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When it comes to getting lean and feeling and looking fit you’ll find no shortage of books, articles and online videos. The trouble is, much of the advice you find, though it may produce short-term results, are not sustainable as a lifestyle. Many of the techniques and methods are so restrictive you’d have to abandon your social life altogether to hit what some list as the body composition goals for a “shredded look;” 8-11% body fat for men and 14-15% for women.
Don’t fret, reader. Just because fast, fad and near extreme diet and exercise advice is all over the internet, doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. We can have a healthy, lean physique along with a lifestyle we love and can maintain. Here are a few tips for getting in top shape and still being a sane, happy human being.
There has been a lot of research on the subject of ideal macronutrient ratio for a lean, healthy body. There is no magical macronutrient ratio. For every person it might be slightly different depending on lifestyle, how active or sedentary we are, what body constitution we have, climate we live in and so on.
As a base guideline let’s consider 30/30/40 ratio for an average person who has normal job, who is not a professional athlete, who works out regularly.
30% – carbs, 30% – proteins, 40% – fats.
Fats are important for hormone production essential to a healthy life. There are certain essential vitamins that are fat soluble and can’t be absorbed by our body without enough good fats in the system: A, D, E and K. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential or our brain function. Going low fat in search of a lean physique could leave you feeling miserable and lifeless. That being said, it’s a good idea to get rid of trans fats found in processed and junk foods.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are important as they provide energy for our life and workouts, they promote production of happy neurotransmitters like serotonin that makes us relaxed and helps to fall asleep. Too little carbs can even impact our mood. When we consume good carbohydrate rich foods like fruits, vegetables, yams, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal – we also get lots of necessary fiber. But unless you are an athlete, you should always make a point to deserve your carbs by working out.
Best time to eat carbs: right after a workout, 30-40 minutes after workout is the best time because that’s when our body absorbs carbs more efficiently transporting them to all the right places: muscles and liver to recover and fuel our workouts and life.
Proteins are important, we all know that. Proteins, and the amino-acids they are made of, are the building blocks of every cell in our body – muscles included. Though it’s very important to getenough proteins, too much will not bring any benefit because our body won’t store them. Often times when people over-consume proteins they don’t consume enough of other nutrients they need which can lead to health problems.
If you are building muscles, you don’t need to consume more than 0.8 – 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. For maintenance and shredding 0.5 – 0.7 g is enough. Also consider fat/muscle ratio. The more muscles you have, the more it takes to maintain them.
To get your macros right consider installing and using one of the macronutrient trackers.
No matter how perfect our macronutrient ratio is, if we eat too much, we are not going to see our abs ever. That just doesn’t work.
If we want to get lean and later maintain our lean physique for life, we need to consume about 1500/2200 calories per day during cutting phase (women/men), and then build back up to 2000/2700 calories per day for maintenance, preserving macronutrient ratio.
Your calorie consumption needs will vary depending on the work you do and intensity/frequency of your workouts. But it’s a good guideline to adjust depending on results we see.
You can track your calories with one of the macronutrient trackers mentioned above.
This is a very important point right here. Having the best knowledge and tools, we still might fail if we don’t enjoy the lifestyle we created with our new habits. People who manage to maintain lean physique for life truly enjoy their lifestyle. They take the rules and adjust them to fit their lifestyle. We live not to eat and watch our macronutrient ratio all the time, we live life to enjoy it.
Oh, and willpower just doesn’t last, no matter how strong we think it is and how motivated we are. That’s why never just follow advice such as: you have to eat 5-6 small meals, you have to eat certain foods and completely eliminate others, you have to eat at certain times. Plenty of fit individuals practice eating 2-3 times a day, or bigger meals that allow them to still go out and enjoy their food socially. Some practice intermittent fasting, meaning not eating for about 16 hours then consuming more calories in 2-3 meals after fast. Intermittent fasting teaches our body to burn fat for fuel, use and absorb nutrition more efficiently, improves digestion and hormone and testosterone production necessary to build lean muscle mass. It’s about figuring out works best for your body and your lifestyle.
We don’t have to eat foods we don’t enjoy either, like boiled chicken breasts or steamed broccoli. We can still consume our favorite foods as long as we maintain our macro nutrient ratio throughout the day. We don’t have to eat protein with each of our meals if we don’t want to and eliminate any particular food from our menu.
Moderation and sanity is the key here.
To be able to reach our body composition goal without self-sabotage, and being able to maintain it, we have to take care of our mind as well. We need to adjust the body image we have in our head. We need to remind ourselves of our new look constantly visualizing ourselves living life in a new body, enjoying it, enjoying our new healthy lifestyle.
Visualization can be a powerful motivator; seeing our goals, visualizing the process, lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis, healthy eating, working out, enjoying being fit and shopping for clothes for our new body.
Visualize continuously, everyday, until all of it sinks into your subconscious and your behavior becomes automatic for the times when it’s difficult to make rational decisions. This step may seem nonessential but in fact, it can be the one factor that separates people who achieve their body composition goals and maintain them from the rest. Even Olympic champions dedicate as much as 40% of their practice to visualization of their performance.
Combined with the proper weight training routine and cardio or active lifestyle, these points can help achieve a lean shape and still maintain an enjoyable lifestyle.
Guest Post by Angela Shurina. Angela is a health coach, personal trainer, nutritionist and all-around healthy-living gal. To read more posts like this one, check out her site www.createyourself.today