Everybody wants to lose fat. Everybody wants to get that ripped, monster look, expose those washboard abs, get some nice definition, lose the jiggle and the wiggle and be all toned and firm. But how do you do it? Exercise won’t get you there by itself–you need excellent nutrition. Today we’re going to look at some of the nutrition fundamentals and see what exactly you should be doing to ensure you’re on the right track.

Slash calories

The basic formula is to burn more calories than you consume, but to still consume enough to fuel your workouts. How do you strike the right balance? Each of the Nutrition Guides that come with workouts such as P90X or Power 90 come with an in depth analysis of this equation, which is too complex to write out here. However, know that you have to track all your small snacks, you have to eat regularly, and you have to be consistent about the high quality of your nutrition. Tracking those calories once you’ve decided how much you should be eating will ensure you’re well on your way to getting ripped.

Stay Hydrated

So simple, yet so often overlooked. Adequate water intake will ensure that you are burning fat and speeding weight loss while helping maintain lean muscle mass. This is because water is a critical component in your metabolism, and having enough will allow your metabolism to function at optimal levels. It helps reduce hunger, flushes out toxins, and aids in muscle growth and repair. Try to consume at least 8 glasses of water or 1 gallon / day.

Eat Protein

You can’t just cut calories and drink water to win the war on fat–you need to ensure that you are eating enough protein. Protein is the most critical element of your diet, as it directly helps you maintain that lean muscle mass as you burn fat, preventing your body from cannibalizing your muscle. Choose high-quality protein sources such as egg whites, white fish, low-fat dairy, lean steak, and skinless chicken and turkey breast. You should aim to eat about 1.5 grams of protein / lb of body weight.

Eat Healthy Fats

The old myth that all fats are bad for you and should be discarded and never looked at again has now been thoroughly disproved, not least because not all fats are made equal. Healthy fats from mono-saturated and omega-3’s can help reduce inflammation, weight loss and most important improve satiety so that you don’t get hungry as quickly. Plus fat is what makes food taste good; if you cut fat right out, you’re more likely to break your diet. As a bonus, healthy fats aid in the recovery process. So eat wisely, but do eat good fats!