5 Tips for Staying Lean | Erin Stern

March 20, 2019

According to the world it’s diet season! Everywhere you look, ads are pushing weight loss nutrition programs, quick fixes, and pills. Wouldn’t life be easier if we didn’t have to diet?

Exercising most days of the week and eating well should be a year round habit. How hard we work and how we view eating can have a massive impact on our relationship with ourselves and with food. Just thinking about “diet” can throw us into a scarcity mindset. This means that when given the opportunity to have something that’s off-limits, there’s no off switch. When we push it in the gym to lose weight, it often leads to over-training and the association of working out with punishment. 

Let’s wipe the slate clean, and create a new and healthy normal. It’s possible with these tips!

1. Time-restricted Eating

By now, everyone is familiar with intermittent fasting. Time-restricted eating is a form of fasting, but it’s calibrated to your circadian rhythm. The idea is to eat more when you’re most active and begin fasting as you wind down for the evening. The body is primed to digest food and burn calories during the day – especially if you’re training. At night, the body shifts to rest, recovery, and sleep. Eating large amounts of food at night means that these calories are more easily stored as fat. The good thing about time-restricted eating is that is flexible. Adjust the eating window to suit your needs. I usually eat between 8am-5pm. This may sound like a short window for an athlete, but consider that it takes a few hours for a meal to be fully digested. This means that I’m not really fasting until about 8pm! Experiment with a 12-hour window at first, and adjust from there.

2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High intensity interval training twice per week can help with building muscle and losing fat. It has been shown to boost metabolism up to 48 hours after a session. Make sure you’re actually doing HIIT, and not interval training. HIIT is an “all out” effort for 4-8 sprints, with full recovery in between sprints. A sprint can be any exercise movement you’re able to go to max effort with. Some ideas are heavy sled pushes to the spin bike to the rower to the stairs!  Get creative and have fun with it!

3. Change Your Mindset

Is the gym punishment? Are you eating “diet” foods? If you’re looking at training and meal planning as drudgery, you will not be successful at staying lean. Begin to actively reframe your thoughts. You want to train, you want to fuel your body, and you make healthy choices most of the time – because you want to. You may not believe this at first, but keep actively reframing your thoughts. You’ll find that you begin to look forward to training, and you begin to make healthier food choices! Try this for two weeks, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to stay on track!

4. Compound Movements Over Isolation Movements

Opt for exercises with greater bang for the buck. Big compound movements not only burn more calories, but they save time in the gym. Compound movements are exercises that engage multiple-joints and muscles groups. A squat, lunge, deadlift, pull-up, and pushup are all great examples of compound movements. Start most of your workouts with 2-3 compound movements. Push yourself for the first 20 minutes, and then finish with isolation or sculpting exercises. BetaTOR can help you get a few more quality minutes out of your heavy training. Compound movements also translate well to increasing power, speed, and helping tie muscle groups together aesthetically. 

5. Sleep and Lowering Stress

Raised cortisol levels can cause inflammation and fat gain around the waist. Do your best to manage stress levels year round. Some methods I like are getting outside for a walk or bike, meditation, massage, and writing out issues or concerns. Sleep can also help reduce cortisol levels. Cut down on afternoon caffeine, and shut off electronics at least an hour before bed. This will go a long way to improving your sleep. Try to get 7-8 hours, especially if you’re training hard!

With a little planning and work, you will feel healthier and be lean year round – and with less effort. Get started today! Thank you for reading! Until next time, train hard, y’all!

Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia
Team BetaTOR athlete

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