Transforming your body into a fat-burning machine takes more than just regular visits to the weight room. While building strong muscle can definitely do wonders for your metabolism, you’ll struggle to hit your target weight if your diet isn’t on point. To truly slash fat from your frame, follow these nutrition tips from health and fitness expert Joe Arko, to complement your weight training, and get you closer to your goals.

1. Avoid sugar post-workout

We know you want to scarf that Pop Tart after a solid training session, but high doses of sugar post-workout aren’t in your best interest when fat loss is the goal. Spiking your insulin levels, which occurs when sugar is present in the blood stream, will trigger the body to stop burning fat as a source of fuel. Instead, go for a high-protein snack, such as a scoop of whey isolate mixed with water, within an hour of your last set.

2. Cycle your carbs

Carb cycling is an effective way to speed up your fat loss process without leaving you in a carb-depleted brain fog. Try reducing your carbohydrate intake for 2-3 days, while increasing healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, fish oil, etc.), followed by a one-day “carb load.” This will allow your body to burn fat more efficiently than if it were to rely on carbs as its main source of fuel.

3. Include BCAAs

BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, play an integral role in pre-, post- and intra-workout nutrition. BCAAs, which refer to the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, are metabolized in the muscle, helping to prevent catabolism (protein breakdown) and aiding recovery. They also help boost your body’s production of fat-burning hormones. Consume about 5 g of BCAAs 30 minutes pre workout, 5 g during your workout and 5-10 g immediately post workout.
Word to the wise: If you’re not currently supplementing with BCAAs, check with your doc before you do. When you get the green light, begin with a daily dose of 5-10 g for a week or two, before upping the dosage.

4. Increase your protein intake

Protein is essential for both muscle building and repair, along with helping the body become more thermogenic (and that means more burned calories!). Aim to consume protein with each of your meals from a variety of sources such as lean cuts of meat, fish and poultry. Don’t rely on shakes alone!

5. Don’t be afraid of the F-word… FAT

Fat is an extremely important macronutrient that aids in the production of essential hormones, lubricating the joints, fueling brain function, and transporting fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. On top of that, consuming healthy fats actually helps your body burn more fat! Oils (like olive, hemp, flax and coconut), fatty fish, unroasted and unsalted nuts and seeds, grass-fed butter, and avocados should be staples in your diet.

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