Strength coach and Athlean-X founder Jeff Cavaliere CSCS usually makes content on how to achieve and maintain a muscular physique through smart training—but he acknowledges that nutrition plays just as important a role. In a new video on the Athlean-X channel, Cavaliere breaks down some of the principles he uses to stay consistent with his diet and stay lean and shredded all year round, without even doing much cardio.
Eat what you like
It’s important that your meals include foods you genuinely enjoy eating. But there’s a difference, Cavaliere clarifies, between eating what you like and eat whatever you like.
“In order to get lean you’re going to need to have smarter nutritional choices, foods that are lower in caloric density and higher in nutritional value,” he says. “My diet is filled with those selections… However, you need to find the foods that are going to fit into that criteria that you still really, really like. If you’re forcing foods into your daily meal plan, you’re never going to stick to that plan for the long term.”
Find a sustainable approach that can last
Whatever your nutritional plan, be it intermittent fasting, the keto diet etc., you need to make sure that it is something you can consistently stick to in the long-term. Think years.
“I always urge you guys to make the cut that you think might be the easiest, but what I did was make a giant mistake here,” says Cavaliere. “I went to the extreme: I figured less fat is better than a lot of fat, and no fat is even better than some fat. And that was a big mistake, because I went all the way down to pretty much no fat, and my body paid for it.”
Eat to a schedule
Cavaliere explains that he has found that eating at specific times of the day has been a helpful tool in maintaining fat loss. “It provides a level of consistency, because I eat only during specific times every day,” he says. “It prevents me from eating for any other reason… Trying to get to a [calorie] deficit is very difficult when you’re mindlessly grazing.”
Limit your cheat days
Going back to the beginning, building foods you like into your diet will mean fewer cravings for treat and cheat days. “Cheat meals are implying that they’re departing from the restrictions on the ordinary meals that you’re eating,” says Cavaliere. “When you form the basis of your eating plan around those incredibly enjoyable foods, you’re not going to feel the need to have cheat meals as often.”
He adds that the frequency of your cheat meals will depend on your target body fat percentage: if you’re aiming for the mid teens, then you will be able to have more without them negatively affecting your goals.
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