calories which will not cause you to lose or gain weight!
Start with a deficit of 10-20% of your basic metabolic rate, depending on your activity level. The more active you are, the smaller a deficit you can use at first.
Expect a moderate weight loss of 0.5 to a maximum of 1% of your body weight per week to ensure you will not be using up valuable muscle mass!
Example: For a person weighing 75kg this means a weight loss of 375 to 750g per week.
If you plateau for more than two weeks, raise the calorie deficit by 5-10% again or increase your activity level.
*based on moderately active people
The protein requirement is 2g per kilogram of body weight, with 15-25% of the total calories coming from fat, with the minimum being 0.5g per kilogram of bodyweight. (Attention: women generally need more fat and should start with 25%!) The remaining calories will come from carbohydrates.
Don’t forget to add micronutrients and plenty of water to your diet. Vitamins and minerals promote normal body functions and good health. On a low calorie diet these may be difficult to consume through your diet, which is why supplements can be an important tool particularly to lose fat.
Those having difficulty covering their protein requirement through their meals will ideally use a high quality whey protein. In addition to supplementing with whey protein and essential amino acids to protect the muscles [possibly add NITRO AMINO link], other supplements are helpful with reducing fat. A low calorie diet makes your immune system more vulnerable. To strengthen the immune system it is advisable to take ZINC, OMEGA-3 and GLUTAMINE daily. To ensure your won’t be lacking vitamins, ESN has developed the VITAMIN STACK. Each capsule contains lots of folic acid, vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C. Additionally, it’s very important to take vitamin D3, particularly in winter. Since it is fat-soluble, it can easily be taken with Omega-3.
...but don’t forget about regeneration! Sleep is just as important for losing fat as it is for building muscle. If you’re having trouble sleeping in the later stages of your diet, taking MAGNESIUM each night can be beneficial to your quality of sleep.
Be patient! You didn’t gain those 10kg in three weeks, so you won’t lose them in three weeks either. Discipline and perseverance are key: Just like one pizza won’t make you fat, one salad won’t make you thin! Stick to your plans and give it your all. Set a time frame during which you make a promise to yourself to give it your all!