You’ve seen them. Women who consider themselves “thin”, but try pinching their triceps and you’ll find little muscle, just skin and fat all the way to the bone. What they are is skinny fat, a clear sign of protein deprivation. It’s a byproduct of subsisting mostly on fruits and salads—simple carbs. Here’s the real skinny on being lean:
You must consume 1.5-2g of protein per pound of body weight daily to build density into your muscles!
Another word for “density” is leanness. The harder and denser your muscles, the more bodyfat you’ll burn—even while asleep, watching TV, or going about the daily grind. That’s because your muscles are essentially made of protein and water. Neglect to feed them, and your body will end up scavenging them for fuel. This is known as catabolism (sounds like cannibalism), best seen in overtrained athletes, marathon runners and… skinny-fat women.
Keeping It Anabolic
Anabolic means keeping muscles in a state ready to grow—densify—by ingesting the proper amounts of protein and nutrients, then subjecting them to increasing poundages of weight, or more intensity, or both.
What exactly does a daily intake of 1.5g per pound of protein mean? If you weigh 150lbs you’ll need about 225g a day; more on training days, about 300g. Considering a good-size chicken breast contains some 35g, that means you’d need at least 6½ of ‘em. (I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat all that.) That’s where supplements like whey powder and creatine come in. An average scoop of whey contains 25g of protein. Taken correctly, 4x a day—upon waking, pre- and post-workout, at bedtime—this covers almost half your daily protein requirements. As for flavor, how bad can cookies-and-cream be?
Final word on salad and fruit is, they’re great adjuncts to protein, but as dietary staples? No way.
Here Are The Keys: Now Get Lean!
If you’ve been working out for more than 2 weeks without seeing results…
Something is wrong!
Adhere to these tried-and-true principles for a leaner physique. Simply put, the further away you are from them, the more out of shape you’ll be. That’s because you’re body reflects what you do with it most.
Stack up your routine against this, and adjust accordingly for fast, measureable results!
1. “Confuse” your muscles: Varying your routine—a tweak here or there or a complete overhaul—keeps muscles off-balance and growing. By changing it up you’ll stave off boredom and stay consistent.
2. Use the “Big 6”: Research shows these multijoint exercises—bench press, squat, deadlift, pullup, rows and military press—build muscle density and burn bodyfat. Use them to effect, whatever your goals.
3. Toughen the Inner You: A strong core lets you lift maximum weight for maximal effect by transferring ground forces throughout the body. Woodchoppers, planks, crunches and hyperextensions hit the areas—frontal, rotational, lateral planes—that help prevent energy leakage.
4. HIIT It. High Intensity Interval Training is more effective—and mercifully, shorter—than steady state cardio. The key is keeping out of your “comfort zone” by alternating intervals of hard with slow training. Here’s how: on a piece of cardio equipment train at 85-90% max effort for 1 minute (yes, it hurts!), followed by a 1 minute walk/jog to bring your heartrate down. Do every other day the first week for a total of 8 minutes per session. Build up to 16 minutes of 8 fast/8 slow intervals by week 8. HIIT helps boost muscle growth (ever notice buff track-and-field athletes?) by utilizing fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers.
5. Intensify: Your workouts shouldn’t take hours. It’s a fact (you can look it up) that increasing training volume and decreasing rest time between sets boosts testosterone and growth-hormone; translation: improved muscle quality and lean body mass. Give 110% effort, then eat right—it’s not in the gym, but during recovery that your muscles benefit most.
6. Speaking Of Recovery: It’s key: don’t give your body time to heal and repair with the proper nutrients, and you run the risk of overtraining with fatigue, plateaus, and stalled results.
7. Eat Your Greens: Complex carbs are crucial for aiding recovery and fueling workouts. Besides energy, they’re filled with phytonutrients and antioxidants your body craves. Dark vegetables—brussels sprouts, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, spinach, tomatoes and eggplant—fit the bill.
8. Eat!: If you fast any time of the day, stop! Fasting is about the quickest way to pack on bodyfat. Pre- and post-workout meals hold especial importance. Have a light protein and carb meal about an hour before, and protein and simple carbs immediately following, your session. Two other crucial times are upon waking (drink a quick-acting hydrolyzed protein shake), and just before bed (consume an albumin and casein protein shake).
9. High And Low Glycemic Carbs: There are no “bad” carbs; only “time-inappropriate” carbs. They supply energy, some releasing it fast, some slowly… you’ve got to know the difference! Quick-acting carbs are good pre- and postworkout to transport nutrients from that protein shake you’ll be drinking rapidly into your muscles. Otherwise, slow-digesting carbs that drip energy like an internal IV are best. Good sources include legumes, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal. Nearer working-out, bananas, apples or a sports drink (downed with your protein!) are excellent. Stay away from the cakes, cookies, soda and white bread.
10. Stay Hydrated: Your body, muscles especially, need water. You like that pump lifting gives you? It’s mostly water. Drink 2 liters a day, if possible… but don’t wander far from the restroom. Plain water is best, green or black tea a close second. Sports drinks during prolonged exercise in the heat are acceptable.
11. Protein, protein, protein: Good for building muscle and fat-loss! (Can’t ask much more of a nutrient.) And, additional amounts have no negative impact on your kidneys. Especially during hard training, bump your protein intake up. Good sources are cottage cheese and milk, eggs, fish, lean beef, poultry, and… protein powder!
12. The Skinny On Fat: We’ve already waxed ecstatic on omega-3s, but that’s only part of it. There are 2 kinds you need to know: Saturated/trans fats, and hydrogenated oils are your enemies. They can sabotage your efforts quicker’n you can say Burger King. In fact, they’ll short-circuit your very health, with obesity, diabetes and heart disease topping a list of margarine, fried, pre-packaged, baked and snack foods that’ll devastate your system. Caveat: the saturated fat in meat and dairy is fine—in moderation. (Eliminating this fat might negatively impact your hormone production.) Healthy fats, like the kind in fish and nuts, are good-tasting and good for you. Include olive oil, walnuts and almonds, flax seeds and salmon in your diet.
13. Why Whey?: Different protein sources enter your muscles differently. Hydrolyzed whey (delivering the quickest uptake) is good pre- and post workout. Casein, a slower digesting protein, is best consumed after workouts (mix it with hydrolyzed whey), and before bed. Albumin, egg-protein, absorbs intermediately. The best protein products cover your back by blending all three.
14. Energy Flux: This means the way you manipulate your calories-in, calories-out ratio to reach your goals. For instance, if you train hard and take in quality calories, you’ll gain weight in the form of muscle. Expend more calories than you take in and you’ll burn bodyfat. Calories are another name for “energy,” and how they’re adjusted is the flux part.
15. Supplements: There are hundreds of good natural or over-the-counter supplements (we’ll discuss ‘em another time), but the two best are still protein powder and creatine. Both keep your muscles primed and stoked.
Keep it real. Yours in health.
Email Jeffrey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.