Now that you know your current average daily calorie intake—from the info in Part 1—you can figure out the changes you need to make. Here’s my next group of strategies for getting lean.
15) Reduce your current daily calorie intake by 250 to 350 calories every few days, until you get down to the number that results in a loss of about one pound a week. Say you’re currently eating 4,000 calories per day. Drop to 3,700 for the first few days, then to 3,400 for the next few days and so on. Eventually, you’ll be at your target daily calorie quota, which may, for instance, be 2,500, depending on your size, gender and activity level. Don’t dive to 2,500 calories from 4,000, or you’ll risk reducing your basal metabolic rate, which would make fat loss much more difficult.
16) Cut out junk food—including soft drinks, sweets, unhealthful desserts and fast food—and replace it with healthful food.
17) Eliminate fried food and other foods that are full of unhealthful fats. That may be enough to produce your first reduction of 250 to 350 calories.
18) Cut about 300 calories by reducing whole-milk dairy products, butter, calorie-laden sauces and condiments, fat-laden meats and nighttime snacks—even healthful snacks. You may need to eliminate all of those eventually.
19) If, once you’ve made the changes in items 16, 17 and 18 and are eating only healthful food but still aren’t losing about one pound a week, you’ll have to reduce your intake of healthful food. Although it’s much easier to overeat on junk food, it’s possible to overeat even on an exclusively healthful diet.
20) When you do low- or moderate-intensity exercise before you eat breakfast, your body may derive more of its fuel from bodyfat. If you do it shortly after eating a meal, you’ll still burn fat but less of it because you’ll also use some of the carbohydrate you just ate.
21) Don’t do intensive exercise—weightlifting or hard cardio—on an empty stomach first thing in the morning; you need ample energy in order to perform it well.
22) Start your day an hour earlier to fit in some low- to moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking, but go to bed an hour earlier to compensate. Many people are already deficient in sleep—don’t add to the problem.
23) Find ways to increase your activity. Take the stairs rather than elevators. Get off the bus a stop earlier and walk the last leg. Park your car 10 minutes away and walk to and from your destination. Walk to the local shops rather than using a car. You’ll burn an extra few hundred calories a day on top of the calories from the structured walking you’re doing.
24) Many gimmicky plans promote fast weight loss that’s not realistic. Losing three, four, five or more pounds of fat in a week, for example, won’t happen. Most people can’t lose more than two pounds of fat per week in a healthy way, even under the most aggressive of plans. If you rush your weight loss, you’ll end up losing muscle. Losing even a “mere” one pound per week would be 52 pounds of fat over the course of a year, if you need to lose that much.
25) Vary your intake but maintain the average. For example, instead of having 2,500 calories every day, make it 2,700, 2,300, 2,500, 2,800, 2,200, 2,600, 2,400 over a week. That will prevent your body from adapting to a fixed daily intake, give you variety and provide one or two higher-calorie days each week so you can have a small treat or two, if you wish.
26) Most people who want to shed bodyfat are preoccupied with calories and the quantities of the macronutrients—protein, fat and carbohydrate—they take in. Healthful nutrition, however, is also about micronutrients—primarily vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Getting the right calorie intake is essential, but so is getting sufficient micronutrients. Every day you need fruit and vegetables, healthful fats (for essential fatty acids) and a multivitamin-and-mineral tablet.
27) When you’re on a reduced-calorie diet and are losing bodyfat, it’s even more imperative that every calorie come from nutrient-rich, healthful food. Healthful food can taste great. Rubbish food will eventually make you feel lethargic, bloated and even unwell.
28) If you can’t go cold turkey, wean yourself off the rubbish over a few weeks. Have a little junk food on one designated treat day each week. Over time you’ll acquire a taste for nutritious foods and gradually lose your desire for rubbish.
In a future installment I’ll give you another bundle of facts and tips.
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008, or www.Home-Gym.com.