If you thought you could achieve the ultimate body by working hard in the gym that’s really just half the battle – and usually the easiest as well. The hard part is learning how to eat so that you can lean out. You can build all the muscle you want but if there’s a layer of fat over your muscles, your hard work will never show. Ever heard the phrase “Great abs are made in the kitchen”? It’s true.
I don’t think there’s one person on this planet who eats clean 100% of the time. What I mean by eating clean is consuming foods that are closest to their most natural state. Tosca Reno has written books on the subject that are fantastic. Basically most of your calories should be from things like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and lean meats. Avoiding processed foods should be a top priority if you really want to eat clean.
Since so many people struggle with the “dieting” aspect of getting in shape, here are a few simple strategies that will help make eating clean easier for you.
- Make small changes. Don’t try to overhaul your diet overnight. It’s best to ease your way into eating clean rather than jumping in with both feet. If you dive in right away and immediately avoid most of the things you’re used to eating, it could easily backfire and you’ll start back at square one. Slow and steady does win the race sometimes!
- Make small goals for yourself. Goals are great for keeping us focused. If you want to make the transition into eating cleaner, try to set a goal. For example, if you’re just beginning to change your diet, make it a goal to eat clean 50% of the time. Gradually increase this number as you get more comfortable.
- Prepare meals ahead of time. If you’re serious about eating healthy what you can do to keep yourself on track is to prepare meals ahead of time. Many fitness models and competitors prepare meals for the week each Sunday and it’s something they actually look forward to doing. Cooking, preparing and baking things in batches can not only help to ensure you stick to your diet but it’ll also save you time. Once you’re finished preparing the food, divide each food item up into servings. The simplest way would be to use tupperware. They can be stacked in your refrigerator or carried with you to work. Preparing meals ahead of time takes the guesswork out of “What should I eat?”.
- Limit liquid calories. Liquid calories can add up very quickly and include beverages like juice, milk, soda and alcohol. Try to drink water as often as possible. If you’re a tea person, tea would be a good alternative as well. You can literally cut out hundreds of calories by eliminating high calorie, sugary drinks.
- Don’t give yourself a cheat day. Cheat days can wreak havoc on your plans to get into great shape. Why? Because if you eat whatever you want for one whole day, it’s very likely that you’ll erase all of the hard work you’ve done for the week. Instead, opt for one cheat meal per week. When you have a cheat meal, try to keep that meal in the same caloric range that you’re used to. Don’t go overboard and shove 1,000 calories in your face and expect it to not interfere with the lean body you’re trying to achieve or maintain. If you’re used to eating 300-400 calories per meal, stick to that same caloric range for your cheat meal. This way you can still enjoy your favorite foods without wanting to kick yourself in the ass later.
Eating clean really isn’t as hard as it may sound. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself a break sometimes and reward yourself when you meet the goals you have set. Rewarding yourself with a new sports bra, CD or pair of sneakers can help keep you motivated to working out and eating clean. The cleaner you eat, the less amount of time you’ll have to spend in the gym to sustain what you’ve achieved thus far.