Getting leaner is always a hot topic around this time of year with summer practically here. So, I wanted to give you all some simple strategies you can use in order to lean down! When it comes to losing weight(and gaining weight for that matter), calories in/calories out is still king. However, the type of calories you eat while losing weight drastically affects which type of weight will be lost. And, the calories-out side of the equation can change drastically depending upon your lifestyle habits. Assuming you’re already working hard inside the gym, below are 4 simple strategies you can use outside the gym to cut fat and improve your body composition.

1. Keep Protein Intake High

In general, most people under-consume protein. Protein curbs hunger, preserves muscle while on a caloric deficit, and provides the necessary nutrients to rebuild muscle after a workout. Preserving muscle mass while losing weight is what provides the ‘muscle tone’. Lastly, most sources of protein tend to also be very high in usable micro-nutrients(vitamins and minerals). Your highest quality sources of protein will always be meat. Aim for at least .8 to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight per day. Most meats contain between 90-120 grams of protein per pound, depending upon leanness. By doing the math, you may realize you’re quite far off that amount on a daily basis.

2. Sleep

Of the 4 strategies, this might be the most important. To keep it brief, a lack of good quality sleep increases stress on the body(similar to when we over-consume sugar) and decreases workout recovery. Both will have a hugely negative affect on your fat-weight. Good rule of thumb, if you’re waking up to an alarm clock each day not feeling ready to tackle the day, you’re not getting enough quality sleep. There are many factors that affect sleep quality, and there’s a big difference between being unconscious and getting restful sleep. So I would recommend that if this is your area of struggle, addressing it will be a game-changer!

3. Eat Real Foods

The saying, “If Man made, don’t eat it” applies here. Of course there are times when you might want to enjoy yourself with a treat, but natural foods should make up the vast majority of your calories. By eating real foods, your total caloric intake will drop, while your micronutrient(Vitamins and Minerals) intake will rise. It’s a double whammy! Remember, If you can’t grow it or kill it, limit it.

4. Avoid Drinking Calories

Many people don’t realize just how many calories they get from the drinks they consume on a regular basis. With sweetened drinks comes tons of sugar, adding calories to your diet without any real nutrition. Stay as natural as you can in this category. This one is obviously simple, yet so many people are still unaware of the impact of sugary drinks.