Top 10 Ways to get Lean!

So, we’re already midway past the second month of the year -are you keeping to your fitness goals, more importantly, did you actually set any? Becoming aware that you want to be more physically capable with energy to spare whilst getting the most out of your day is the first step, regularly reminding yourself why is the next. If one of your goals is to become lean, here are top 10 ways to help you on your way!

1. Reduce your sugar intake
Sugar is a huge problem in our society and could be the main reason that you’re not getting the body you want even though you’re working hard.
You might do lots of exercise and eat healthily but if you eat too much sugar it forces your body to store excess fat. Alongside these physical effects it gives you that ‘high’ and makes you crave more, then makes you feel sluggish which doesn’t help your overall efforts to get lean. The daily recommended allowance is 6 teaspoons or 25g, so check labels and cut out that chocolate and cake because you know you don’t really need it.

2. Do HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training became well known a few years ago as it burst onto the fitness scene. Famous trainers like Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach, advocate HIIT as the best way to lose weight and get lean.
HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise with space to rest in between. It might not sound hard but trust me I regularly do HIIT in the gym and it works wonders. Because you work as hard as you possibly can for short intervals, you sweat a lot, lose weight, improve your fitness and become closer to getting the body you want.
Try doing a particular exercise like burpees for 30 seconds and resting for one minute, then repeating this until you have done a 4 minute set. Then do the same again for a different exercise, or just mix them up, and you’ll be burning calories for days after!

3. Sleep well
You might be wondering how this will help you get lean. Surely you should be doing more exercise rather than resting more. Well that’s where you’re mistaken.
Getting enough sleep plays a vital role in getting the body you’re working hard for because without sleep you can’t function properly. If you feel tired, you won’t work as hard in the gym as you could, you’ll get depressed because your energy levels are so low it’s likely to lead to you putting on weight when you comfort eat as a result. Lack of sleep is known to cause cravings too; if you’re well rested you’re more mentally equipped to resist those sweet cravings and opt for a healthy snack instead.
Your wellbeing is the most important thing and you know how much sleep works for you so do your best to get that much sleep at least 6 nights a week.

4. Have a healthy breakfast
Your breakfast literally sets you up for the day.
If you have a bowl of one of those generic, junky, sugar-laden cereals you’re more likely to crave sugar again later on and you’ll be unlikely to achieve a lean physique. It’s best to have a protein based breakfast like scrambled eggs if you can stomach it, because protein helps to curb your sugar cravings and keeps you feeling fuller for longer than carbohydrates will. A lot of fitness enthusiasts are known also to have porridge for breakfast as it keeps you full for hours and can be topped with a variety of yummy accompaniments like peanut butter, fruit, flaxseeds and anything else you like!

5. Lift weights
Now you girls especially might be looking at the screen in disgust but just stay with me on this. If you lift enough weights and eat healthily you will put on muscle. This doesn’t mean you’ll end up looking like the incredible hulk but you’ll start getting definition and you might even see your abs come through!
Women don’t have enough testosterone to get as muscular as men can, so don’t worry about really going for it, unleashing your girl power with weighted resistance could be your key to unlocking an awesome body!
I know from personal experience that it has helped me lose weight and gain definition in my abs and legs so trust me girls you need to try it. Plus the more muscle you gain the more fat you burn and because it takes more energy for your body to maintain muscle you will have a higher metabolism and burn more calories. The benefits are just all round marvellous!

6. Eat more
Yes you can thank me now. You do indeed need to eat more! In order to build more muscle as well as doing weights you will need to eat more protein and good carbohydrates like oats, wholegrains and veg.
Although there isn’t a one-size fits all rule, it is recommended that a person eat 1g to 1.5g of protein daily for every pound of body weight. So for example if you weigh 150lbs you would need to eat between 150g and 225g per day to gain adequate muscle mass and maintain it.
Try adding lean meat to your lunch and dinner but for breakfast and snacks add nut butters and Greek yogurt. It can be hard to eat this much protein so you might want to invest in some good quality protein shakes so that you can hit your daily target. There’s no harm in protein shakes and you can find recommendations online for reputable brands. We’ll also have an article on the best of these soon so stay tuned!

7. Put in 110%
It might sounds obvious and there will be days where you can’t give it all you’ve got, but for the most part you need to put in a lot of time and energy to dedicate yourself to getting lean.
You will get there if you really work your body hard and don’t settle for less. Push your body harder than you’ve ever pushed it and you’ll get your dream body in no time.

8. Know when you can eat carbs
Carbs do have a bad rep but they are really important for getting lean because they give you all the energy you need before and after your workouts.
It’s useful to know that before you exercise you should have a small snack but then after your hard-core workout you need to refuel with a high carb meal like a bowl of porridge or brown rice. If you eat within an hour of finishing your workout what you eat is much less likely to affect your fat levels because most of it goes to putting the insulin back into your depleted energy stores. If you have to, this is the best time to eat a chocolate bar because the sugar will help your muscles to recover quicker and you’re less likely to gain fat.
Also, try not to eat many carbohydrate rich meals on your non-training days because this could hamper your good efforts. On days you’re not working out stick to having lots of protein, good fats (like avocado and nut butters), fruit and veg.

9. Don’t stress
Much like getting enough sleep, getting stressed is another undercover villain.
Getting stressed has similar effects on your body as sleep deprivation because it usually leads to overeating. Normally when we’re stressed our brains automatically crave sugary and junk food, this is just the way we have evolved. So by being calm and happy we are much more likely to choose healthy options, work harder in the gym, and have a better overall sense of wellbeing. Download the Calm app for meditation routines and tips about how to be calm every day. More on that coming soon too!

10. Be consistent
There’s no point doing all of the above if you’re only going to do it for a week or a month.
In order to get lean you need to adopt these as lifestyle habits and they’ll become normal in time. It takes three weeks for something to become routine so keep at it and you’ll soon forget all about that mid-morning slice of cake you used to have with your coffee! Being consistent is key. Yes you can have off days, and you will, but as long as you work as hard as you can the majority of the time and keep it up you’re much more likely to not only see results but keep them.

You’ll notice in time that your whole wellbeing is doing fantastic, you’ll feel abundantly more energetic and happy, including of course looking awesome in the mirror!

Safia Yallaoui

Safia is a lifestyle blogger and coach at the fitness membership company MoveGB. She also has an MA in journalism and has done a variety of freelance work in print, radio and online. After losing 14lbs a few years ago Safia got into health and fitness realising the most important thing about clean eating is nourishing your body. She loves to keep in shape with weight training and going to fitness classes. Whilst training to be a Nutritional Therapist she is learning how to alleviate health problems by including or omitting certain foods and has a keen interest in the affects of sugar on a person's physical and mental health.

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