It's normal to want to tackle a six-pack and a 400-pound squat at the same time, but if you're at a zero-pack and a 225-pound squat, you've got a long way to go in both directions. I learned this the hard way when I set my sights on getting stronger and leaner at the same time to fulfill my weight class in competitive strongman competitions. Fortunately, I learned from my missteps, and I'm now able to maintain a nutritional approach that allows me to hang with my insanely strong competition. Here's what you need to know about chipping away at the pounds on the scale and placing them on the bar! There's no way around calorie balance; if you want to lose weight, you must be taking in fewer calories than you expend.
To figure out the calories you need to place yourself into a slight deficit, first plug your information into the calculator below. After this period of time, evaluate the trend in weight change—did you gain, maintain, or lose weight? If you feel your strength start to slip, increase your calories a bit so that you're on the lower end of this range. For those seeking a purely physique-based goal, it's commonplace to determine protein and fat macros before "filling" the remaining calories with carbohydrates. When performance is the goal, I recommend prioritizing protein and carbohydrates (before tending to fat) to support hard training. Fat: Fat is essential for cell communication within the body, nutrient storage, and optimal hormonal health. To fuel for consistent weight loss and strength gains, you must manipulate your nutrition strategically. To top off your fuel tank and support recovery, it's imperative that you consume ample carbohydrates around training. Protein: Hitting your daily protein goal is important, but it's equally important to distribute protein intake across all meals throughout the day to hit a minimum amount every few hours. For most athletes, this means regularly consuming 25-35 grams of protein from quality sources.
Carbohydrates: To top off your fuel tank and support recovery, it's imperative that you consume ample carbohydrates around training. I've found that placing most of my carbohydrates in the meals after my training has allowed me to continue performing well while leaning out. Fat: I recommend consuming the majority of your fat away from training, because fat slows down digestion, delaying delivery of protein and carbohydrates to your muscles. Adjusting intake to coincide with your training will ensure you consistently take steps toward leaning out, rather than fluctuating throughout the week. Think about it: By setting a blanket intake of 2,400 calories per day, you may very well be in a deficit on your harder training days, but potentially in a surplus on your light and off days. There's no reason to tweak fat day to day to compensate for a change in your carbohydrates. This is a simple system that allows you to eat adequate amounts of food while still chipping away progressively at your fat reserves.
Now, let me be realistic: it is impossible to lose fat without losing muscle, and vice versa, without the use of drugs.

You spent the whole off-season working hard to pack on extra size, and you gained 10, 15, or maybe even more weight than you ever thought possible, and now you are ready to compete. After spending the last 8 weeks trying to gain muscle, I am now switching over to a fat loss cycle, and I don't plan on competing until March. There are many key things to do in order to insure muscle preserving when you try and lose weight for a show or any other reason.
When you go on a calorie-restricted diet, make sure that you are still taking in enough protein.
When in the off-season, bodybuilders tend to eat high amounts of carbs, which is perfectly okay. Right now I am eating 6 meals a day, and that is a good number to stick by, if your lifestyle allows it. Meal 1 is usually supplement, then food, then supplement, and so on until I get three of each in for the day.
Here is the current diet I am on that is going to get me ripped to the bone for my first show next March. Find out how to do it right with tips from one of the top lightweight strongman athletes in the world! What's worse, working toward both shred and strength at the same often results in either a significant loss of strength, or the scale not budging. Yes, I dropped 20 pounds quickly, but I also watched my testosterone and energy drop to an all-time low. When all other variables such as your training, macro amounts, and nutrient timing are in place, you can absolutely gain strength while in a deficit. This will provide you with an estimate of the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight. However, when performance is the goal, I recommend prioritizing protein and carbohydrates to support hard training. I recommend first dropping carbohydrates from your pre-workout meal and any subsequent meal outside the immediate post-workout meal. Keep fat to a minimum at both your pre- and post-workout meal to optimize performance and recovery. It allows me to slowly chip away at body fat by maintaining a daily slight caloric deficit while still supporting hard training. To optimize this approach, keep protein and fat stable across the board, but manipulate carbohydrates. If you increased fat on lighter training days, you'd eliminate the caloric deficit that was created by reducing carbohydrates. Stick with it long enough, and you'll surprise yourself at what you're able to achieve—and how good you feel doing it. 12 weeks later, at your bodybuilding show, you realized you dieted so extreme that you lost 10, 15 or maybe even more muscle than that. I imagine I will know more as I lose some more weight, but my estimation is that I will compete at about 190lbs. But when you switch to losing weight, you can't cut carbs all at once, or this will put your body in a state of shock.

Eating more often allows meals to be smaller, and it keeps your metabolism going steadily without overdoing it with one huge meal. If you don't, start with 20 minutes after each weight training session, and increase it 5 minutes a week, and increase it as long as you need to burn the desired amount of fat. Try these tips out whenever you are looking to shed a few pounds, and remember, take things slow and results will come. On the other hand, cutting weight healthily and gaining strength both take time—and doing both simultaneously requires even more time.
To support hard training and your body-composition goals, align your carbohydrate intake with your daily energy demands.
Play around with different ends of each range to find an ideal amount that fuels training and recovery, but also fits into your daily calorie allotment. I have found that always consuming 0.75 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight at the post-workout meal helps me refuel for my next workout. But hitting these will help you provide the cellular machinery responsible for initiating muscle growth and recovery with the fuel it needs to execute multiple times per day.
On lower-intensity days, knock carbohydrates down a notch to compensate for decreased energy expenditure. By smart, I mean don't try and lose 30 pounds in 5 or 6 weeks, or a lot of that will be muscle. But for the next few months, I just want to work on fine-tuning some things while losing about a pound a week, maybe slightly more. This will help fuel your muscles and help keep them big, as your muscles feed off of protein to help them grow. Gradually cut the amount of carbs in each meal week by week, and you should start shedding fat without losing muscle. Three meals a day come from whole food, and the other three are supplements, like protein shakes or bars, sometimes with extra carbs.
My goal is to be at right around 10% body fat by January, allowing me to be ready for a show with 8 more weeks of hard dieting, so wish me luck. I'll definitely manipulate my carb intake around training sessions and rest days, but I don't recommend cutting carbs to spur fat loss except when absolutely necessary.
By paying attention to how much you eat and when you eat throughout the day, you can do a lot to enhance body composition and performance. Your body uses carbs for fuel and if you are on a low carb diet your body will switch to burning fat instead. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults.

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