Suffering through a diet to lose weight is pointless. A better way: you don’t need to diet, just eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Ready? Let’s do this.
1. Eat Protein with 3 Meals
That’s right: three squares a day. Plan on breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and make a fist-sized chunk of protein front and centre. It’s more satiating than carbohydrates or fat and triggers a metabolic cascade that leads to improved blood sugar control. Eating protein also stimulates muscle growth and is crucial to burning fat and becoming lean. And because protein helps your body rebuild between workouts, you can train harder in your next workout. Spreading out your protein intake gives you a 25% advantage in muscle building over the average guy, who tends to favour low-protein breakfasts and lunches and a protein-rich dinner.
2. Go Green at Every Chance
The key to uncovering your abs? Pounding vegetables! The verdict is clear: vegetables crowd out the unhealthy carbs and other high-calorie options, and they’re packed with nutrients. So fill your trolley. If you’re not cruising the produce section of the supermarket, you’re in dangerous territory—the vast middle of the store, with its stacks of processed foods that will give you a vast middle. Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus are your full-belly all-stars, and they mix well with role players like tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and squash. Throw down a piece or two of fruit a day too.
3. Have a Post-Gym Shake
Sure, exercise burns kJs and builds muscle, but it also affects the way you process nutrients. Your goal is to spike protein synthesis (a.k.a. muscle building) throughout the day. Consuming 20 to 30 grams of whey protein after you train enhances this process. It’ll flood your system with accessible, fast-digesting amino acids and also put the brakes on muscle breakdown—so you’ll make gains faster.
4. Eat Starches for Fuel
Exercise turns your muscles into carbo- hydrate sponges. The post-workout window is the only time you can direct carbohydrates toward your muscles (instead of, say, fat cells). This window starts to close after 60 minutes, but eating a carb-rich meal within two hours of your workout is good enough. So you can have rice, bread, and pasta (in moderation) about three days a week. Note: this applies only to Phase 1 (the first 30 days).*
For Phase 1, the first 30 days, simply follow the five rules. For Phase 2, the next 30, make two changes: first, cut out those post-training starches; all your carbs will come from fruits and vegetables. Second, don’t snack on workout days, but you can still have your post-workout shake. I’ve found that this pushes most people over a stubborn plateau and prevents the body from panicking at the loss of kilojoules.
5. Snack on Fat and Protein
Don’t be like the average guy, who tends to snack on sodium-laden refined carbs. A protein-and-fat-combo snack acts as a nutritional bridge between two meals separated by five hours or longer (usually lunch and dinner).
This way your body is forced to draw on stored fat for energy, which is good, and you’ll fight hunger while keeping your blood sugar within the ideal range. Speaking of fat, you should include a variety of sources in your diet (oils such as olive, peanut and canola; nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and cashews; and dairy such as Greek yoghurt or butter).
That fat will keep you from caving into hunger; add fibre for an assist. Warning: measure your oil when cooking. For meals with starch, use 1 tsp of oil; for non-starch meals, use 1 to 1 1⁄2 Tbsp (less if you’re adding nuts or cheese to the meal).