Plant Protein: 6 Vegetarian-Friendly, Protein-Packed Recipes

We all know that protein is essential for muscle growth and fat loss, but you may not know that your protein doesn’t always have to come from animal sources. Plants can be a great source of clean protein—you just have to know what kinds to buy. If you’re tired of constantly firing up the grill for chicken breasts and turkey burgers, try something new!

Use these six protein-filled, plant-based recipes to add some new flavors and protein sources to your diet. They’ll help fuel your transformation and keep you feeling healthy and energized!

1 / Quinoa Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads to bring to barbecues or to pot-luck parties. It also serves well for weekly meal planning! This dish isn’t your average green side salad, but has a healthy dose of protein, complex carbs and good-for-you fats. Pair it with lean meat for a complete meal.

Ingredients
Optional Add-ins
Directions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup dry quinoa to a rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. In a separate small saucepan, boil frozen edamame in water for 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  4. Once quinoa and edamame are fully cooked, add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until all flavors are incorporated.
Nutrition Facts
(without add-ins)
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 141
Total Fat6g
Total Carbs16g
Protein7g
 

 

2 / Stacked Portabellas

This is a filling, hearty veggie dish! Even though there’s no meat, you’ll still need a knife and fork to dig into this meal.

Ingredients
  • 2 large Mushroom Portabella Caps rinsed clean and dried
  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Tempeh
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 1 Tomato, sliced
  • 2 tbsp shredded Almond Cheese or Fat-free Mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp each of Paprika, Cumin, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Turn on oven to high broil.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and tempeh to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until onion begins to soften.
  4. Add quinoa, spices, salt and pepper and saute a few more minutes.
  5. On a baking sheet, place portabello mushrooms brushed lightly with olive oil.
  6. Stack mushroom caps with spinach, quinoa mixture, sliced tomatoes, and shredded cheese.
  7. Broil for 5 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, serves 2
Amount per serving
Calories 324
Total Fat14.35g
Total Carbs34g
Protein18.25g
 

 

3 / Mexican Style Protein Bowl

Give yourself a break from grilled meat and throw these ingredients together for an easy and tasty alternative to the usual. You’ll get all the flavor of a Mexican-restaurant meal without the fried fat and unhealthy calories!

Ingredients
Optional Add-ins
Directions
  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts (with Greek Yogurt)
Serving Size Per serving, recipe serves one
Amount per serving
Calories 292
Total Fat9g
Total Carbs40g
Protein12g
 

 

4 / Tofu Bento

This is a great protein-packed meal I love to make for lunch during the week. I usually take whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, stir fry them with some lively spices, and add them to brown rice and tofu. Use whatever veggies you’d like—below are my usual ingredients.

Ingredients
  • 1 package extra firm Tofu
  • 2 cups cooked Brown Rice
  • 2 tbsp Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp each of Ginger, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Chili Paste
  • 1 bunch Broccolini, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced Green Onion (optional)
  • Sriracha to top (optional)
Directions
  1. Remove tofu from package and press with paper towels to absorb all excess moisture.
  2. Chop tofu into cubes and place in large Ziploc bag.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Add broccolini and bell pepper and stir until lightly softened.
  5. Heat another pan to medium heat and add tofu.
  6. Cook tofu for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until all sides get cooked.
  7. To serve, add 1/2 cup of brown rice and top with tofu, veggies, and green onions.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4
Amount per serving
Calories 257
Total Fat8g
Total Carbs13g
Protein18g
 

 

5 / Lentil Marinara Spaghetti Squash

When you’re dieting for a competition, it’s unlikely your nutrition plan allows for pasta. Don’t be sad! This recipe tastes just as good as the real thing—just without all the simple carbs. You’ll get some healthy, complex carbs from the lentils and extra veggie goodness from the spaghetti squash.

Ingredients
  • 1 whole Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 can diced Tomatoes (look for low-sugar and low-sodium versions)
  • 1 cup cooked Lentils
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce squash with fork multiple times and bake for 60 min, or until outside is softened.
  3. In a large pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat.
  4. Add lentils, tomatoes, veggies and spices.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. While sauce is cooking, scrape out spaghetti squash with fork onto plate.
  7. Top with about one cup of lentil marinara sauce.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe serves 4
Amount per serving
Calories 140
Total Fat16g
Total Carbs20.3g
Protein8g

 

6 / Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Many people love P.F. Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps. I was inspired to create a cleaner, meat-free version at home! It is quick and tasty, and a great option for a low-carb dinner.

Ingredients
  • 1 package Tempeh, crumbled
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp of Ginger, Onion, and Garlic Powder
  • 1 head Butter-leaf Lettuce
Directions
  1. Heat olive and garlic in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, tempeh, and bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add soy sauce and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4
Amount per serving
Calories 180
Total Fat9.5g
Total Carbs12g
Protein13g

3 Rules Of Strength: Maximize Your Gains

Don’t overcomplicate strength training because a DVD said to. Harness the gains you seek with proven lifts and the principles of practice, efficiency, and intensity.

I coached high school football for a year after I graduated college. Working with teenage linebackers taught me to condense and convey information quickly because they could only handle so much at one time. Now, several years into my professional career, I find the same training rules apply to adults.

 

I give my clients one piece of information at a time, and only two or three coaching cues during a training session. The limited information keeps my trainees from overanalyzing, which subsequently improves their performance. The same is true for exercise selection. Rather than crowding a program
with excess miscellaneous, wonder exercises, I keep it simple and use 2-3 solid movements per session.

Cut what’s meaningless and keep what’s productive. That’s my program mantra. I used to overcomplicate and overanalyze every program I wrote, which was dumb. Instead of spending limited time on a thousand lifts, it’s better to build strength with the basics. That’s what I’m here to help you do.

Strength Made Simple ///

Practice, efficiency, and intensity are elements that build a strong human. Whether you’ve been a competing powerlifter since the 1980s or a desk jockey looking for manly time with the iron, using 2-3 concentrated movements per session will hit all three elements. Oh, and it gets you strong. Strong like if Godzilla and Sasquatch had a baby named Thunder.

1 / Practice

Most people don’t view gym time as practice, but that’s exactly what it is. People who achieve excellence aren’t born excellent. They achieve excellence because they do what they’re excellent at often. A terrific housepainter most likely got that way through painting a lot of houses. If you want to be a great squatter, do lots of squats.

2 / Efficiency

Efficiency comes from time spent training quality movements. Concentrate your focus on a few solid exercises and you’ll spend less time in the gym. To be strong you must put yourself in the best position possible to efficiently generate force. Finding the best position for your body requires countless reps.

3 / Intensity

Reps must be performed at varying intensities for the same exercise at different times within a training session for maximum results. You don’t have to move on to a random exercise. You can continue to focus on a lift that requires practice.

Take these three elements and apply them consistently to get big and strong. Forget “muscle confusion.” The body adapts with consistency, not randomness. Use the same lifts consistently and progress by building size and strength. Unless you’re in the midst of a seven-year plateau, training at maximum intensity, you don’t need a variety swing.

What Lifts Should You Perform? ///

It depends on what lifts you want to be good at and what lifts work well for your body. Luckily, there are movements faithfully devoted to the promotion of human strength. They should be familiar to you: squats, presses, deadlifts, and Olympic lifts.

When you determine what you want to master and what lifts don’t leave your frame in shambles, all that’s left is to combine the elements: practice, efficiency, intensity, and your chosen lifts. The result? A supernova of progressive strength and size gains!

(Note: If you’ve never had your movement assessed by a qualified strength coach, make it happen. It’s the most efficient way to discover what exercises work for you.)

Let’s get started with an example week.

Sample Training Week ///

Under the intensity column, you’ll see @6 or @8. This nomenclature is based on rate of perceived exertion, not percentages. @6 means the bar moves fast without maximal force. You will still apply maximal force, but you’ll choose weight that doesn’t require it for speed. @8 means you could complete 2-3 more reps with the given weight until failure, but won’t.

This is a snapshot of a program. It’s a Polaroid, not a movie showing full progression into and out of the program. Progression depends on your current needs and goals. It’s your job to determine those.

The program volume isn’t remarkable. In fact, it’s low because it doesn’t take lots of volume to get strong; it takes focused and intense volume.

Sweet Success

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4 Ways To Harness The Fitness Benefits Of Horseback Riding

If you don’t think riding a horse can shape you up, you’ve probably never saddled up before. Try it and your own fitness will rise to thoroughbred status

As a horseback rider, I’ve heard those snarky comments about how riding isn’t really a workout and how the horse does all the work. But straddling a large, powerful animal with a mind and agenda of its own is a full-body workout that will engage muscles you didn’t know existed. There’s a reason guys check out female riders, and why women chase around those big buckles and denim backsides. Riders have swag.

Riding horses regularly will test your preconceived notions of fitness and strength. You’ll feel uncoordinated while you’re in the saddle and sore and tight after you’re done. This challenge isn’t a quest to make you feel inadequate; there are some serious benefits to gain from going out for a horseback ride through the hills. If you’re up to it, saddle up. Here are four fitness benefits to horseback riding!

Saddle Up For Fitness

Balance And Stability ///

If you’re out water skiing with friends, you don’t want to be that guy who face-plants in the water as soon as you say, “Hit it.” Stability is essential to transfer energy into effort for any activity, riding included.

When riding on an unstable “surface” like the back of a horse, balance is critical. It sounds pretty easy when the horse is hand-walked by your Uncle Jim, but it can get messy quickly when speed and maneuvers are added. If the horse dives left, you don’t dive left also, but stay upright to maintain balance. This may mean transferring your weight to the right to stay stable in the saddle. To make this even more difficult, your legs and arms must be free to cue the horse, and that’s impossible if they’re latched desperately around the horse’s belly and neck.

If you’re already experienced, try riding bareback, but not just to and from the pasture—actually work your horse bareback. You’ll be surprised how poor your balance is sans saddle. If you or the horse isn’t up for that, try some in-saddle exercises: While trotting, (this is the bouncy gait slightly faster than a walk), take your feet in and out of the stirrups. Without the stirrups, there is no crutch to keep you in place.

Horseback riding, expert level or no, can improve your balance. This will carry over to other areas of your fitness and life.

Coordination ///

First time riders quickly realize that riding is tougher than it looks. A lot needs to happen simultaneously to get a horse to pick up speed or even walk in a circle without wandering off. This requires coordinating leg pressure, rein pressure, and body position all at once. Try to rub your stomach, pat your head, and skip all at once and let me know how that goes. Similar chaos can happen on a horse.

Ride a couple hours per week to see improved coordination. You’ll be more aware of the movements needed to produce a desired result, like making the horse go left like you want it to. After awhile, you will master the simultaneous, but independent movement of your hands, body, and legs. This has great carryover to other sports.

Therapeutic riding programs for the sight-impaired have had a lot of success developing better coordination. Without the aid of a cane or other instrument to guide them, they learn to ride just by feel. This “feel” is the same type of coordination that separates the good athlete from thebest. If an athlete has great body awareness, their movements will be more automatic, quick, and effective.

Saddle Up For Fitness

Thighs Of Steel ///

Prepare for leg, core, and arm soreness after a day of riding. Unless you prop yourself up against the fence with your horse half-asleep, there is no passive sitting in this sport. There is just no way to ride unless you engage your legs, especially the adductors. A rider has to “squeeze” these muscles to stay put in the saddle. The core must also engage to protect the spine and keep the rider upright.

The quads, hamstrings, and glutes all support the work of the adductors. They are also involved with the forward, backward, and lateral leg movement used to cue the horse. The glutes flex and tighten when you roll your hips down and forward to cue the horse to stop. Keep riding and you’ll have a strong enough leg grip to straddle a jet ski or the mechanical bull at your friend’s 21st birthday party. You’re welcome.

Move into faster gaits and the jarring increases. To compensate and alleviate stress on the spine and hips, you flex. When the horse changes direction you’re forced to engage the obliques and transverse abdominals to stay upright. Driving your horse forward will tax the erector spinae and lats. If nothing else, hop on a horse to build a stronger back.

Believe it or not, riding can also help your physique. Muscle tone is created by constant tension, so the flexing and contracting you do while riding will help you look better. Outside of Hoss onGunsmoke, you don’t see many obese cowboys, do you?

Flexibility ///

Even if you can get away without stretching in your normal routine, you can’t hope to get on a horse without flexibility. If you have tight hamstrings or glutes, other areas might help compensate to get you through a squat, but there is nothing to help your hips, adductors, or hamstrings when you’re awkwardly straddled over a horse’s back. Sit in that position long enough and your flexibility will improve. Better flexibility means better range of motion, which equates to improved, heavier lifts. Your calves will also get a good stretch when you ride in the correct position: feet in line with the knee, heels down, back straight. Improved flexibility and reduced tension will lessen the chance of injury when you play a sport or lift.

Saddle Up For Fitness

More than anything, riding can help improve weaknesses. Whether the problem is coordination or flexibility, you’ll see progression and reap major benefits in sports, hobbies, and daily life. So saddle up!

6 Lessons From The Cage: How To Unleash Your Inner Animal

The Cage turns man into animal. This is what The Cage can teach you, straight from the beasts who have studied there.

Every year at the Arnold Fitness Expo, in the midst of free supplement samples and hordes of hungry fans, Animal rigs up The Cage. Twenty-feet wide by 80-feet long, The Cage is far more than a brand booth. It is a massive, chain-linked arena of iron inspiration. It’s hallowed ground for pro bodybuilders and elite powerlifters. It’s home to everyone who lives the Animal life.

The Cage is bigger than any single space or weekend, though. It’s the embodiment of an idea. It’s whatever place pushes you to become your biggest and best self. The Cage is your favorite squat rack. It’s the empty gym at five a.m., beckoning you. It’s a stack of cold 45s and the sweet sting of a barbell against your palm. It’s wherever you transform from man to Animal.

The Cage can teach you. The athletes who have lifted, lived, and competed there have learned its lessons well. This is the story of The Cage told by the beasts who know it best. Get ready to stack some weights and rattle some plates. Get ready to break out of the box and into The Cage.

Lesson 1 /// You Can Always Get Better

Richard “The Ant” Hawthorne, Powerlifter
“It was incredible to lift in such an electrifying oasis of a world that has otherwise been hidden from the public eye in The Cage. I’m proud to represent the world of powerlifting and what it actually stands for. No matter your size, age, gender, where you came from, or what you do, if you put in time in the gym, if you’ve busted your ass, then you can gain respect. Whether we lift in the gym, on the platform, or in The Cage, we are all on the same journey—the one where we envision the best version of ourselves.”

Lesson 2 /// Let Your Competition Drive You

Grant “Higa Monster” Higa
“Lifting in The Cage is bigger than anything I have ever done in my entire life. When I get invited to lift in The Cage, I always feel the pressure. Will I be able to ‘man up’ and have people talk about what I did in The Cage, or be just another guy who happened to be there? I want to be the guy who makes a statement so that fans will remember my lifts for years to come.”

Lesson 3 /// Use the Audience to Your Advantage

Garrett “Gunz” Griffin, Powerlifter
“For my event, I benched 550 pounds raw at 198 pounds. I honestly don’t remember anything after my lift. I remember getting off the bench thinking, ‘Did they touch the bar?’ It came up so easy. People started congratulating me. I had done it. I was on cloud nine. This lift wasn’t just for me. It was for all the Animal fans who came to watch me hit a personal best. They all believed in me. I just want to say thank you to Animal for making this lifter’s dream a reality.”

Ernie Lilliebridge Jr., Powerlifter
“The Cage has it all. It’s big, but it’s small, too. I could feel everyone’s energy and hear everyone cheering me on. I started with the empty bar and did 45-pound plate flips up to 650 pounds. Then I jumped to 700. Before my last attempt, I was very anxious to go for my PR attempt of 750 pounds. I knew for sure I was going to make it. There was no way I could miss with all that energy and everyone cheering me on. I had all eyes on me and I wasn’t going to disappoint.”

Lesson 4 /// Push Past Sticking Points

Eric Lilliebridge, WR-holding Powerlifter
“The energy and motivation that I felt in The Cage was nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I have been competing in powerlifting for nine years now, and doing up to five meets each year. To this day, I haven’t done a single competition that gave me the energy and focus that I got when lifting inside The Cage. It definitely brought out the best in me—in all of us. It showed through the numbers we put up. I hit a PR. This is what it’s like lifting in The Cage.”

Lesson 5 /// Never Give Up

Chase Browning, Animal Fan
“When I look back over the years, I often think about what has separated me from others who had the same goal as me. I’m not more talented. I’m not more gifted. I’m not special. When I run into people in the supermarket or at the movies, they will often say ‘Hey man, I saw your video with the Animal guys,’ or ‘Dude, you’ve blown up.’ These things are always followed by the exact same statement: ‘I wish I would have stuck with it.’ I never gave up.”

Garrett “Gunz” Griffin, Powerlifter
“Never stop pushing and working your ass off. People told me I was a powerlifter and I would never get a sponsor, let alone a major one. Well I proved everyone wrong and I will continue to do that. The Cage felt like home. I just can’t wait for 2014.”

Lesson 6 /// Embrace Camaraderie

Frank McGrath, IFBB Pro; Flex and Animal Athlete
“The Cage makes Animal what it is. What other company can bring together so many people together to tear shit up? What other company lets fans meet and train with pros like we’re all family? There’s no jealousy, no ego, and no hate. You just have good people from all walks of life and at every level pushing and supporting one another. You really don’t see this that much these days. Animal is the only company which makes this happen.”

Chase Browning, Animal Fan
“Animal embodies camaraderie. That’s something that’s hard to come by in this sport. Animal has found a way to bring athletes and people from all walks of life together. We’ve formed a brotherhood bound in iron. We train together. We break bread together. We build each other up. We mentor one another. We lift one another in triumph. When defeated, we pick each other up. Bottom line: Animal is a family.”

Prevent A Pig-Out: 6 Steps To Better Willpower

Your best weight-loss intentions will inevitably come face-to-face with temptation. Learn to boost your willpower, and keep the pounds off.

It was right there for the taking. After a 5-mile group run, I drove past my favorite takeout place. My stomach was craving—no, demanding—food. A lot of it. I had a recovery shake waiting for me at home, but this was so much faster. Besides, I deserved a reward for burning off almost 800 calories. What’s wrong with a tasty payoff for my commitment to health? I turned into the drive-thru lane.

My willpower had failed me. Yes, it had gotten me to my run on time, but it vanished when I needed it most. Any gains I’d made I gave right back. Why couldn’t I say no?

It turns out that willpower isn’t simply dense moral fiber. The latest science suggests it’s found in the soft gray matter of your frontal lobe, where good decisions are made and poor choices are rejected. Your willpower is tough. It helps you fight temptation, prevent binges, choose food wisely, and stay motivated. But it’s a finite resource. Nurture it, maintain it, and deploy it with this six-point plan.

Step 1 /// Feed Your Willpower

Here’s a surprise: Your willpower runs on sugar. Like your muscles, your brain needs glucose to function at an optimal level, says Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., social psychology area director at Florida State University and coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

In a series of nine studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Baumeister discovered that people with steady glucose levels were more persistent at attempting to complete an unsolvable task than those whose glucose levels declined during the experiments. “Increase your blood glucose and you can fuel your willpower,” he says.

Wait, put down the Skittles. Sure, glucose is easily available from straight sugar, but your body also creates it from fruit, many vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. You can even build glucose by pumping up your protein, says Baumeister. “It takes your body longer to make glucose from protein, but the benefits can last longer,” he says.

One problem is that weight-watching men often adopt extreme low-calorie diets. “If you starve yourself, you’ll have low glucose,” says Baumeister. And without sufficient glucose, your brain doesn’t have the fuel it needs to resist junk food. So if you feel your energy fading, don’t skip smart snacks, like nuts.

Step 2 /// Celebrate Wisely

Scientists have a name for my drive-thru cave-in: compensation. It’s the inclination to reward yourself for a job well done, and that feeling can fight with your weight-loss intentions. In fact, the harder your workout is, the bigger you may think your compensation should be, says Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., director of the laboratory of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.

“When men endure a tough, hourlong workout or push through a 7-mile run, they feel a need to celebrate,” he says. “But a good workout is not carte blanche to eat whatever you want.”

The solution: Don’t rely on your willpower to deny yourself a well-earned treat. Instead, use it to ensure that your reward doesn’t outweigh the workout (literally).

“Do the math: If you burned off 700 calories, keep your food intake to less than that,” says Dr. Church. It’s a pat on the back that doesn’t wipe out your hard work. Or go with a nonfood reward: Buy yourself an iTunes download every time you work out, or treat yourself to basketball tickets when you rack up 10 training sessions.

Step 3 /// Play Defense

Even well-fed willpower won’t resist all temptation. You’ll need to conserve your supply so it’s always there for you. A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology followed people’s reactions to enticements throughout the day. Oddly, people with the best self-control were the ones who used their willpower less often. Instead of fending off one temptation after another, they set up their daily lives to minimize them.

In other words, they played defense. “Look inside people’s fridges—they’re full of temptations,” says lead researcher Wilhelm Hofmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago. Leftover Chinese, Ben & Jerry’s, cans of Coke? Toss it all and don’t buy it again. There—now your willpower can get some rest at home.

Step 4 /// Stay Alert

Want to make smart choices? Go to bed early. “Willpower is lower when you’re sleepy,” says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist at Northwestern University who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine.

The average night owl consumes an additional 248 calories more each day than someone who goes to bed earlier, and most of those extra calories tend to be racked up after 8 p.m., according to 2011 research published in the journal Obesity.

Short night of sleep? Pour a cup of coffee and add a packet of real sugar—not Splenda or some other artificial sweetener. A 2010 Spanish study revealed that the combination of caffeine and sugar increased cognitive performance in the bilateral parietal cortex and left prefrontal cortex regions. These are two areas of the brain that support your ability to stay focused and goal-oriented when confronted with tempting distractions.

Step 5 /// Scare Yourself

It’s easy to rationalize and convince yourself that one more plate of sliders won’t make a difference to your waistline. To fuel your resolve, try taking the opposite approach—tell yourself a tall tale. A University of Texas study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that exaggerating the number of calories in a favorite food—a tactic called “counteractive construal”—can help you override those temptations.

That hot, slender girl who recoils from pizza? She’s onto something. Overestimating the impact of a gut bomb can help establish a clear, direct link between “bad food” and “being out of shape.” Imagining that a cheeseburger contains 2,000 calories can prompt you to start picturing yourself with an extra 20 pounds. And that will help you say no.

Step 6 /// Delay, Don’t Deny

When it comes to food lures, procrastination can be a good thing. Instead of simply saying no to that nacho platter, tell yourself you’ll eat it sometime in the future.

A study presented at this year’s annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that people who decided to postpone eating a bag of potato chips were more capable of resisting the temptation than people who simply tried to refrain altogether from eating the crunchy, salty snack.

While “no” only intensifies feelings of deprivation, “later” has a different effect: “Postponement weakens the desire at the precise time when peak desire overwhelms willpower,” says study author Nicole Mead, Ph.D., of the Rotterdam School of Management. It’s unrealistic to postpone all unhealthy foods and drinks, she says. Instead, pick one or two that tempt you the most and postpone those. Add more over time and you’ll reap even bigger results.

 

10 Rules For Ripped Abs!

Use these 10 abdominal truths to effectively burn fat, target your abs, and build a strong six-pack.

As a personal trainer, I’m constantly bombarded with questions about how to build six-pack abs. My clients want to know the best core exercises, what to eat, and how to train for best results.

To help you complete your own quest for a chiselled middle, I’ve gathered and answered my clients’ top 10 questions into one supercharged six-pack article. Start shredding!

1 / Are Crunches The Best Way To Get Ripped Abs?

No. Crunches work your abs, but there are more effective core-centric exercises. A study from San Diego State University showed that the vertical chair knee raise, for example, stimulates up to 210 percent more abdominal activity than a regular crunch!

Core muscles are also an integral part of deadlifts and squats, both of which are more effective than crunches. They also burn more calories, giving you extra bang for each rep you perform.

2 / How Should I Train For Maximum Fat Loss?

Go hard and go heavy. High-intensity exercise has been shown to stimulate lipolytic hormones, including growth hormone and epinephrine, which promote greater post-exercise energy expenditure and fat burning.1 This after-burn effect is associated with a boost in metabolism, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

High-volume, whole-body resistance training significantly elevates resting energy expenditure up to 72 hours after exercise in both trained and untrained subjects.2,3 In fact, a study from the National Taiwan Normal University found that EPOC after training with heavier weights—75 percent of one rep max (1RM)—is higher than after training with lighter weights at 50 percent of 1RM.

Basically, the heavier and harder you train in the gym, the more you burn when you’re done lifting.

3 / Why Is Stomach Fat So Hard To Lose?

Everyone’s different, but the stomach is generally the body’s favorite place to store and hold fat—even on a strict diet and fitness plan. When I was competing in bodybuilding, my lower abs were the last to appear before a show. Hormonal changes that result from lack of proper sleep, stress, and aging add more fat to your waistline.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a quick fix—it’s all about proper nutrition, consistent exercise, and overall caloric expenditure.

4 / How Long Will It Take To Get A Six-Pack?

This is probably the most common question we hear from our clients at CircuitFIT. There’s no sure-fire answer because so many factors are involved, including your current body fat, your fitness level, your exercise routine, your diet, stress, and your sleep duration and quality.

Regardless, you won’t build a six-pack overnight. You have to put in real work and give it time. Get a fitness and nutrition plan together and follow it consistently for at least 12 weeks before you expect to see noticeable results.

5 / What Should I Eat In Order To Get Ripped Abs?

Fewer carbohydrates and more protein! Stick to nutritious carbs like whole grains and vegetables, and make sure each meal or snack contains a lean protein source like chicken, fish, or non-fat Greek yogurt. Don’t be afraid of fat, however. Include good fats from fish, fish oil, nuts, olives and avocados in your diet.

I personally have 3-4 whole-food meals and 1-2 protein shakes per day. I have my shakes pre- and post-workout on training days. It’s all about choosing whole fruits and vegetables, and nutrient-dense, complex carbs. My diet includes whole eggsyams, Greek yogurt, fish, chicken,beef, nuts, olive oilalmond butter, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, and other nutritious grains.

6 / Can I Get Ripped By Taking A Supplement?

Remember that supplements need to supplement something. If you want to get ripped and build muscle, you have to get off your butt and do the work! I always recommend that my clients have a solid training and nutrition regimen in place before they add supplements to their programs. When you’re ready to add a fat-burning product, choose one with ingredients backed by published studies.

Caffeine, CH-19 Sweet Red Pepper Extract, and raspberry ketone are all backed by quality research. These are some of the ingredients we use in our PharmaFreak fat burner, Ripped Freak.

7 / Will I Be Able To Maintain My Results Once I Stop Using A Fat Burner?

Of course! As long as you continue to train hard and follow a solid nutrition plan, you’ll maintain your results sans supplements. Most people eat super clean and train harder than ever while taking supplements, but go back to their old, lazy ways once they stop. This leads to the dreaded “yo-yo syndrome,” which destroys hard-earned results. Consistency is the key.

8 / Is It Easier For Men Or Women To Get Ripped Abs?

In general, men can achieve six-pack status easier than women because they produce more testosterone, allowing them to build more muscle mass and burn more calories while exercising and resting.

Women have a harder time because of their hormonal and muscular makeup, which is one of the main reasons we emphasize compound—or functional—lifts with our female clients.

That said, the older we get, the harder it becomes for both sexes to get a six-pack. Our hormone levels naturally decline. However, research shows that strength training can increase lean muscle tissue and strength, which helps us stay ripped.

Pumping iron is the key. Proper nutrition and supplements can also help naturally raise key muscle-building and fat-burning hormones.

9 / What If You Don’t Want The Six-Pack, But Just A Flat Stomach?

Wait, who doesn’t want a six-pack? OK, even if you just want a flat stomach, I recommend you train your abs from all angles 3-5 times per week to build a strong core that not only looks good but also helps you perform better and stay injury-free. Check out my favorite abs exercises.

10 / What Are The Biggest Mistakes People Make When It Comes To Getting Flat Abs?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, when clients aren’t achieving desired results, they’re consuming too many calories, making bad food choices, or both. You can avoid this by tracking your progress. In addition to writing down reps and sets, keep a food journal. Documenting your daily progress is extremely valuable because it allows you to look back, review, and tweak your plan.

Everyone responds differently, so to determine what works best, get to know your body and listen to its feedback.