10 Simple Nutrition Commandments to get You Shredded

It’s the time of year we are all looking to get shredded.
To get shredded, you have to put the work in. This includes work in the weight rooms and in the kitchen with your nutrition.

To obtain that lean shredded physique that we all want takes time. It will not happen overnight. We can’t wake up one morning and expect to have a sculpted six pack. Although how great would that be! But do not fear! We’ve got you covered. Below are 10 commandments that we believe will give you the best possible chance of getting shredded if you take action and apply them. We have no doubt that if you follow these commandments, and lift some heavy things about 3-4 times a week, you will get the shredded physique that you’re after.

Commandment #1 – Thou shall create a calorie deficit.

We are going to start with the basics.

Calories are the MOST important factor when it comes to determining how much weight we put on, or how much weight we lose. This sounds extremely simple, but if you want to lose weight or fat, you HAVE to eat less.

It still absolutely amazes us that people say that calories do not matter when it comes to fat loss. People who come out with this blanket statement are flat out disagreeing with the first law of thermodynamics. Energy cannot be destroyed or created, only transferred. Saying calories don’t matter when it comes to weight/fat loss is like saying a engine does not matter when it comes to driving a car. Your number one priority when it comes to getting shredded is making sure you are in a calorie deficit. If you don’t get that right then nothing else will matter! Cutting out gluten, wheat, dairy, and sugar does not get you shredded. Ensuring that you are in a calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time will get you shredded. We are not just talking about being in a calorie deficit for a couple of days. You need to make sure you’re in a calorie deficit for the week and weeks that follow. Consistency is the name of the game! A calorie deficit is where you consume less calories via food and drink than you burn through various metabolic pathways. To find out how many calories you need to get shredded, and how to find out if you’re in a calorie deficit, click here.

Commandment #2 – Thou shall consume adequate protein.

The Greeks had it right when it came to protein.

The word protein comes from the Greek word “proteos,” which means first one or most important one. Who is going to argue with Zeus and the rest of the Greek Gods?

They were absolutely right when it came to protein. If you want to get shredded you have to make sure you are consuming enough protein for various reasons.

  1. Because we are in a calorie deficit and we are involved in resistance training, we are breaking down a lot of protein in the muscle. It is therefore vital that we consume enough protein through our diets to offset this breakdown of protein. We need to protect our muscles like newborn babies. Eating enough protein will make sure we do this.
  2. A diet higher in protein will help with your satiety levels, meaning it will keep you fuller for longer. Because we are eating less calories, this will help keep hunger in check.
  3. A final point, protein has the highest Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) out of all of the macronutrients. As you can see in the table above this will contribute to how many calories you burn a day. So if you are eating more protein in a day, this will help with your overall calorie burn for the day. It’s a win-win situation.

How much protein? This is the million dollar question. There have literally been hundreds of studies throughout the years determining protein intakes for athletes, people involved in regular resistance training, and for people who are in a calorie deficit. In a study by Phillips and Van Loon they suggested that anywhere between 1.8 – 2.7g of protein per kg of body weight may be optimal for athletes training in a calorie deficit. However, this study did not take into consideration already lean individuals. Leaner individuals may require even higher intakes of protein. A recent review by Helms et al found that a higher intake (between 2.3 – 3.1g/kg) to be superior. This study was based on already lean individuals. This makes a case that the leaner you are, and the more training experience you have, could mean you need higher intakes of protein. To read this full study click here. You can’t go wrong with starting your protein intake between 0.8 – 1.0g per lb of bodyweight. You can then tweak this number depending on your progress.

Simple ways of nutrition to get shredded

Meat #gainz, Baby.

Commandment #3 – Thou shall not cut out carbs.

One common theme we see is that when people are looking to get shredded they will go on some crazy low carb diet.

This does not work in the long term. Remember our goal is to look lean and shredded.

We don’t want to look like we have just finished school. For this to happen we have to train with moderate to high intensities with weights. So we must drop calories, but we still must train with weights to get that shredded look we want. Our bodies preferred fuel source for this type of exercise is glycogen. It is easy for our bodies to use glycogen for energy, so we can smash it in the weights room. Having high levels of glycogen in the liver and muscles will keep workout performance high in the gym, which is what we want. After a few days of really low-carb dieting, it is more than likely that your workout performance will suffer. Your glycogen levels are severely depleted. At this point, you will probably struggle to bench 20 pounds. Additionally, research has shown that as long as they are in a calorie deficit, people lose fat equally well whether they are doing high-carb or low-carb approaches. By following a moderate to high carb approach, you can still have good, productive sessions with the iron. Which means you’ll be losing body fat but protecting your muscle mass.

Simple ways of nutrition to get shredded

Bread gets a lot of hate. But, have you had GOOD bread?

Commandment #4 – Thou shall consume enough fibre.

We all know that fibre keeps us regular.

But it is also an important tool when we are looking to get shredded. One of its main benefits is that it helps control our satiety levels, keeping hunger at bay.

We have established with Commandment #1 that you will be eating less calories than you are used to in order to get shredded. So it is extremely important that we do the best we can to control hunger, and make sure the meals we do have keep us fuller for longer. That way we are not reaching for the Krispy Kremes! A great way of doing this is to make sure that we are consuming adequate fibre. The absolute minimum you want to aim for is about 25g a day. You can do this quite easily by including foods such as oats, wholegrain breads, and different pulses such as beans into your daily diets. Also be aware you can consume too much fibre. This can cause stomach discomfort such as bloating and constipation. So as a maximum try not consume more than 20% of your carb intake from fibre. For example, if you are consuming 300g of carbs a day, try not to consume more than 60g of fibre a day.

Commandment #5 – Thou shall eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

My granddad always used to say, “Eat all your greens up- it will make you big and strong.”

I should have listened to him more often. Fruits and vegetables should be included in your diets if you’re looking to get shredded.

Firstly they contain hardly any calories per serving. You can eat a high volume of these sorts of food and you will still have plenty of calories left for the day. For example, 100 grams of blueberries has roughly 70 calories in it. 100 grams of broccoli has about 40 calories in it.

Secondly, they will help you avoid nutritional deficiencies. Energy levels, strength, endurance and our moods all rely heavily on us getting enough vitamins and minerals in our systems.

The research shows that getting adequate micronutrients in our diet through food alone is extremely hard! A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition analyzed 70 athletes’ diets. Every single diet was deficient in at least 3 nutrients. Some were missing up to 15! Combine this with the fact that we are already consuming less calories per day, and it becomes extremely important that we make sure we are consuming enough fruit and vegetables.

Simple ways of nutrition to get shredded

If you’re looking to build muscle and get shredded, fruit and veggies need to be a mainstay in your diet.

Commandment #6 – Eat fat in MODERATION!

Since the turn of the millennium, high fat diets have become more popular than Justin Bieber!

Everywhere you turn, in every single article you read, they are praising the high fat diet. They describe how it is the magic pill to get us all shredded and turn us superhuman.

You see statements like:

“Eat fat to burn fat”

“Build 10 pounds of muscle with high fat diets”

“Eat good fats to get lean”

The world truly has gone high fat mad! But like most things in this industry, we take something that can be really beneficial and overdo it. Yes fat is an extremely important macronutrient for us to include in our diets. It has many essential functions in the human body, most of them revolving around hormone production. The research says that we should include some fat in our diets for general health properties. But what everyone seems to forget about fat, no matter how you twist it, is that it always will be the most calorie-dense macronutrient. It has 9 calories per gram. That is over double of what protein and carbs have. Both protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram. When you’re looking to get shredded you will need to be in a calorie deficit. You should be eating less calories. If you’re obsessed with fat, it is very easy to overeat on! I found this out in my early 20s. I was obsessed with getting shredded, and I still am to some extent. But I was drawn in by the popularity of high fat diets, eating nuts, oily fish and avocados at every meal. Not to mention chucking coconut oil in my coffee at every chance. I was 100% overeating on calories and that is why I never got shredded. Remember- this study proved as long as you are in an overall calorie deficit you can lose fat whether you go low fat/high carb or high fat/low carb. If your calories are in check you will still lose fat. But what I will say is that you can include more volume of food if you go high-carb and get a dream pump during your weight sessions. As for how much fat to eat, we go with the recommendations of the nutrition guru himself Mr. Alan Aragon. He recommends a range of 0.3 – 0.7g per pound of bodyweight for fat intake. If you love carbs and you perform better on them, go with the lower end of this range. If you love fattier types of food such as steaks, cheese, and full fat milk then go with the higher end of this scale.

Commandment #7 – Take a flexible approach

Ah the great debate of the decade- clean eating vs flexible dieting (or IIFYM).

This war has been raging for years. I have experienced both sides.

Between the ages of 20 – 25 I was an avid “clean” eater, sticking to only a handful of foods. I only ate the classic bodybuilding foods- chicken, turkey, salmon, brown rice and broccoli. You get the idea. My food selection was very small indeed. What this lead to was the classic binge eating, especially at the weekend. You see if you restrict, restrict, and keep restricting yourself, there will come a point down the line where you will break. It will be an all-out warfare on food and you will be reaching for everything. My avid clean eating approach made me develop an unhealthy relationship with certain foods. When my cheat day came it was a free for all of these foods, which caused me to go way way over on my calories for that week. Flexible dieting will give you the control. You can include a wide range of foods that you enjoy, as long as they fit your calorie allowance. Now flexible dieting has gotten a bad rap over the years, with people posting hordes of junk food with their six packs on Instagram. I will state right now that flexible dieting is not an excuse to eat junk all day. You still base the large majority of your food intake on unprocessed whole food sources. For a more detailed look at flexible dieting, click here.

The diagram below (again by the jedi of nutrition Alan Aragon), sums up flexible dieting in a nutshell.

As you can see from the diagram, adopting a more flexible approach to your diet gives you a lot more variety and freedom. Even the research backs up this point. One study showed a strong correlation that people who followed a more flexible approach to their diets had lower levels of depression and anxiety. They were less likely to overeat and had a lower BMI. From a personal point of view flexible dieting has given me far more control over my food and food choices. When it comes time to get shredded and drop calories, it doesn’t really bother me as I still know I can include foods I love in moderation.

Commandment #8 – Turn up the volume on low calorie foods.

We all love eating big meals.

When we train hard, we want to eat some big meals to help us recover. But when it comes to getting shredded, we need to be a bit more tactical with our meals.

What I mean by this is you cannot have a full plate of steak and chips at every meal, because you would probably go over your calories very easily for the day. So what we would recommend is to choose foods that have a very low calorie count per 100g or per serving. We are talking about foods such as salads, fibrous vegetables, and leafy greens. You can literally fill your plate or bowl up with these sorts of foods and they will not take up many calories. These sorts of foods are great for filling you up and keeping hunger at bay, because they contain a lot of fibre and micronutrients. Plus from a mental point of view you naturally feel fuller because you’re eating these huge portions. You automatically think that you are full. But you’re not really consuming many calories. So again it’s a win-win situation. Next time you are out food shopping make sure that you fill your trolley up with these sorts of foods.

Simple ways of nutrition to get shredded

Let’s be real. There’s little better than a finely-crafted oat bowl.

Commandment #9 – Control your environment.

Now we are not saying you have to join Greenpeace or anything.

But controlling your actual food environment could have a big say in how shredded you get. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” could be of huge help to us in our quest to get shredded.

Now I am a huge fan of flexible dieting and I absolutely believe you should include foods that you love and enjoy in moderation. But if you’re looking to get really lean, it is good to have as much control as possible over your food choices. I am talking about trigger foods. For example, a couple of weeks ago I started a pretty aggressive cut. I knew that I had to stop buying certain foods, just so they were not in the house. For me, foods like granola, certain kids’ cereals, ice cream, and bagels were all off the shopping list! Now there is nothing inherently wrong with these foods if you fit them in your calories for the day. But as soon as I start eating these types of foods I find it hard to stop. They are all pretty calorie dense, so they contain a fair amount of calories per serving. A few servings of this and a lot of calories have gone in an instant!

Another useful tactic you can use is hiding your favourite foods. Put the cookies to the back of the cupboard, and put the Ben & Jerry’s in the outside freezer. Instead have the low calorie foods we spoke about readily available. Make sure there is plenty of fruit and veg in the house and invest in some low-calorie snacks that you can munch on. These sort of tactics give you full control and give you the best possible chance to get shredded.

Commandments #10 – Track your food intake.

We want to give ourselves the best possible chance to get shredded, right?

Then why not use all the tools at our disposal? I have so many conversations with people in gyms, who are looking to get shredded.

They say to me, “I just can’t lose weight” or “I’m not getting leaner.” When I ask them about calories or tracking food intake, their face just goes blank. The normal response I get back is,

“Oh I don’t need to track. I just eat clean.” We come back to the old “clean” eating. Clean foods still have calories in them and you can still overeat them. If you’re not tracking your food intake at all, then you are going into your shredding phase blindfolded! With apps such as My Fitness Pal and My Macros+ it is extremely simple for us to track our food intake. We get all of our clients to track for a certain amount of time, even if it’s just for a couple of weeks. It is such a underrated tool that can teach us about portion control and calorie awareness in certain types of food. If you’re looking to get shredded, give yourself the best possible chance to succeed and track your food intake.

About the Author

Simon and Joe PasseySJ Fitness believe in a No FAD, No GIMMICK, No BS approach to getting clients into great shape without all the “bro” advice. We have been there done that and bought the bro t-shirt and it got us nowhere. We are now dedicated to learning from the best in the industry and rely on science for results instead of gym gossip. If you want to find out more about us check out our brand new website