When most people think of dieting, their brain automatically associates it with lean body fitness models on the covers of health magazines. The trouble is that not every diet works for every person.
While we all revel in the idea of having a ripped body, we need to know how to obtain one in a safe and effective manner in our individual fitness journey.
Here’s how to do so without dieting!
What is ‘Dieting’ Actually?
The concept of ‘dieting’ became popular in the 19th century. An overweight businessman named Horace Fletcher managed to shed fat and lose weight. He didn’t exactly obtain a ripped body, but it was the start of something.
Mr. Fletcher recommended chewing food until it became liquid as a way to prevent overeating, and, thus, the Chewing Diet was born.
While Mr. Fletcher hadn’t exactly “discovered” an exact science behind the human body and fat loss, he had managed to make people question their eating habits.
The trend of diets set in quicker than most bodybuilders wolfing down cake after they step off of the show stage. There have been many extreme fads, from the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet in the 1950s to the Drinking Man’s Diet in the 1960s.
We always think we’ve seen them all until a new one comes along that shocks us … but not enough to turn everyone away from it; why is that?
Because novelty sells.
We seem to be in constant need of the next best thing instead of focusing on the things that matter most, like rest days, calorie intake, and training with more weight. Diet fads will never be a thing of the past as long as each new one that comes along is made more and more alluring with its promises.
A quick tip: if it promises you that results will happen overnight or that one specific type of food is magic, run.
The diet phase normally comes around in most people’s lives when a specific event or season is coming up, and they’re wanting specific things (i.e., looking ‘good’ naked, flaunting a six-pack at the pool party, or simply having a low body fat percentage).
If you’re looking for a diet that claims to promote muscle gain, a lower fat percentage, or a healthier lifestyle, then look no further than planet Earth.
From low carbs to high carbs, from no meat to only meat. We’ve got keto, plant-based, carnivore, Atkins, fruitarian, intermittent fasting, juice fasting, and even water fasting diets now.
But it’s still not safe to say, “we’ve got it all” because every time we think we do, boom, there’s a new diet … and a shirtless guy in a grocery store telling you why seed oils are the root cause of sickness and unhappiness.
While novelty definitely sells, it can be very dangerous, both to physical and mental health.
I’ve Heard About Calories In Vs. Calories Out?
So how does energy balance fit into dieting?
Well, no matter if you’re following a plant-based diet or a carnivore diet, the amount of energy you consume vs. the amount you expend will have the biggest impact on your ‘gains’ or losses.
For any diet to work, whether the goal is to build muscle, gain weight, lose fat, lose weight, or get ripped, it all comes down to energy balance.
Bodybuilders and the average population don’t have the same goals, yet most of them will almost certainly be on some type of diet in their lifetime. While many people may even be on the exact same balanced diet at the exact same time, they may not see the same results.
Why is this?
Because one will be consuming more calories than the other. The main variable that determines weight loss and weight gain is not a training program or a specific type of diet — it’s energy balance (how many calories you are consuming and how many you are expending or ‘burning’).
If you constantly eat more than you burn, you’ll inevitably gain weight and vice versa:
- Calorie Surplus = Weight Gain
- Calorie Deficit = Weight Loss
- Calorie Maintenance = Weight Maintained
Calorie intake and calorie output are, therefore, a huge part of any diet, no matter what diet it may be. In the end, it all comes down to energy balance.
People very rarely account for the fact that each of their caloric percentages will be different depending on the amount of each different macro they’re consuming in each different diet.
If a person chooses to follow a high-fat, low-carb diet (like the ketogenic diet) or a high-carb/fiber, low-fat diet (like the Pritikin Diet), there are various things to consider for each. Both cut out junk food and both cut calories by eliminating almost an entire macro group.
This makes counting calories seem much easier because there are fewer to count.
- Calorie counting is measuring the number of calories you consume vs. how many you expend.
- It’s an important aspect of a person’s body composition goals, but it isn’t essential.
- You can cut calories by limiting the number of sugary beverages you drink per week and limiting the amount of highly processed foods you eat per week.
It’s important to know what energy balance is because we’re all biological organisms, and biological organisms are subject to the laws of thermodynamics.
“The first law of thermodynamics states that all biological organisms require energy to survive, and energy cannot be created or consumed but rather transformed from one form to another.”
– Newton, probably
Anyone wanting to change their body composition can benefit from taking the laws of thermodynamics into their own hands (as best they can), and calorie counting and people wanting to get ripped fall into that category.
Other factors to consider include:
- Weight training and lifting weights
- Rest days
- Each kind of food has different satiety levels (some foods make you feel fuller for longer)
- Genetics and stress
Although these factors are important, the main variable is still…you guessed it… Energy balance!
As Abraham Lincoln said, “It is those that take lifting weights and energy balance seriously that enter their most ripped phase.”
Proof he said that:
This quote is also a very good test. It considers how perceptible a person is to influence when a name is thrown in front of something.
Just because a diet sounds trustworthy doesn’t mean it is. Just because a quote on the internet has a name in front of it doesn’t mean that person said it. It’s just like Seneca said, “Question everything and eat a sustainable amount of calories.”
Step 1 – Learn Your Macros!
In order to understand macros, we have to know what they are. We often hear about protein intake, but the number of carbohydrates and fats we consume matters just as much.
These are your macros:
Carbohydrates are foods that contain cellulose, starch, and sugars. These compounds are broken down in the body to release energy. They’re converted into glucose and glycogen, which are used as energy sources within the body.
The metabolism of glucose generates something called ATP, which also provides fuel for the brain to function optimally. You read that right. Carb intake is important, so those sweet potatoes and that brown rice you’ve been skimping out on can actually play a vital role in your eating plan.
* Note: Every gram of carb contains 4 calories.
Fats are foods that are usually full of oily ester. They help with vitamin absorption and energy, and they also have a big impact on cholesterol. These are foods that include animal fats, dairy, oils, seeds, and avocados.
If a person is minimally active or sedentary and eats a diet high in fat, this would make it more likely for them to have a higher body fat percentage. That’s because they’re eating more calories from their fat intake.
It’s very easy to overeat and have too many calories in a diet that prioritizes fat intake. A diet that has fat in it can still support fat loss and a change in body composition. However, it’s important to note that for every gram of fat, there’s more than double the number of calories in a gram of either protein or carbohydrates.
* Note: Every gram of fat contains 9 calories.
Proteins are foods that contain amino acids.
Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins. These are foods like beef, fish, poultry, soy, dairy, quinoa, and buckwheat.
Incomplete proteins are still proteins, although they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids. These are foods like seeds, nuts, and beans, as well as some grains.
Remember: weight gain and muscle mass gain are not the same things. The amount of muscle mass you’re able to gain comes down to a good training program, a calorie surplus, and, arguably the most important macro, protein.
* Note: Every gram of protein contains 4 calories.
Is Protein Intake Important?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Whether we’re talking about weight loss or increasing lean muscle mass, in all regards, protein is the king of all the macros. It’s the Harry to Ron and Hermione; the Luke to Leia and Han; the main Stooge out of the three, whichever one of them it may have been.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids build new proteins and aid in the recovery and growth of the cells in our bodies. In essence, protein contains all the things that are highly important in order to recover and increase lean body mass (or gain muscle).
Bonus! Due to the high satiety rate of protein, it also aids in the ability to eat fewer calories. Muscle growth isn’t just about push-ups and adding more weight onto the bar. It could be argued that in order to get ripped, the most important thing is to include more protein in your eating plan.
Each food we eat has a specific thermic effect, whether it be junk food like pizza or whole food. The thermic effect of food (TEF) is the increase in the metabolic rate after you eat. Essentially, it’s the amount of energy your body is using to digest, absorb, and metabolize the food you’re eating.
This inevitably plays a role in your energy expenditure, and guess which macro has the highest thermic effect. That’s right — protein.
It not only has the highest thermic effect, but it also has the highest satiety rate, which means protein satisfies the feeling of hunger for longer compared with the other macros. In essence, this will support fat loss and cutting calories without even tracking.
So, to put it rather simply, if you want to take the first step towards getting ripped without dieting, simply replace some of your foods (carbs and fats) with protein.
Will this really result in fat loss? Yes. Yes, it will…
Step 2 – Practice Some Food Choices
Gaining muscle and getting ripped can be a tricky task. It doesn’t all just come down to whey protein and core exercises.
In order to build muscle and get pretty lean, you need to find a balance where you’re getting enough of a macro split — and micronutrients specific to you and only you.
A calorie deficit can be created without tracking your calorie intake, and, no, you don’t have to measure your body fat percentage every day.
Can I Get Ripped Eating Whatever I Want?
You should practice specific food choices, which are known to be more satiating, lower in calories, and full of nutrients. These could be foods that are marketed as ones that burn fat or help you get a six-pack.
Here are a few tips to help you focus on food choices that promote losing fat and reduce body weight:
- Fat intake: we know that fat has the highest calorie rate per gram (9 calories per gram), so in order to lower calories, we can eat less fat. Now, this doesn’t instantly burn fat like some marketing teams will have you believe, but it does reduce calories.
- Rest day: on your rest day, you can look at eating less food since your energy expenditure isn’t that high.
- Whole foods: these are more satiating foods and more nutrient dense. They’re free from additives and have been processed as little as possible, if at all. Eat your veggies!
- Protein intake: we’ve talked about protein intake being of high importance. So don’t be afraid to add an extra portion of protein to your meals.
- Fiber intake: Time and time again, studies like this one have shown that eating more soluble fiber helps lower the risk of belly fat.
Step 3 – Accept the Limitations
Even though protein is the big brother of the macros, there are certain limitations.
A 2014 study done by Dr. Jose Antonio concluded that protein does not convert to fat or glucose well. This means that while eating enough protein is exceptional for building muscle, it may not be the best thing for energy.
This is why balance is key.
There are limitations to how much you can take on and how much you can put yourself under. Rest days and balance between your macros are highly important. If you overdo it, you can potentially cause more harm than good. So know your limits and accept your limitations.
Step 4 – Follow These Expert Diet Tips
To get ripped without dieting, you should also follow these dieting tips:
Eat More Protein
The recommended dietary allowance per day — in order to prevent deficiency — for an average sedentary adult is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kilogram). But you’re probably not average in the slightest!
If you’re going to do something, why not go all out?
We now know that anywhere between 0.73-1.1 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.6-2.5 grams of protein per kilogram) is optimal for gaining muscle and getting ripped. Have a look at this study if you don’t believe me.
Prioritize Lifting Weights and Resistance Training
While cardio is greatly important for heart health, weight training is the main factor in increasing muscle mass. So if you want to gain muscle and get ripped, then you need to pick up those weights. Muscle building doesn’t simply consist of HIIT workouts and bodyweight exercises.
Eat More Fiber and Vegetables
If you’re looking to eat healthily, then there’s no question that the data and studies show higher rates of positive health outcomes in those who consume more fiber.
Cut Down On Junk Food and Sugary Drinks.
You’ll want to cut down on junk food and high-sugar drinks for obvious reasons.
If you prioritize these things, then you’ll be decreasing your daily calorie intake. This reduces your total calories for the month and adds sufficient stimulus to your body to get ripped and gain muscle.
Consistency is key. Don’t be afraid to fall sometimes. The progress comes when you get back up and continue to do what you set out to do on your fitness journey.
If certain things work for you, that’s fantastic. However, from what we know, you don’t need to do intermittent fasting, take any supplements, or try any other dieting to get ripped and build muscle.
Getting Ripped without Dieting Conclusion
If you’re still asking yourself, “Can I get ripped eating whatever I want?” then in simple terms, the answer is: yes. You can, as long as you’re accounting for energy balance, protein intake, and sufficient weight training.
In four simple steps, to get ripped without dieting:
- Learn your macros.
- Practice some food choices.
- Accept the limitations.
- Follow expert diet tips.