Becoming a bodybuilder requires years of hard training, strict dieting, dedication and patience. Once you have built a substantial amount of muscle mass, you need to lose fat for competitions. According to John Hansen, former competitive bodybuilder and author of "Natural Bodybuilding," the average man has up to 25 percent body fat, while the ideal body-fat percentage for a competing bodybuilder is between 5 percent and 10 percent.
Reduce your calorie consumption by 500 per day. To lose fat you need to consume fewer calories than you burn so your body has to tap into fat stores for energy. According to Lyle McDonald, author of "The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook," dropping 500 calories should ensure that you lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. A very high calorie deficit can result in muscle loss and slow your metabolic rate, leading to fat loss plateaus.
Consume two grams of protein per kilogram of body-weight each day, advises sports nutritionist Dr. John Berardi. While this may be higher than the United States Department of Agriculture's recommended intake of 46 to 56 grams per day, according to Berardi, athletes and bodybuilders need a higher protein intake, as it speeds up fat loss and maintains muscle. Get your protein from meat, fish and dairy products.
Split the rest of your calories between carbohydrates and fats. Carbs are needed for energy and muscle preservation, while fat is essential for optimal hormone production. Look to nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and sweet potatoes for your carbs and focus on nuts, olive oil, nut butters, avocados and oily fish for your fat intake.
Increase your cardiovascular activity. When losing fat you still need to weight training, as not only does this aid with building and retaining muscle, it also boosts your metabolism and burns calories. Cardio however will help burn extra calories and shed fat faster. Perform two 45-minute low to moderate intensity steady state sessions per week, such as jogging, swimming or using a machine in the gym, along with two higher intensity workouts like playing sports, running hills or interval training.
- Natural Bodybuilding; John Hansen: 2005
- The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook; Lyle McDonald: 2008
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.