Everyone wants to look good. It is just a simple fact. Now the general definition of what “good” is can vary a little. There are some guys that think the ‘beefcake’ look is the way to go. But for the most part, looking good means having muscles that are clearly defined to go with a nice 6-pack of abs.
There is a certain ‘look’ that most people find ideal that for the most part is considered fit and lean. But how do you get this look? I won’t lie; it takes some serious work, but probably not in the way you think.
The honest truth is that to get ripped the program is 65-75% diet, 5% mental, and the rest is all about exercise. Most people, however, who are going for a lean look end up flip flopping the exercise and diet portions. So while they workout extremely hard, the type of results they want aren’t realized because they can’t overcome the dietary lapses.
The Mental Aspect
While I stated 5% mental, for some people this can initially be a larger portion. Changing how you eat is very difficult. A lot of our dietary habits have been built up over the years. They get modified by an enjoyment of food (especially in social situations) as well as the convenience factor. So generally speaking overhauling your diet to a new plan is a hard nut to swallow.
But there is hope. Most people, after they start to see the effects of getting lean, can then use that as motivation to stay on track. Every morning you look in the mirror and see more definition in your body (including your abs) and that makes you feel good. Those good feelings carry over to your mood about eating and it just becomes easy to stay on track because you like how you look and feel.
You will feel better too because part of a good diet plan involves the elimination of a lot of sugar and excess carbs that get turned into sugar. Those play havoc with your glucose and energy levels. Life is completely different when your body is on an even field of good energy versus having swings up and down dominated by sugar intake. But after you have been on track for a few weeks the mental portion of the game slips down to around 5%.
Now to begin, there is no perfect diet. In fact your diet will probably change a little bit over time as you adjust to what you like, what works well for your schedule, and your changing needs based on your body’s progression. But there are basic rules that everyone should follow.
First, you need to consume fewer calories compared to what you burn. Otherwise you are never going to be burning excess fat. It is just a simple fact. A great starting point is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 15. This is generally the amount of calories your body will burn in a day. Your aim should be to consume 250-350 calories less than this number. Some people go for a lot more, but they also haven’t factored in how many calories they burn working out. This causes a problem where the body gets concerned about the lack of nourishment and stores fat just in case.
Another important number to track is protein consumption. Ideally you want to have about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This will ensure you have the proper nutritional building blocks for your muscles to maintain and gain size. After you figure out your protein intake, the rest of your calories are split between fats (aim for 15-20%) and carbs.
What to eat? You should look to eat things you like. But, there are a few rules. Carbs should not be white (white bread, white rice, etc). You want to get more of your energy from whole grain carbs as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Processed foods and canned foods should be avoided. Ideally you should be eating 3 to 5 small meals a day with 1-2 snacks so that you consume food every 3 hours or so. This will keep a regular stream of energy to your body as well as help regulate a slightly increased metabolism.
You want to take in a lot of water over the day. A daily vitamin in the morning is also highly recommended. Things to avoid would be candy, soda, and anything with too much sugar. While you might not want to give up your coffee, unless you take it black you are actually starting your day with a huge sugar spike that your body doesn’t need.
There isn’t much to say here. If you are working out hard with weights and doing a few hours of cardio a week that will be enough. Far too many people do 5-6 or more hours of cardio but then still eat horribly and don’t see the results they want. Instead you should focus on 2-3 hours of great cardio doing either fat burning or interval training as well as regular weight sessions. After you have adjusted your diet and been on it for a few weeks you will have a better idea if you should do a little bit more in the gym to speed up your gains.