Good health is the number one reason I work out, but I also want to look like someone who is fit. As a health coach, personal trainer and nutritionist, I’ve spent years researching ways to make my muscles more lean and toned. Here are a few lifestyle hacks to start using to get the most out of your muscles.
1. Don’t eat foods you hate.
To create lean muscle, you don’t have to exist on boiled chicken breasts or steamed broccoli. You can still eat all of your favorite foods as long as you maintain your macronutrient ratio throughout the day.
There has been a lot of research on the subject of ideal macronutrient ratio for a lean, healthy body. Here’s what the optimal breakdown looks like: 30 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent proteins and 40 percent fats.
A healthy mix of these macronutrients is the best way to fuel your body. Fats are important for hormone production, which is essential for healthy life. Carbohydrates provide energy for our life and workouts. When we consume healthy, carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, yams, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal — we get lots of necessary fiber. Proteins are building blocks of every cell in our body, our muscles included.
2. Find the eating plan that works best for you.
Don’t arbitrarily follow rules like eating five to six small meals a day, eliminating certain foods or eating at very specific times. You have to find what works best for you. For some people, that means eating two or three bigger meals a day. Others practice intermittent fasting, which is where you go 16 hours a day without food, but eat two to three large meals during the rest of your day. Whatever route you decide to follow — make sure it’s sustainable for your lifestyle.
No matter how perfect our macronutrient ratio is, if we eat too much, we are not going to see our abs, ever. If that's a goal, you may need to cut back on how many calories you’re consuming. Once you’re in maintenance mode, you can up your calorie consumption a bit. Your calorie consumption varies depending upon what type of work you do and the intensity/frequency of your workouts.
3. Visualize your new, lean body.
Visualization of our goals and our new life is one of the most important rituals we have to adopt to maintain our physique for life. It’s important to visualize the process and lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis: healthy eating, working out, enjoying being fit and healthy, shopping for clothes for our new body and enjoying our new friends who are into a similar lifestyle.
These tips, combined with weight training, cardio and an active lifestyle will allow you to have the body you always wanted. The best part? If you follow these rules you’ll be able to sustain your efforts for as long as you want!