I promise you guys, this right here is literally the easiest way to lean out and shred the fat. First off, when I say easy, I mean the easiest plan to adhere to and pretty much the fastest way to get the results. I'm going to do my best in explaining this perfectly to you all because I know this is something A LOT of people struggle with. I'll start with the training itself.
The awesome thing about the training aspect of leaning out is that you can do just about anything to burn calories. So, you can choose a traditional strength and hypertrophy (muscle building) routine and that will still work if your actual goal is to lean out. Why? Because in that type of training program, you're seriously targeting all your muscles through intense weight training... and that of course burns a shit ton of calories lol. The only caveat that I will add to this training portion is that you really shouldn't do excess cardio.
PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T PLACE ALL THE EMPHASIS ON CARDIO AND ABS TRAINING. I needed to capitalize that. I see it all the time in the gym. These guys who are clearly 'cutting' will still do some weight training which is great but then they spend another 45 to 60 min doing cardio... wtf. You're weight training to remind your muscles that they're needed, that way, your body doesn't attack your muscles for an energy source, it'll target your fat instead as well as your glucose stores of course. If you are going to do cardio, just do some high intensity interval training (HIIT). With that, you can burn a lot of calories in a short period of time by doing something intense for 1 min then lowering the intensity for another min then repeat. There are different ways but that's a general way to do it. You can do 1 min high and 2 min low to start then eventually work up to something like 2 min high and 30 sec low if you're a real boss. Just do that for 10 to 15 min and you're golden for cardio.
So to summarize the training portion, choose any weight training program (one that emphasizes less rest between sets is optimal) and do 10 to 15 min of HIIT cardio anywhere from 2 to 4 times per week. Simple, no?
Now for the food... this is where everyone fucks up lol. No one likes counting calories... but the trick to manipulating your body composition is understanding energy balance. We lose a ton of energy due to any sort of physical and even non physical activity (you burn calories in your sleep!) So we need to consume energy through food to balance it all out. If you consume less than you burn, by definition, you will lose weight. But a quick lesson in calories... your food is made up of protein, carbohydrates, and fats (macronutrients) and all of these combined are what comprises your calories. Each gram of carbohydrates and each gram of protein yields 4 calories and each gram of fat contains 9 calories. So, if you are eating something that has 5 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat then the total calories would be 105 calories (do the damn math... 5 grams of protein = 20 calories + 10 grams of carbs = 40 calories + 5 grams of fat = 45 calories... add them all up and you get 105 calories).
Why is this important? Because we wanna get the right macronutrient ratio that will optimize fat burning and muscle retention. If you burned 3000 calories a day and consumed 2500 calories from your food you might think that you're doing an amazing job and you should lose weight! guess what? You WILL lose weight... but it's not entirely the kind of weight you wanna lose. What if out of those 2500 calories, 1700 calories came from fat? (1700 calories ÷9 calories per gram = 189 grams of fat) 189 grams of fat is a ridiculous amount to consume. That means out of the 2500 total calories, 68% of your diet was fat. With a ratio that fucked, how can you expect to burn fat and retain muscle? Get the right ratio! You always hear people saying eat lots of protein right? So then do it! Here's my rule of thumb: eat around 1.1 grams to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if you're a 200 pound dude trying to lean out, then 220g to 240g is a good amount of protein to consume.
Another tip? Increase the shit out of your fibre. Rule of thumb: 10 to 15g of fibre for every 1000 calories you consume. I simply try to eat a minimum of 30g a day. If I consume more, I make sure to drink lots of water. Now to specifically find out how much calories you need to consume to lose weight you need to first find out your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This means, the amount of calories you burn at complete rest (doing fuck all). How do you find that out? Google it. I'm not joking, there's a BMR calculator you can google and it'll give you the total calories you burn at rest. THEN you take that number and multiply it by your activity level. Google that too lmao. Seriously, after you get your BMR just google "BMR x activity level" and you'll find the Harris-Benedict equation which will take into consideration how much calories you burn and BOOM you get the avergae amount of calories you burn on a daily basis AKA your maintenance calories! So, if that number turned out to be 3000 calories, that means if you eat 3000 calories, your weight shouldn't change. So, if you're trying to cut, EAT LESS THAN 3000 calories but not too much less!
I always tell people to lean out slowly or you'll burn out fast and regain the weight. That being said, eat as much as possible while still losing weight. As a rule of thumb I just tell people to shave off 500 calories from your maintenance calories and start from there. So from that 3000 calories maintenance example, that would end up being 2500 calories. Now remember, calories are comprised of proteins, carbs, and fats. If you're eating 2500 calories, how much protein carbs and fats should you have? There's no one answer to this question... there are multiple ways to go about this. The ratio that works best for me personally is 40% of calories coming from protein (0.40x2500cal/4g per cal = 250 grams of protein) 40% carbs (same calculation will also give you 250 grams of carbs since it's equally as calorically dense as protein) and then 20% fats (0.2x2500/9g per cal = 56 grams of fat. Now, depending on your starting weight, 250 grams of protein might be too much, so in this case I would go with 35% protein, 45% carbs, and 20% fats.
Guys I know this is a lot of information but understanding all of this is the exact reason why I'm able to stay in shape. I manipulate these numbers to my advantage and squeeze in stuff like Boston cream donuts and popcorn. I know the macronutrients on those snacks and I just make it fit my total requirements. It's really as simple as that. When I make meal plans for people, I do all these calculation, find the right macro ratio for my clients and then make a meal plan that fits into those numbers while considering the foods they love and ones they would rather avoid.
Understanding this will set you free! This is the best way in my humble opinion for the average joe (or female equivalent to average joe) to lose fat or build muscle. We're not all bodybuilders and fitness models who have this extra level of commitment. We just wanna live a normal life and be in good shape. This is one of the best ways to do it: understand how to train and really understand what your food is made of and how that fits your needs.
I bet I confused the fuck out of all of you lol.