Getting leaner is one of the biggest parts of a fit lifestyle besides building more muscle and being overall healthier. In essence, to get leaner you need to train yourself to burn more calories and get the diet right to create a caloric deficit. But the caveat is doing all that without compromising your training performance and health.
After all, you want to look fit, not skinny, and you don’t want to feel chronic fatigue, you want to be strong and healthy. That’s why it’s not as simple as training hard and eating less – you need to know more details about finding the balance. We’ve made a list of 8 things that will help you get leaner by balancing your diet and training. Use these tips to get leaner, fitter, healthier and stronger.
#1 Increase the Quality of Your Diet
To lose fat, you have to create a caloric deficit in your body by eating less. But at the same time, you need to eat enough food for energy to perform well in your workouts and gain muscle. The answer is not cutting your diet dramatically but improving the quality of food you eat. Avoid fast food and sugars – you should never eat them. Make sure you eat enough protein and eat more complex carbs, as well as healthy fats.
Overall, higher quality food like fresh veggies, lean meat, fish, and whole grains, provide you with a lot more nutrition than poor quality food in the same amount of calories. So eating more quality food will help you balance your calorie intake a lot easier.
#2 Don’t Go Low Carb
In general, carbs raise the levels of insulin in your body a lot more than any other macronutrient, so it would make sense to cut them short to lose more fat. However, carbs are crucial for energy and to rebuild your muscles. Therefore, you need to eat enough carbs to keep a healthy body composition.
Making sure you provide your body with enough carbs will enable you to train harder, gain more muscle, and burn fat at the same time. Get the majority of your carbs from veggies, whole grain, starchy veggies, but avoid sugars and refined grain products to get more nutrition per calorie.
#3 Don’t Cut the Saturated Fats
We’ve all heard that unsaturated fats are the “healthy” fats and saturated fats are the kind to be limited. But the matter of fact is that you need both to help raise your muscle growth hormone levels and improve your fat loss performance. The preference for unsaturated fats simply comes from the fact that usually, we don’t get enough of them in our diet.
Instead of avoiding saturated fat, focus on the distinction between good and damaged fats. Good saturated and unsaturated fats are found in meat, dairy, fish, veggies, and nuts, while damaged fats come from cheap oils used for cooking as well as trans fats.
#4 Don’t Starve Yourself
Another misconception about losing fat and getting leaner is not eating enough and starving. Yes, you can lose more weight faster that way, but again, it affects your performance and health negatively. Being hungry means not providing your muscles with enough fuel to work and rebuild. The problem is that people tend to overeat by eating portions that are too big. It may seem like a good idea to fill up your stomach after a hard workout, but it actually isn’t.
Try to eat only as much as to stop feeling hungry but don’t stuff yourself. Stop eating once you feel full even if you haven’t finished your plate and get used to the amount of food you need to eat so you can pick the right size of portions. You need to provide your body with just enough food and your hunger is a great indicator of that.
#5 Timing Your Nutrient Intake
When you eat is as important as what you eat. You need to eat most of your daily calories when your body needs them the most, that is in the morning when you get up and after your workouts. Other times during the day and in the evening you should keep your meals light. Doing this consistently will help your body put these calories to good use for energy and to rebuild your muscles rather than store them in body fat.
#6 Don’t Eat Immediately After a Workout
Eating within 30 minutes after a workout is a valid technique used by bodybuilders to increase muscle gain as much as possible by replenishing your glycogen levels, however that can really up your calorie surplus too. If getting leaner is your priority, avoid eating immediately after a workout because you’ll easily overeat when feeling exhausted. Let an hour or two pass and let your body burn some more body fat instead during that time.
Don’t worry about the glycogen levels because there’s more of it stored in your body than you think (about 1800 calories) and that’s really enough for most people, even those who train fairly intensively.
#7 Train for Fat Loss
When it comes to training, not all workout techniques are equally effective for fat loss. You’ll find that most personal trainers favor short interval high intensity training as a method to burn most calories per hour. As it happens, this method works most effectively to build muscle too. Long low intensity cardio, on the other hand, is better suited for endurance training for athletes like runners. So for most people to get lean, short and intensive workouts are the way to go.
#8 Monitor Yourself
Monitoring your progress helps you manage your fitness goals so make sure you keep track of your results. Weigh yourself regularly, measure your body, keep a journal of your exercises. Being able to see your achievements helps you keep yourself in check and motivate to keep pushing.
Above all, try not to make losing weight your priority. First of all, not losing weight in general doesn’t mean you aren’t getting leaner – your muscles weigh even more as they grow. Secondly, your overall health and performance is your top priority, so always pay attention to how you feel during training and throughout the day, and if your attempt to get leaner doesn’t affect your fitness negatively.