Lean is a rather relative term, but generally speaking for most men we are talking just under 10% body fat and women somewhere just south of 20% would drop in the lean “category”. We all have various standards and ideals but on average we can agree lean is in this general realm for most of us.
Which brings me to my point, everyone wants to be lean, ripped, toned, shredded, diced, peeled whatever you wish to call it we all desire that. Most women tend to aspire for a slim figure while many guys want as much lean mass as they can carry in a shredded state. Now that we know what we want, the hard part comes in – how do we get it? But more importantly, how do we get it and not hate our life every day.
Many of you guys have “dieted” or went through some form of contest prep, diet, cleanse, ECT. Now while those things are all fine and great for the short term they are not a long-term fix, and many of you probably hated the process and couldn’t wait until it ended. Well, I am here to tell you today there is a way, many ways, in fact, to stay lean and love your life 24-7-365.
Here are three keys to ensuring you are living lean and loving your life at the same time all day every day!
Eat What You Like
For years I have seen dieters and athletes with cookie cutter diets and nutrition plans that included foods they absolutely hate eating because it’s what they always thought was 100% necessary. I am here to tell you today there is no one single food you need to be eating to stay lean, if you don’t like fish try chicken if you hate asparagus try another fibrous green, the list goes on and on.
When I began competing years ago I had it engrained that I need to eat fish and everyone told me it was a “must” if I wanted to be shredded. I learned two things in this process 1. I hate fish and still do for the most part to this day, and 2. I was being lied to, eating fish while helpful is not a “must” on the road to being ripped. I have competed numerous times since, had several photo shoot obligations for sponsors all requiring a certain level of conditioning and not once was fish a part of the program. My point find foods you like, experiment, be adventuress, don’t make it a chore or a job. If you enjoy what you are eating it becomes part of your lifestyle, not some “diet” or “contest prep” and that my friends is the first step on your road to living ripped up….EAT FOODS YOU LIKE!
Make Eating Fit In Your Life –Not the other way around
We have all seen people live out of Tupperware, prepping meals days in advance, eating every 2 hours like clockwork, for some people that works and they enjoy it…..for the vast majority of us that sounds like a horrible way to live. I can’t tell you the last time I made food for 3 days in advance or brought Tupperware with me anyplace.
The reason I make eating fit into my life, it doesn’t run my day or dominate my time or life decisions. I come from the school of Intermittent Fasting and have been eating this way for years eating in a confined window of about 4 hours from 2-6pm usually. Now many of you don’t live like that I understand, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to food prep.
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Find an eating schedule or pattern that works for you maybe it’s 2 meals a day maybe it’s 6, as long as your hitting your macros, eating clean, and have enough energy to train your ass off meal timing becomes less of an issue. Don’t get me wrong post workout can be a great time to focus on certain macros over others, so plan ahead knowing when you will be training.
Take 5 minutes each night and think about your day ahead when you will have time to eat create a plan and be able to change and adapt it if something goes crazy. For me, IF has been a lifesaver not only physically but also socially I can go out with friends and enjoy a meal simply by moving my fasting window or training time. Again run your day don’t let your eating ruin you, there I know people who are ripped eating 1 meal per day others who eat 8 the reality is you can get shredded just about anyway that works for you!
Cheat When You Really Need To
Cheat on your plan to get ripped? Yes, you are reading this right! So many times when competitors, for example, get ultra restricted with your eating they go all or nothing for 8-12 weeks. To only walk off the stage after the show and stuff their face for a week with every cookie, slice of pizza, and a bag of chips they can find. Erasing all their hard work, gaining back a ton of garbage weight and basically in a worse body than when they started. My suggestion is to cheat when you know you need something, now that doesn’t mean turn mentally soft and eat ice cream 3 times a week.
However, if you have been killing it and have strung together 10-11-12-13 perfect low carb eating days in a row, going out for a pizza or smashing some cookies is not going to kill you. If you want to feel even less guilty try and plan this “cheat meal” on a higher activity day possibly after a brutal leg session or any training session where major muscle groups have been worked and your glycogen has been depleted. After the cheat meal is done just jump right back into clean eating for another 10 days or so and repeat.
Again maybe for some of you every 5 days you need a little treat, having a few cookies every 5 days is not going to derail you as long as you are on point with your macros the rest of the time. I find it easier mentally and physically if you allow for short mini breaks in the routine, again this simply turns your “diet” or “prep” into your lifestyle now you are not just eating for some show, but for your life!
Hopefully, you guys can take these simple keys and implement them into your lifestyle over the next few weeks. See how it goes and you just might find yourself on the road to being lean and staying lean. Final reminder it’s about lifestyle guys, nobody wants to be ripped for just a few days a year it’s much more appealing to be your best day in and day out!
Photo Credit: Arno Nasshan Photography