You’re training hard every day with your program, going heavy on the weights and sweating up a storm with cardio. News flash: While that’s critical to your ultimate success, it’s just not enough for you to lose the excess fat.
To reach your get-lean goal, you must also follow a get-lean diet, filled with the best foods to burn fat. Why? Even if you work out hard for an hour every day, that still leaves 23 more hours for you to wreck all your hard work in the gym with just one slip-up: a measly handful of chips, a beer with the guys or a burger at lunch. Diet is a huge, so to speak, part of the fat-loss equation. It’s the backbone of your entire plan, the foundation of a hard body.
Bodybuilding nutrition consultant Jim Judge says nutrition determines your success or failure, plain and simple. “The diet is 65% of what you need to get in shape,” he says. Judge would know, as he’s helped countless dedicated people reach their goals, from achieving their best body ever to placing first in bodybuilding competitions.
You’ve got 28 days to get to your goal, so we’ve recruited Judge to help you every step of the way. He’s adapted a traditional bodybuilding competitor’s diet for a noncompetition (that means you!) who wants to look his best, shedding as much fat as possible in a very short time. With just under a month, there’s no time to fool around, so get started on your high-protein meal plan now to lose weight and build muscle while you’re at it. Go to the grocery store and stock up tonight. Come breakfast time tomorrow, follow his plan as strictly as you can and get ready to show off those impressive
Your get-lean principles
There’s just no way around the diet, says Judge, and eating clean is the name of this get-lean game. Judge’s diet plan is filled with fresh, clean foods that are as unprocessed as possible. Here are his three simple principles to shed fat fast.
- Eat at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, daily. If your protein intake is too low on a restricted-calorie diet, you’ll lose a lot of muscle in addition to any fat you’re lucky enough to shed. A high-protein intake will help you preserve lean mass during your dieting phase. Choose lean, high-quality proteins like egg whites, poultry, lean red meat, and protein supplements. The diet provided here contains about 220-250g of protein daily, fine for a male weighing 200-250lbs. up your protein only if you’re heavier than 250lbs, or you’re very hungry and need to add food during the day. Judge suggests an additional protein shake for an easy quick fix. (If you’re less than 180lbs, cut out 3oz of meat or chicken per day from the diet.)
- Keep your carbohydrates low to moderate when trying to lose weight. “On a low day you’ll have closer to 100g of crabs,” he says. “A moderate day is about 150g of crabs.” Judge prefers to rotate low and moderate days to keep energy high and provide a change of pace. Good, clean, fiber-rich crabs include oats, potatoes, rice, and whole-grain bread.
- Drink at least a gallon of water per day. It’ll keep you hydrated and healthy. Water should be your primary beverage during dieting. Though many rely on diet sodas, Crystal Light, and other low-calorie sweetened drinks, plain old water is really your best bet.
How to stay on track
Habits and cravings are the devil when it comes to dieting. Let’s first deal with habits. Judge explains that it takes a good week or two to ease into dieting. “Fast food is so easy and there’s a McDonald’s on every corner. The hardest thing is to develop the new habit of preparing your meals and taking them with you.” The first week is the most difficult, so prepare yourself for some challenges as you abandon your usual routine. For example, you might usually go out for a sub sandwich or burger at lunch. You’ll now have to bring your food with you and resist the temptation of spicing up your meal with the Doritos in the vending machine or your usual can of Coke. It can be a real mental battle to stick to your food plan.
To stay motivated and deal with cravings, Judge has a couple of great recommendations. First, schedule a cheat meal on every seventh day. “Many of my clients have their cheat meal on Sunday, so then they’re ready for Monday and the week to come,” he says. If you feel deprived during the week, concentrate on the cheat meal to come, knowing you can eat absolutely anything you want to—pizza, lasagna, doughnuts, beer, chips, you name it. Remember, though, it’s just one cheat meal, not an entire day of cheating. Afterward, get right back on the wagon with your next scheduled meal.
Second, take a few photos of yourself to keep your motivation up. “Most of the people who come to me are doing it for a reason,” he explains. “They’re going on vacation, competing in a bodybuilding show, or maybe going to a reunion. I always have them strive for that goal. I take front, side, and back pictures of them at the beginning and have them post the photos on their mirror at home. I tell them, just keep looking at that picture and think of what you’re going to look like in a few weeks.”
When it comes to cravings, protein drinks and bars may also help cure your need for sugar, says Judge. He recommends mixing a flavored protein powder in a blender with as much ice as possible, so it’ll taste more like a milkshake. Day Five’s protein shake includes a cup of berries, which will also help with sugar cravings. Once or twice per week, Judge adds, you can have a low-sugar, high-protein bar. The newest varieties taste more like candy bars, with state-of-the-art sweetening techniques.
Your habits and cravings may both rear their heads at restaurants, where it’s easy to blow your diet in seconds. To stick to the plan, says Judge, be diligent in ordering. “Ask them to grill your meat without oil or grease. Ask for steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either fat-free dressing or vinaigrette.” After his 14 years in bodybuilding, Judge testifies that he’s found many restaurants are accommodating, so there’s no reason to avoid them as long as they’ll cook to your preferences.
What to expect
Some men can lose up to 5lbs per week, says Judge, if they follow the diet strictly. He recommends striving for a weekly 2- to 3-lb loss for more lasting effects. “That way it’s not such a drastic change and you’ll be less likely to put all the weight back on when the diet’s done,” he adds. Weigh yourself naked just once per week, at the same time, preferably on the same scale. That way it’ll be as accurate as possible.
If you haven’t lost any weight after the first week, it may be time to troubleshoot. In addition to following an exercise program, Judge’s first line of defense is upping your cardio. Instead of one cardio session per day, he recommends doing 45 minutes of cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. Then add a second 30-minute session in the late afternoon or evening.
If that doesn’t stimulate weight loss, Judge’s second line of defense is to cut crabs slightly. On lower days, drop to 60-80g a day rather than 100. Eat this low-crab diet for two days, then insert one higher-crab day (150g).
Think of your nutritional plan as the anchor to stabilize all of your other efforts. Eating right will help you shed fat, increase your energy, and definitely look the way you want to. Follow this get-lean plan faithfully and you’ll be showing off your new, leaner body in less than a month.