As we advance from beginner to intermediate status in the world of bodybuilding and fitness, many of our minor indiscretions develop into major roadblocks for success. When you're new to the weight room, sloppy form and garbage diets aren't ideal, but you're still going to make gains. ANY lifting at that point is going to bring up muscle mass, and any sort of protein uptick along with caloric restriction is going to lead to a better appearance. However, as you outgrow newbie status, you are no longer afforded such luxuries. Intermediate lifters need to watch the details, or they'll never be able to move past to advanced lifter status Doing so involves continual analysis of training, recovery, supplementation, and diet, to ensure gains continue in the most timely, effective, and efficient manner. Discovering and removing unwanted calories from your diet is one such way to achieve this!
Keep your coffee simple
Caffeine is consumed by 90% of the public, every single day… an for very good reason. There are many positive health effects associated with caffeine use, as long as is it kept in moderation. What trips up many physique athletes is the amount of additional items they add to their coffee. Maybe straight black coffee isn't your thing, but turning it into what is essentially a milkshake by adding creamers, teaspoons of sugar, and even ice cream, can defeat the purpose. A little extra energy from the caffeine can quickly be nullified by the sugar crash and junk calories from everything you added to it. Keep your coffee simple, and unwanted calories won't be able to sneak up on you!
Shop on the outside of the store
Nearly every grocery store in the country is set up in a similar fashion. The inside of the store is a collection of processed, pre-packaged items in bags, boxes, and cans. This is the part of the store with the least nutritional value. The outside of the store contains the fresh fish, dairy, meat, and produce departments. In these sections, you will find the fresh, "real" foods which are preferable for making progress in the gym and lowering your total caloric intake. Get all your shopping done on the outside of the store, and then more into the center area. By then, your cart will have all of the right things in it, and the poor choices you make from the center of the store will stand out like a sore thumb!
Avoid sugars from a can
When you consume a lot of sugar at once, your blood sugar levels climb very quickly. This results in a release of insulin into your body. This drops your energy levels and leaves your body conserving body fat, which are counter-productive to your fat loss goals. You may enjoy the energy rush you experience from a quick energy drink or sweet tea or soda… but you're making yourself fat and piling on useless calories by doing so. Stick with sugar-free drinks, and lots of water. Your waistline will thank you.
If man made it, avoid it
The more natural a food, the better it is for you. The less processed it is, the more efficiently it will be used by your body for energy and muscle recovery. Every time you have to make a food choice, opt for the meal with fewer ingredients of the man-made variety. Stick with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, with as many raw foods as possible. Over time, you'll notice your body responds much better to the natural foods than to highly processed choices. You'll also notice your waistline shrinking, as these higher calorie options fall by the wayside.
Start every meal with proteins
Most of us tend to start every meal with the fat and carbs, those parts of the meal which most quickly satisfy our hunger. By turning your plate around and beginning each meal with protein, you'll be able to fill up quickly on the most important part of your meal, in terms of muscle development and recover. Tackle the greens and carbs next. Nibble on the fats when you're just about full, and always leave something on your plate. Eat slowly and never try to stuff yourself. You're not trying to bulk - you're trying to enjoy a sensible muscle-building diet.
Drink water before each meal
One of the best dieting tricks for limiting calorie consumption is to simply leave less real estate in your stomach for new foods to take up. Drink a cup of water as you prepare each meal, about 10 to 15 minutes before sitting down to eat. You'll discover your stomach is half full when you start, and you'll always end up stopping sooner than if you had started eating on a completely empty stomach. Water has no calories but can leave you feeling much fuller - and much more hydrated as well!
Write it down
The easiest way to remove junk from your diet is to come face to face with the fact it's junk. It's easy to grab a few cookies or chips from the cupboard after a meal when you're not quite full. Writing it down in the pages of a food journal is a tad more difficult, as it forces you to face the shame of your lack of discipline.