Instead of picking up the latest diet fad book only to be dissatisfied ten pages in, wouldn't it be great if someone just put out a simple eating guide you could keep in a binder, post on the fridge, or even tattoo on your body if you really had to?
We decided it was time to pull the biggest and brightest nutritional tips out of the fat loss information pile and give them a good spit-shine.
The result: nine clear-cut rules with no gimmicks or magic potions that can get you lean, mean, and healthy in a jiffy.
No more sacrifices to the fat-loss gods or mad-scientist formulas—just good information!
1 The More the Merrier
Eat more? That's right, but more specifically, eat more often. The old-fashioned three squares a day aren't nearly enough to kick your metabolism into overdrive. We're talking 5-6 smaller meals a day, even 7-8 if you can keep count.
Eating a small meal every few hours keeps your body in a metabolically active state for more of the day, and allows your body to evenly use the fuel you give it rather than storing it as fat.
Think of it this way: Your body's furnace will stay on if you keep feeding it small amounts of food, even if the total amount of food you eat per day is low.
Alternatively, eating just a few large meals will cause your furnace to turn off during the day. Your body will have a hard time properly metabolizing those big meals.
2 Lean Protein, Please
Lean protein is an important part of any fat-loss diet, so pick good sources, especially chicken, turkey, and pork. Nuts and legumes like peanuts, almonds, and beans are also good healthy protein sources.
And don't forget lean protein supplementation such as protein powders and bars. They're quick and convenient options to fulfill a healthy protein requirement. Protein is your prime muscle food, so keep those toned muscles fueled.
3 Dine to Fit Your Diet
Restaurants want your money, so they're usually willing to tweak menu items to fit your diet. Most restaurants cook with lots of fat and oil to get the plates out of the kitchen faster.
Ask the server to have the kitchen steam or broil your food. Heavy dressings, frilly desserts, alcoholic drinks, and fatty appetizers are the enemy. Always remember, you're paying them to make your meal, not theirs! And remember to go to places you know have healthy options.
If a restaurant has an online menu, take a couple of minutes to preview the menu before you head out to dinner. That way you'll know what to expect.
4 Be Wary of Fad Diets
One of the worst feelings ever is realizing you blew thirty bucks on an ill-conceived weight-loss book and put your body through a cockamamie science experiment.
If you're ever thumbing through one of those diet books and say to yourself, "It's so crazy it just might work," put it right back down. Crazy may work on paper but not in the real world. Stick to tried-and-true methods.
Legitimate diets may not translate into overnight results, but they will mean safe, effective, and long-lasting gains. Fad diets are the pyramid schemes of fat-loss nutrition.
5 Honest Cheating
Hey, we all deserve to reward ourselves for the hard work we do. Otherwise, what's the point? Does this mean slamming a Ben & Jerry's at the end of every day? Of course not.
It does mean you can establish one or two days a week that are your "cheat" days, during which you allow one small dessert after dinner or possibly a treat during the afternoon.
Try to keep your cheat portions small. Remember to stay on a cheat schedule. Having your cheat day scheduled keeps you motivated and makes it easy to prevent those out-of-control, all-night cheat-athons.
Cheating smart means feeling rewarded, not guilty.
6 Complex Carbs Can Help
You need some carbs to fuel your exercise, and if you're too low on them your body will burn muscle once it's done torching fat!
The key is to consume good carbs, the "complex" kind found in whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, bran, potatoes, muesli, and yams. There's plenty to choose from, so you can have a tasty and healthy diet!
Meanwhile, go easy on simple, fast-absorbing carbs.
7 Water for a Hotter Body
You've heard about people trying to cut water weight. Well, that may work for temporary results, but it isn't sustainable or healthy.
Water is essential for proper body function, which means your metabolism will be charged up if it has plenty of it. So if you really want to lose body fat, proper hydration is essential.
Dehydrated people are the wrong kind of lean, and the results you get from cutting water weight are illusory, not sustainable.
metabolism will be charged up if it has plenty of it.
8 Dissecting Your Diet
Do you look at the nutrition label on the foods you eat and keep track of your protein, carb, and calorie intake during the day?
Most of us don't, but if you open your eyes and really look at what you're eating, it'll be easier for you to know what to eat and what to cut out.
Research all of the strange ingredients to see what you're really eating, and you'll become a smart food shopper capable of making good decisions. Knowledge is power, so learn about what can and can't fit in your diet. Then stop buying the unhealthy stuff.
9 Flavor Without Fat
Fat loss doesn't mean a boring diet. The things we eat have to taste good for us to maintain our sanity, and simple strategies can make a lean fat-loss diet tasty.
And instead of using fatty sauces or dressings, try using vinegars and the many herbs and spices that can help keep your diet interesting. The possibilities for healthy and tasty cuisine really are endless, so think outside the box.