When you’re looking to build lean muscle mass, 99% of the time especially if your genetics aren’t favourable, you should expect at least a slight increase in body fat because you should be eating more than your calorie requirement for daily maintenance.
However, if you don’t want to waste all of your hard earned muscle in a cutting down phase (and who wants to do that? Yuck, cardio!) you’d do well to limit the fat you put on during a muscle building phase.
Not to mention the benefit to your appearance by looking leaner all year round! So what can we do to keep the dreaded fat at bay?
Here are some tips I’d like to share with you:
1) Eat slow release, starchy carbs
Apart from post-workout, at all other times of the day you should be consuming low GI carbohydrates. These release energy slowly which means that your body will not release huge amounts of insulin (which shuttles nutrients into fat cells!).
At the same time you’ll feel fuller for longer and have more energy on slow release carbs which will also curb cravings and prevent over-eating of junk food. Helping to keep the fat off!
2) If, and ONLY IF, you are putting on too much – add cardio.
Yep, the dreaded cardio word. I personally avoid all forms of cardio while I’m bulking up because it robs me of the extra calories I need to build lean muscle mass.
I also have a fast metabolism so I do not want to make it faster by adding cardio but if you’re putting on too much fat you can either restrict calories, add cardio or do a bit of both.
Be sure to keep cardio light and monitor your muscle mass so that you are still gaining muscle rather than losing it.
3) Monitor your progress and calories
Monitor these 2 things so that you can correlate any information. For example, if you put on fat this week, was it because your calories were slightly higher this week?
To remedy this, you can look at cutting back the calories but continue to monitor your muscle measurements to ensure you’re still gaining and not losing lean muscle mass.
Or the problem may not be the total calorie count, but what those calories are made up of…
4) What are your calories made up of?
If most of your calories are sugary foods and/or contain high saturated fat, then of course you’ll put on fat!
Generally your protein should consist of lean animal proteins, skimmed milk, egg whites – Sources low in saturated fats basically
Your carbs should be starchy, slow release carbs as mentioned in my first point. Wholemeal bread, brown rice, sweet potato, whole wheat pasta etc.
DO NOT cut out fats completely! You just want to limit saturated fats (solid at room temperature like butter, fat on meat, cheese etc) and consume predominantly unsaturated fats from fish, seeds, olives, avocado’s as a few examples.
5) Stay hydrated!
Sounds silly that this would help with keeping fat off your body but most of the time hunger is actually thirst! Quench your thirst with water and you’re less likely to overeat and get cravings.
As a side benefit, the more water you drink, the less your body retains meaning you will look harder and tighter instead of looking like a softie!