Let's talk about burning fat and getting lean.
To achieve the lean body everyone wants, it comes down to a few key things, done consistently:
1. Eat in a calorie deficit.
2. Eat plenty of protein.
3. Strength train a few times per week (or more).
Nail these things down for a long enough period of time, and a lean body is inevitable.
The question is, how do you put this into practice?
What can you do daily to make sure you get the results you want?
You're in the right place.
Here are 7 actionable ways to burn more fat and get lean.
1. Track Your Meals
You didn't think you were going to escape this one, did you?
I know many of you see tracking your food as a pain in the ass. But the truth is, it's a short cut, and one we're lucky to have.
Maintaining a calorie deficit is Fat Loss Rule #1. That means, if you're not eating fewer calories than you burn, then you're not going to lose any appreciable amount of body fat.
So if you're going to get lean, you need to know how much food you're eating each day. Tracking your meals in an app like MyFitnessPal (or something like it) not only makes that possible, it makes it easy.
2. Eat Less Often
Grazing between meals kills more people's progress than just about anything else.
More often than not, snacking is just mindless consumption of high-calorie, nutritionally void food.
It also teaches your body to want food more often.
This is a terrible fat loss strategy (in fact, it's the opposite of a fat loss strategy. If your goal is to gain weight, eat more often).
By decreasing how often you eat, you...
If you're currently a snacker, start by eliminating snacks all together, and save those calories for your meals. This is a huge step in the right direction.
If you want to take this another step further, go from 3 meals per day to 2 huge ones (Many of my clients have been using this strategy recently with great success).
Here's how to apply this two-meal strategy:
That's it. Two feasts per day. No snacks.
Now, going from three meals to two isn't necessary, but for many, it's helpful.
The key here is to eliminate the snacks, and stop grazing between meals.
3. Decrease Carbs, Increase Fat
I'm no carb-hater. Far from it. But if fat loss is the goal, there is some value in decreasing carbs and replacing them with fat.
The reason is simple: the combination of protein + fat is incredibly satiating. It keeps you full for longer.
Now, I'm not suggesting you eat fat for the sake of it. There's no need to put butter in your coffee or slam shots of olive oil with your meals.
Simply choose fattier meats like beef, chicken thighs, and whole eggs as the foundation of your meals.
4. Eat More Protein
There are only a few certainties in life.
Death, taxes, and you need to eat more protein.
Especially if your goal is fat loss.
In fact, you need to eat even more protein than the guy or gal who's main goal is to build piles of muscle.
It Helps Maintain Your Muscle
When you're eating in a calorie deficit, your body doesn't care that you're trying to look like you're carved out of marble. All it knows is, there's not enough energy coming in to maintain your body weight.
So, it dips into your fat stores to make up for the lack of food coming in. This is good.
But if you aren't eating enough protein, it will also dip into your hard-earned muscle. This is bad.
Muscle is what gives your body it's shape, and keeps your metabolism roaring. You don't want to give it up so easily.
Eating plenty of protein will help you keep it.
It Keeps You Full
No other nutrient is more filling than protein. And as we've seen, staying full and happy is crucial when it comes to getting lean.
This is just a fancy way to say, it burns a lot of calories through digestion.
When you eat food, your body works on processing and digesting it. This burns up some energy. And protein burns more energy than any other nutrient.
On average, 27% of the calories you eat from protein are burned up through the digestion process.
Which means, by choosing to eat more protein, you're burning more calories without any effort.
If you want to read more about thermogenesis, and how you can take advantage of it, check out this post: How to Add a Massive Edge to Your Fat Burning Nutrition
5. Add Cardio, But Not To Much
While cardio is not the foundation of your fat-burning plan, it does make a nice addition.
But don't go overboard here. This isn't a more-is-bettersituation.
Too much cardio, and you'll jack up your cortisol, which kills your muscle gains and makes it harder to recover between workouts. The opposite of what you want.
To get the benefits above, shoot for 2-4 cardio workouts, lasting between 15-45 minutes each.
6. Get Stronger
The most common mistake people make when they decide to get lean: drop the heavy weights, and do more circuits and lighter lifting instead.
This is a huge mistake.
Whether your goal is to get lean or get jacked, you should always be striving to get stronger.
Remember when we talked about how your body doesn't care that you're trying to look like a Greek god(ess)? And if you're eating in a calorie deficit, but aren't eating enough protein, it will use both fat and muscle for fuel?
This is especially true if you aren't lifting heavy enough.
Want to be sure most of the weight you lose is body fat, while maintaining your hard-earned muscle?
Then keep lifting for strength. And keep striving for 1 more rep or 5 more lbs on your main lifts.
7. Embrace Hunger
You've probably noticed that a lot of these strategies are built around keeping hunger to a minimum.
That's because hunger sucks, and living with constant hunger pangs makes this whole thing harder than it needs to be.
The less hunger you have to deal with, the better.
With that said, some hunger is inevitable. It's best to get used to it.
Better yet, embrace it.
Stop seeing it as a bad thing, or a problem that needs to be fixed.
Welcome it with open arms. Understand that it's part of the process of getting lean.
"Thrones are not wattled up to and squatted on with the entitlement of a slob. They are possessed by the lean, the hungry, and those who tread with discipline." -Ivan Throne
Like anything, your attitude towards hunger will dictate your experience with it.