It’s attractive to go “all-in” and make drastic changes when you start working out and eating healthy. The thing is that a lot of times optimal, sustainable leanness is a result of making tiny changes in how you eat, train, and live over time.
With that in mind, here are quickie nutrition and training tips you can use to lose body fat and get healthy step by step.
#1: Eat protein for your first meal of the day. Try eggs, meat (e.g. organic turkey slices), Greek yogurt, fish (e.g. smoked salmon), or a whey protein shake with berries.
#2: Remove refined carbs from your first meal of the day. This should be easier since you’ve already added protein. Avoiding bread, pastries, and foods with added sugar first thing will give you less hunger and more energy over the course of the day.
#3: Start eating more vegetables. Add a salad or steamed veggies with olive oil to lunch or dinner. Try salad greens with cucumbers, artichoke hearts, baby tomatoes, colored peppers, olives or avocado, and a few nuts.
#4: Work out. If you’re not exercising, start with 1 to 2 hours of exercise a week. Schedule it however works for you: Two workouts a week or 10 to 20 minutes every day. Just get moving!
#5: Start reading ingredient labels in order to eliminate trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) and high-fructose corn syrup.
#6: Drink enough water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Figure out how much you want to drink a day (2 liters is a good place to start). Get a bottle and fill it up in the morning. Make sure it’s all gone before you go to bed.
#7: Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric options. Best choice is to stick with water, coffee, and tea. If you must, diet soda is a better choice than sugar soda—but start cutting back by substituting sparkling water.
#8: Start training with weight. Gym workouts in which you do squats, presses, rows, and deadlifts are an excellent place to start because they use big muscle groups and will get you strong and lean fast.
#9: If you’re not ready for weights yet, do body weight workouts, which can be more fun than long, steady-state cardio.
#10: Include protein in every meal. Protein is a godsend if you want to optimize body composition and feel motivated: The body prefers to use it for tissue repair rather than fat storage, and it keeps you full, and builds muscle. It also improves chemical transmitters in the brain involved in cognition and energy.
#11: Always eat vegetables with protein. A little known fact is that protein is somewhat inflammatory. But eating protein with a variety of veggies provides antioxidants that allow the body to eliminate free radicals that cause inflammation.
#12: Walk more. Simply walking 10,000 steps a day when on a high calorie diet prevents belly fat gain and deteriorating metabolic health that occurs when activity is reduced to 1,500 steps a day (average for a sedentary desk jockey).
#13: Embrace sleep. Poor sleep makes us hungry for high-carb, high fat foods. Shoot for at least 9 or 10 hours a night if you're trying to lose fat or build muscle.
#14: Get more omega-3 fats in your diet by eating fish at least once a week. Opt for wild caught or locally sourced fish. Salmon, cod, and mackerel are good choices.
#15: Remove 90 to 100 percent of the refined carbs. Why? Because they’re packed with calories, low in nutrients, and their deliciousness makes you want to eat more. It’s not just that you have no will power. Refined carbs actually stimulate a part of the brain that triggers food intake.
#16: Replace refined carbs with whole foods. Foods that provide nutrients that are associated with carb cravings include 85 percent or higher dark chocolate, avocado, sweet potato, cheese, spinach, fish, citrus, or broccoli. Whole carb standbys are berries, kiwi and cucumber slices, almonds, walnuts, or yogurt with cinnamon.
#17: Enhance your workouts. Let’s get down to details here: For body composition, use 30- to 60-second rest periods with weights in the 70 to 85 percent of maximal, multi-joint lifts, always count tempo, and keep volume high. Do this 4 times a week for one hour.
#18: Start testing your morning glucose to assess your metabolic health. It should be between 70-90 mg/dl, with a goal of below 84 mg/dl. Get test strips at any drug store.
#19: Don’t take advice from people who eat poorly or don’t train. Unless they’re an experienced trainer or dietitian who has helped people lose fat, they probably have no idea what they are talking about. Myths are rampant in exercise and nutrition—get a scientific, reputable source for your info.
#20: Avoid antibiotics like the plague. They shift the composition of gut bacteria so that they are able to absorb a greater amount of carbs that get converted to body fat.
#21: Eat organic meat and dairy to further reduce your antibiotic load, avoid growth hormones, and get more nutrients in the form of omega-3 fats and the cancer-fighting compound CLA.
#22: Remove vegetable fats from your diet by avoiding oils from corn, canola, soybean, sunflower, etc., because they are inflammatory.
#23: Replace vegetable fats with high-quality olive oil for low heat cooking and using on veggies. Use coconut oil, butter, or red palm oil for cooking at high heats.
#24: Figure out how many macros you want to eat daily. The macronutrients are protein, carbs, and fat. A good goal for slow but steady fat loss in conjunction with exercise is 25 percent protein, 30-40 percent carbs, and 30-40 percent fat but this can be adjusted to your needs.
#25: Make your own salad dressing from olive oil, vinegar, citrus and spices.
#26: Focus on chewing. Try to chew each bite 15 times because this increases the release of hormones that make you feel full faster.
#27: Eat more foods containing indigestible fiber for better gut health. Veggies and select fruits are packed with water and fiber that improve digestion and reduce hunger. Some whole grains do as well but avoid packaged foods with added fiber.
#28: Try sprint intervals or strongman training. Both build lean muscle mass to raise your metabolism while burning fat. Try farmer’s walk, sled drags, tire flips, or if you’re really motivated, push your car up a hill.
#29: Eliminate processed coffee creamer because it’s filled with trans-fats and sugar. Just use real cream.
#30: Avoid eating late at night. Try to make your last meal at least an hour before bed because this will lead to a cascade of hormones that ends with melatonin being elevated to induce sleep.
#31: Prioritize recovery from hard, muscle damaging workouts. Eat blueberries, or try tart cherry juice added to water to reduce soreness and speed the removal of waste products from the body.
#32: Retrain your taste buds to like whole, unprocessed foods by using vinegar, tamari, citrus, fresh herbs, and spices to prepare foods. Use cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, nutmeg, vanilla, and red peppers because the have compounds that support body composition.
#33: Drink coffee or green tea. Both are packed with antioxidants and promote longevity and reduce risk of a boatload of disease.
#34: Get a training partner, or two. Working out with someone who is slightly more advanced than you is extremely motivating, and it helps you get through the hard days.
#35: Eat a probiotic food once a day. Try sauerkraut, yogurt, Korean kim chi, kefir, raw cheese, pickled vegetables, or Indian lassi.
#36: Always prioritize weight training. If you do intervals (which you should) or even “cardio,” do it in a separate workout. You can do them on separate days, or do one in the morning and one in the evening.
#37: Eat fruits and vegetables with beneficial fats to increase absorption of antioxidant nutrients. Sauté veggies in a bit of butter or coconut oil, or dust them with olive oil. Eat nuts or avocado slices with a bowl of berries.
#38: Try meditating everyday. Just shrink the length of a mediation session until you no longer feel a mental resistance to it, and then do it for that long. Try 5 minutes.
#39: Do not believe packaged food labels that tell you a food is healthy. They are advertisements. This is marketing, not science.
#40: Learn to Olympic lift. The clean and snatch are the best exercises for training power, enhancing your athleticism and coordination. Plus, they’re a blast once you learn proper technique.