As anyone who’s undergone some serious training for a body transformation will tell you; pumping iron in the gym is the easy part – the hard part is your diet. Diet is just as important, if not more important than what you do in the gym when trying to build muscle mass or lose weight.
The main difference here is that you may spend an hour or two in the gym a day, but you diet 24 hours a day. As you can imagine, the diet becomes the hardest part to stick to as the days and weeks roll by in your training program. With that said, there are certain things you can do thought to make the process a bit easier and start eating right on a routine basis.
So let’s get started…
If you don’t plan ahead, and know what you’re going to be eating for breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon or dinner in the evening you will find yourself falling into old habits and eating the old crap you used to eat. Sit down each night and plan what you are going to eat the following day, what time you will have each meal and write it down.
The same goes for before you go shopping. Plan your meals for the days ahead, buy everything you need for the next few days until you go shopping again. Make sure you don’t end up having to substitute anything on your meal plan because you forgot to buy it or didn’t buy enough of it. Do this and you have greatly increased your chances of sticking to your diet for the short and long term.
2. Form the Habit
I’m going to be honest with you – dieting isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s very hard, sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it doesn’t even taste nice! This has always been the case; but this didn’t stop Arnold Schwarzenegger or any other top body builder there’s ever been. What they formed, and what you are going to have to form, is the HABIT of dieting.
Everything you do regularly you do because you’ve formed the habit of doing it. Think about it; the diet you normally keep, having a coffee first thing in the morning, eating that snack mid afternoon, even which leg you put first into your pants in the morning are all habits you’ve formed. You’re just going to have to form new ones. Get into the routine of sticking to your diet, avoiding certain foods, eating at certain times, eating the proper meals and in time you too will form the habit of dieting.
“The common denominator of success comes in forming the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do” –W. Clement Stone
We’ve all heard the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Preparing is crucial to sticking to your diet. Planning to eat a chicken and rice dinner at 6pm is one thing – preparing is another! When it comes 5.30pm and you’ve just arrived in from work after a hard day ready to collapse on your couch the last thing you want to do is go and prepare your meal for 6pm. You’ll say to yourself ‘I’ll watch TV for 5 minutes then go prepare my food”. Then 5 minutes becomes 10, and 10 minutes becomes 20….until its 6pm and you choose a microwave dinner instead because you’re just too dam lazy to do anything else!
What all the successful muscle building fat losing dieters do is prepare food the night before. I would cook a tray of chicken breasts in the evening; enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and enough brown rice, and some vegetables that will keep. I then pack it up in lunch boxes in the fridge so, come 6pm I’m lifting a lunch box out of the fridge, putting the contents on a plate and eating dinner. I do the same for lunch when in work, the same for breakfast when I’m in a rush in the morning!
4. Cheat day – and its Psychological importance!
Cheat days are an important part of dieting and you should have one at least once a week. Studies have found a diet which includes a cheat day has a much greater chance of lasting than a diet that doesn’t include a cheat day. Your body does still crave and in some cases need some of the things your diet doesn’t allow, so you must allow yourself to break from your diet one day a week to indulge in this.
It’s been proven that if you stuff yourself with non-diet foods on your cheat day you will sicken yourself so much so you won’t want to eat any of them the rest of the week. There is also the guilt of cheating which helps spur you on to stick to your diet through the next week. Research has also found that having a cheat day has a huge psychological impact which helps you stick to your diet.
In a study, two groups of people were taken into a room with a bowl on m&m‘s sat in front of them. One group was told ‘don’t eat the m&m’s’ and the other was told ‘don’t eat the m&m’s until later’. The first group eventually broke the request and ate some – the second group didn’t eat any. Furthermore, when the time came when they could eat the m&m’s, the first group ate significantly more than the second group. So use a cheat day to your advantage!
5. Never go hungry
I can’t stress this point enough. When you get hungry you are more likely to snack on crap that’s not part of your diet. So make sure you eat plenty of food until you’re full up, and them some more! This way you won’t be hungry between meals and needing to snack. If you have already prepared meals, you can always at worst eat into one of them when hungry, but you shouldn’t need to do this if your meals are big enough to more than fill you!
Also, don’t forget when you are training hard and building muscle your body needs all the energy and resources it can get from food – make sure you’re providing it.
If you follow these 5 tips I guarantee you much greater success when dieting for your muscle building or fat loss. Remember; make it easier for you to succeed by planning and preparing in advance where possible. The easier you make this diet to stick to; the easier it will be to stick to.