The best time of the year is just knocking at the door. The shy sunbeams peeking between the clouds announce that summer is just around the corner. As the temperatures begin to rise, so does the desire to get lean for the beach.
Getting a ripped six-pack can be a hard task to achieve, especially if you’re racing against time and don’t have the nutrition and training basics necessary to get the job done. That’s why we’ve compiled a list with the most important nutrition and training tips when it comes to building a lean physique.
Actually, muscle definition is more about eating well than it is about working out. If you want your muscles to start showing up, you must lose the subcutaneous fat that is hiding them. This is mainly achieved through a solid diet plan rather than by spending loads of time at the gym.
Carbohydrate intake (Type and timing)
First, you’ll have to say goodbye to all kinds of unhealthy snacks you’re used to eating (containing mainly refined carbs), as well as fizzy drinks and beer. Next, you should aim to consume vegetables (especially leafy greens) and legumes on a daily basis. Fructose intake should be limited to two or three pieces of fruit per day at most.
The intention is to reduce maximum sugar intake and increase complex carbohydrate intake. Complex carbohydrates are mainly classified as low glycemic index, which help regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce food cravings and provide a sustained release of energy throughout all day.
There is, however, one specific time of the day where high glycemic index carbohydrates are allowed and even recommended: right after the workout. Having fast-acting carbohydrates (such as dextrose, maltodextrin or waxy maize starch) right post-workout will increase glycogen replenishment and avoid muscle catabolism.
Protein intake (How much and when)
Protein is absolutely essential for the maintenance of muscle mass. Increase your daily protein intake to somewhere between 1.5 to 2 grams per kg of body weight. This is the ideal amount of protein to support muscle gains and avoid your body to feed on muscle’s protein to fuel itself.
Go for lean animal-based protein such as chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon and tilapia. Try to have a high-protein meal every 3 hours. This is the easiest way of ensuring you’re meeting daily protein requirements. Remember: if there’s no protein in it, it’s not a meal. Protein shakes can come in handy to help you meet your protein needs.
Don’t forget to drink lots of water throughout the day to help remove toxins and fight water retention.
Fat intake (Best sources)
Low-carbohydrate diets are more effective than low-fat diets for getting a beach body, as research has constantly shown. Thereby you should increase your fat intake to around 1 to 1.5 grams per kg of body weight.
Bear in mind you aren’t allowed to eat all types of fat. You should get your dietary fat mainly through mono and polyunsaturated fat sources, such as eggs, olive oil, flaxseed, fatty fish, avocado and nuts. Among saturated fats, organic coconut oil stands as a primary option as it is mainly composed of medium-chain triglycerides, which are known to be fast absorbing fats and help lose weight.
Supplements to boost fat burning
Although not mandatory, sports supplements can help you achieve faster results, which can be especially useful if you’re racing against time. CLA, L-carnitine, green tea extract and caffeine are among the best natural fat burners available.
When coupled with a proper slimming diet and intensive workout routine, they can help boost metabolism, which in turn will help you spend more calories and burn fat.
Once you have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s of your diet plan, you must focus on your workout routine in order to get your body fat to the level you want it to be. You will want to combine weight training with intensive high-intensity interval training to achieve maximum results.
Incorporate circuit training into your routine
Spending countless hours running on the treadmill is far from being the best way to burn fat faster. To burn fat at a higher rate you need to boost your metabolism and the best way to do it is to incorporate circuit training into your routine.
Circuit training is a type of high-intensity interval training which consists in realizing a number of different movements in the shortest time possible. So, instead of running for 20 minutes at a steady pace on the treadmill, try combining different exercises in a single time-limit circuit.
Incorporating circuit training into your routine will keep your metabolism high throughout all day, making you burn fat even when you’re working or resting.
Build a strong core. Focus on time under tension
Getting ripped abs is one of the main concerns of people determined to achieve a beach body. As mentioned above, diet plays a fundamental role in getting a ripped six-pack. Nevertheless, you should dedicate some of your time to develop a strong core.
Forget the old-fashioned crunches for core training. To build a strong core you need to focus on time under tension. “Time under tension” refers to the amount of time the muscle takes to complete both concentric and eccentric contractions (the up and down movement).
Research shows time under tension to play an important role in the development of a strong core as it allows for greater engagement of the muscle fibres. The more muscle fibres you’re able to engage in the exercise, the better the core will be stimulated.
Planks and all its variations are great exercises to stimulate both outer and inner abdominal muscles. Try adding them to your abs routine.
Fasted cardio in the morning
Fasted cardio in the morning is a popular approach used by fitness athletes and models in cutting phases. The idea behind it is that the body will use fat as its primary source of energy since carbohydrate levels are running low due to overnight fast.
According to recent research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, people can burn up to 20% more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach (*1).
Although this can be a smart approach to burning fat, it can easily turn against you and make you lose precious muscle as well. To avoid this, it is advised to have a source of protein or essential amino acids before the cardio session. Have either a protein shake or a BCAA supplement as both are known to have anti-catabolic effects.
Working to get a beach body may not seem an easy task, but the outcome will surely be fantastic. Focus on the task in hand and follow your actions through. Keep a log to write down your results and pinpoint where your diet or training schedule may need any tweaking.
Now that you have all the necessary tools to get a lean beach body, it’s up to you to focus on the task. Don’t just dream about getting a beach body, work for it.