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The Athlete’s Guide To Getting Lean

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Getting lean is rarely easy. But if you’re an athlete it can make all the difference in your performance and your paycheck.

Unfortunately, the most common fat loss programs for athletes leave a lot to be desired. They require a lot of deprivation and often lead to the loss of muscle mass and strength.

When this happens, leaner is not always better. Here are five elite fat loss tips to guide your efforts for enhanced athletic performance and success.

Tip #1: Prioritize High-Quality Protein

Getting a minimum protein intake of 1.6 g/kg/body weight (that’s 120 g for a 165 pound athlete) will help preserve lean muscle mass during fat loss so that you maintain performance and avoid the drop in metabolic rate that comes from weight loss.

Tip #2: Train For Strength

It’s a big mistake to take it easy in the weight room. Losing weight creates a catabolic environment in the body, and if you don’t take precautions to avoid muscle loss, half of the weight you lose can come from lean tissue. Avoid this pitfall by performing intense strength training during fat loss phases. Use big compound movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls) for reps in the 80 to 90 percent of the 1RM range.

Tip #3: Do Strongman Or Sprints For Cardio

Don’t make the mistake of prioritizing long duration cardio to create an energy deficit. This will compromise strength, while raising cortisol and promoting muscle loss. Instead, try sprint intervals or strongman exercises that are above your lactate threshold (40 second to 2 minute intervals).

Tip #4: Use A Moderate Energy Deficit Diet. Never Slash Calories.

Slashing calories is never a good idea. Athletes will have much greater success choosing a moderate energy deficit and doing the little things that increase energy expenditure during the day such as eating plenty of protein and doing supplementary high-intensity workouts.

Tip #5: Do The Little Things

Simple habits can make all the difference when your goal is getting lean:

  • Cope with stress through relaxation techniques like deep-breathing and meditation.
  • Aim for a restful 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Favor shorter and more frequent training sessions over excessively long exercise bouts.
  • Eat healthy fats containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil.
  • Control inflammation by consuming curcumin on a regular basis.
  • Remember to take your supplements: Magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D are just a few nutrients that take a major beating when you are hitting it hard in workouts daily.
  • Don’t rely on the scale. Test body fat with a reliable skinfold test. 

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