If you want to lose fat and get your body as lean as possible, you can do so if you really try. This won’t be easy, but in the end you’ll profit a lot and it would have been totally worth it. All you have to do is train as hard as possible, eat smart and always be aware that burning calories is what matters. Things like “dirty bulks” will no longer be a thing, where you stuff yourself with junk food, justifying it all as having a cheat day.

When you know how your macros work, the next step is to learn how to dial in them appropriately, but this should in no way make you feel deprived. When you try to get lean, you shouldn’t cut out entire food groups, nor should you stop doing compound exercises, and you definitely shouldn’t stay on the treadmill and forgo everything else. You have to push yourself, but you have to push yourself in the right way. The summer is gone, but the season of getting lean isn’t – as a matter of fact, it’s never gone or over. So, in the spirit of getting lean, here are a few tips.

1. Consume More Protein!

Protein makes you feel full, and it makes you feel full for a longer period of time than any other macronutrients. If you eat more protein during a low calorie period, you will keep your muscles because it will let you to put on as much muscle mass as you can possibly pack on even when you’re trying to lose weight. Also, protein makes your body create more glucagon, which in turn makes your body release stored energy units that will help you work out harder.

2. Consume Protein Every Few Hours

To be exact, every four hours should do the trick. Make sure you always eat equal portions of protein so that your protein synthesis processes get optimized. However, don’t fill up just yet – just because you need to eat more times in a day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop eating or that you should bloat yourself with protein. You need about 30 grams every four hours to keep your protein synthesis in check, but a bit more is fine as well!

3. Green Leafy Veggies Are Good!

They have a lot of nutrients but they lack calories. Also, they’ll maintain your optimum bodily functions by keeping your body’s pH (acidity and alkalinity) balanced. When you want to drop weight, get green leafy veggies in every single meal. If you don’t know what to buy, get collard greens for your cholesterol, kale for antioxidants and cancer prevention and finally bok choy for vitamin A which boosts your immunity.

4. Eat Starch Only After Exercising

Most of your carbs should consist of green veggies, beans and fruits – these are low glycemic carbs but you should also eat some starches – only after your workout. When you want your body to recover and grow, you need simple carbs, especially after doing a lot of lifting. This is because when you lift, you extinguish the reserves of glucose, which is usable energy and glycogen which is energy your body stores. When this happens, eat your high-glycemic carbohydrates (index 70 or above). These are your typical breads, cereals and fresh fruits.

5. Eat Things That Fill You Up Without Getting You Fat!

This means that you should eat stuff that’s big volume-wise, but low on calories. It will have a lot of nutrients but very little on the caloric side. These foodstuffs are your typical lettuce, spinach, cabbage and broccoli – you can eat them as much as you want, but you won’t be gorging yourself on calories due to their low calorie count. If you don’t want to go vegetarian, try some eggs. When you beat egg whites enough, they’ll expand and keep you full while you’re not actually consuming a lot of calories. Careful not to make a meringue, though.

6. Drink Water!

This one is a no-brainer. When you’re dehydrated, you feel both mentally and physically exhausted. When you don’t drink water and you feel that way, don’t go for the water you keep in that bottle by the wall. Instead, get some cold water which will provide a thermogenic effect that will let you burn more calories while keeping your body properly hydrated.

7. Don’t Completely Cut Fats!

You don’t get fat by eating fat, so don’t cut it out of your diet too much when you’re trying to get lean. Low-fat diets don’t work and can have health consequences. Fat gives your body energy and it moves vitamins around your blood vessels and then helps your body absorb them. You need essential fatty acids which are found in nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish to enhance brain development and prevent blood clotting. If you can, get both types of fat in your diet, the unsaturated type from flaxseed, nuts and olive oil, as well as the saturated type from coconut oil and butter.

8. No Unplanned Meals!

This means no snacks because they add up really quickly, sinking your dreams of ever losing weight. It’s clear as day – is it in your schedule? No? Then put it down.

9. Log Your Food!

It doesn’t matter if you want to put on weight or lose it, you should still prep your meals every week. Make sure you everything you planned to eat and write it all down in your journal. If you’re doing this right, your food log will help you keep track of your progress and it will enable you to adjust the process according to your needs and goals. Also, if you write stuff down, you will be less prone to going off the rails and eating random snacks because you’ll be more accountable before yourself.

10. More Protein!

Yep, it’s that important, so it’s in here twice. Protein needs to constitute about 30 percent of your daily caloric intake, so don’t forget to eat it in the appropriate amounts!

11. Throw Away Anything You Can’t Eat!

If you have chips, ice cream, cookies or cake in your kitchen, get a big trash bag and put all of that in it. Then, throw away the bag. Alternatively, you could get all of it and give it to someone who doesn’t care. The important thing is that you don’t eat it – you don’t have to fight temptation if you don’t see all that junk food every time you open your cupboard.

12. Read the Labels of What You’re Buying!

More importantly, read the nutritional facts and make a habit out of it. However, most people read the protein, carb and fat parts and then leave the rest. Don’t be like these people – read everything. Every time you see “high fructose corn syrup”, know that the product is loaded with enough sugar to knock out a national sugar shortage.

13. Branched Chain Amino Acids Are Important!

They are building blocks of the body – over 35 percent of your muscle mass is BCAA’s and they are necessary for any molecular growth to occur. BCAA’s help stop the breakdown of muscle tissue and they start the protein synthesis process. If you take some BCAA’s while you’re doing an interval cardio session, you’ll burn more fat than ever, especially if you’ve also cut your carbs.

14. Zma Before Sleep Time Is Okay!

ZMA means zinc, magnesium aspirate and just a touch of vitamin B6. Take it right before you go to sleep to help you relax and recuperate, as well as to allow you to sleep well. Sleeping is crucial for building muscle and keeping your fat-loss hormones like leptin and HGH (Human growth hormone) in check. When you train with intensity, your mineral reserves are slowly dried out, but the zinc in ZMA will help keep your zinc levels high. You need that zinc to support your metabolic and immune functions but also to keep your testosterone levels sufficient.

15. Green Tea Is Your Friend!

Drink it whenever you can – it has no calories but it has a lot of antioxidants and caffeine which will help you lose weight.

16. Get Caffeine in Your Body Before Exercising!

200 milligrams of caffeine will do you nicely before working out, and it doesn’t even matter if you’re going to be doing cardio or lifting – it will shake up your body fat and burn as much as possible. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, be careful, but since most people aren’t, make sure that you utilize the energy boost – keep both your lifts and your hopes high! The caffeine will help you remove any tiredness in your body because of the calorie drop in your diet.

17. Eat Fish Oil!

Research says that eating fish oil and omega-3 supplements decreases your resting heart rate and generally slows down your aging process. This is good because a slower heart rate will get you to work much harder than usual if you want to reach the goals you’ve set while doing cardio.

18. Lift a Lot of Weight!

“A lot” is relative, but if you lift as much as you can, you’re good. Low-rep training is necessary even when you’re cutting calories, so don’t remove it from your workout schedule. You need to tell your body that every bit of muscle already on your bones needs to stay there instead of being disintegrated to be used as energy. If you want to keep all of your mass while on a diet, begin your workouts with a big compound movement for three to five or four to six reps, your choice. When you exercise with heavy weight and low reps, you are working on all of your muscle fibers, both the quick and the slow twitch fibers, so use really heavy weight that you can only lift a low number of times.

19. Compound Movements Are Good!

They will let you lift more weight, use more muscles to do it and burn a lot more calories while doing it! You need squats, not leg extensions!

20. Non-Exercise Physical Activity Matters!

If you want to cut fat, every single burned calorie counts, even the ones not burned in the gym. This means that you should take the stairs instead of the elevator or the escalator, walk to your destination if it’s near instead of driving, stand instead of sitting whenever possible and park as farther away as you humanly can when you’re out with your car.

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