This blog is reformatted from Martin’s article ‘Body composition for Performance or Vanity’, use this link to read the original. www.mac-nutrition.com/body-composition-for-performance-or-vanity/ although Martin doesn’t number them, it’s easier for me to refer to in later blogs as with ‘Martin MacDonald’s 10 rules to weight loss….’
So, you’ve read the 10 Rules to Weight Loss, now you want a little more detail on how to actually get lean….
1. Lower Alcohol intake
Alcohol is full of ’empty calories’, what this means is that the body will metabolise the calories from alcohol before it uses the fat you are storing in fat cells. Alcohol also has a negative effect on muscle building and fat storing hormones in the body and as we have already learnt; muscle is metabolically active, so we need to build muscle to burn fat. This is the same for other calorie laden drinks with the exception of fruit juice. Therefore, you are better to stick to water or low-calorie drinks if water really doesn’t do it for you. You also can’t get away with saying that ALL the sugar has been turned to alcohol during the malolacatic fermentation or during the distilling process – ergo, it’s low-calorie, I know, I’ve tried that one haha..
2. Eat Breakfast
Studies show that people who eat breakfast on a consistent basis tend to be significantly leaner than those who don’t. An additional benefit of breakfast is that it’s a great way to reduce circulating levels of cortisol – hmm, I need to remember this
Time is no excuse – get up earlier or prepare something the night before i.e. boiled eggs and cold ham. If you don’t feel hungry, then just a small breakfast will suffice.
However, Martin continues – it is also possible to be lean without eating breakfast… but this needs to be a conscious decision and in his opinion only works for those who are actively following an Intermittent Fasting (IF) program…. of which Martin is a fan. However, if you are not a fitness enthusiast and not paying attention to what you eat, he would always suggest having breakfast. Trying to buy a healthy breakfast on the run is very difficult – all the supposedly healthy breakfast bars are generally laden with all kinds of sugars which you really don’t need if you are trying to get lean.
3. Food Preparation is Key
Preparing food in advance should be your number one priority. This will help with the discipline of sticking to your healthy nutrition plan. If you cook and prepare your meals in advance and take them with you when you are out and about, you can ensure that you are getting all the correct macronutrients in your plan. Remember my ‘Long Drive To Cornwall and the Bad, Bad Food’, and the old adage goes here ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. In this instance, we are not talking about presentations and meetings at work etc, we are talking about your healthy nutritional plan and the road to getting lean.
4. Eat Every 2-3 Hours
You won’t do this if you are following an IF program. If you are not following an IF program and you skip breakfast, you are more likely to make bad choices later in the day. (I love this bit) I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again…. but yet you don’t listen. You should be eating to prevent hunger, not because you are hungry. Even if you are not hungry, you should still eat something after about 3 hours, even if it’s just a piece of fruit (if that’s in your plan) or a handful of nuts, something is better than nothing. Another misconception is that you can ‘skip a meal to save calories’ that was one of my stupid mistakes, if you do this, you are more likely to over eat later as well as losing the benefits of keeping your metabolism working. Therefore, if you go to bed at 11 pm and you last ate at 6.30 pm, following this rule, you should eat another meal before you go to bed. Ignore the ‘don’t eat close to bedtime’ crew. Think of the last person who told you this…. do you want to look like them? That being said, you can’t just eat anything; what you eat is where you can really make a difference. Stay away from peanut butter on toast, biscuits and alike.
5. Eat Protein at Every Meal
Why eat protein at every meal? Protein has the greatest effect on metabolism and therefore more burns more calories during digestion. Basically, the body burns more calories assimilating and digesting protein than carbs and fats put together. Protein also provides vital amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. Studies have shown that protein makes you feel ‘full’ for longer and can help to stave off hunger for longer. (I love this bit, really made me laugh) Now before any protein haters jump on this article and say high protein diets are detrimental for health, lets clear something up. Excessive alcohol consumption is dangerous, listening to the spice girls is dangerous … Eating more protein is NOT. So although Martin doesn’t advocate eating copious amounts of protein even though there is no evidence to show any detriment to health, he states that in a lot of cases eating slightly more and certainly eating some protein at every meal can help with body composition.
6. Eat Vegetables with Every Meal
Without a doubt one of the most useful but underrated, underused nutritional strategies is consuming lots of vegetables. This is not just putting an extra leaf of lettuce in your sandwich we’re talking eating a whole serving of vegetables with every meal, even breakfast if you can handle it. If you are a calorie counter, these are your best friend. Anything green and leafy is ‘free’ so load up on your broccoli, asparagus and lettuce. It will aid in the digestion of your protein, positively affect acid/alkali balance in the body, stimulate metabolism and keep you feeling full. You know Popeye’s secret right? Personally, I like a breakfast of scrambled eggs, prawns and spinach cooked in butter of course – one for the Paleo dieters, but it is gorgeous – thanks to my sister for the recommendation and even making me breakfast on a regular basis 🙂
7. No Crash Diets
They just don’t work – to which I can attest! If you were eating 4000 kcals, don’t suddenly drop to 2000 kcals, this will cause your progress to stagnate and leave you nowhere to go. Drop a maximum of 500 kcals from your diet initially, and consider the addition of additional exercise instead of a further energy reduction. If you need further advice on what calories and macros might be right for you, refer to my blog How to Calculate the Correct Calories and MacroNutrients.
8. Run LESS – Lift MORE
Many people make the mistake of overdoing cardiovascular exercise in pursuit of a models physique. This doesn’t mean that all cardio is evil, however, a lean muscular physique is built-in the weights room. Also, consider substituting some of that long slow cardio for sprints, ever seen a fat 100 m sprinter? I’d say ever seen a fat marathon runner, bit of a caveat there before you all jump on my case, never seen a fat professional marathon runner anyway.
9. Do the Basics and Do Them Quickly
A fat loss programme should be based around the core, multi joint lifts such as the squat, bench press and deadlift, these will burn the most amount of energy in the shortest time. Similarly, do not wait forever between sets, fast paced weight-training sessions with moderate to heavy weights and short rest periods increase heart rate and lactic acid production; this in turn will lead to greater output of growth hormone, a powerful natural fat burner.
10. Take Omega 3 Fish Oils
Little point in me writing about this last ‘tip’ because you’re already taking them right? No? So you want to die from a heart attack? You enjoy joint pain? Maybe you’re quite fond of your love handles? Yes, I am saying Omega 3 fish oils can go some way to preventing all of those things. There have even been studies that showed improvements in body composition in the absence of dieting or exercise simply through omega 3 fish oil supplementation. Particularly, it is the EPA and DHA that are key so if you can find a supplement with a high potency of these you are on to a winner.
So, there you go, some simple and hopefully helpful tips into how to get the most out of your healthy eating plan. Couple this eating plan with a decent weights routine and you’ll be hitting your vanity…… er, ‘performance’ goals in no time.
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