The Skinny on Getting Lean – Diet


Summer is almost here – no more hiding under bulky sweaters!  It’s not too late to get serious about looking great in your bathing suit this year…

If you read my blog entry Diet vs. Exercise, you already know that diet is paramount for losing body fat and changing your shape.  If you don’t commit to a good diet, your chances of success are close to nil.  So, the first step in getting lean is to find a nutritional plan that works for you and stick with it diligently.

Avoid fad diets; they don’t give you long term, livable ways of dealing with food.  Almost any fad diet with a short term strategy of lowering calories will “work” and you’ll lose weight, but short term strategies produce short term results.  The big question is, can you continue with that short term strategy for the long term?  For most people, the answer is no.  If you don’t want to face the disappointment of seeing your hard work and determination slowly creep back onto your hips, skip the fad diets.

Here are some realistic tips to help get you started:

1. Decrease calories – watch portions.

This one seems obvious, but it’s not always easy to do.  Be conscious of everything you eat, why you’re eating it and when you feel satisfied.  Distracted eating results in eating more than you want, or not knowing how much you ate at all, and emotional eating is a huge pitfall.  Eating  quickly risks eating past the point of feeling satisfied.  Shoot for satisfied but not stuffed.  The basic message here is to re-establish your relationship with food and be in control.  Keep a food journal if it helps you stay on track.

2. Kick refined carbohydrates out of your diet.

There’s really nothing nutritionally redeeming about sugar and refined carbohydrates, apart from the fact that they’ll keep you alive if you’ve got nothing else to eat.  An effective simple approach is to replace refined carbs (i.e. pasta, breads) with vegetables.  I know, sounds a little weird, but works great once you get used to it.

3. Eat lean protein with every meal.

Protein helps you feel full and supports muscle, which will come in handy when you start doing your fat loss workouts.

4. Include healthy fats in your diet.

Raw nuts, cold water fish (wild caught salmon, arctic char, blue fin or albacore tuna), avocadoes, flax seeds and olive oil are all good sources of Omega 3 fats.  Believe it or not, including these fats in your diet can actually help you lose body fat, so make sure you’re getting some in everyday!

5. Don’t drink your calories.

Drinking calories is an easy way to torpedo your progress.  Juices, soda, coffee drinks, etc. all have calories that are better spent on food that gives you more nutrients and fiber.

Making changes to your dietary habits can be a huge challenge, which is probably why so many people fail.  If you feel overwhelmed and can’t take on several changes at once, don’t!  Pick one thing, focus on it for two weeks and make it stick.  Once you’ve mastered that one thing, add another.  Consistency is absolutely critical for long term success.  It’s better to do one positive thing consistently rather than sporadically doing several good things.

Next time, I’ll give you tips on putting together your own fat loss workouts so you can start cranking up your metabolism and burning extra calories!

Learn something new!


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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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