Chances are if you have been training for a while then you have heard terms like “lean” and “shredded” banded about in the gym. But what do these terms mean?
Is there a difference between the two terms? Let's look at the difference between lean vs shredded.
What Is The Difference Between Lean & Shredded?
Many believe that being lean and being shredded are the same thing, but this is not actually true.
Most people if they try will be able to become lean but becoming shredded means taking your dedication and effort to a whole new level.
Typically being lean means that your body fat percentage will be between 7 to 10%. However, those who are shredded will have a body fat percentage lower than 7%.
There are also some other differences between lean and shredded that you may want to consider before you choose which one to aim for:
#1: Little Hunger Vs Lots Of Hunger
When attempting to become lean you will likely encounter feelings of hunger occasionally, which is completely normal when you are eating less than normal.
If you are trying to become shredded however, you will likely be faced with hunger almost constantly.
You will likely find that you will still be hungry after you have eaten.
#2: Happy Vs Unhappy
This will depend on the kind of person you are, but many people really struggle with these types of starvation diets.
Eating hardly anything can leave you feeling lethargic, which will leave you feeling cranky and miserable with very little patience for other people.
#3: Less Flexibility As You Get Shredded
Being lean allows you the flexibility to miss the occasional workout, or to have the occasional cheat meal.
If you want to become shredded then you need to be on the ball constantly. So no missed workouts or treats.
#4: Little Changes Add Up
I am not a huge fan of bro science, but it can be the difference from being lean and being shredded.
While you can still do things like eating carbs after 6 when trying to get lean, it is probably a no-no if becoming shredded is your goal.
#5: Extra Sacrifice
Becoming shredded requires a lot more sacrifice than becoming lean.
You will likely have to sacrifice time spent with your loved ones, your business, and social occasions.
If you are not willing to make this extra sacrifice then it is unlikely you are going to become shredded. You will definitely need to re-evaluate your goals.
How Do You Lower Your Body Fat Percentage?
Whether you want to get lean or shredded there are similar rules to follow, you just have to go to extremes to reach the body fat percentage of someone who is shredded.
Regardless, here are some tips to help lower your body fat percentage:
#1: Consume Fewer Calories
If you want to lower your body fat percentage then you need to consume fewer calories.
Now, without knowing how many calories you need to maintain your current weight this tip is pointless.
Therefore your first step is to work out how many calories you need to maintain your weight.
There are plenty of calculators online that can help you with this. I would recommend the following one.
Next, you will need to lower this number by 500 calories daily. You can do this by eating healthier and with smaller servings.
#2: Eat More Often
When you are dieting you will feel like you are constantly hungry. One way to combat this is by eating frequently throughout the day.
I would recommend eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day rather than your usual 3 meals.
#3: Drink Plenty Of Water
There are plenty of health reasons why you should be drinking plenty of water, but since this article is about fat loss then I will only discuss those benefits here.
Firstly, water contains zero calories so won't add unnecessary calories to your daily intake, unlike soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices.
Those that drink water before mealtimes have been shown to consume fewer calories during the meal itself .
I would recommend trying to consume around 8 glasses of water a day (2 litres approximately). A good way to check that you are drinking enough and that you are hydrated is to check the colour of your urine. It should be a pale yellow colour.
#4: Lift Heavy Weights
The more muscle mass your body has the more calories you will be able to burn, even while at rest.
One pound of muscle burns 7-10 calories daily, while one pound of fat burns 2-3 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Chances are you are already training with weight regularly, but even while trying to cut the fat you should continue lifting.
Compound exercises, such as the bench press, overhead press and deadlift are good as they work multiple muscle groups, so are ideal for those short on time.
Research has also shown that training with weights can boost your metabolic rate .
This is known as the afterburner effect, or EPOC, with one study finding that the basal metabolic rate (BMR) was raised by 4.2% for 16 hours after a strength training workout. This resulted in an extra 60 calories burnt, which may not seem like a huge amount, but it is certainly better than nothing.
#5: Don’t Forget The Cardio
As well as your weight training sessions I would also recommend mixing some cardio into your workouts too.
I would suggest adding some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to the end of your workouts.
HIIT is a great calorie burner and only takes a few minutes of your time.
On your rest days, I would also recommend performing some low-intensity cardio, such as walking for example.
This way you are burning calories, while also giving your body a much-needed rest for the intense workouts.
#6: Nutrition Is Key
To burn fat you really should be avoiding certain foods. Junk food is a definite no-no. If your aim is to get lean the occasional cheat meal won’t do much harm.
However, if your aim to achieve that shredded look then it is probably best to eat clean all the time with no cheat meals whatsoever.
Your diet should consist of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Usually, your diet will consist of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats.
Do You Need To Be Shredded?
If you are not planning on becoming a bodybuilder and competing then is it really worth the pain and extra dedication it needs to become shredded?
Becoming shredded will require lots of effort and dedication that many of us don’t have. You likely struggle to sleep more than 3-4 hours of sleep every night, likely due to the increase in hunger and raised cortisol levels.
You may also find yourself more cranky than usual. This is a common complaint from those who try these extreme diets.
Personally, I would recommend aiming to become lean. While becoming ripped is certainly something to be proud of, it is not really worth the extra pain required for the average Joe in the gym.
How To Go From Shredded To Lean?
The first thing you need to realise is that going from shredded to lean is not about just bingeing on anything and everything you see.
Doing this will ensure you skip the lean stage and go straight to fat.
You will need to make a plan of how you are going to start regaining some body fat. A good idea would be to try and “reverse diet”, so you would do the opposite of what you did to lose the fat in the first place.
For example, you could start by increasing your daily calorie intake by 300-500 extra calories and to also taper down the amount of cardio you are performing.
Chances are it won't take too long to gain back a little body fat, probably 4-6 weeks. But now is the tough part, trying to remain lean without falling off the wagon entirely.
Good luck with your journey. If you have any questions then please leave them below using the comment form provided.