If your goal is to tone up, burn fat and get into great shape then there are some basic guidelines you should follow to help you get there.

If you follow these principals you will be well on the way to consistently making good choices, whether you’re at the super market or dining at the best restaurants.

1. Muscle is the key to burning fat

Fit and strong is the new skinny, and a toned athletic body looks that way because of well-developed muscles. This doesn’t just happen by accident. A good exercise program including weight training and cardio will shape and tone your body to give you that much sought after look. The added benefit of a toned body is that muscle increases your metabolism, quite simply, the more toned you are, the more fat you burn, even when you are resting.

2. 5 – 6 smaller meals per day

Everyone’s metabolism will respond to regular nutrition by working at higher rate. You will BURN more kilojoules, get leaner, have more energy to for your daily activities and exercise, and generally feel great. Many women believe they will lose weight by drastically reducing their food intake. Unfortunately your body responds by shutting down your metabolism to conserve energy which slows fat loss right down. A better approach is to spread your daily food intake over 5 – 6 meals which will keep your metabolism high and maximise fat loss.

3. Protein serve at each meal

To stimulate fat loss and muscle toning you need a constant intake of quality protein every day. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a protein in each of your daily 5 – 6 meals.

4. Don’t skip breakfast

This is often referred to by nutritionists as the most important meal of the day, and for firing up your fat burning metabolism breakfast is super important. This is because during the night most people won’t have eaten for around 8 hours or more, so the body will be in starvation mode and your metabolism will be running slowly. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism. Quality protein and slow digesting carbs like oats is the perfect way to start your day.

5. Drink plenty of water

Water plays a crucial role in every part of your metabolism. You need it to burn fat, produce energy, tone muscle plus a myriad of other physiological processes. If you exercise a lot you will need even more. Aim to drink about 2 litres or more of plain or mineral water every day.

6. After exercise

If you regularly work out, or perhaps you play strenuous sport, then you should always aim to have some good quality protein and carbs within an hour of your activity. This will help you recover much faster so you will be less fatigued and ready to train or play again sooner. A Maxine’s BURN shake and some fruit is a great recovery nutrition plan.

7. Vegetables are king

While protein is a key nutrient to help you get lean and toned, plenty of fresh vegetables are a must. Vegetables are choc full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and will help keep your body healthy and in optimum shape during the rigours of exercise and dieting. Try to include several servings of fresh vegetable in at least 2 – 3 of your daily meals.

8. Carbs, Yes or No?

Carbs are often viewed as taboo by many women trainers. What is the truth? It depends on your goals. If you are already in good shape and looking to maintain your condition then a moderate intake or good quality ‘clean’ carbs like wholegrain cereals, brown rice and sweet potato are recommended. However for general health you should reduce or eliminate sugary, starchy and processed foods like soft drinks, juices, bread, cakes and biscuits. If your goal is to strip fat, and lean up then watching carbs is the key. Reduce starchy carb foods but some carbs are always required to help you burn fat and keep your metabolism functioning properly. We will cover this in more detail in our recommended diet plans.

9. Watch your fat intake

Your body need a moderate amount of certain types of fats to maintain good health. These fats, known as essential fatty acids are used for many physiological processes in your body, from making hormones through to building new cells. Foods like nuts, olive oil, seeds and avocados are all good sources of EFA’s. Fat’s from fish are also excellent. Eating fish twice per week or taking fish or krill oil supplements are also recommended. The fats you want to avoid or reduce are the saturated fats found in the fat you see on meat and in foods like butter and cream. So cut right back on foods like butter, cream, whole fat milk, and fatty meats. Also be careful of hidden fats. Many processed foods and fast foods contain high levels of these fats so always check the food labels.

10. Processed Foods

Most foods that come in packets, bags or boxes fall into the category of processed foods. Processed means that the food has been either mixed, cooked or treated in some way to change it from it’s raw state. Be careful of processed foods because many have added sugars, fats, salt and other food additives that can have a negative effect on a shaping and toning program. Read the nutritional panels and look for protein, fat, sugars and sodium levels.

11. Eating out

One of the big challenges for anyone who is watching their weight is what to choose when eating out. Basically you need to stick to the principals of a good quality protein source, fresh vegetables, while keeping carbs and fats moderate. Fish, chicken or red meat with vegetables or a salad are great dining out options. Avoid or reduce breads, pastas and rice intake and if you must have dessert then share with a friend or choose a lighter fruit based dish.

12. Take Away food

Most takeaway foods are not ideal nutritionally so you must be very careful with your choices. High carb foods like pizza and pasta are ok for an occasional treat but in general should be avoided. Deep fried foods like fish and chips are also bad as they combine high fat with high carbs. Hamburgers, wraps and various fast food meal deals also tend to be high in carbs, fat and kilojoules. Better choices include salads, some sandwiches, and many Asian dishes of vegetables and meat, although some sauces can be high in fat.

13. Alcohol

If you are dieting to get into great shape then alcohol intake should be substantially reduced or eliminated. It adds empty calories to your diet and can play havoc with your metabolism. If you are going out and want to enjoy a drink or two, that’s ok, but remember moderation. Drink at least a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have. Limit yourself to a few drinks spread over the night. Choose drinks than have less kilojoules like dry wine. Mixed drinks can be very high in sugar so avoid these.

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