How To Get Shredded for Summer by Focusing on Your Nutrition

by Trevor Hiltbrand | Reviewed by Advisory Board

How to get shredded: A muscular man and woman stand beside the ocean

 

 

Want to know how to get shredded? 

Let's start with what not to do: At the beginning of each year, people all over the world gear up to get in the best shape of their lives. Once the holiday hangover has cleared, everyone throws out the soda cans and sugar cookies, renews their gym membership, and goes all-in to get the physique they always wanted.

Unfortunately, most people approach health and fitness goals with the wrong mindset. The majority of the population spends the holidays eating everything in sight, only to switch to chicken salads and lemon water as soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s. Going from one extreme to another is rarely the best way to achieve fat loss success — especially if the goal is to keep the weight off forever.

The key to burning fat is to construct a plan that is realistic and sustainable. You can make significant progress in 90 days, but going 100 MPH on January 1st (i.e. overtraining and depriving yourself) is not the way to do it. Instead, you need to build a plan that builds intensity over the course of a few months. Below, we'll show you how to do just that. 

How To Get Shredded Through Nutrition

How to get shredded: Healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and healthy sources of fat

By learning how to get shredded the right way, you will see fat loss and muscle gain. And here's the best part: You don't need to wait until January to start. The best time to get in shape is today — not next year.

To find success with weight loss and muscle gain, your plan will need to focus on three pillars of physical transformation: nutrition, training, and supplementation. Building a regular exercise routine based on cardio, heavy weights, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is essential to spiking your heart rate, building muscle, and challenging various muscle groups. Meanwhile, following a healthy diet will help fuel your training program and put you at a calorie deficit. Lastly, supplementing with pre-workouts and protein powder can help optimize your nutrition plan.

If you want to shred your physique for beach season, you cannot ignore any of these three pillars of physical transformation. With that being said, nutrition is the most important part. It doesn't matter how many miles you log on the treadmill, or how many deadlifts you do — your workout plan won't matter if you aren't eating right. 

To dial-into your nutrition, you need to focus on more than your calorie intake. Below, we'll show you how to calculate your macros (protein, carbs, and fat), what the best foods for weight loss are, and how to time your meals for optimal results. 

Step One: Calculate How Many Calories You Need 

It’s common for people to follow an extreme low-calorie diet when they first begin a weight loss transformation plan. Not only will doing this make you detest dieting, it will also prevent you from losing weight (i.e. stunting your hard work) in the long run. Here's why ... 

Your body is great at adaptation. Initially, when you start a diet, you will eat fewer calories and lose weight. Over time, however, your body adapts to your new calorie intake, and you stop losing weight — so what happens then? 

Your body needs a certain amount of calories to function normally. Drastically reducing your calorie intake can be dangerous. Instead, be conservative about how many calories you cut at each stage of your weight loss plan. Continue to consume enough food to keep you satisfied and keep your energy levels high. 

To do this, use our free macronutrient calculator to calculate how many calories you need to reach your goal weight. First, you'll enter your gender, height, weight, goals, and other factors into the calculator. Then, it will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and how many calories you'll need to cut out to safely reach your goal weight. 

After determining the total calories to eat for your transformation plan, you need to determine your macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein). Our macro calculator will determine each of these numbers for you. 

But, why are macros important? Let’s break it down.

Step Two: Determine How Much Protein You Need 

How to get shredded: Proteins, including meat, eggs, dairy, legumes, and whole grains

Protein is essential to muscle building, losing fat, and ultimately getting shredded. Protein is valuable because it helps you retain lean muscle mass and promote new muscle growth. The more lean muscle you have on your body, the more fat your body will burn over time.

The Role of Protein in Getting Shredded

Protein provides a distinct advantage when it comes to weight loss because the thermic effect of protein is high. In other words, your body needs to use more energy (read: calories) to break down protein than it does for other macronutrients

Recent research shows that increasing the amount of protein in your diet is a successful strategy to reduce body weight, decrease fat mass, and ultimately prevent obesity. Researchers concluded that high protein diets (where individuals eat 25-30 grams of protein per meal) can improve appetite, bodyweight management, and cardiovascular risk factors, compared to low protein diets. 

So not only is protein great for weight loss, it’s also crucial to promoting general health.

How Much Protein Do You Need To Burn Fat? 

Most experts recommend consuming 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight while on a fat loss transformation plan. How you distribute your protein throughout the day is up to you, but most physique competitors prefer to eat 4-6 meals per day, with each meal packing up to 20-30 grams of protein, depending on body weight.

Scheduling your protein intake won't make or break your diet. However, most experts agree that consuming a fast-digesting protein source (like whey protein), within one hour of completing your workout routine will lead to more strength gains and muscle growth over time.  

What Type of Protein Sources Are Best?

If fat loss is the goal, focus on lean protein sources. Examples include:

  • Chicken breast
  • Lean red meat (flank steak, top sirloin)
  • Fish (halibut, cod, orange roughy)
  • Lean turkey
  • Protein powder (whey, plant, casein)

Remember, think of your new meal plan as a healthy lifestyle. Switch up your protein sources to keep your meals new and exciting.  

If you find that getting 20-30 grams of protein each meal is a daunting task, you may want to consider adding a whey or plant-based protein powder to your diet. Supplementing with a high quality protein powder can help you hit your protein requirements, build muscle mass, and sculpt a better physique.

Step Three: Determine How Many Carbohydrates You Need 

How to get shredded: healthy carbohydrates, including fruits and whole grains

Anyone who goes through an impressive physical transformation can speak to the importance of carbohydrates. 

Yes, some fat burning fad diets (like keto) focus on keeping carbohydrates extremely low all the time. But if you expect to have the energy to perform intense weight lifting or cardio sessions throughout the week, you’ll need to keep carbs in your diet. 

Why You Need Carbs in Your Diet 

When it comes to weight loss, research shows there is no significant difference between those who follow a low-carb diet to those who eat a high-carb diet. Instead, you should focus on the quality of your carbs (not the sheer amount of them). Numerous studies conclude that carbs are essential for sustaining and improving physical performance. Carbohydrates help you recover from difficult weight training workouts, replenish muscle glycogen (stored glucose), and give you the energy to perform at a high level. 

Now that we made the case for eating nutrient-dense carbs, allow us to say this: There is nothing wrong with tapering your carb intake gradually, over time. 

Here’s how we suggest you do this:

In the early phases of your diet, eat the highest amount of high-quality carbs you can, without gaining body fat. Over time, lower the amount of carbs you eat per day to enter the “low-carb zone.” This will decrease hunger pains, allow you to lose weight, and prevents your body from going into starvation mode (where it hoards calories). 

If you stay in a caloric deficit and eat nutrient-dense foods, you will be able to lose weight and transform your body. If you’re figuring out how to get shredded, a caloric deficit is one of the most important things to keep in mind. 

How Many Carbs Do You Need to Get Shredded? 

When it comes to carb intake, every person is unique. Everybody responds to carbs differently, which can make your optimal carb calculations difficult.

To easily calculate how many carbs you need, use our free calculator, as a starting point. As you adjust your carb intake, pay close attention to how your body responds, and adjust accordingly. If you hit a plateau, you will probably need to reduce your carb or calorie intake

Here’s an example: Let’s say there is a 200-pound man eating 300 grams of carbs, 200 grams of protein, and 65 grams of fat per day. If he follows these macros and loses 2 pounds in 7 days, he should not decrease his carb or calorie intake. However, if after five weeks he eats the same amount, yet doesn’t lose any weight, he may need to decrease his carb intake. If he cuts out 25 grams of carbs and loses an additional 1.5 pounds, he is on the right track. 

What Are the Best Sources of Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates fall into two categories: complex and simple. Complex carbs are often referred to as “slow digesting” because it takes a lot of energy for your body to break them down. Simple carbs are often referred to as “fast digesting” because the body digests them rapidly, turning them into sugar. Oatmeal, squash, and sweet potatoes are complex carbs while candy, soda, and breakfast pastries are simple carbs

Typically, it’s best to stick to complex carbs, as they offer more nutrients. If you need more carbs before or after a tough workout, you can indulge in simple carbs.

Here is a list of smart carbohydrate choices to include in your get-shredded meal plan: 

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Berries

The Best Time to Eat Carbs 

Total carbohydrate intake is one of the most crucial elements when trying to get shredded. However, when you eat those carbs (not just how much you eat) can help you see progress. In fact, research suggests that the timing of your meals — particularly those stacked with carbs — plays a crucial role in body composition changes. 

Consume the bulk of your carbohydrates in the few hours before or after your strength training workouts. For example, if you eat 200 grams of carbs per day, consume 25% of those carbs as a pre-workout meal (50 grams) and another 25% as a post-workout meal (another 50 grams). The remainder of your carb allotment can be distributed evenly throughout the day. 

Step Four: Calculate How Much Fat You Need 

How to get shredded: Healthy fats, including avocado, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish

You may think that eating more fat sounds counterproductive to weight loss, but the opposite is true.

Despite what many critics might say, fat is essential for anyone who wants to get shredded and lead a healthy life. Fat intake plays a crucial role in hormone regulation, brain function, and joint mobility. If your fat intake is too low, you may experience brain fog, restlessness, and mood swings. 

How Much Fat Should You Eat on a Weight Loss Plan? 

Of all the macronutrients, fat is the most calorie dense. For every gram of carbohydrate you consume, you’re consuming 4 calories. With fat, you are consuming 9 calories for every 1 gram of fat you take in. 

Because of this, most people need to be careful about how many grams of fat they consume to stay in a caloric deficit. Keep in mind that just two tablespoons of peanut butter contains a whopping 16 grams of fat and 200 total calories. If you are only consuming 2,000 calories per day on your diet plan, that peanut butter is 10% of your total daily calories!

To calculate how much fat you need, we again refer you to our easy macro calculator. In general, you want to consume between 20-30% of your daily calories from fat. If you are consuming 2,000 calories per day, that equals 400 total calories, or 44 grams of fat per day. You can also bump that number up to 25%, which would be 55 grams of fat, or 30%, which would be 66 grams of fat. It comes down to what works best for your body.

Once you determine how many grams of fat you need to consume each day, you need to select health fat sources to add to your diet. Avoid trans fats (that have no nutritional value) and most saturated fats. Instead, choose fats rich in healthy fatty acids.  

Which Kind of Fat Is Best?

Anytime you are on a fat loss diet, you need to be very careful about your food choices — particularly, when it comes to fat. Choose healthy fats, including heart-healthy oils, nuts and seeds, eggs, and healthy meats for your meal plan. Examples include: 

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Brazil nuts
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Fat from meats, such as salmon, steak, etc.
  • Egg yolks
  • Fish oil
  • Some fat from dairy

How To Get Shredded by Fine-Tuning Your Nutrition Plan

If you want to get shredded, you have to pay attention to your nutrition. To make this process easier, we highly recommend using our free macro calculator to determine your optimal calorie and macro intake. Once you have these rough numbers, you can fine-tune your meal plan based on your progress. 

To see results, we recommend watching how your bodyweight responds to your meal plan, taking note when you hit a plateau. You may want to weigh your food, so you know how many grams of macros you’re getting. In addition, monitor your energy levels, to ensure you’re eating enough (yes, it’s possible to not eat enough and delay progress). 

Healthy carbs, fat, and protein sources matter when devising a weight loss meal plan. To get more protein in your diet and start getting shredded, try out our 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein in your morning smoothies, or as a post-workout snack.

 




Trevor Hiltbrand
Trevor Hiltbrand

Author

Trevor Hiltbrand is one of the owners/co-founders of Transparent Labs and head of content creation. He got his start with supplement research back in 2013 when he began researching cognitive enhancement. With the help of the Transparent Labs Expert Panel and Advisory Board, we aim to bring our evidence based nutrition and exercise research to the world.



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