If you are thinking about the best ways to get lean for the long term, then congrats, you’re in the right mindset! In today’s “everything right now” culture, most people are looking for quick and simple fixes to get in better shape. The fact is that fad diets, juicing fasts, and other diets of the month don’t generally work for the long haul. The evidence is in the 70% overweight and obesity stats in Western culture.
These diets are everywhere you look, yet obesity rates climb each and every decade.
However, there is something that does work today to get lean for the long haul. And it also worked yesterday, and it will work tomorrow too. Guaranteed.
What’s the secret sauce? You guessed it, the fundamentals.
The fundamentals of getting lean are the most sustainable blueprint to not only get lean, but to stay lean. Here they are, and they’re likely not a big surprise:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with an eye on calories and portions
- Make cardio part of your daily routine
- Do resistance training two days a week to build lean muscle
If you can build these three items into your daily and weekly routine, you will build a lean and muscular frame over time. And we know it’s not always an easy process, but it is quite simple. You just need to have some discipline in your schedule, and make health and fitness a priority in your life.
By making fitness a priority in your life, you’ll realize a ton of direct benefits, and even more side benefits. You’ll look better, feel better, have more energy, be better at work, have more confidence, be a whole lot healthier, and the list goes on and on.
It’s just a matter of getting started down a very rewarding road. And once you start to realize some success, your motivation will grow and success breeds more success.
The first step is to eat a healthy diet. Aim for a diet of lean meats, lots of veggies, healthy nuts and oils, whole grains, and healthy snacks.
- Chicken Breast (skinless)
- Sirloin Steak (look for “loin”)
- Lean Ground Beef (80% lean or more is best)
- Pork Tenderloin (as lean as chicken breast)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bread (must say “100% Whole Wheat”)
- Black Beans
- Brown Rice
- Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)
NUTS & OILS
- Olive Oil
HEALTHY SNACKS / MISCELLANEOUS
- Low-Carb Wraps
- Protein Bars
If you focus on eating these foods on a daily and weekly basis, you’ll be healthier than 90% of adults and you’ll feel great. The key is a healthy and balanced diet.
Now a big part of this process is to get a handle on your calories. Use a BMR calculator so you know, approximately, how many calories you burn in a typical day. And then make sure you consume 500-1000 calories less than that number (calorie deficit). This will put you on track to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week, which is a nice and steady pace.
Most people eat generally the same foods week in and week out, so it’s really not hard to know how many calories you consume in a typical day. And it does not have to be a science, as you just want to get pretty close and you’ll be golden.
Cheat Days are OK, Just Keep Under Control
It’s OK to have a cheat day once a week. You need to for mental sanity. Usually on the weekend for most people, and just don’t overdo it. So if you burn, for example, 3,000 calories on an active Saturday, then make that your cheat day but don’t exceed 4,000 calories. Keep it in check. If your cheat day turns into a 6,000-calorie outrageous binge, you can throw away 3 or 4 lean days pretty easily!
But cheat days are completely fine and encouraged, as it’s the most sustainable path to getting lean. If you deprive yourself too much, it’s just too hard to maintain over weeks and months. Most people mentally break if it’s too stringent, and understandably so.
Doing cardio on a daily basis is a game changer for people who give it a try. If you set only certain days a week to do cardio, most people eventually start to make excuses to avoid certain days.
However, if you make it part of your routine, like getting dressed for work or brushing your teeth, it eventually becomes ingrained in your schedule. You just know you are going to make time for it because it’s part of who you are. You’re a fit person, and you’re getting leaner every day.
And each cardio session does not need to be a blowout. It can be very light, like a walk through the neighborhood. The key is movement and action each and every day. It might be tough at first, but it will become a habit before you know it.
Some great cardio to include in your rotation: jogging, biking, jog-walks (alternating), stairmaster, swimming, treadmill, sports (tennis, basketball, etc), stationary bike, ellipticals, HIIT routines, and more.
The third item for the best ways to get lean for the long term, is resistance training. Doing resistance training two days a week is all that you need to build lean muscle. And by resistance training we mean lifting weights.
Building lean muscle is one of the most helpful ways to get lean for the long haul. Muscle burns 2-3 times more calories than fat, so by building muscle over several months your body will burn more calories on a daily basis. So physiology starts to really work in your favor.
If you do two weight lifting days each week, you will build a lean and muscular frame over time. And again, simplicity is the key to sustainability. So keep the process simple:
You can also do legs on one of those days as well. It’s up to you and your schedule.
Shoot for 2-3 sets per muscle group, and 6-12 reps. You can do each lift day in 45 minutes, and this includes 15-20 minutes of cardio. That is all you need to build a lean and muscular frame. If you lift with good intensity on these days, your muscles will oftentimes be sore for two to three days after your lifting days.
Build Your Lifting Days Around Your Cheat Days
It’s best to build your resistance training days around your cheat day (s). So if you diet lean 5 days a week and have 1-2 cheat days on the weekends, then plan to do resistance training on Friday and Saturday (weekends).
This helps in a couple of ways. First, your body will have more fuel on those days to lift with more intensity. And second, you’re going to burn more calories on your lift days which will help absorb the extra calories.
So the best ways to get lean for the long term are not complicated, but they do take a little discipline. If you focus on a healthy diet with your calories under control, doing cardio on a daily basis, and doing resistance training two days a week, you’ll get lean over time.
For many people this requires some lifestyle changes. But they’ll likely be the best changes that ever entered your life!