Want to be lean?
Who doesn’t, right? Had I asked if you want to constantly be dieting, restricting what you can eat, being hungry, passing up on social occasions and making your physique the top priority in your life, I bet I wouldn’t get quite the same response.
What if I told you that you can be lean without having to go through all of that? That you can be lean without even ‘dieting’?
Want to know more? Sure you do. Let me make it clear, if you’re not already at least fairly lean, you will have to do some dieting to get there first. This is for when you have achieved the shape you want to remain at.
So many people will get into great shape for a holiday, wedding or photo shoot, but then quickly balloon back up, because the dieting and lifestyle modification is simply not sustainable long term. This post is for those people. The people who can get into good shape, but struggle to stay there. This is how I maintain around 10% body fat, year round, without giving it a second thought.
- Work out daily: Not because you’re trying to lose weight, but because you love to work out. Set some performance goals to increase your strength or sport performance and chase them. Be consistent in your training, and be prolific. ‘Overtraining’ is a myth. Athletes train up to 20 times per week. That’s 3 times per day!Of course athletes have all the perfect nutrition and recovery techniques at their disposal, and don’t have pesky jobs stressing them out. That said, anyone can train for 30-45 minutes daily, as long as you follow a sensible program.That means not following the latest bodybuilders workout in the muscle magazine, because that guy is on a lot of ‘training aids’ that you’re not.
High frequency training keeps your body always working hard, your metabolism firing and the muscle-growing, fat-burning hormones at their peak.
- Walk: Simple enough. Just walk more. It isn’t very sexy or exciting, but it works. I travel around and move cities every couple of months. I always notice that after a few months in a city where I have a motorbike, I’m not as lean as I would be in a city where I walk around. All other factors being the same, the cumulative steps just doing mundane things like going to the coffee shop and grocery store all add up. Hardly ground breaking, and definitely not a ‘bright shiny object’ for you to try out, but it is elementary science. Expend more calories than you take in. Move more and you will expend more calories. Walking around in your daily life is an easy way to expend more calories, without having to actually schedule ‘exercise time’.
- Only drink water, coffee and tea: Liquid calories are really easy to over-consume, usually with little benefit. They don’t have any protein or much in the way of vitamins and minerals. They’re mostly sugar or alcohol, neither of which benefits you in any way. By simply avoiding all liquid calories you can cut a few hundred calories out of your diet, without ever being hungry or having to consume less.
- Intermittent fast: Intermittent fasting refers to going for an extended period of time without eating. The easiest way to do this is to simply delay breakfast until later in the day. I typically wake around 8am and don’t eat until 1pm. This compresses the eating window and makes it easier to consume less calories. When you’re lean and have a healthy metabolism, after a day or two getting used to it, you won’t be hungry in the morning before you eat.Hunger in a healthy adult is mostly conditioned by habit. If you break the habit of eating as soon as you get up, you will soon start to not feel hungry. While you’re fasting, your body will utilize stored energy (body fat) as fuel.
- Don’t keep junk food in the house: Simply not having junk food in the house exponentially reduces the likelihood of eating it. When it’s not in the cupboard, calling your name all of the time, you are less likely to eat it.I sometimes go out and have pizza, but I never spend hours snacking on chips and cookies in from of the TV. Keep it out of the house. Have a treat when you want one, but don’t do it mindlessly.If you have a craving, the likelihood of actually getting up and going to the store is slim, and you will soon break the addiction to sweet foods and stop craving them anyway.
- Educate yourself on hidden calories: Be aware of what you are eating and where calories are creeping in that you might not be thinking about. The easiest way to handle this is to prepare your own food. If you can do that, I recommend that you do.If you can’t, realize that most restaurant and prepared food will have added sugar in everything. Even things that you don’t consider to be sweet. A coffee shop is another place where they will pile spoonfuls of sugar in, and you might not even realize it is there.Educate yourself on what is in the food you are eating and make choices towards natural food. Meat and vegetables will be pretty ‘clean’, no matter where you get it from.
Once you have dieted down to low body fat levels, it should be easy to maintain it. Nobody wants to live a life of obsessions and deprivation just to be in shape, and the good news is that you don’t have to. Simply following these tips will help you manage your body fat and keep you lean all of the time, with minimal to no effort required.