Getting a lean physique most certainly begins and ends with nutrition. The reason I say nutrition and not diet is because diets simply do not work. While you may shed a few quick pounds with a diet, you will find yourself straying from it at no time at all. Diets are fads that, when applied, result in disaster due to the fact that they are nearly impossible to maintain in the long run. Diets are often too restrictive and too limited, making them too easy to negate and quit on. Diets simply make you crave for everything imaginable. Often when that happens, your mind is overwhelmed and just indulges. A little cheat meal here, another one there, and so forth. Then you look in the mirror and notice yourself heavier than when you started. Sound familiar?
You need to get out of these temporary diets and begin with what will be a complete lifestyle change. The way you eat needs to change for the better, and it needs to change forever. You need to eat well-balanced meals as much as you can. It begins with consistency and a solid foundation that needs to be followed through on a daily basis. You need to follow these nutritional guidelines whenever you enter the kitchen. What you put into your body is paramount.
Here are 25 important tips to lose weight and burn fat:
#1- Think about your nutritional program 24/7
The more you think about it, the easier everything will fall into place. You need to plan your meals in advance and especially in the beginning when you are aware of what you should be eating.
#2- Be aware of your body
You need to treat your body as a whole new element than you’re used to. You need to talk to it and have it talk to you. You need to see how your body responds to every little thing you do. Change your lifestyle and see what works and what doesn’t work and how it reacts to every kind of food you eat or every time you exercise.
#3- The mirror is your gauge
Stop concentrating on the scale and your weight. The best gauge is a mirror. If you look great, the mirror will show that no matter how much weight you lost or gained. If you are incorporating the proper nutritional regimen and exercise, you may be the same weight, but could gain muscle and lose fat. So use the mirror and look at it often, literally after every meal and after every workout. This isn’t narcissism but this is so you can see what works and what doesn’t. The more you look at yourself, the more you notice how your body responds to certain things you do. If you look at yourself in the mirror throughout the day, you can properly gauge your progress and help you develop that mind-body connection.
#4- Change your lifestyle
“Rome was not built in a day.” Great things don’t happen overnight. You need to be consistent. Diets are fads. They don’t work because they are too restrictive. Change the way you live forever and you will feel and look much, much better.
#5- Eat 6-8 meals a day
Male or female, you need to eat close to every two hours. When you do this, your metabolism skyrockets and your body knows food is coming. It can use the food you eat as readily available energy opposed to storing it as body fat for energy later. The three meal mantra is done and outdated. When you only eat three meals, you overcompensate for what you really need. Your body says to you, “I’m starving, I haven’t eaten in forever, I need to eat a lot of food now.” This is a bad approach. When your body goes more than four hours of not eating, it catabolizes your muscle mass to use as energy. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn.
#6- Think of your body as a trash bag
Every time you put something in a trash bag, you need to think of it as putting food in the trash. When it gets overfilled without taking it out, you have a disaster. You need to apply the same analogy here. Everytime you put something into your body, you need to make sure you “take out the trash when it gets filled up.” In other words, expend that energy. This is a balancing act that needs to be followed properly.
#7- Cut the junk food out immediately
Any kind of junk food you eat, consider it empty calories with no nutritional value that goes straight to body fat stores. Cut out the chips, the fatty salad dressings, the soda, donuts, cakes, pastries, etc. If you can’t do it all at once then pick one thing and eliminate it from your diet. Then another. And then another. Trust me, in due time you won’t miss these things.
#8- Eat whole foods
Stuff you think is healthy, probably is. Stuff you don’t, is probably not. Eat the healthy stuff and don’t eat the unhealthy stuff. Food that is processed in a lab is probably not going to be all that healthy. That means eating things like fresh meats, whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc. are ideal for your body and should make up the basis of your meals.
#9- Protein should constitute the foundation for every meal
At every meal, you should consume a protein source as the main part of your meal and everything else you have along with it should be secondary. Eat foods like fish, meat, poultry, etc. If your meal doesn’t have protein in it then don’t have it. Things that are high in protein are generally very lean and are very nutritional foods. Having protein with your carbs slows down carbohydrate absorption, making it less likely for the carbs to be stored as body fat.
#10- Never eat carbohydrates alone
Solely eating carbs is a sure way to put on body fat. They create an insulin spike that goes one of two ways: muscle growth or fat growth. Obviously, we want the first and not the second. Only two times in the day does it go to muscle mass and that is directly in the morning and after your workout. You always need to have protein with your carbs.
#11- Do not over-eat and do not under-eat
This may sound like a no-brainer but too many times does it occur. Eat until you are satisfied but not full. Also, never go hungry. It is a balancing act but it is manageable. Weigh yourself everyday. Record everything you eat and make sure you aren’t over-eating or under-eating. Determine how many calories you need throughout the day and adjust it according to your goals. 3,500 calories = 1 pound. If you cut your calories by 500 a day from either cutting your food intake or by expending it through exercise, or a combination of both, then you will lose 1 pound per week. That does not mean that if you cut your calories by thousands of calories a day will it come quicker. Just because something occurs at a given rate does not mean it stays that way throughout. If you go too under your caloric intake, your body will go into starvation mode and just shut down fat-burning stores. It thinks you won’t get enough food to last you through the day so it will hold onto whatever you give it and expend the least amount of energy possible. This is not something you want. You want your body to be a fat-burning machine.
#12- Certain foods should be eaten before others
Drink your water first. A lot of people think they are hungry when they are actually thirsty. Then have your salad and vegetables. Then eat your protein source. Then go after to your carbs and fats before you get to the calorie-dense foods.
#13- Cut your carbs late at night
When you eat carbs late at night, your body does not use them efficiently. You are probably not active late at night and you don’t burn those carbs efficiently, which are used for long bouts of energy. If you are sedentary, you need to cut your carbs by even more and earlier. If you are more active, you may need to cut off carbs a little later on, but regardless, you need to cut them off at some point at night. You should eat protein for a late-night snack such as cottage cheese.
#14- Have healthy snacks throughout the day
As mentioned, eat every two hours. So obviously, not all of those meals are going to constitute sitting down and eating a hefty meal but rather snacks throughout the day. You need to keep your metabolism chugging and supply your muscles with food so you stay anabolic and don’t go catabolic. Have things like nuts, fruits, milk, etc.
#15- Drink lots of water
You should be drinking close to a gallon of cold water a day. The more water you drink, the better you will look. The more subcutaneous water will be flushed out of your system and this cold water will burn even more calories to heat the cold water up to your normal body temperature.
#16- Learn the power of everyday movement
Move around a lot throughout the day. Park far away from the store. Do lots of walking. Stop being lazy. One guy I knew cut a remote control out of his life and helped him shed a lot of pounds. He had to get up every time he wanted to change the channel or volume on his television. This type of regimen worked. It’s those kinds of sacrifices you need to make if you truly want the best body possible.
#17- Have lots of vegetables and fruit
Have as many vegetables as you want. They are low in calories and are nutritionally packed with vitamins and minerals. Fruit is awesome, and although they have sugar, it is absorbed very slowly into the system and provides a lot of nutritional value. Grapefruits especially help torch the body fat.
#18- Don’t fall victim to the supplement gimmicks
Some supplements are beneficial for you like whey protein, multivitamins and fish oils. However, often people use supplements as a crutch. They are a supplement and should never be used as a crutch. They are an additive to hard work but there is no replacement for diligence, persistence and eating natural foods.
#19- You need to exercise
Simply put, your body treats calories differently when you exercise opposed to when you don’t. The calories you eat immediately go towards repair and refueling from exercise. When you exercise, your body needs to use the calories you intake to provide energy while in the gym. It needs to repair your muscle tissue outside of the gym, all while still being able to give you energy to do all the simple tasks throughout the day. Furthermore, the more muscle you have, the more fat your burn. The more calories you expend in the gym, the more calories you can get away with eating without it going towards body fat gain.
#20- Eat for fuel, not for taste
Things can taste good, but you shouldn’t be concerned about how something tastes. Get into the mindset and habit of eating as a source of fuel and not to satisfy your taste buds. Everything you put in your body is crucial to the success and development of how you look and feel. Don’t shy away from eating healthy just because something tastes good. There are plenty of healthy options that taste wonderful. Jack LaLanne, the late 96 year old fitness expert and health celebrity, lived by the notion that “if it tastes good, spit it out.”
#21- Incorporate some cheat meals
Let’s say you eat 45 meals a week. Cheat on four or five of these meals. Eat whatever you want during this time. Also, your cheat meals should include some kind of protein in it. Not only does a cheat meal help your morale, but also your fat-burning efforts as well since it throws your body for a loop thinking it is out of its “low-carb state.”
#22- Proper carbohydrate intake
Carbohydrates, when not burned, get stored as glycogen or as body fat. When glycogen stores become full, they turn into body fat. There are two times during the day in which your body is generally inefficient at storing carbohydrates as body fat due to low stores of glycogen: morning and right around a workout. Breakfast should constitute the bulk of your carbs with each successive meal after that being less in calories from carbs. Decrease your carb intake gradually throughout the day and keep total carb intake throughout the day to generally low levels. Right around your workout is another time when you need to intake a lot of carbs. Before and after your workout, it is a good idea to have some carbs and protein. Additionally, every 5-6 days, incorporate a high carb cheat day. Let’s say your carb intake is at around 150 grams of carbs a day. Spike it up to 500 grams of carbs for the day. This will signal to your body that it is out of a “low carb-diet” and that you can maximize fat burning capabilities in your body.
#23- Pre & Post-Workout
You need carbs and protein within an hour of your weight workout, preferably 30 minutes after your resistance training workout. You need just protein right after your cardio workout. On days you don’t workout, don’t eat as much. You aren’t burning as many calories, so eat a little less that day. You would need more protein and less carbs as you don’t need that much energy to get you through the day when you’re not working out.
#24- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Eat within 30 minutes of waking up. The bulk of your carbs should come during this meal. Those who eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up are generally leaner than those who don’t. Eat a healthy and plentiful breakfast with eggs, coffee, fruit, and oatmeal.
#25- Catch Your ZZZ’s
Research shows that getting 8-9 hours of sleep at night is most beneficial for your health. These hours will provide you with the perfect amount of energy and attentiveness to get you through your day. Never underestimate the importance of sleep.