Stay Lean Without Dieting | 15 Tips For Staying Lean Year-Round

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It can take a little work to stay lean year-round, but that doesn’t mean you have to diet! Let’s go through my top 15 tips for maintaining a lean physique all the time. I wanted to break these down into lifestyle, diet, and training tips to make it easier to follow and implement.

Lifestyle:

  1. Don’t diet – thinking in terms of scarcity and considering foods “off-limits” is a recipe for over eating and creating unhealthy eating habits. Focus on fueling your body and not depriving yourself. It takes work to change your mindset, but it’s worth it in the long run.
  2. Sleep – work on improving sleep hygiene and solidifying your sleep-wake schedule. This entails shutting of electronics about an hour before bed, switching off overhead lighting, keeping your room dark and cool, and avoiding caffeine within 8 hours of bed. Get bright daylight within an hour of waking.
  3. Stress – limit chronic stress as much as possible. If you can’t change your stressors, work on changing your perspective on them.
  4. 85/15 rule – eat reasonably most of the time, but don’t feel bad about the occasional treat, dinner, or celebration. Weight is usually gained by falling off the wagon and staying off the wagon, not by an indulgence here or there.

Food/Diet:

  1. Protein – eat more protein. It’s the building block of muscles, aids in satiety, boosts metabolism, and prevents muscle loss. Get more protein in your first and last meals, but don’t forget to eat protein with every meal.
  2. Fiber – fiber also improves feelings of satiety and is good for overall health. Slowly add more soluble and insoluble fiber to your diet in the form of vegetables and unprocessed whole grains.
  3. Water – another helpful item for improving satiety. Water boosts athletic performance, cognitive function, and is necessary for overall health. Drink water before eating and drink first if you feel hungry, as sometimes hunger pangs are really just a sign of thirst!
  4. Time your macros – eat more carbs/less fats around the times when you’re most active, and eat more fats/less carbs when you’re less active. Protein is the center of the meal – think about carbs and fats as being inversely related.
  5. Try time-restricted feeding – new studies show that short windows of eating, aka intermittent fasting actually leads to muscle loss and fat gain. You can reap the benefits of fasting without losing muscle by eating within a 12- hour window. An example would be from 7am – 7pm. This gives your body time to digest dinner before bed, which can improve recovery, sleep, and help with staying lean.

Training:

  1. Compound movements – start your workout with compound movements to get the most “bang for your buck.” You’ll burn more calories and you’ll build an impressive physique in less time.
  2. HIIT/HILIT – add this in 1-2x per week to boost metabolism and to help with building and maintaining muscle. Opt for low impact forms like the spin bike, stairs, sled, or elliptical.
  3. Get those steps in – NEAT, or non-exercise thermogenesis burns more calories per day than your workout does! Try to get in 10k steps per day, and you’ll stay lean.
  4. Lift heavy – lift heavy but do it safely. This build fast twitch muscle, boosts metabolism, and can help with slowing down the aging process.
  5. Timed recovery – keep an eye on recovery between sets. This will keep your heart rate up, save time in the gym, and can burn more calories. 2-3 minutes between heavy lifts and 30-60 seconds between isolation lifts is a good rule of thumb.

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Erin Stern

Erin Stern

Erin Stern is a 2x Ms. Figure Olympia fitness model and bodybuilder who competes in the IFBB and has won over 14 titles. She is regarded as one of the greatest Figure icons in the history of bodybuilding. Join her newsletter to get her best fitness tips or join a program.

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