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3 Secrets to a Lean and Toned Physique


When it comes to weight loss and body transformation, most people are looking for that one secret that will help them achieve the body of their dreams in the shortest amount of time possible.

The fitness industry taps into this desire for a quick fix: They entice us with promises of "overnight" results, and we keep buying products in search of the next big thing. But the industry can be filled with misleading information, leaving people wondering what works and what doesn't. It's time to cut through the noise and look to those who have fat loss and body transformation down to an art.

Woman Stretching Her Leg

Lean people like bikini-fitness models, men's physique competitors and bodybuilders know how to burn fat and build muscle using science and strategy. Even though it may be unrealistic to expect the average Joe to eat and train like a pro, by implementing these three secrets used in the aesthetic sport, you'll have the knowledge to achieve a lean and toned physique.

1. Eat Quality Calories
A bodybuilder's diet will mostly consist of whole foods in their most natural state. A 2010 study published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research showed a 50-percent higher thermogenic response when eating a meal composed of whole foods as opposed to an equivalent caloric meal comprised of highly processed foods.

The thermogenic response is the amount of energy required to break down food and perform the metabolic transfer of nutrients to where they need to go. This means that your body will burn more calories by ditching the processed junk and eating more high-quality whole foods such as lean meats, fibrous fruits and vegetables, natural fats and whole grains.

2. Create a Nutrient Strategy
Three macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates and fats — make up the total caloric intake of a healthy diet. While most fad diets will focus on the elimination of a specific food group, a competitor's diet will optimize each macronutrient differently.

Protein: A 2011 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that subjects eating diets with more protein than considered adequate burn more fat both at rest and while exercising. If you are consuming five to seven small meals a day on a calorie-restricted diet, an adequate part of each meal should include protein.

Carbs: Most of your carbohydrates will come from nutrient-dense veggies and fruits. But don't eliminate yummy starchy carbohydrates that are usually deemed "off limits" while dieting. Instead, consume these types of carbs when you know your body will use them for energy and recovery, such as at breakfast and pre- and post-workout.

Fats: Healthy fats like egg yolks, salmon, oils and nuts are essential in assisting in the absorption of nutrients by slowing down digestion. A competitor's trick is to avoid fats when nutrients are needed quickly, such as post-workout or the first meal of the day. Take advantage of the slower digestion before bed and during the day when fats' satiating properties can be beneficial.

3. Train for Body Change
During training, elite athletes head to the gym with the goal of stepping out of their comfort zone by alternating exercises, weight, reps and rest.

When lifting weights, a competitor will focus on working and fatiguing a particular muscle group from every possible angle. This creates the optimal opportunity for the body to change by rebuilding the muscle fibers back stronger and more defined.

Your cardio strategy should focus on heart rate and intensity. A 2010 study in the Journal of Obesity showed that as little as 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise could be more effective at burning fat then a whole hour of cardio at a steady rate.

While these three secrets may not be as enticing as a triple-berry extract promising you six-pack abs, they're effective for fat loss and body transformation.


Readers -- Are you trying to get lean and toned? What strategies are you using to get there? Have you tried any of these methods as part of your workout? Do you have any special tips or tricks to help you get and stay lean? Share your comments below and let us know!

Kacia Snyder is a NASM-certified personal trainer with a B.S. in athletic training. Specializing in body transformations, she works with clients all over the world providing online personalized training and nutrition programs. She also works with hundreds of teenage girls across the United States, spreading the importance of positive body image and a healthy lifestyle. She loves peanut butter, cheese and every green vegetable. You can read more at Transform Online Fitness. You can also find Kacia on Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

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