That lean look, the one where the ham-glute tie-ins are readily visible, where the slightest exhalation of contraction reveals abdominal plates with clear edges, where the long and medial heads of your triceps easily display their cross-hatching — these and all other visual treats of being shredded can be yours, men and women alike. While getting lean and ripped may not be as easy as you would like it to be, the good news is that it is not at all impossible. In fact, virtually every healthy reader of this article can achieve it.
Regardless of whether you are just starting out or already on a get-ripped-to-the-bone weight loss plan, add the following strategies to your fitness program and regime to push your metabolism through the roof. These are time-tested suggestions and you have got nothing to lose by trying them — except for a boatload of fats and calories, of course.
Eat Enough Protein Daily
According to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) guideline, an armchair general does not need more protein than 0.8 grams per 1 kilogram of body mass. But the second you start hoisting iron plates, your body will require increased protein intake if you want to turn it into a calorie-zapping, flab-burning, muscle-building machine.
Some nutrition gurus will tell you that eating anything at all will boost your metabolic rate. Yet of the three macronutrients, protein boosts that rate the most by up to 200 calories a day since it requires a great deal of energy to absorb. Amino acids are much harder to break down than fats or carbohydrates. However, this does not mean that you need mega doses of protein. According to research, ingesting more than 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight will not, in fact, result in improved metabolic response.
One efficient way to figure out your daily protein need is to estimate the weight at which you believe you will look good (get your head out of the clouds and e realistic here) and then multiply that number by 0.8 grams. Using this rule of thumb, if you are someone who weighs 80 kilos, your protein requirement would be 140 grams per day. If you weigh 90 kilos, then you would need 140 grams of protein daily. That equates to about 23 and 26 grams of protein respectively per meal, which is roughly equivalent to a 115-gram serving of skinless chicken breast.
After monitoring the effect for approximately four weeks, adjust intake as necessary. If you seem to have reached a plateau in fat loss or muscle gain, increase your protein intake slightly. If you feel like you are gaining a good bit of fat, decrease protein intake slightly and monitor for another couple of weeks.
Eat Five or Six Meals a Day
What do popular fitness athletes and professionals have in common? Most, if not all of them, carry their own food wherever they go — to the gym, to the mall, to business meetings, to fittings — no matter where they are, when their schedule calls for a feeding, you can be damn sure that they eat! The sport of bodybuilding, in particular, is rife with tales of athletes who would allow nothing to prevent them from eating on a fixed schedule, approximately every two-and-a-half to three hours to clock at least six meals a day.
There are a number of metabolic benefits to holding a strict routine with regards to your meal intake. Elevated insulin levels inhibit fat burning, but eating on a multi-meal schedule stabilises blood sugar and thus insulin levels. Furthermore, eating regularly also helps your liver and muscle tissue store glycogen more efficiently, which prevents the body from utilising hard-earned muscle tissue for energy. Additionally, improved glycogen efficiently allows you to recover better from training.
While eating six times a day allows your furnace to keep burning fat, the periodicity of meals keeps your body’s nutrient stored at optimal levels. So, when you start pushing hard under the iron bar, you will be able to keep performance levels high even though you are on a fat loss plan. Your body will have adequate nutrients in reserve for you to train effectively.
Because your body processes macronutrients more efficiently on a six-meal-a-day plan, fat moves through your body system more rapidly. Hence, less fat is stored or absorbed, while much of the remainder is sent to the porcelain god. It is also important to note that when you start of a six-meal-a-day plan, you will have to force yourself to eat despite the lack of hunger signals. The fitness and nutrition wizards refer to this early portion of the program as the induction phase. Once your body has become accustomed to being fed this regularly and this efficiently, you can be sure that it will signal hunger almost to the minute every few hours.
Move on to the second part of this series here.