So you want to know how to lean out? Here are the two rules for getting lean and the practical tips you need to get them into action.
The Leaning Out Rules
What is the best way to lean out? This is one of the most popular questions I get and I figured we might as well address this with an article.
I personally have experimented with a couple of different ways of leaning out and you’ll need some extra discipline to do it, but it can be done. From my experience, these are the rules:
- Mind your nutrition. Really, you have to be on top of it. It doesn’t mean that you have to obsess, count calories (of course you can, if you like) and weigh all the food you eat, but you always need to be aware of what you are eating and how much.
- Work out! This is equally important, because working out will protect the lean muscle mass you have and keep you from looking skinny and unhealthy instead of looking overweight and unhealthy.
Ready? Then let’s first discuss some nutrition tips for leaning out and then go over some workout pointers.
First of all, I’m definitely not going to tell you that in order for you to get lean you need to eat five or six small meals a day. I already explained why I believe it’s an outdated eating approach: Getting lean has nothing to do with when you eat, but what you eat and how well you listen to your body. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and the best thing for you is to follow an eating schedule that fits you personally.
There are definitely certain foods that you should daily add to your diet that will fill you up and keep you in the land of burning calories. These foods are green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, bok choy etc.) fruits (apples, pineapple, melons, oranges, strawberries), nuts and seeds (but not too many, they are hefty in the calorie department), fish (salmon, tuna), lean meats (turkey, chicken breast), eggs (I like two organic eggs a day) and legumes (beans, lentils) as they help keeping you full for longer.
You probably know about junk food, meaning foods with high energy-density, not being a good idea when trying to get lean, so I will not sing too much about it. Obviously you should cut down on junk food or completely avoid it unless you plan on having a cheat meal. Yes, íf you control the amount of junk food you eat, you can still get lean without killing yourself over it. But extra caution is necessary.
Finally consider cutting down on sodium intake. I’ve noticed that if I cut down on salty things I get lean faster. Sodium tends to bloat you, and when we look a little bloated we don’t’ look as lean, even if the body fat percentage is low.
If you are trying to get much leaner, the best way always is good old cardio. For me, it’s “mixed” cardio that works best here.
Mixed cardio is a mixture of HIIT and moderate to light cardio in one session. You do it by going for an HIIT session of at least twenty minutes, after which you do additional fifteen to twenty minutes of just light cardio. The HIIT part can be a high intensity cardio activity, but you can also pick something that is more toward strength training, such as push-ups, mountain climbers, jump lunges, jump squats etc.
Another great tip and it’s one of my favorites lately is fasted state workouts. EC says that your performance can suffer when you train in fasted state, but I fell I have more energy then, so check your mileage. Some people also are worried that fasted state workouts can burn their hard-earned muscle, but that is practically impossible to happen. If you are still worried about it, you can eat 2 egg whites prior to your workout. Egg whites contain BCAAs but no carbs, so it’s still technically considered fasted state, as there won’t be carbs present in your system.
Don’t Forget Rest!
Make sure you also get plenty of rest between workout sessions. I know that some people think that if they work out non-stop they will burn more fat and get better results, but it’s definitely not going to happen. By not giving your body time to recover you place a great deal of stress on all of your bodily systems. Stress releases lots of cortisol at a very fast speed, and that is connected with gaining weight.
Picture courtesy of “Walter“.