If you are seeking a leaner, more muscular physique you need a proper balance of cardio-vascular activity and weight training. In order to have the energy to sustain this program as well as your active lifestyle, you need a nutritional plan. In other words, you must eat right all the time!

The meals you plan, the food you eat, and the timing of your feedings are as important to your fitness lifestyle as the time you spend in the gym.  The breakfast that you eat or skip in the morning has an impact upon the amount of energy you have for your workouts. The healthy meals you pack for lunch and snacks are essential toward keeping you lean and curbing your appetite away from deadly fast food quick fixes.

In a perfect world it would be wonderful to have the time to read labels, count grams of fat, and eliminate junk food. Realistically, all you can do is your best each day to make sensible choices and realize that the healthier you try to eat, the more all that time in the gym will pay off.

Here are a few rules that will help your fitness endeavors and keep you healthy and energetic throughout each challenging day of your life.

Rule #1: Calories are important, but they are not everything. Chris Asceto, author of Championship Bodybuilding states that rebuilding muscle broken down by training requires energy – in other words, calories. But many people, including some nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extremely high caloric intakes. In general, to gain muscle and stay lean, aim for 250 – 320 more calories everyday than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning. Focus upon consuming 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Eat smaller meals more frequently and steadily throughout the day.

Rule #2: Eat after training. It is especially important to eat a protein and carbohydrate rich meal after a butt busting workout. Post training carbs are quickly used by the body for recovery and are less likely to be stored as fat. When these carbs are combined with protein, you have a strong muscle-building combination because carbs help the body to assimilate protein.

Rule #3: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in the hours leading up to your workout. This helps you feel full and reduces hunger pangs. Drinking more water also helps your kidneys face the demands of the excess protein you consume for training. During training, drink at least 8 ounces every 15-20.

Rule #4: Mass gains vary by individual.  Gains will differ from one individual to another depending upon body size, build and level of experience in the gym. Don’t just rely upon the scale. Measure your hips and waist twice a month. Increases here will indicate that you may be putting on excess fat. Increases around the neck, arms, chest and thighs usually mean that you are packing on lean muscle!

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