Whether you're doing a 12-week transformation or preparing for a contest, you want to make sure you are eating all the right things and avoiding the wrong ones. Unfortunately, proper nutrition can be complicated and frustrating, and it might even result in you giving up. But when it comes to your diet, adhering to Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" mentality is the way to go.
Diet isn't as simple as ABC, but it also isn't rocket science. Just the same, you can ensure the best line of diet defense by executing a no-tolerance policy in these key areas in your diet. This simple guide can help you achieve a better understanding of what you should keep out of your nutrition plan to get that lean and muscular physique you've been working so hard to get.
1. You Booze, You Lose
Sorry, Charlie. There's no place for it - not at work, not at home, not out on the town, and definitely not secretly mixed into a Nalgene concoction stuffed in your bag. Alcohol is a huge social pressure, which is why most people try to allow having one or two drinks a week. So let's get it out of the way right now. There are two reasons why alcohol should be avoided at all costs.
First off, alcohol is nothing but empty calories. Secondly, it's normally consumed at night (the worst time to take in nasty calories), which means you'll be adding some fat to your total storage if you go out and have a few with your friends.
If you absolutely have to go out, do your friends a solid and be the designated driver. However, it's much easier if you don't go out at all and keep alcohol out of the house - out of sight out of mind! And even though you can't have any drinks now, you can always celebrate with some after your transformation is done, and they'll taste that much better!
2. Boot The Fruit
This one may seem strange because they're part of the food pyramid, right? It's true, fruits do have vitamins and minerals, but they also contain a lot of natural sugars. You don't want that extra sugar because your body should be focusing on the complex carbs you eat and the body fat you already have for energy.
Adding another source of energy will make it harder to shed those pounds. You're dieting, so your pyramid looks a lot different than King Tut's or the USDA's.
3. Be Done With Dairy
Yes, there are great minerals and vitamins in dairy products too, but once again, the unnecessary calories and sugars won't help you on your diet. Even yogurts that are high in protein still carry some negative baggage, so no dairy!
There are only a couple exceptions to this rule: cottage cheese and whey protein. Cottage cheese is high in the slow-absorbing protein called casein, so it works wells before bed. Whey protein (derived from milk) is very lean protein that doesn't come with all the extra fat, making it the perfect shake option for anytime of the day.
4. Stay Off The Sauces
I really wish sauces were allowed, honestly. But they have a tremendous diet cost if you use them, and using sauces could mean the difference between lean and cut and a giant gut. Sauces include ketchup, salad dressings, barbecue sauce, and any other type of viscous and tasty diet killer that you would use to gussy up your food.
If you want to add some flavor to your meals without sacrificing the health aspect, then just use some spices. They pack some serious flavor without all the extra crap, and there are a lot to choose from.
Dressings and sauces have tons of calories and sugars, which will just result in more calories that you have to burn, so don't shoot yourself in the foot. Don't fall for "fat-free" sauces, either, because they contain more calories than the regular versions by substituting fat with loads of carbohydrates.
5. No Meal Hooky
This is an absolute no-no. A lot of people struggle mentally with eating frequently because they think they're taking in more food than they should. But even skipping one meal can throw your diet off, so even when you're not hungry, you need to eat. Your body must be constantly fed to keep its metabolism at an elevated rate.
If you skip a meal and wait until you're hungry, you're likely to eat more than you should later, which will result in more fat storage. Plus, eating big meals can make you tired and lethargic. Eating smaller meals more frequently (at least every 3 hours) ensures that your body uses all the calories you get and keeps your energy levels up.
6. Cheating Is Always Bad
There are programs that advocate cheat meals or even cheat days to give you a break from the rigors of dieting. They're meant to serve as a periodic reward, but they often lead to temptation and excessive cheating. If you've ever cheated early or cheated too much, only to tell yourself you're going to work extra hard later, then you know what I'm talking about.
A few people can swing cheats, but most of us just aren't cut out to do it properly. Make a cheat meal your end-of-diet reward, and it'll be a well-deserved reward without the diet sacrifice.
The Bottom Line
Now, these rules are obviously easier said than done, but the key to success is thinking LONG TERM. Having a beer, cheat meal, or sugary fruit will provide short-term satisfaction, but will ultimately lead to you to fail the most important goal of all - your diet. You have to make your diet the highest priority, and proper diets take time to see results.
Just tell yourself that you're in it for the long haul, and you're going to avoid all the speed bumps. How much more satisfied will you be, knowing that you dedicated yourself, sacrificed, and now have a lean-and-cut body to show off? Sure, you're going to be surrounded by all these temptations during your diet, but hey, all you have to do is say, "No" - it's that simple. And once you look in the mirror at the end of your diet, you'll finally get to say, "Yes!"