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Already Pretty Lean? Taking It to the Next Level

We have done several posts for beginners to the fat loss lifestyle and for competitors alike. This post came out of several requests we have been getting from ladies who are already part of “the fitness elite” but are not competitors.

Here are some quick tips for improving your nutrition to tackle that last extra bit of stubborn fat, shed  water and bring out some more visible cuts and definition.  Keep in mind that if you are not tackling “the big rocks” already (clean diet, consistent weight-training/interval cardio, sleep and stress management), these nutrition “extras” will not create much noticeable change. However, if you are already fairly lean and consistent with diet and training, a few small things can make a big difference in your physique.

Realize that making these additional changes to clean up your nutrition even further can be a challenge, and may not be for everyone. Remember, the MOST important thing is to adopt a “lifestyle” nutrition plan that will not take every ounce of will-power to stay on. We all know that the harder the diet is to follow, and the farther away it is from what we would normally do, the less likely we will be to stay on it.  These 6 tips are best utilized when prepping for an event like a reunion or vacation–I frequently use these for a couple weeks before a shoot.  Keep perspective in mind and use them accordingly :) Good luck! ox Jill

1) Move to eating all “real” food. Take out all protein bars, shakes and sugar-free treats, period. I love these options for easy grab-and-go options and to satisfy a sweet tooth with a low-carb option. In fact, for most busy people, avoiding them completely is not an option (or else it’s the McDonalds drive-thru at 10pm).  However, if you have to the time and option to cook, moving all your meals to consist of “real” food instead of processed foods, can go a long way. Focus on 5 meals per day–each of the first meals contains 1 serving lean protein, 1 serving fruit or veggie and 1 serving starchy carb (like sweet potatoes or oats)–each of the last 2 meals should be lean protein and veggies only.  Grab 2 servings of healthy fats per day too.  The reason this small switch will yield noticeable results is because bars and shakes commonly contain artificial and/or natural sweeteners like sucralose (Spenda), glycerin and sugar alcohols, for example, as well as additives, coloring and preservatives–all of which may cause water retention, digestive upset, GI inflammation and bloating in some people.

2) Limit dairy foods. Dairy, while a great source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and calcium/vitamin D, may inhibit fat loss in some via an overly insulingenic mechanism in susceptible individuals–those who are sensitive to dairy. You don’t have to be lactose intolerant for dairy to affect you.  It can be as simple as a small allergic reaction, slight gut inflammation or an exaggerated inulin response that may cause water retention, bloating or simply hinder fat loss.  Some people do very well on dairy, however, so be sure to monitor your results and adjust down or up.

3) Take all sweeteners (natural and artificial) out of your diet. Similar to #1 above, sweeteners can cause GI upset and water retention.  Be aware of natural sugar alcohols too like xylitol, erythritol, maltitol and sorbitol.  This includes everything from Splenda in coffee to diet sodas to Crystal Light, sugar-free Jello, candy and gum.  Stevia, however, is a leaf and will be your best option if you want to keep a zero-calorie sweetener in your diet.

4) Up your intake of green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, swiss chard, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, celery and mustard/collard greens.  High in B vitamins and chock full of water and relatively high fiber (compared to total carb), green leafy veggies help shed water and help to optimize the acid-base balance in the body for efficient fat burning, by providing plenty of potassium, magnesium and calcium.  Be aware of broccoli and cauliflower, as they can be more bloating in susceptible people–stay will smaller servings at each sitting of these.

5) Choose “clean” carbs and pay attention to gluten. Some people may need to be aware of gluten-containing grains like whole wheat breads, pastas and cereals since they can cause slight to moderate allergic reactions in people who are susceptible.  This kind of metabolic dysfunction can disrupt the ability to burn fat.  Instead, try to choose mostly hypoallergenic carbohydrates like yams, potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, beans and starchy veggies (squash/zucchini/eggplant, etc).  Fruits like melon, apples, pears, grapefruits and berries are also great carb choices.

6) Limit beverages other than water. Limit all juices, sodas (even diet, especially diet), sweet tea, milk, half-and-half, sports drinks, energy drinks (even SF) and zero-calorie/sweetened waters (like Sobe Life Water or Vitamin Water) and drink plain old H2O.  3-4L per day.  Other fat-burning beverages that are ok include 1-2 cups of unsweetened green tea per day  (a good option to provide the extract EGCG) and organic coffee, taken black (1-2 cups/day).

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