Make high-protein, low-carb foods, such as steak, staple foods in your diet.
Getting ripped is no easy task -- it requires dedication, discipline and a strict diet plan. After total caloric intake, your macronutrient ratios -- the amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat you eat -- is the most important factor to consider, according to coach Marc Perry. Reducing the number of carbs you eat not only means you're reducing your caloric intake and burning fat, but can also put your body into a favorable fat-burning environment.
An ideal low-carb breakfast is a food you're already very familiar with: eggs. High in protein and containing virtually zero carbohydrates, eggs make the perfect start to a low-carb day. Eat them boiled, poached or scrambled or make an omelet with some chicken, ham or low-fat cheese for an extra protein boost, or serve with low-carb veggies such as mushrooms, onions and peppers. Trainer Charles Poliquin advocates the meat and nuts breakfast when going low-carb -- a serving of either chicken, lean ground beef, venison, bison or turkey, combined with a handful of macadamias, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts or Brazil nuts. If you're in a rush, a protein shake mixed with water will do in a pinch, though you should check with your doctor before adding supplements to your regime.
Lunch and Dinner
Your midday and evening meals can be interchangeable and stick to the same guidelines to make low-carbing easy. Start each meal with a base of vegetables, which typically contain a minimal number of carbohydrates but provide essential vitamins and minerals. Fill around two-thirds of your plate with veggies. Asparagus, artichoke, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peppers, tomato, rutabaga, eggplant, onion, leeks and sugar snap peas are all low in carbs, according to the American Diabetes Association. Fill the rest of your plate with a protein source. If you opt for lean protein like chicken breast, turkey, extra-lean ground beef or tilapia, have a small serving of fats from nuts, seeds, olive oil or cheese as well. Alternatively, pick a slightly fattier protein source such as salmon, mackerel or regular beef.
The typical snacks you often come across are usually laden with carbs. Ditch the chips, cakes, cereal bars and fruit and opt for pre-cooked meat, no-sugar-added cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butters. Go steady on the nuts though, warns Kris Gunnars of Authority Nutrition. While low in carbs, they're also high in fat and the calorie count can quickly add up.
Cutting your carb intake lowers your blood levels of the hormone insulin and this can increase fat oxidation, notes bodybuilder and nutritionist Dr. Layne Norton. Reducing your carbs too much can lead to muscle loss though, adds Norton, so lower your carbs gradually and aim to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds per week. Calories count, too -- you can eat zero carbs, but if you're over-consuming protein and fats, you'll never get ripped, which is why monitoring your calorie intake and progress are vital.