How to Eat for a Lean Body

by Meg Campbell

It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are more nutritious food choices than baked goods and sugary drinks. With the vast amounts of dietary advice and information available; however, it can be a challenge to discern what to follow and what to ignore when your main goal is to achieve a lean body. Your food choices are equally as important as the food you limit, the portion you consume and the frequency of your meals.

Step 1

Eliminate, or strictly limit, as many processed foods from your diet as possible. Regularly eating even a moderate amount of processed food, such as products made from refined flour and foods with added preservatives, can drastically increase your consumption of sodium and added sugars. Most processed foods also have less nutrition per calorie than whole foods.

Step 2

Make every calorie count by consuming a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats. The Institute of Medicine recommends that a healthy diet is 40 to 65 percent carbohydrate, 20 to 35 percent fat and 10 to 35 percent protein. Fruit, vegetables, fish, beans, legumes, nuts and whole grains -- such as brown rice and barley -- are all nutrient-dense foods.

Step 3

Increase your daily intake of fiber from whole foods. Also called roughage or bulk, fiber is a component of plants that you can get from vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Fiber slows your eating because it takes longer to chew, helps you feel fuller longer and usually with fewer calories, controls blood glucose levels and promotes regularity.

Step 4

Eat a healthy breakfast, such as oatmeal with fruit, or scrambled eggs with vegetables. Skipping breakfast is associated with poorer dietary choices later in the day due to hunger and lower levels of physical activity, and is more likely to lead to weight gain.

Step 5

Consume well-planned smaller meals throughout the day instead of the larger, traditional three square meals. A lean body has a higher percentage of lean muscle mass, which has a higher metabolic rate and therefore requires regular intake of calories for maintenance. Frequent small meals also reduce the risk that you’ll reach for an unhealthy snack due to hunger.

Step 6

Don’t consume more calories than your body requires -- overeating any type of food, including healthy food, leads to weight gain. Your age, gender, height, weight and activity level all factor into how many calories you should consume. If you’re trying to drop excess weight for a leaner body, you can gradually cut your calories until you’re consuming the amount of calories appropriate for your desired body weight.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.