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Diet tips for getting lean

The following tips and suggestions are designed to support an overall healthy lifestyle and a realistic weight loss plan so you maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life.

1.Count your calories

On average, women require 2,000-2,100 calories per day to maintain their weight and men require 2,700-2,900. The solution to safely lose weight is to consume 500 calories less per day than you need to maintain your weight. Doing this, you can lose 1 pound per week since 1 pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.

Eat three small meals with one or two high protein snacks spread throughout the day. You’ll maintain your energy levels without feeling starved. A more severe calorie reduction will lead to muscle breakdown, slowed metabolism, fatigue and quitting your diet early.

When it comes to maintaining your healthy weight over the long-term, most diets fail because any weight lost is typically followed by an equal or greater weight gain. This is because when you restrict calories, your body releases chemicals that trigger your appetite to increase. You can fight this for awhile, but usually it overpowers even the most determined dieter.

Eat 500 calories less per day than you would eat to maintain your weight and you can lose 1 pound per week.

2.Exercise to boost metabolism

To lose weight faster—up to 2 pounds per week—combine the reduction in caloric intake with an increase in caloric expenditure through exercise. By adding one hour of moderate to intense physical activity into your daily regimen, you can burn 500 calories or more a day for an additional 3,500 calories less per week.

You can easily double or triple your metabolic rate while you exercise by doing a simple cardio workout or lifting weights. Doing weight-bearing exercises not only increases your lean muscle mass, but increases your resting metabolism as well, since your body burns more calories to maintain a pound of muscle than a pound of fat.

If you work out in the morning, you receive added benefits, including increased energy throughout the day and increased metabolism (calorie burning) during waking hours. In addition, research shows that people who train earlier in the day tend to stick with their exercise program. Those who wait to work out later in the day can miss them due to daily distractions.

Add at least 30 minutes of morning exercise to your daily regimen to burn more fat.

3.Time your meals to burn fat

Meal composition and timing can play a big role in your ability to burn body fat. Getting lean in a hurry is not only based on what you eat, but also when you eat it.

If you do your cardio in the morning, do it immediately upon waking without eating. You burn the same amount of calories in the morning as in the evening for the same amount of work. However, research indicates that the percentage of fat calories burned during morning exercise, on an empty stomach, is greater.

To maximize the benefits of cardio later in the day, you should time your meals and minimize simple carbohydrate consumption. Do cardio 2-3 hours after your pre-workout meal. Your pre-workout meal should consist of protein with some low glycemic carbs to minimize insulin spikes and to maximize fat burning.

After your workout, if you delay eating any food for at least an hour, you keep your body in the fat burning mode. Then eat a relatively low glycemic meal.

To maximize fat burning, avoid eating for 2 hours before your workout and 1 hour after.

4.Eat protein to lose weight

When it comes to shedding pounds, the amount of calories matters, but so do the type of calories. While calorie impact has been controversial, several recent studies point to protein’s convincing benefits on weight loss. In one study, protein was increased from 15% to 30% of calories and fat reduced from 35% to 20% (carbs remained constant at 50%). The increase in protein was clearly associated with reduced appetite and fewer calories consumed, which ultimately led to significant weight loss.

In another study of dieters who lost 5-10% of their body weight, the weight regain was less in the high protein group compared to the normal protein group. The high protein group only gained back 2 pounds of the weight that was previously lost compared to 7 pounds for the normal group. Not only was weight regain less in the high protein group, they also gained only muscle and not fat.

Protein also keeps your metabolism revved up. Several studies have shown protein to generate more heat than carbs and fat. This means calorie for calorie, more energy from protein is given off as heat and less is available for storage as fat.

On restricted calorie diets, rapid weight loss is usually a sign of muscle and water loss, not fat loss. When your body is starved, it will naturally burn other sources of energy, including muscle. Eating protein provides the amino acids your body needs to prevent the breakdown of your own muscle. Make sure you get 0.5-1 gram of protein daily per pound of ideal body weight.

Excellent protein sources include skinless chicken breasts, egg whites, nonfat dairy such as cottage cheese, lowfat fish such as tuna and a variety of protein powders such as whey, casein or soy. Mixing a serving of whey protein concentrate into water provides about 25 grams of protein, yet only 4 grams of carbs. The best part is, it only costs about 50 cents, making it more cost-effective than traditional protein foods.

Choose fast-digesting whey protein to burn more calories; use slow-digesting casein to help keep you feeling full longer.

5.Have a snack or two

To make sure you stay fueled throughout the day, it’s important to eat a high-protein, low-carb snack between meals. Low carb bars are ones that don’t affect your blood sugar levels. Some of their carbs come from sugar alcohols like glycerine or maltitol. Low glycemic impact protein bars, ready-to-drink shakes and lower calorie protein powders make perfect snack options to give you that late-morning and mid-afternoon energy boost.

Eat only half of your favorite meal replacement or protein bar to re-fuel your body without adding too many extra calories.

6.Take a multi-vitamin

It’s difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs from food alone. A well-rounded multi-vitamin supports your fat loss or muscle building efforts and makes up for deficiencies in your diet when eating less food.

Use a multi-vitamin and mineral formula every day (minimum 3 per day). Take with the largest meal of the day, preferably with one that includes some fat.

7.Throw out the scale

Losing fat is the goal. A reasonable and safe amount of fat loss is 1-2 pounds a week. Any more than that is probably not just fat loss, but muscle and water loss. Not only is your body weaker after losing muscle, but your metabolism slows.

The key to measuring how successful you’ve been at losing weight is not to worry too much about your actual weight, but to monitor how your clothes fit.

If you need to check your progress to keep motivated, use a tape measure to measure inches lost or a special scale that estimates body fat. Remember, don’t just count the pounds!

Gauge your success by your waistline, not the scale. 

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