Your metabolic rate determines how much calories you can burn per day. It will slow a bit on any diet, but this does not and should not lead to extreme calorie deprivation and hours of cardio. This isn't healthy, and in the end it won't get you lean enough. Here are six rules to follow for a better slimming result.

1. Be patient. Fat loss should not be rushed. It takes time, and plenty of it. Aim to lose no more than two pounds of fat per week, and preferably closer to a rate of 1-1.5 pounds. This ensures that muscle loss is minimized. Another part of being patient is learning to make minor changes to the diet rather than massive cuts. As soon as you make a change, whether it be cutting carbs or increasing cardio, your body will immediately begin adapting to the change.

2. Keep the carbohydrates. If you want to get lean, you sometimes have to drop carbs to low levels. This does not mean that you should eliminate them. Carbs increase cellular hydration, and therefore cell volume. When muscle cells are hydrated and have greater volume, this signals the body that it is in a satiate state. The body, sensing it is fed, keeps the metabolic rate raised. Obviously if carbs are too high, fat loss cannot occur, but for continued fat loss, carbs should remain in the diet.

3. Utilize high-carb days. I believe carbohydrates are essential to keeping an elevated metabolism. Leptin is a fat-burning hormone; its release is directly related to carbohydrate intake and body fat levels. Leptin serves many functions, including the control of energy expenditure. As carbs get low and body fat levels dwindle, the body inevitably lowers leptin levels. You can combat this to an extent by adding in high-carb days.

4. Don't overcut fat. Fatty acids must be available in the body to create cholesterol, which is eventually converted to testosterone. If fat intake is too low, there won't be enough fatty acids available for optimal testosterone production, which lead to greater muscle loss. The two combine to lower your metabolic rate.

5. Reverse diet. A reverse diet is where you add calories back into your diet slowly, much the same as when you cut them slowly in order to get lean. This will prevent copious amounts of adipose tissue from collecting within the first month or two after a show. Reverse dieting is essential to prevent the cycle of metabolic slowdown, or stop it if you are already in the situation.

6. Don't get too heavy in the offseason. Just because the show is over doesn't mean it's time to begin eating anything and everything. On the contrary, getting too heavy in the offseason is often how metabolic issues get started.