A lot of us live sedentary lives.
We sit in traffic.
We sit at work.
No wonder so many of us are constantly fighting the battle of the bulge: it can be tough to stay lean!
I’m a busy father of 3 young kids, so I know how busy life can get and how easy it is to fall off the wagon and let your health go to the wayside.
That’s why I wanted to share these 9 simple habits for burning fat and staying lean all year round.
Keep in mind, I call these simple habits “effortless” because all they take is a little planning. If you follow these tips, you’ll see radical changes in your body over time.
1. Plan Your Meals
This is an AWESOME tip once I discovered it. Basically, you want to figure out how many calories you need to eat to lose fat. There are tons of apps for that online – just Google them.
Then you want to make a list of your favorite foods. I love greek yogurt with chocolate almonds, buffalo chicken salad, steak, you get the picture.
Then simply measure how much of your favorite foods you have to eat in order to stay within your daily calorie limit.
This is life-changing because it allows you to lose weight while still eating your favorite foods.
2. Eat 1 Gram of Protein per Pound of Bodyweight
Protein is a crucial part of burning fat. For one, when you eat 100 calories of protein, your body uses 30 calories to digest it. This is known as the thermic effect of food. In other words, you burn calories simply by eating protein.
Another reason to eat enough protein is that it helps control hunger.
Lastly, when you lose weight, you inevitably lose some muscle, so eating protein (and strength training) will help you retain your muscle mass.
My favorites high-protein foods are greek yogurt, steak, chicken, and salmon. But you can also eat eggs and drink protein shakes.
If you weight 175 pounds, you should eat 175 grams of protein a day.
3. Prioritize Strength Training
Muscle burns calories – the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. It’s as simple as that.
So if you want to burn fat and stay lean, you HAVE to do some sort of resistance training. It can be:
It doesn’t matter. The point is to progressively use more weight or do more repetitions as you get stronger.
4. Be Serious About Your Sleep
Sleep is when your body recovers and releases hormones to help you build muscle and burn fat. Hormones like growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re robbing your body of it’s opportunity to rebuild and function at its best. And that will obviously affect fat loss.
Once more thing is that chronic sleep deprivation causes carb cravings. So if you’re craving junk food, you should focus on getting enough sleep.
5. Eat Lots of Cruciferous Vegetables
Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, etc. are some of the best foods you can eat if you want to burn fat.
They contain fiber and micronutrients and phytochemicals that are proven to help burn fat and get lean. Not to mention they help lower your risk of cancer by fighting free radicals and the oxidation process. They also fight bad estrogen levels in your body.
The fiber will help keep you fuller for longer and because they have virtually no calories you can eat a mound of vegetables and still stay well within your caloric limits. Be sure to eat them with some kind of protein so that you feel satiated.
If you don’t like the taste, then you can roast them with a bit of olive oil and parmesan. I like adding cajun seasoning to my roasted vegetables and eating them with fish. There are tons of ways to make them, just be sure that you’re eating them.
6. “Cycle” Your Carbs
Carb cycling is one of the smartest dietary strategies I’ve ever heard of. It can be a “go-to” habit for staying lean.
Here’s how it works: your body converts carbs into glucose which it stores in your liver and muscles. Any extra carbs get converted to fat.
Carb cycling is a strategy that has you eat high carbs on days that you lift weights (or perform any other resistance training) because your body will burn the glucose for fuel. That way when you eat carbs, your body shuttles them to your liver and muscles rather than causing them to be converted to fat.
On days when you don’t lift weights, eat fewer carbs so that they don’t get converted to fat as easily.
This strategy allows you to eat your favorite “junk” foods by simply eating more carbs on days that you lift weights.
7. Shop and Cook in Bulk
The best way to avoid binging on junk food is to not have it in the house.
The second best way is to make sure that you have plenty of the right kinds of foods in the house. Cooking in bulk ensures that you always have food available.
If you followed my advice in step #1 (plan your meals), you’ll already have your favorite foods prepared. You will have measured them and packed the correct amount in the refrigerator already. This makes it much less likely that you’ll order a pizza.
8. Use Visualization to Stay Lean
If you’ve ever read the classic Psycho-Cybernetics, you’ll understand the power of visualization.
The premise of the book is that when you visualize your desired outcome, your subconscious mind figures out how to make it happen. It looks for opportunities, skills, and resources to make it happen.
The key is to visualize in detail what you want with passion and emotion. You have to FEEL like you’ve already achieved it in order for your subconscious mind to take over and make it a reality. That’s why professional athletes use visualization to achieve peak performance.
So you need to visualize yourself as being lean, strong, and healthy on a daily basis. Imagine how you would look. Imagine how you would feel. Imagine what others would say. Imagine how you would behave to achieve these results.
9. Eat Mindfully
Make sure that you’re always sitting down and paying attention when you eat. Focus on the flavors, the textures, and your own feelings of fullness.
Appreciate your food and the company that you’re eating with.
Put the fork down, breathe, and drink water between bites. This will help you feel fuller and help you get enough water. It will also teach you to listen to your body’s natural satiety cues.
So make sure that you’re paying attention to your food and being grateful while you eat. Odds are, you’ll end up eating less and feeling fuller in the process.