Use these basic, but often neglected, strategies and you'll lose body fat pretty darn fast. And the best part? You'll keep your hard-earned muscle.

Rule 1 – Eat Plenty of Protein

Protein is a dieter's best friend. Most people are already aware it helps build muscle, but we tend to forget that protein requirements actually go UP as calories go down. So as you decrease your intake of carbs and fat in an effort to lose adipose tissue, protein intake becomes more critical because it'll help prevent muscle loss when dieting.

Not only does dietary protein help preserve lean muscle when your calorie deficit is high, but it also helps you feel more satisfied and less hungry, which helps you stick to you diet.

Additionally, because of the thermic effect of food (TEF) protein consumption also speeds up your metabolism by about 25 percent. Remember, the thermic effect of food is the energy you expend digesting and assimilating what you eat.

What, When, And How Much?

Lean meats like chicken breast, turkey breast, and lean fish certainly fit the bill. There are also some types and cuts of red meat that are 90% lean or more. Egg whites, greek yogurt, and high-quality protein supplements like Metabolic Drive® Protein round out what should be your protein staples.

The two most important times to have protein are before and after resistance training workouts. This is especially important when your goal is to keep all your muscle, which not only looks good, but also helps keep your metabolism high. Then just disburse your protein fairly evenly throughout the day.

How much should you have? A simple, yet good rule of thumb is one gram of protein per pound of your bodyweight. So if you weigh 200 pounds, eat 200 grams of protein per day. Let's say you're going to eat five meals a day. Then simply have about 40 grams of protein per meal (which includes protein shakes).

Sure, you could go a bit higher if you're fairly lean and your energy output is high; and yes, you can go a bit lower on your protein intake if you're overweight. But other than that, if you wanna burn fat in a hurry without losing muscle, you MUST master this first rule.

Veggies

Rule 2 – Eat LOTS of Veggies

The vast majority of vegetables have very few calories, yet contain an array of micronutrients and phytonutrients that enable your body to perform optimally.

Veggies are usually fibrous carbs. This means it's a vegetable that's high in fiber (and water) yet low in energy-producing carbs, and therefore low in the amount of insulin secretion caused. So they'll help fill you up and keep you full longer, improve your health and performance, while having negligible calories.

Not prioritizing vegetable intake is probably the primary flaw I see among physique athletes and lifters. It's a mistake I made too. I've since realized micronutrient intake from a variety of vegetables is a critical component of any good diet.

What, When, And How Much?

Most vegetables qualify as fibrous carbs, but not all. Here's a partial list of some of the more common fibrous veggies:

  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard and turnip greens
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash

You can, and often should, also eat up to one large tomato or carrot per meal.

Now, when should you eat veggies? Every meal. The only justifiable exception is perhaps pre-workout to avoid being too full during training. If you have a high-tech intra-workout drink like Mag-10®, skip the veggies.

How much? Consider a portion to be at least one cup or four ounces scale weight. But more would be even better, especially with variety. It'd provide even more physique-optimizing micronutrients and help optimize your pH (acid, base) level. You really can't go wrong eating just about any amount of fibrous carbs. You'll generally get full long before consuming too many calories.

That reminds me of high-level bodybuilding client who asked if he should be eating fewer vegetables. After inquiring about his specific intake, he said he was eating an entire one-pound bag of mixed veggies with his last meal or two, every day! Given that he was steadily getting more and more ripped, I said, "Have at it!"

By the way, he came in shredded, glutes and all, and we never lowered his veggie intake until right before the show.

Healthy Fats

Rule 3 – Have Healthy Fat With Every Meal

I hope you got the memo that dietary fat doesn't automatically turn into body fat, and the other memo regarding all fat not being created equal. If not, consider these your memos, and welcome back from wherever you've been hiding.

Dietary fat is a good source of steady energy, partly because it doesn't lead to blood sugar spikes and the highs and lows in energy that come with that. Fat is also unique in that it doesn't lead to insulin secretion (which actually blunts fat burning). In other words, eating fat doesn't hinder fat-burning, whereas eating carbs can.

Healthy fat also has positive effects on your brain and the rest of your nervous system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and more. For example, maximizing testosterone levels and insulin sensitivity are just two ways consuming the right types of fat can help you build muscle and burn body fat.

What, When, And How Much?

Think avocados, olives, nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts), fatty fish, and high-quality fatty acid supplements like Flameout®.

With the possible exception of pre and/or post-workout, which are your carb-heavy meals, you should have a copious dose of healthy fat with every meal. Copious in this case equals 10-20 grams of fat, with 15 grams being what I generally consider a serving of fat.

An entire book could be written on the benefits of consuming the right types of fat. Don't wait till that book is written, go ahead and start reaping the benefits by consuming good sources of fat with practically every meal.

Carbs

Rule 4 – Work For Your Carbs

Carbs provide energy. More specifically, carbs provide a faster-burning source of energy, especially compared to slow-burning dietary fat. This makes carbs the optimal source of fuel for high-intensity exercise, like weight training.

You really don't need carbs to fuel low-intensity activities, which is practically everything most of us do on a daily basis. Dietary fat (and your own body fat) serve as perfect sources of energy for these low-intensity activities... including walking.

What, When, And How Much?

When you're trying to lose fat quickly, the only reason to have a decent-sized portion of carbs is to fuel, and/or refuel from, a high-intensity activity in which you need to perform well. For the vast majority, the only thing that justifies ample carbs is our resistance-training workout.

Don't eat carbs just to eat carbs; work for them! If you want to decrease fat and increase muscle, have a moderate dose of lower GI (glycemic index) carbs pre-workout, and a larger portion of higher GI carbs post-workout. This strategy will optimize the muscle-building effects of your training sessions, and keep carbs lower the rest of the day in order to optimize fat-burning.

For example, 4-6 ounces of sweet potatoes with your pre-workout meal and 6-10 ounces of white potatoes post-workout would fit the bill. If you think of carbs as needing to be earned via weight-training, you'll not only get lean quickly, but you'll stay that way.

Related:  The Insulin Advantage

Related:  How to Look Like You Lift