No matter how hard you try, you're just not leaning out. Your killin' it at the gym. You're consistent. You're eating right. So what's wrong?
So you're eating right and getting to the gym but still feel a little soft here and there? You may just be bloated. It may be as simple as too much sodium in your diet. Are you eating anything pre-packaged - salad dressing, tv dinners, canned vegetables? All these contain extra sodium for taste and as a preservative - sodium you DON'T need, sodium that is telling your body to retain water. Get rid of packaged foods from your diet, and you may find that not just hidden sodium was holding you back but some hidden calories as well. It could also be that you're eating something you're allergic to.
Do you get bloated after drinking a protein shake? You may be lactose-intolerant. Very often protein powders have some trace of lactose in them - usually part of added whey or casein which come from milk. Try looking for something lactose-free or switch to egg whites for a while. This small change can possibly help you feel better and finally unveil that six-pack. Nutrition is one of the hardest parts of a successful workout regimen. You've got to understand food and its chemistry, and then you have to understand how that applies to you. This last part is a lot of trial and error.
YOU NEED TO CHANGE IT UP
Are you doing everything right and still don't see the results? You may be doing things TOO well. Your body is an amazing machine that learns to adapt to anything and everything. It will always find a way to establish a new normal. This is great if you want to create muscle memory to take into your old age or teach your body to bounce back after surgery or injury, but it's not so great if you want to keeping growing or keep leaning out. You have to constantly change it up so your body doesn't get comfortable. This includes resistance training, cardio, and diet.
YOU'RE NOT RESTING ENOUGH
Sometimes we want something so bad that we'll do anything to get it. Awesome - except when you don't understand that "anything" doesn't really mean "anything." There are rules to building a great body, and one of those unbreakable rules is REST. During rest we build muscle and recharge our energy stores. But beyond the biological goings-on, we also recharge our willpower stores and mental muscle. It's rest that allows us to make the right decision when deciding whether or not to work out. It's rest that allows us to kill it at the gym and walk out triumphant. Work out like a beast, and rest like a beast.
YOU'RE EATING HIDDEN CALORIES
If you're not cooking your own food from raw ingredients, then you are likely a victim of hidden calories. Salads are great, but salad dressing can kill a good diet. A whole wheat turkey sandwich loaded with vegetables from the deli down the street is likely to have a fat-laden sauce smeared on the bun or even too many slices of cheese. Even a simple chicken breast with a side of veggies at a restaurant can be unknowingly saturated with butter. Even nuts, as healthy as they can be, are high in fat and calories. Get to know your food.
YOU'RE NOT EATING ENOUGH
When your body is not given enough nutrients, it gets scared. When it gets scared, it goes into survival mode. This includes slowing down the metabolism and burning fuel at a much lower rate. In order to make it through, your body will hang on to energy stores - like fat - a little longer than usual. So, although it may seem counter intuitive at times, you have to eat to get lean.
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