How To Get Lean: A Step-By-Step Guide For Fat Loss

By | February 24, 2014

Lean Male BodyIf you want to get lean then it means that you want to get rid of your excess body fat so that your body has less little of it, while preserving your lean muscle mass. This will allow you to end up with a healthy, fit and attractive physique.

In order to lose fat and get sculpted you have to learn the principles of fat loss and muscle maintenance, plan well and be persistent in executing your efforts via the right approaches that will produce good results for an individual like you.

The truth is, to succeed in getting a lean body you need to properly understand the required steps with regards to nutrition and training for fat loss and muscle preservation. So to help you get started on the right path I decided to put together this guide with steps to get lean for you.

Step 1: Understand The Fundamental Law Of Energy balance

The first step in this how to get lean guide is understanding the law of energy balance which states what makes each person lose, maintain and gain weight.

The Law of Energy Balance says:

– To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume each day.
– To gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn each day.
– To maintain weight, you must consume the same amount of calories you burn each day.

Obviously, the part of the energy balance we have to aim for to get lean is burning more calories than we consume each day which is known as a caloric deficit.

Step 2: Find Out Your Body’s Caloric Needs

The next step in this guide to get lean is to find out the number of calories your body needs to maintain it’s weight every day. This is also known as your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Click here to learn how to calculate your TDEE and perform other calorie calculations. Once you find your TDEE this will also be your calorie maintenance level and you’ll be able to create a caloric deficit to lose fat.

Step 3: Determine The Right Calorie Deficit To Lose Weight

Your calorie deficit will be the number of calories that you consume less the amount you burn. If you burn 2000 calories and you consume 1500 calories you’ve created a calorie deficit of 500 calories. The ideal calorie deficit to aim for is one that is not too small and at the same time not too extreme. It’s important to be cautious with extremely low-calorie diets for a number of reasons.

Diet - A Key Component Of Getting Lean

Reducing your calorie intake by too far will make it harder to sustain your diet plan for long and it will cause your body to respond over a period of time to the drastic reduction in calories in a number of negative ways known as “starvation responses” that can make it harder to lose fat.

The right calorie deficit for each person will vary based on factors such as gender, starting body fat level, diet tolerance, exercise program and specific goals. But there are general guidelines or recommendations for creating a calorie deficit that you can use. For people with a high level of body fat, a good deficit could be 500-1000 below maintenance level. For people with a lower level of body fat, a good deficit could be 250-500 calories below maintenance level.

The reason the recommended deficit is higher for people with high levels of body fat is that research has shown that such people can lose weight with drastic calorie cuts and not experience consequences like metabolic adaptation and muscle loss, unlike people who do not have a lot of body fat to lose.

Step 4: Macronutrients Ratio

Creating a calorie deficit is the most important nutritional requirement for getting lean. However, there are a few other nutrition factors that come into play when it comes to fat loss nutrition.

Macronutrient ratio means the percentage of protein, carbohydrate, and fat that your total calorie intake will consist of. Your calories and the other essential nutrients that your body need will come from these 3 macronutrients. The type of foods that you eat do not determine weight loss or weight gain (only the law of energy balance that matters for a shift in body mass weight), but food quality and macronutrients proportions do have a significant impact on health and weight loss results.

Getting your calories from healthy food sources is important. What’s the point losing weight if your health is degrading? However, an occasional indulgence of low-quality foods would not be harmful and will not affect your weight loss results as long as you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning.

For protein, carb and fat proportions, this can vary according to who you speak to and if you take your body type into consideration. But it is generally agreed that keeping protein intake high when losing weight is essential for getting the right fat loss results.

Structuring your nutrition plan with the recommended intake of protein (1 gram x your bodyweight) will help your body lose fat without losing muscle which is very important for achieving optimal body composition. The carb and fat percentages may vary based on body type and goals. However, here’s the popular percentage ratio for dividing up your calorie intake daily with the 3 macronutrients – 50 % carbohydrate, 30 % protein, 20 % fat.

Step 4: Daily Meal Frequency And Timing

The number of meals per day that you eat and when you eat them can also be manipulated to impact overall fat loss results and ultimate success in getting a lean body. Most people are accustomed to eating 3 large meals per day when they are not on any special eating plan – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This eating schedule can continue into a fat loss nutrition plan as long as you cut back on enough calories to maintain your deficit.

However, it is believed in many health and fitness circles that having 5-6 small meals per day will be more beneficial to your success if incorporated in your fat loss nutrition plan.

There are a number of proven benefits to the 6-meals-per-day approach. But I’m not sure how much more beneficial it really is over the 3-meals-per-day schedule. I recommend sticking to 3 meals per day as your meal schedule if that is what you are accustomed or fits your preference. As long as you eat the right amount of calories daily, this is what’s really important.

Step 5: Cardio And Strength Training

Having a good cardio and strength training workout program integrated with you fat loss nutrition plan is very important for getting a lean body. You can create a calorie deficit by reducing your calorie intake via your diet alone. But working out is necessary to accelerate your fat loss results plus provide a number of health, fitness and aesthetic benefits that are very valuable.


Cardio is any exercise that raises your heart rate over a sustained period of time and utilizes large muscle movement. Activities such as walking, jogging, and running are popular cardio activities that everyone is familiar with. However, in order to get optimal fat loss, health and fitness benefits from cardio you will need to have a formal cardio training program consisting of the right exercises, intensity, duration, and frequency.

Running For Cardio

There are different ways to structure a cardio workout by manipulating the variables. But for getting lean fast it’s recommended to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) at short durations for the benefit of effectiveness as well as avoiding muscle loss.

Strength Training

Strength training involves resistance exercises that retard motion of the joints and puts pressure on the muscle. Weight training is a very effective way to strength train. But you can also do strength training with bodyweight exercises and get good benefits. It’s important to include strength training in your program when trying to get lean because it maintains/builds muscle while you lose fat, allowing you to sculpt a well-shaped body. You’ll also burn calories by lifting weights, get stronger and improve fitness conditioning.

These are the main steps to get lean that both men and women need to follow to reach success. I could not include all the details here because losing body fat and getting lean is a very broad subject. But this basic knowledge could allow you to start taking action.

image credit: source for diet in keyboard

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