When it comes to building the ultimate physique, dropping your body fat levels to single digit figures is only second to building more muscle in terms of importance.

With that in mind, here are 5 rules to achieving that ‘ripped’ look

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1. Eat lean

Your diet is the most important factor in your quest for low body fat levels, which is why you need to focus your efforts in the kitchen.

Use your time in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals for the week so that you’re never caught without suitable healthy meal options.

Determine the calorie content of your meals and control portion sizes to maintain a negative calorie balance. Your meals should also consist of fewer carbs (and don’t eat carbs at every meal), as little sugar and preservatives as possible, and provide adequate amounts of healthy fats and adequate protein to support muscle maintenance.

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2. Create a slight calorie deficit

If you eat more calories than you burn on a daily basis, you’ll pick up weight, regardless of the other dietary manipulation tools you use.

Get specific about your approach to eating by knowing exactly how many calories you consume each day, and how many calories you burn through the combination of your training, your resting (basal) metabolic rate, and the rest of your daily activities.

Use this info to create a slight negative calorie balance (not more than 500 calories) every day, just don’t go too extreme in this regard as that is a sure-fire method to burning more muscle.

READ MORE | Does The 500-Calorie-A-Day Deficit Rule Work For Fat Loss

3. Use a thermogenic fat burner

Thermogenic fat burners are effective aids when it comes to incinerating body fat. These products work by raising your core body temperature through the action of the stimulants they contain, which in turn raises your basal metabolic rate to help you burn more calories throughout the day.

However, the better formulated products also have ingredients that help you to preferentially burn fat as your dominant source of energy, which provides the perfect combination of ingredients to get ripped.

You can also use other effective, but less potent, fat burning products such as L-carnitine and CLA during your off cycles, and in combination with thermogenic products, to further aid fat loss.

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4. Don’t skip the cardio

Cardio can be an invaluable tool to help you tap into body fat stores, but only if you use it properly. Steady-state, fasted cardio, done at 50-75% of your maximum heart rate, has its place in any fat-loss programme as it helps your body become more efficient at tapping into stored fat for energy.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) can also aid the process by boosting your metabolism above normal resting levels for extended periods of time.

Depending on the type of activity you engage in, the right type of HIIT cardio, like sprinting and metabolic conditioning work such as sled sprints or resisted sprints, can help to boost the release of the anabolic hormones.

READ MORE | Cardio Revolution: A Better, More Effective Way To Get Your Cardio On!

5. Boost your protein intake

Eating sufficient protein helps to spare muscle tissue during periods of calorie restriction and intense training, which maintains your metabolism to help you burn more energy throughout the day, even at rest because muscle is metabolically-active tissue.