Ever feel like you’re losing weight so slowly that you can’t even tell you’re making progress? Many guys fall into this trap and are desperately seeking a shredding diet. While taking your time to work through the body fat loss process is important to avoid losing unwanted (and hard-earned!) lean muscle tissue, you should get there before…well, you’re 60.
In order to get shredded quickly, you need to be on top of your game. You need to be managing:
And this doesn’t even take into account all the other factors from your lifestyle and workout program you should also be looking at. ‘Big picture thinking’ as I like to call it is an absolute must to see optimal results and those who just zero in on the minute details are likely to miss out.
Fortunately, this shredding diet has you covered on the diet area of things. Follow these principles – put them into practice – and you, my friend, will be leaner than ever in no time.
looking to build your dream physique?
Take the 60-second SuperHuman Quiz to learn what the perfect plan of attack is to get your dream body in 12 weeks!
First let’s make peace with your pace. How quickly can you safely lose? For most guys, aim for one pound per week. If you have a load of fat to lose (read: 30 pounds or more), then you may be able to go higher, but if that’s the case, you’re more after a weight loss diet than a shredding diet. If you’re here right now, chances are you’re already quite lean and the 1lb./week max is for you.
First let’s address calories. To properly determine your target calorie intake, you need to know your body type.
Are you a mesomorph, ectomorph, or endomorph?
Unsure? Which way do you naturally lean?
Gain body fat easily? You’re an endomorph?
Skinny kid in high school and not much has changed? Classify yourself as an ectomorph.
Naturally quite strong and muscular – without even working out? Thank your lucky stars, you are a mesomorph.
Figure this out and now you can calculate your target calories.
Mesomorphs will want to eat around 15 calories per pound of body weight.
Ectomorphs will want to eat around 16-17 calories per pound of body weight.
Endomorphs will want to eat around 13-14 calories per pound of body weight.
Take a minute and calculate this out for yourself. This is your baseline calorie intake, meaning what it’ll take to maintain weight. To lose one pound per week, subtract 500 calories from that total.
If you want to watch a video on how to easily track your fat loss macros you can go to my youtube channel here where I break it down for you step by step as well.
Protein is easily considered to be the most important macro of all when dieting, especially on a shredding diet. Most people think protein is primarily for bulking the body up, but they are wrong.
Protein is even more essential when dieting because it’s what helps you maintain lean body mass. If you aren’t eating enough in the face of a calorie shortage, there’s a greater chance the protein you do eat will be converted into fuel and your muscles will be left with nothing (2).
Protein also has a thermic effect meaning you’ll net fewer calories eating it than other macros (1). This is because the body burns off more of the calories just breaking it down than more readily usable forms of energy such as carbs or fats.
Finally, protein is also satisfying. It’ll fill you up fast and stay in your belly, so it makes achieving your target calorie intake easier.
While general protein needs are typically set at 1 gram per pound of body weight, for dieting, you might up this to 1.2-1.5 grams/lb. The lower your calorie intake is, the higher your protein needs should be.
Many people think low carb or zero carb diets help you burn fat the fastest. And they may…but they also cause you to burn muscle fast as well. Carbs are muscle sparing, meaning the more of them you have in your diet plan, the less likely you are to lose muscle.
During intense physical exercise (think HIIT sprints or weight lifting), the body can only use glucose as energy. Fats are just a non-option. In order to get energy, the body has three sources:
- Glucose in the blood stream from carbs just eaten
- Muscle glycogen stored in the muscle cells from carbs eating previously
- Converting amino acids into glucose (a slower process, but a possible one)
The first two are clearly preferably but if no carbs have been eaten, as in the case of the very low carb diet, only option 3 exists. This is directly correlated with lean muscle mass loss.
Need another reason?
Happy to provide it.
Carbs also have a greater impact on a hormone called leptin in the body, which is designed to regulate energy balance and metabolic rate. When leptin levels start to decline, as they do when carbs and calories go down or body fat starts to drop, this slows your metabolic rate and will make you feel relatively miserable.
When you don’t have carbs in your diet, leptin levels drop faster and harder than when you do. So trust me, you want to keep those carbs in (3).
Finally, carbs are also required to keep cortisol levels down in the gym and help you lift with intensity (4). When you start looking at the training element of fat loss, you will quickly find that it’s very true that one of the key things that needs to be in place is that you maintain intensity on the bar. If you start to drop the weight, as most do when they go on low carb diets, this also tells your body that it doesn’t really need to keep its muscle tissue in place.
The trick is eating carbs that aren’t heavily processed, full of nutrients, and that contain dietary fiber (most of the time, with the exception of immediately post-workout when first is not desirable) to keep you feeling full.
Lastly we come to dietary fat on your shredding diet. Dietary fat is needed by the body to sustain optimal brain health, to help keep you feeling fuller longer (fats break down very slowly) and to help stabilize blood glucose levels.
Fat is also critical for keeping testosterone levels in check. Men who use a shredding diet and take fat to very low levels almost always notice their testosterone levels fall faster than those who don’t5.
This said, fats are very calorie dense at 9 calories per gram compared to four for carbs and protein and given the fact you do need a good level of protein and carbs each day as well, you do need to watch you don’t take your fats too high.
I recommend no more than 30% of your total daily calorie intake comes from dietary fats.
Here again, choose primarily unsaturated and omega-3 sources of fats but don’t entirely fear saturated fat. There is a close connection between getting enough saturated fat in and your overall testosterone levels.
If you want a list of my personal top 10 fat loss diet foods you can go to my youtube video I made.
Meal frequency is something that gets heavily debated a lot and some people really focus on, but it’s the lesser important of all the factors. If you can hit your protein, carb, and fat totals for the day, meal frequency is going to matter less than people think. Whether you want to eat three meals, five meals, or eight meals is up to you, but just remember, you need to hit your numbers.
From a practicality standpoint and what I find helps people adhere to the program as best as possible, I recommend eating around every 2.5-3 hours during the day. This simply tends to help keep your hunger level better controlled and helps ensure you are getting constant amino acids into your system.
Finally, a word must be mentioned on the refeed. During your shredding diet, you will stall. Plateaus happen and they can happen bad.
A refeed is essentially a period of higher calorie eating where you especially prioritize higher carbs in order to help boost leptin levels back up (that hormone we talked about in the carb section)6.
How often you need to refeed will be entirely dictated on how lean you are. If you are sub-10% body fat, expect to refeed at least once per week, if not twice per week.
If you are 10-15% body fat, once per week or even once ever two weeks should suffice. Over 15%? As a male, you probably don’t need to refeed at this point, however you can for psychological purposes every month if desired.
When on your refeed days, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Do the refeed on the day you train your lagging muscle group to maximize anabolic gains from it
- Keep fat as low as you can. This is one day where low fat is key.
- You can minimize protein to 1 gram/lb. on this day in order to maximize how many carbs can be eaten
- Avoid fructose (found in small doses in fruits and larger doses in processed foods containing corn syrup) as fructose rapidly gets converted to body fat when liver glycogen levels are high and will not impact leptin or muscle glycogen levels
That’s pretty much it. If you can follow these guidelines for your own shredding diet, you will be on top of nutrition and should feel great going forward.
Nutrition is the most important element in the fat loss game, so is not to be overlooked. You can get everything else right – a perfect workout, sufficient sleep at night, and all the right supplements but if you aren’t on top of nutrition, it won’t matter. You won’t be seeing the results you were hoping for.
- Swaminathan, R., et al. “Thermic effect of feeding carbohydrate, fat, protein and mixed meal in lean and obese subjects.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 42.2 (1985): 177-181.
- Piatti, P. M., et al. “Hypocaloric high-protein diet improves glucose oxidation and spares lean body mass: comparison to hypocaloric high-carbohydrate diet.” Metabolism 43.12 (1994): 1481-1487.
- Havel, Peter J., et al. “High-fat meals reduce 24-h circulating leptin concentrations in women.” Diabetes 48.2 (1999): 334-341.
- Hawley, John A., et al. “Carbohydrate-loading and exercise performance.” Sports medicine 24.2 (1997): 73-81.
- Hämäläinen, E. K., et al. “Decrease of serum total and free testosterone during a low-fat high-fibre diet.” Journal of steroid biochemistry 18.3 (1983): 369-370.
- Dirlewanger, M., et al. “Effects of short-term carbohydrate or fat overfeeding on energy expenditure and plasma leptin concentrations in healthy female subjects.” International journal of obesity 24.11 (2000): 1413.
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
I created SuperHuman You to give you access to the most cutting edge information so you can reach your body goals as fast as humanly possible.
I’ve been obsessed with training since 2005 when I attended IMG Academy and got to train alongside NBA, NFL and Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes.
Now I’m on a mission to transform as many lives as possible and I’m so excited you found us!
I’ve been fortunate enough to train alongside and pick the brain of some of the best pro athletes, bodybuilders and trainers in the world – and this site represents over 15+ years of insights from the world’s best.
Want more gains? Here are a few suggested actions:
Head over to the world’s largest exercise database for a wide variety of unique exercises for every muscle group
Visit our Youtube Channel where you can watch Balloon Method™ workouts for Every Muscle Group.
Check out Alpha Lion so you can learn more about 1 of the fastest growing fitness lifestyle companies in the world and stack up on the best science-backed supplements.