When it comes to eating to look lean, there are really only three questions that need answers; What, When and How Much.
What Each of your meals needs to include all three of the following components:
Lean quality protein to repair and regenerate all the cells and tissues in the body (ex: chicken, turkey, fish, pork, beef, egg whites and low-fat dairy products) Clean carbs for energy and fiber (ex: all-natural and whole-grain sources, including rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, breads) Fruits and vegetables for nutrients and fiber
When You must consider that your body can only store roughly four hours’ worth of fuel, so the traditional three meals a day format often leaves you with six or more hours between meals. Even if you make healthy choices, your body is still running out of fuel, and is forced to burn muscle. The solution is to maintain a balanced breakfast and dinner, but instead of having just one lunch at midday, have two lunches, one in the late morning and the other in the early afternoon.
How Much When you eat this way you can rest assured that your body is getting an adequate amount of nutrients and energy, which will prevent your body from ever consuming its own muscle tissue as an energy source. This in turn will keep your fat-burning metabolism functioning efficiently. Make sure each of your four meals contains:
Fist-size serving of fruits and/or vegetables Fist-size serving of clean carbs Palm-size serving of protein
Common Question #1 In the absence of enough food, why won’t my body just burn fat? Fat is your body’s ultimate protective mechanism or device. In other words, your body thinks it’s doing you a favor by storing extra fat. Here’s how it works: Your body protects itself from the threat of starvation by stockpiling body fat. There’s always food available to you when you want it, but your body doesn’t know that! Consequently, every time you intentionally deprive yourself, or just get too busy and go too long between meals, it represents that same threat of starvation to your body.
Each time your body senses that threat it drops into what I call “protection mode.” In protection mode, your body wants to hoard fat, not burn it. Also, because you didn’t eat, there are no carbs available for energy. The only thing left for your body to burn for energy is protein (muscle tissue)! And this is where weight loss on deprivation diets comes from.
The good news: Your body doesn’t want to be burdened by storing and carrying around any more fat than it has to; it only does it to protect you! Be encouraged knowing that your body is ready and willing to part with its fat when you give it what it needs. Consistently give your body enough of the right foods at the right times in the right amounts, so you can stay out of protection mode and in fat-burning mode.
Bruce Day is the developer of the Eat Wise and Exercise educational DVDs and the creator of the Learn to Be Lean fat-loss system. Day has more than 27 years of experience teaching fitness and nutrition.