Eating for Muscular Definition

When you eat or drink something, your body either burns the calories in the food for energy or it stores them as body fat for later use. If you eat too many calories at once, you will overload your system and your body will have no choice but to store the excess calories as fat.

Burning fat and getting ripped is every bit as tricky and difficult as gaining size. But you'll shed a lot less blood, sweat and tears in the gym if you approach the challenge strategically. With that in mind, here are can't miss training tips to slash excess pounds and reveal razor-sharp muscle definition:

As you saw in the section on Eating to Gain Muscle, a pound of body weight is equal to 3,500 calories. So, if you eat 500 fewer calories a day, times seven days a week, you should lose a pound a week. But if you take that approach, you're not only going to lose fat, you're also going to lose some muscle.

If you're like most guys, you want to decrease your body fat without sacrificing any muscle. And that requires a different approach than simply cutting calories. The first step is understanding of how blood sugar levels impact your metabolism.

Optimize your metabolism by regulating blood sugar levels

The functioning of your metabolism depends to a great extent on how much sugar (in the form of glucose) is in your bloodstream. Your metabolism functions best when the amount of sugar in your bloodstream is within a certain range.

When your blood-sugar level gets too high, your body releases a fat-storing hormone called Insulin, which moves glucose out of the blood and into storage as fat. When blood sugars get too low, your body reacts as if you are in danger of starving - it slows down your metabolism in order to conserve energy (fat) reserves. Both of these situations will prevent you from losing fat.

So, the question becomes, How can you keep your blood sugar within the optimal range? There are two factors that will impact your blood sugar levels:
  1. What you eat

    Whenever you eat carbs, for example, your body converts them to sugar. But different carbs get converted to sugar at different rates. There are slow carbs, like fibrous vegetables, beans and berries, that convert slowly. And there are fast carbs, which include foods like bread, pasta, candy and alcohol, that are converted very quickly. When you eat too many fast carbs at once, it can cause a rapid release of insulin, known as an "Insulin spike", which slows down your metabolism and moves your body into fat-storing mode.
  2. How you eat

    We're not talking about chewing your food a certain number of times or using the right fork for your salad. What we mean by "how you eat" is how you combine different types of foods at meals. Your body reacts to the makeup of the calories in ALL the foods in your meal - proteins, carbs and fats. And it just so happens that fiber, protein and fat all slow the rate at which carbs are converted to sugar. So, by combining your fast carbs with high-fiber slow carbs, proteins and fats, you can keep your blood sugar levels low enough that your body does not release extra insulin and will stay in fat-burning mode.

Low fat and high fiber is the way to go

"Eat your vegetables". Three little words every parent preaches - and with good reason. One of the reasons vegetables are so important to a healthy diet is because they tend to be good sources of fiber. Fiber is the indigestible part of your food and is found in things like fresh fruit, vegetables, whole-grain products, beans and seeds.

There are two kinds of fiber - soluble and insoluble - and both have considerable fat-loss benefits. Insoluble fiber takes up room in your stomach and makes you feel full without adding calories. Soluble fiber works to slow the release of sugar in the bloodstream, helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and keeps your metabolism firing on all cylinders.

Fat, on the other hand, packs more than twice as many calories per gram as most proteins or carbs. Because fats are so calorie-dense, they tend to slow down your metabolism. That's why we recommend eating lean proteins such as fish, turkey and skinless chicken and being careful not to overdo it with fatty condiments such as better, cheese and mayo.

The bottom line: Eating to get ripped comes down to a combination of common sense and will power. Avoid extra fat calories by cutting out butter, mayo and cheese. Limit "white foods" such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread because they are fast carbs that convert quickly to sugar in the body. Don't drink alcohol or eat candy because they are sugar bombs that cause your metabolism to crash. And, most importantly, eat at a balanced diet that is high in lean protein and fibrous vegetables.