Do you diet and eat clean, complete your cardiovascular exercise religiously, hit the weights hard, yet still can not seem to shake that 'soft' look? If so, you may simply be one of those very unfortunate individuals that is highly insulin sensitive. In other words, your body can not process carbohydrates as well as your peers. You are healthy, and you train hard, and your body fat levels are low. But you just do not have that chiseled look. You still look soft.
There is hope for you. Low carbohydrate diets have been used for years by athletes who just can not seem to shake the soft look. Without such a high influx of carbs into the body, the muscle tissue utilizes the sugars you hold and suddenly you are looking much sharper. Lower the carbs, bump up your protein and fats, and you should see a significant difference. You should also be completing cardiovascular exercise each day on an empty stomach in order to facilitate the fat burning process and really get the furnace inside you rolling!
One should differiate between low carbohydrate diet, and a Ketogenic diet. A diet nearly completely devoid of carbohydrates puts your body into a Ketogenic state. Your mouth taste metallic, your brain may function oddly, and you will lose a great deal of fat and water. However, for the more moderate lifter, a lower carbohydrate diet which still gives you 3-4 solid servings of carbohydrates per day is a viable alternative.
Remember that a calorie is a calorie. A gram of carbohydrates or protein contains 4 calories, while a gram of fat contains 9 calories. If you cut your carbohydrates back significantly, you can add either an equal amount of protein grams to make up for the difference, slightly less than half as many fat grams, or some combination.
Drink plenty of water when consuming a lot of protein. Your body will need it to keep digestion running smoothly. Keep your fiber high to prevent constipation.
The use of supplements such as creatine may put your kidneys at a slight disadvantage due to the extra work they will have to do in processing the high protein intake. Anything over 350 grams per day can give you strong smelling urine, a sign your kids are working harder than they should be working. If you have any family or personal history of kidney disease, then an extremely high protein diet may be risky to your health. Always check with a doctor before engaging in this or any other radical diet which will change the normal function of your internal processes.
Any number of carbohydrates fewer than what you are consuming at the moment is going to be an improvement. Your job is to find that happy medium between your current carb intake level, and the level in which your body enters ketosis. Put yourself in the middle, and you'll see your body fat levels drop without some of the nasty keto side effects.