Getting lean is probably one of the most sought-after things on the planet. It’s a sign of hard work, discipline, fitness, and strength. In this article, you’ll learn just how easy it is to structure your diet and workouts in order to get lean and stay lean throughout the year.
These seven simple strategies will have you in your swimsuit all year round. Throw away everything you think you know about dieting and follow these tips. Getting lean doesn’t have to be a miserable process!
1. Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a diet strategy that’s specifically designed to set your body up to be a fat-burning machine! There are a few different protocols, so you’ll need to find the one which best fits your lifestyle.
I know you’ll be hesitant at first because it breaks the common “law” of dieting and health. But intermittent fasting isn’t an unhealthy diet. It’s not even a diet. It’s more of a method.
The principles are simple. You’ll only eat for a few hours during the day. The rest of the time, you’ll be fasting. Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll be eating low-calorie foods during those times. You’ll be expected to eat all your necessary calories and macronutrients within your “eating window.”
There are several books on intermittent fasting. If you’re brand new to the idea and would like more information, I suggest you start at the beginning. Check out www.leangains.com. Martin Berkhan, the creator, will enlighten you in the way only he can! You’ll see what I mean.
2. Strength training
As I’ll cover in more detail in another point, many people overuse cardio training when trying to get lean. As a result, they often neglect strength training. This is a big mistake, as strength training helps your body to build and maintain muscle mass, which in turn boosts your metabolism.
An awful diet and workout routine is one which slows your metabolism. When your metabolism speed plummets, you’ve set yourself up for a recurring nightmare. While you’re desperate to lose a pound or two, you’ll often find that no matter how much cardio you do, you can’t shift any weight at all.
Strength training – including the major compound lifts, such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, bench presses, and possibly even some cleans – will work your entire body as one functioning unit and will create a great demand for your body to respond to. There’s a reason these lifts have been passed down through the decades, and if you want your metabolism soaring, you need to be doing them!
3. Calorie counts
Many people assume that you must severely restrict your calories to get lean. This is simply not true. Yes, you’ll need to maintain a caloric deficit to lose fat, but you don’t need to take drastic measures. Keep protein levels high and maintain a nice balance between carbs and fats. I’ll discuss macronutrient recommendations in the next two tips.
The right overall caloric intake is imperative, though. You must treat it like Goldilocks: not too high, not too low, but just right!
4. Protein intake
Keep your protein intake high. A high protein intake will help you stay full longer and provide you with muscle-recovering fuel. But let’s set aside protein’s muscle-building benefits for now.
Protein is a critical element for many different processes in the body. It helps rejuvenate your hair, skin, and nails. It’s used for so much more than just building muscle. Whether you need to drop some weight or not, do yourself a favor and make protein a priority.
5. Carbs & fat balance
Many people believe that simply cutting out carbs will result in fat loss. You’ll experience some initial weight loss by cutting out all your carbs, but it’s mostly water weight that’s lost during the first few weeks.
People also assume that fat makes you fat, and, therefore, avoid consuming fat as well. This puts your body in a tight spot. A very low-calorie diet with an inadequate energy source – carbs or fat – is a recipe for disaster.
You’ll probably lose some weight for the first few weeks – or even months. However, you’ll plateau, and plateau hard! And that’s not the worst part. You’ll start to put weight back on and, oftentimes, gain more than you initially lost, making you worse off than when you started.
This happens all the time. It’s a sad fate but it can be avoided. Keep a nice balance between your carbs and fat intake and keep yourself in a slight caloric deficit. Nothing too drastic.
6. Cardio restriction
Many people drastically increase their cardio work when trying to lose fat. While cardio can add to your fat loss efforts, it should play a secondary role. Cardio is the most widely abused form of exercise there is.
Your body adapts relatively quickly to cardio. After two weeks of the same routine, your body has adjusted and results begin to slow. Be sure to keep your primary training goal on maintaining or building strength.
Losing strength is more than likely due to a loss of lean body mass. In turn, your metabolism will slow and make it even more difficult to get lean. Unfortunately, a lot of people fall into this trap by abusing cardio.
7. Rest & recovery
Rest and recovery are critical, and often-neglected, aspects of getting lean. Many people do too much when trying to get slimmer. But if you don’t allow your muscles to rest and recover it will be detrimental to your success.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, working out less may provide you with more. A 3–4-day workout routine based around strength training and low-intensity cardio could be the best solution for you. It’s sustainable long-term and proven to be effective.
Life’s too short not to look your best or enjoy yourself. So never compromise and always go after what you want! Follow these seven tips and look good every day.