Want to get lean? It doesn’t happen overnight - real, long-term lifestyle choices are crucial to becoming and staying lean. Marc Perry, founder of BuiltLean, has provided the Lean Tool Box - the 5 key elements of achieving a lean body:
1) Strength Training
Primary Purpose => Keep Muscle, Lose Only Fat
What Is Strength Training?
Strength training involves lifting weights including anything from barbells, dumbbells, or kettle-bells to using bodyweight and resistance bands.
What Are The Benefits?
Strength training should be the foundation of your exercise program to maximize fat loss for two major reasons:
- Strength training helps you maintain your muscle mass
If you eat less than you burn and don’t exercise, your metabolism will drop and you will stop losing weight. If you eat less and just do cardio, 50% or more of the weight you lose will come from muscle. Given that muscle is a metabolically active tissue that helps you maintain your strength and function, losing muscle is very undesirable. Strength training will help you maintain your muscle mass while eating less calories so that you can achieve a lean, toned appearance.
- Strength training burns calories during AND after you exercise -
This is really the magic of strength training during a fat loss program, because you can burn calories not only while you exercise, but after you exercise. This concept is called the “afterburn effect”. Strength training has been proven to keep your metabolism elevated for up to 48 hours, which is simply magic when you are eating less calories than you are burning.
2) High Intensity Interval Training Cardio
Primary Purpose => Burn More Fat
What Is High Intensity Interval Training?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves alternating between low and high intensity exercise. For example, sprinting for 30 seconds then walking for 60 seconds is high intensity interval training. HIIT can be used both anaerobically (in the gym with weights) and aerobically with cardio.
What Are The Benefits?
There are a number of great benefits to High Intensity Interval Training besides serious fat burn that include:
Afterburn Effect - The afterburn effect, known as EPOC (excess-post
exercise oxygen consumption), can increase your metabolism and burn
more calories for up to 24 hours after interval training, whereas
going for a jog burns almost no calories after. Check out this
article on Afterburn Effect.
Increase Aerobic Capacity – The amount of oxygen your body can use
(oxygen uptake) is increased, so your overall aerobic capacity can
increase faster than with low intensity endurance exercise.
Increase Lactate Threshold – Your ability to handle increased lactic
acid buildup in your muscles increases
Improve Insulin Sensitivity – Your muscles more readily suck in
glucose, instead of the glucose going to your fat stores.
Anabolic Effect – Some studies show that interval training combined
with consuming slightly more calories than you burn creates an
anabolic effect, which helps you put on muscle. The opposite occurs
with steady state cardio, which for long durations is catabolic.
3) Eat Whole Foods
Primary Purpose => Stay Full Longer
What Are Whole Foods?
Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and in their natural state. Think apples vs. apple sauce, grilled chicken vs. chicken fingers, or oranges vs. orange juice.
- Whole foods help you stay full longer.
- Whole foods have a higher thermic effect, which means you burn off
more calories during digestion.
- Some whole foods are higher in fiber, so eating an orange will fill
you up more than orange juice.
Some other tips:
Emphasize vegetables - Vegetables provide fewer calories while
filling you up with fiber - that’s why they are the perfect diet
Emphasize lean proteins - Lean protein fills you up without adding
extra calories and you burn up to 30% of the calories during
Primary Purpose => Control Hunger
What Is Sleep?
The state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, decreased sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. Sleep allows for the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems.
Sleep The Benefits:
Studies show that people who get more sleep are able to control hunger better than those who do not. Sleeping less can increase the hunger hormone leptin, making you feel hungrier. In addition, people who get more sleep have more energy to be active and workout.
Two particularly important fat loss hormones are leptin, which is a hormone released from fat cells that acts as a fat thermostat, telling your body how much body fat you have to help regulate your hunger. More leptin equates to less hunger. Second is grelin, also referred to as “growling grelin”, is a hormone released when we are hungry. More grelin means more hunger. Lack of sleep affects these hormones by decreasing leptin and increasing grelin.
There are several epidemiological studies which show how less sleep equals more weight gain and body fat. Here’s one that shows more of a causal relationship: “In one study at the University of Chicago, doctors measured levels of leptin and ghrelin in 12 healthy men. They also noted their hunger and levels. Soon after, the men were subjected to two days of sleep deprivation followed by two days of extended sleep. During this time doctors continued to monitor hormone levels, appetite, and activity. The end result: When sleep was restricted, leptin levels went down and ghrelin levels went up. Not surprisingly, the men’s appetite also increased proportionally. Their desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods increased by a whopping 45%.”
5) Set SMART Goals
Primary Purpose => Stay Focused
What it is & The Benefits:
Because changing our bodies is such a challenging effort, we must create the right goals to help us stay motivated. If you could bottle and sell motivation, you would easily be the richest person in the world. So while I can’t give you a magic potion, SMART goal setting is a big step in the right direction.
SMART goals means your goals pass the following pneumonic:
Time (deadline associated with goal)
There are two types of goals you can create:
- Outcome Goals (e.g. losing 10 pounds of fat, achieving a 32 inch
- Process Goals (e.g. eating 5x per day, strength training 3x per week
Lastly, you want to find a very compelling reason why changing your body is important to you, this will provide you with the sixth tool in the Lean Toolbox: Motivation!