Increasing your body fat percentage is sometimes necessary to increase your lean body mass or muscle. To get your muscles to grow, you need to eat such a high amount of calories that often this extra energy is stored as fat. Cutting, or getting lean is a balancing act. You want to burn the extra fat you’ve gained while at the same time minimizing the amount of muscle you lose.

Calories

Since you’ll still be doing a lot of resistance training (to minimize any muscle loss) your calorie needs will remain high. For the first week, cut your calories by 500 per day. Monitor your weight, and if possible your body fat percentage. At the end of the week, determine whether you’re losing weight and body fat at a desired rate. Losing up to two pounds per week is considered healthy.

If by the end of the first week you haven’t lost any weight or gained some, which is very possible, cut your calories by an additional 500 per day. If you have lost weight but not fast enough, cut 200 calories per day. Continue this until you reach the rate of weight loss you’re happy with. Generally, the slower you lose the weight the less muscle you’ll lose. Try to be patient and avoid cutting too many calories.

Types of Food

In addition to the amount of calories you take in, the type of foods you eat can play an important role in your body fat percentage. The first foods you should cut out of your diet are those high in simple carbohydrates or sugars. They’re digested quickly and leave you feeling hungry soon after you eat. Because they are rapidly digested, they elevate your blood sugar. If you don’t use this energy right away, it will be stored as fat. This is good when you are bulking or trying to gain weight but can wreak havoc on your cutting regimen.

Complex Carbs

Eat foods that are high in complex carbs such as whole wheat bread, brown rice & pasta, oatmeal and vegetables. The carbs found in these foods will give you a more controlled release of energy meaning you won’t have to burn off the calories you ate right away. They are digested slower.

Fats and Proteins

Stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat. While eating fat won’t necessarily make you fat, your body prefers to use carbohydrates for energy, especially during exercise. You’ll also need to take in an adequate amount of protein. Eggs, meat and dairy are great sources which can help keep muscles from breaking down during weight loss. Eat meats that are low in fat such as chicken, turkey, fish and lean cuts of beef.

The Bottom Line

As with any change you make to your body, results take time. Remember that the slower you lose the weight, the more muscle you’ll keep. Make changes slowly and be patient with the change as it starts to happen.

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