A good bit of people ask me for the best diet and exercise tips out there, and I’m never hesitant to share. Though I don’t promote dieting, I do promote healthy eating and exercise, which most people end up correlating with dieting. Though I’d like to be able to change the mindset of people from eating healthy to living a vibrant life, instead of eating healthy to diet, I figure I can at least share some healthy tips in the areas of diet and exercise that keep you lean for life, without feeling like a diet at all. These diet and exercise tips are all tips I’d give to my friend, my mom, or anyone else that I truly wanted to help, so I’m giving them to you! I hope they help and hope you find as much freedom in them as I have.
1. No Fried Anything- Period
One of the most obvious, yet most neglected diet and exercise tips of all is to avoid fried foods. People know this, but often cave in to fast food and wonder why they can’t lose weight. Even a little bit is just not good for you, and it’s full of chemicals that slow your metabolism and even age you. It also hinders your exercise performance, a critical part of achieving a healthy and a lean body. Quit eating fried and fast food- period.
2. No Processed Stuff
Processed food is not only unhealthy for you, but anything with a bunch of ingredients is also harder on your body and metabolism. The harder your body has to work to break something down, the less fat you burn. Avoid processed foods and when buying food at the store that is processed, such as Greek yogurt, make sure you’re buying the healthiest form possible that still makes it a whole food. For instance, instead of getting the forms with added sugars and fillers, buy plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt and sweeten with some cinnamon and 100% pure stevia like NuNaturals brand. This gives you a much healthier treat that your body knows how to process. Buying veggies? Stay away from canned versions with added salts or sugars and buy fresh or frozen. These are still close to their whole food form and much better for you and your body. Say no to boxed cereal and eat oats instead. See how easy it is? With a few seasoning tricks, you can make any whole food taste delicious if it doesn’t already!
3. Move Every Single Day
Some people say you don’t need to exercise each day, but I believe everyone needs to move each day, even if it’s just a 30 minute walk, which is great! This stokes the metabolism, and it keeps your lymph fluid moving more than just sitting does. Your lymph is one of your most precious assets to staying healthy. It keeps toxins out of your body and keeps inflammation from setting in. By activating the lymph fluid in your body, you stay youthful, you feel better, and you even sleep better. This is key to staying healthy and lean for life. Moving just a little during the day burns calories even while you’re sitting. Move more, sit less.
4. Avoid High Fat Dairy
Fat free and low fat dairy are actually helpful for weight loss, despite the bad rap dairy gets. Greek yogurt is a healthy food, no matter what anyone tells you, but full fat dairy is not. Full fat dairy is full of animal saturated fats, which are full of cholesterol. Eat saturated fats from coconut oil instead, or coconut in whole form. It’s cholesterol free and much better for your body. If you want to gain weight, just add a little full fat dairy to your diet, but be aware, it comes with heart risks and inflammatory risks that make it a food to avoid for many reasons. Fat free and low fat dairy contain whey and casein, which is hard to digest for some people, but for those who can tolerate it, these two forms of protein act as major fat burners in unique ways. Add nonfat Greek yogurt to your diet, or 2%. Other good low fat or fat free dairy options include hormone free cottage cheese and organic skim or 2% milk. A better choice for milk is most definitely almond milk that’s unsweetened. For only 30 calories, you get the same texture and a great creamy taste with twice the calcium of regular milk.
5. Add Squats and Pushups
With all the fancy exercise stuff out there, it can be easy to forget how effective the basic stuff still is. Squats and pushups are two of the most basic forms of exercise that lend major results. When done correctly, both also work the abs by contracting your body, along with your butt and your arms. Add some abdominal twists and crunches and 30 minutes of cardio. You’ve got one easy workout right at home, and you're able to stay lean without a gym membership. Try implementing at least 45 minutes of cardio three or four days a week.
6. Veggie up
Whenever you eat a meal, add veggies. Try new ones if you don’t like the ones you usually eat. My favorite veggies that are easy to digest and don’t cause GI problems are squash, green beans, all leafy greens, asparagus, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, lettuce, and cooked carrots. Each time you eat, pick two of your favorites and eat them with your meal. Veggies aren’t just low in calories, but high in antioxidants and fiber. They help push fat out of your body all on their own. Try to eat more veggies instead of fruit. While fruit is a healthy food, it messes with your blood sugar, contains a lot of sugar, and is best when eaten only a couple times a day or less. You can get all the nutrients you need from veggies that you would get from fruit. The one fruit you should be eating for a lean body? Berries, berries, berries! Any form, twice a day is great! They’re lower in sugar, higher in fiber, and higher in antioxidants than all other fruits and definitely more waist friendly.
7. Monitor Your Insulin
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to get an insulin machine like diabetics use. I’m simply asking you to pay attention to your sugar cravings, and how you feel after you eat. Eating high carbohydrate foods will make your insulin surge. Insulin stores fat. Its job is to do so to regulate glucose in the blood. When the body has too much glucose, insulin can’t adapt and stores fat as a result. Even if you eat fat free foods, your insulin can still store fat. To monitor your insulin, all you need to do is eat in a low glycemic way that keeps your blood sugar under control. This is done by eating low starch foods of all kinds, lean protein, and healthy, not processed, fats. You should never feel a drop in your blood sugar after eating. If you are, then you’re eating too high of a glycemic meal. Lean protein, low glycemic foods, and healthy fats all prevent this.
8. Sleep 8-9 Hours
Be sure, whatever you do that, you’re sleeping at least 8-9 hours every single night. No exceptions. Getting only 7 hours is okay, but any less and your body automatically starts storing more fat the next day. Getting 8-9 hours sleep allows your body to produce more DHEA, a hormone that burns fat and even prevents aging. Sleeping fights stress better, and it helps your body store less fat by controlling your leptin and ghrelin levels. These two hormones are what tell you when you’re full or hungry, and when you get too little sleep, leptin and ghrelin stop working properly and you’ll eat more, crave more sugar, and won’t recognize when you’re full as easily as you would after a good night’s sleep.
9. Be Carb Smart
Lastly, I hate to touch on carbs again, but it’s so important. Carbs in excess will cause your body to store fat, but don’t cut them out! If you do, you’ll also gain weight since the body is lacking a key macro-nutrient. There is an easy middle road that still lets you enjoy carbs and lose weight. All you have to do is be carb smart. Eat complex carbs like whole oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and sprouted grain bread only once or twice a day, and eat them earlier in the day instead of late. Carbs were given to us to provide energy. We need more energy during the day than we do at night before bed, right? It just makes sense. Make your foods work for you, the way they were meant to! Eat your carbs for breakfast and lunch, and make smart choices with your carbs. Doing that will keep you lean for life, and still let you enjoy them. Just try to add some lean protein when you eat carbs, in any form you can. This lowers the glycemic spike after eating them and prevents hunger an hour later. It also spikes your metabolism as a bonus.
These tips aren’t “top secret” but they’re often overlooked when people want a shortcut to getting healthy and lean. If you implement these 9 tips, you’ll stay lean for life, without feeling like you’re dieting. No counting calories, nothing. Just 9 simple tips and tricks that work for every single person I know. What’s your best lean for life tip?