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You should strive to incorporate all of the following objectives into the first four-week phase of the diet. M&F provides an action point for each objective to help you better understand how to implement each tip—as well as how to combine them into a cohesive plan. Then, we provide a sample meal plan for both training and rest days that you can use as your model to adapt the Rock Hard Diet to your specific needs.
150 lbs = 1, 875 calories
175 lbs = 2,188 calories
200 lbs = 2,500 calories
225 lbs = 2,813 calories
To help make sure you’re in a calorie deficit, you’ll drop calories a little lower on rest days. This will help make certain that your body continues to fuel itself with stored fat. Rest days are those days when you perform no weight training or HIIT work. On days when you perform only slow, steady-state cardio, you should also follow the rest day meal plan. This means you’ll have two or three rest days and four or five workout days per week.
Your goal: Take in about 12.5 calories per pound of body weight on rest days. This means a 200-pounder should consume about 2,500 calories a day, a reduction of 500 calories a day compared with training days. If you consume significantly less for body-weight maintenance than 4,000 calories a day, you should also make a proportional adjustment in your rest days decrease. To determine how many calories you should consume on these days, multiply your body weight by 12.5.
Keep in mind that there are two ways to create a calorie deficit: 1) Increase calorie burning and 2) decrease calorie intake. The Rock Hard Workout helps take care of the first part. You’ll need to achieve the second part of the equation by taking a specific, balanced approach that includes the other bullet points in this section.
Your goal: Get in about 75% of the calories you typically consume for body-weight maintenance on your workout days. In other words, if you’re a 200-pound guy who typically consumes about 4,000 calories a day for body-weight maintenance, then you should consume about 3,000 total calories on your workout days while you’re following the Rock Hard Diet during Weeks 1–4. If your body weight or daily consumption varies significantly from this, then use one of the following two suggestions as your starting point.
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To increase protein and reduce calorie intake, something’s got to go. And in this case it’s carbs. Most days, you’ll consume only about 25– 30% of your calories from carbs. This means that a 200-pound guy will take in about 200 grams of carbs on workout days. Carbs fuel energy systems, but on the downside they also lead to body-fat storage (a really slow-moving energy system). During the Rock Hard Challenge, you want to train your body to tap into stored fat for fuel, and cutting carbs is the best strategy to accomplish this. During whole-food meals, you’ll rely almost exclusively on slow-digesting carbs (plus vegetables and one or two pieces of fruit). Quality sources of slow-digesting carbs include brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat pancakes, and yams.
Your goal: Keep total carb intake to about one gram per pound of body weight each day—a 200-pounder will consume 200 grams, while a 170-pounder should take in only about 170 grams. On workout days, you’ll split these equally between slow-digesting carbs you consume earlier in the day and fast-digesting carbs (sugars) that you take in before and after workouts.
Note: Our meal plan includes the carbs from vegetables and fruit, but you don’t need to count these toward your daily carb totals. And you don’t want to cut out fruits and vegetables in the belief that this will help you shed body fat. The fiber found in these foods is actually beneficial in helping you reduce body-fat stores.
When you’re expending more energy on weight training, you need to increase protein consumption to help stave off muscle catabolism (breakdown). This is especially true when you’re also cutting calories—you need to consume significantly more than M&F’s baseline of at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. Both of the above factors (intense weight training and calorie cutting) encourage your body to pull amino acids from muscle tissue to support increased demands on your body, and you want to prevent that.
Your goal: During cutting phases where you’re also increasing training volume, you should strive to get in 1.5–2 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day (on both workout and rest days). This means a 200-pound guy should consume between 300 and 400 grams of protein a day.
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When you want to cut calories and reduce body fat it seems like a nobrainer to cut fat, right? That’s what many overweight dieters do. But those who are working out intensely have different metabolic needs than the obese. When you’re following a cutting phase while following an intense training program, you still need to get in plenty of both unsaturated and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats provide satiety, making you feel less hungry on a per-calorie basis. They also provide health benefits, giving you the raw materials for supporting skin, hair, tendons, and ligaments. Saturated fats provide the building blocks for crucial hormones such as testosterone. Together, these important nutrients support muscle-building and fat loss.
Your goal: Get in the balance of your calories from fats, split evenly between healthy fats and saturated fats. This means that you’ll consume up to 25% of your daily calories from fats. To determine how much of each type of fat you need, multiply your body weight by 0.20. In other words, a 200-pounder needs about 40 grams of unsaturated fats and 40 grams of saturated fats each day. Good sources of unsaturated fats include olive and canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon. Good sources of saturated fats include dairy, eggs, and meat.
While you’re on the Rock Hard Diet, you’ll cut out sugars at most times of day. You should still consume a piece of fruit or two per day (the fiber reduces fruit’s sugar impact), but the only other form of sugars you should eat are the fast-digesting carbs you take in with your post-workout meals. Carbs drive muscle recovery and growth, and the fast-digesting forms are particularly effective right after workouts, when your body seeks to jump-start this process. They trigger an almost immediate insulin release, which enhances anabolism and drives muscle growth. On rest days, you’ll replace fast-digesting carbs with slow-digesting carbs.
Your goal: After workouts, take in ¼ gram of simple carbs for every pound of body weight. This means that a 200-pounder should consume about 50 grams of fast-digesting carbs after training. Make a proportional adjustment if your body weight or caloric intake varies from a 200-pounder who consumes 4,000 calories a day for body-weight maintenance. Before workouts, stick to slow carbs (fruit will work here) to keep insulin levels low and fat burning up during training.
If you’ve jumped ahead to look at our sample meal plans, you probably noticed that we have not reduced the number of meals you consume per day even though the number of total calories has dropped. That’s because each meal provides its own anabolic and body-fat-cutting opportunity.
Your goal: Continue to take in at least six meals a day, reducing the calorie intake of each meal proportionally compared with the amount of calories you typically consume for body-weight maintenance. Take a look at our sample meal plans to see how we’ve designed our one-day plans for both workout and rest days.
GO BACK TO THE ROCK HARD CHALLENGE.