To melt away fat and build new muscle, you need to pack your body with so much good nutrition that it forgets about the junk calories out there and instead starts to build and maintain new muscle and shed flab. Here are a few simple rules to get you started. Consider them pledges-pledges to yourself. And you'll be amazed at just how easy they are to trick yourself into following. But more amazingly, once you know them, you'll realize that sticking to them every single day isn't even necessary. They're laws, sure, but so's the speed limit. And when's the last time you drove all the way to Grandma's house going 55?
"I Will Eat Protein With Every Meal and Every Snack"
Muscle doesn't come simply from lifting weights or hauling groceries up the stairs. Eating protein triggers muscle growth. In fact, every time you eat at least 10 to 15 grams of protein, you trigger a burst of protein synthesis. And when you eat at least 30 grams, that period of synthesis lasts about 3 hours-and that means even more muscle growth.
Now think about it: When would you typically eat most of your protein? At dinner, right? That means you might be fueling your muscles for only a few hours a day, mostly while you're watching Chelsea Lately. The rest of the day, you're breaking down muscle, because you don't have enough protein in your system. Eat protein at all three meals, which can include meats and eggs or other options such as cheese and milk. You need to boost your protein intake to between .54 and 1 gram per pound of body weight to preserve your calorie-burning muscle mass. (That's a total of between 76 and 140 grams daily for a 140-pound woman.)
Trick yourself slim: Make a snack out of yogurt once a day.
"I Will Never Eat the World's Worst Breakfast"
What's the world's worst breakfast? No breakfast at all. When you wake up in the morning, your body is fuel-deprived. It's been 7 to 9 hours (or more) since you last ate. Your insulin levels have dropped, your protein stores are empty, and your muscles are desperate for nutrition. Your body needs food to restore its balance.
Breakfast is the one meal where, calories be damned, eating more is almost always better than eating less-in an ideal world, you'd get between 500 and 600 calories at breakfast alone. Just make sure some of those calories come from protein: In a 2008 study, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that people who regularly ate a protein-rich 600-calorie breakfast lost significantly more weight in 8 months than those who consumed only 300 calories and a quarter of the protein. The big-breakfast eaters lost an average of 40 pounds and had an easier time sticking with the diet even though both groups were prescribed about the same number of total daily calories.
Trick yourself slim: Before you pour the coffee, fill your cup with milk. Drink it down until you have just the right amount to lighten your joe, then add the caffeine. Eight ounces of 1% milk gives you the 110 calories and 8 grams of protein, along with a hit of fat-burning calcium. Even if you can't possible eat breakfast, well, guess what: You just ate breakfast!
Easy, Speedy Breakfast Ideas
"I Will Eat Before and After Exercise"
Eat a snack containing carbohydrates and protein 30 minutes or so before your workout and one of your protein-rich meals immediately after. Your body breaks down muscle during and after exercise to use as fuel, and it rebuilds muscle using calories that you've consumed. The longer you wait after exercise to eat, the more your body will break down its own muscle and the less it will build new muscle.
By feeding your body with protein and carbohydrates within an hour or two of exercise, you provide your muscles with enough energy to build strength and burn fat more effectively. Research also shows that eating before and after a workout inhibits the storage of fat, inhibit muscle breakdown, reduce inflammation, and recover more quickly.
Trick yourself slim: After you exercise, drink like a kindergartner. Chocolate milk can help replace glucose in fatigued muscles. And its balance of carbs and protein makes it the perfect natural post-workout drink.
Best Fitness Foods for Women
"I Will Eat It if It Grows on a Tree" Or a bush, stalk or vine, as well. In other words, if it grows on a plant, eat it. Fruits and vegetables should be included in every meal, and as many snacks as possible. The reason: Your goal is to fill your body with as many muscle-promoting, fat-discouraging nutrients as possible, and the very best source of them is fruits, nuts and vegetables. By loading your body with the maximum amount of nutrients for the least number of calories, they're a dietary bargain.
Trick yourself slim: Eat your fruits and vegetables first! (The fiber will help you consume less later). Try at least one new fruit or vegetable each week, and try to make sure your salads have at least four different colors.
Want more secrets like this? Check out The Women's Health Diet book.
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