If you have a Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch habit, the first step is easy: Limit your intake of anything with a name that includes the words "cheesy, " "gordita, " and/or "crunch."
But you still need to eat something, and whatever it is, it'll have calories you must account for. The accounting is simple: There are two sides to the ledger. One side is your calorie intake, and the other is your metabolism—that is, the calories you burn—which works in four ways.
Digest. About 10 percent of your metabolism comes from how you process food. But you can do better if you eat more protein. 25 percent of protein calories are burned after you swallow them, compared with 2 to 3 percent of fat calories and 6 to 8 percent of calories from carbs.
Move. Everything from working out to walking to the mailbox burns more calories than not moving—and accounts for 20 to 30 percent of your metabolism. The more you move, the better, including those times when you...
Hit the can. When you dial up a #1 or #2 (or sneak out a fart), energy leaves your body. Alas, you can't toot your way to single-digit body fat.
Stay alive. The rest of the calories you eat go toward your body's other basic operating functions. (That's at least 60 percent of your metabolism.) By changing the "calories in" part of the formula, you also change the "calories out."
With less energy in the tank, you may burn fewer calories during your workouts. That's the danger of cutting calories without a plan to maintain your new lower weight. Your metabolism slows, leaving you hungry and primed to regain fat you lost, especially when hunger hits near a Taco Bell. The key is to reverse that process.
Principle No. 2
You Need to Eat Better Food
Pity the man forced to survive on gluten-free pizza and fat-free ice cream. The Lean Muscle Diet makes eating easy and delicious because you're encouraged to eat (gasp!) real food. Here's the breakdown of your eating plan.
Eat 80 percent of your diet in whole and minimally processed foods that you like. "Whole" foods are ones that look like what they started out as: meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and beans. One exception: Protein powders are highly processed, but they're still a great way to consume the protein you need to make the plan work.