It seems to me that many questions can be answered with a simple cutting guide. If anyone has anything to add tell me and I'll add it. Thank you dxiw for your input. Mods, it would be cool if this was stickied...
The only way to lose fat is to burn more calories than take in each day. But going too low is also bad because your metabolism slows down. Everyone's metabolism is different so everyone's caloric needs are also different. The general starting point for someone on a cutting diet is their body weight in lbs times 12. Now you want to be losing one to two lbs a week and you need to adjust your caloric intake accordingly. It is only a starting point after all. If you're not losing enough, try lowering your intake by one or two hundred calories. If you're losing too much eat an extra one or two hundred calories until you're losing one to two lbs a week. Also keep in mind the amount of activity you do each day. If you play three hours of sports every other day, then you should probably eat bit more those days. Cardiovascular exercise is also vital to weight loss, I recommend cardio atleast every day you do not lift weights for atleast 30 min. If you do cardio on workout days, always do it after lifting. Look into HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) for an aweomse fat burning cardio exercise. HIIT in brief boosts your metabolism to burn more calories even when you're not doing anything. A typical HIIT workout is between 5 and 15 minutes depending on your level.
There are three different types of calories: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Fats contain 9 calories per gram while carbs and proteins contain 4 calories per gram. For a typical diet, your calories should come 40% from fat, 30% from carbs, and 30% from protein. So to figure out how many grams you need of each every day, multiply your calorie intake by .4 or .3 respectively and divide it by 9 or 4 respectively. I'm sure you've heard of the myth about all fat being bad. That is not true. Saturated fat is not good for you high amounts leads to heart problems such as heart disease. You want to keep your saturated fat to make up 15% or less of your total fat intake. You want to avoid high GI carb for the most part such as white bread, white rice, and juice. Instead eat lower GI carbs such as wheat bread and brown rice. Fruits like Apples, Grapes, Pears, Plums, Bananas, Mangos, and Oranges. When it comes to protein, imo acutal food is better than shakes and supplements. I like meats, nuts, and dairy are generally good sources of protein. When you eat protein you need to make sure it does not have high amounts of saturated fat like beef, bacon, pepperoni for example. Vegetables are also great to eat. They're low in calories, high in fiber and nutrients and they fill you up. Also pay certain attention to serving size, there are often a lot more calories in things than you think.
Once you've figured out how many calories you need each day and where they need to be coming from, you need to make a diet that you can stick to. I try to eat five to six meals a day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Some people like to eat something right before they sleep as well. I suggest eating something high in carbs before workouts for energy and then something lower in carbs afterwards and more high in protein. I also try to eat more carbs in the morning and afternoon than at night. You need the carbs in the morning when your body hasn't had any calories within the last six to eight hours to help your sugar level rise. This will help you think better and give you more energy. Also try not to eat too many carbs before going to sleep since you don't need many carbs when you're sleeping. But if you can't that's okay. Most people tend to have problems with eating enough fat. Try flax seed oil and peanuts to help with fat intake. That pretty much sums it up.
-BWx12 in calories
-Create a diet you'll follow
-Adjust you calories until you're losing one to two lbs a week
-Avoid saturated fats
-Avoid high GI carbs like white bread, rice, juice
-Turn to low GI carbs like most fruits
-Do cardio days you don't workout or HIIT
-Be commited and take pictures
If you're looking for ideas for cutting diets search the forums and the web. Also use www.fitday.com as a tool to help you keep track of your calories, weight, and overall progress. The hardest part about dieting is sticking to it. Take a picture of yourself every week or so and you can really see the difference. Losing fat is a rather slow process and takes tim and commitment. If you need to, go ahead and cheat on a meal or a day once a week but try not to. Find a way to measure your body fat by either buying a scale which does so or an Accu Measure Fat Caliper.
This guide I have written shouldn't be your only source of information, it should only be used as a the starting point for for your cutting diet and weight loss. There are also many different diets that you can follow to lose fat. This is the diet that has been working on me and is simple and relatively easy for anyone to follow with some commitment. You must remember that people vary greatly, what works for one person won't always work for someone else so you will need to adjust your diet according to your body. Good luck!