Whether it's for an upcoming special event, to make a change in your life or if you just want to look and feel healthy, most of us want to have low bodyfat levels and good muscle size and tone. Follow these tips below to kickstart your way to that lean, athletic physique you're looking for!
Without a doubt, this is the most important piece of the puzzle. Without a great diet, the hours of training and hundreds of hard earned dollars spent on supplements will be wasted. A healthy diet is key to ensure so many of the body's functions are supported, especially during periods of strenuous exercise. A good diet will result in better athletic performance; better moods; improved sleep quality; enhanced body composition, as well as joint, heart, skin and overall bodily health.
These are not the enemy! Carbohydrates are vital for many bodily functions, and are the body's preferred energy source. The key to carbohydrate consumption during diet periods is to use it as close as possible to when the body needs it. The best times to consume carbohydrates are first thing in the morning, as well as before, during and immediately after your workouts. This will ensure the carbs are used to fuel/replenish the body's energy stores rather than being stored as fat. The body's preferred carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates, which are slower digesting and provide a steady release of energy. Go for brown rice, oats, quinoa, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, berries and a little fruit. Aim for approximately 2.5 grams of carbs per kg of bodyweight per day.
Important for rebuilding muscles damaged during exercise, preventing muscle breakdown, increasing strength, helping burn body fat, and a host of other reasons, adequate protein consumption is vital. Good sources of protein are lean animal meats such as chicken breast, rump steak, as well as fish, eggs, beans, lentils and protein powder. Aim for 2.5 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight per day.
A common mistake people make is thinking that dietary fat and body fat are the same thing. This is not true at all, as fats consumed in food must undergo a number of processes in the body before they are stored as body fat. There are a number of fats that are very beneficial, especially for joint, heart and brain health. Go for fats from olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds as well as a little from animal meat (such as those in lean cuts of red meat). Aim for 0.5 grams of fats per kg of bodyweight per day.
The next key to achieving a lean physique is training. Another mistake many people make when dieting is to do huge amounts of cardio without any weight training. The result is that the body stops burning bodyfat and starts burning muscle for fuel, resulting in a 'skinny fat' look. Resistance training is extremely important when dieting, as it promotes an increased metabolic rate and allows more food to be used for energy than storage. Cardio is definitely important, though, and should be used in conjunction with weight training to achieve a lean, muscular look.
As a guide, shoot for 3-5 days of heavy weight training sessions of no more than an hour, utilising compound moves such as squats, deadlifts and presses which stimulate more muscle growth than smaller, isolated exercises. Start with 3-4 days of cardio - 20 minutes at a moderate/high intensity should be enough to start, and adjust the frequency/duration depending on how much fat you are losing. Where possible, try to do cardio away from your weight training - later/earlier in the day, or on a separate day altogether if possible.
The final piece to the fat loss puzzle lies with supplements. On their own, supplements might not make much difference to your body composition, your energy levels, your strength levels etc. But combined with the correct diet and training principles, they can have a great effect. Here are some key supplements for someone who is looking to get lean:
It's extremely difficult to achieve your daily protein needs from food intake. For the average 90kg man, we recommend 200-300 grams of protein per day, which is equivalent to more than a kilo of meat. Protein powders make reaching these numbers much easier. Opt for a lean protein powder, with as little sugar/carbohydrates as possible (carbs are much better consumed in food form), and use first thing in the morning and around workouts. For an extra fat burning kick, go for a protein with added fat burners.
These are the 'gap fillers' for the nutrients we don't get from our foods. It's extremely difficult to eat enough fruits and vegetables to get all the vitamins and minerals into our bodies. This is where a good multivitamin can really help.
A supplement supported by plenty of research, creatine is proven to help increase strength levels, speed recovery, build muscle, as well as many other functions. Contrary to what many people think, creatine will not make you bloated, and it might just do the opposite - pulling the water from under your skin and into your muscles for a 'tighter' look. Best of all, a good creatine supplement does not have to be expensive.
Fat Burners / Thermogenics
These can really help those looking to burn as much fat as possible, especially that 'last bit' of fat. A good thermogenic will provide a number of benefits, including an energy boost, appetite suppression, an increase in metabolic rate, and fat oxidisation (using fat as fuel). There are countless fat burners on the market, so be careful if you are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants - you might want to go for one without many stimulants.
Here is a sample stack for Protein King's Get Lean plan:
1. Protein - Bodyscience Hydroxyburn Pro Clinical
3. Creatine - MusclePharm Creatine
Good luck! You're now on the road to getting that lean, defined and athletic physique.
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