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:
Primary Purpose => Keep Muscle, Lose Only Fat
Strength training involves lifting weights including anything from barbells, dumbbells, or kettle-bells to using bodyweight and resistance bands.
Strength training should be the foundation of your exercise program to maximize fat loss for two major reasons:
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.
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.
Primary Purpose => Burn More Fat
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.
There are a number of great benefits to High Intensity Interval Training besides serious fat burn that include:
Primary Purpose => Stay Full Longer
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.
Primary Purpose => Control Hunger
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.
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%.”
Primary Purpose => Stay Focused
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:
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!