Here's the equation, burn more calories than you consume or essentially exercise more and eat less. It's that simple, right? Well no. If it was that easy you could just hire an accountant to run the numbers and as long as you were adherent you would have a beach bod in no time. Unfortunately, the traditional model of weight loss is faulty at best. The truth is effective and sustained FAT loss is achieved not by using a calculator, but by making true lifestyle habits, and a concerted effort to live healthier. If looking and being healthier is your goal, your mantra should be to get healthy to lose fat, instead of losing fat to get healthy. So where do you start? While losing body fat may seem sometimes pretty complex, I will stick the the good 'ole K.I.S.S. principle. I will attempt to make this losing body fat thing simple. Since it is well know that we as humans are creatures of habit, why don't I make a novel proposition; 5 habits to start developing today to create a healthier, leaner you. 1. Eat Frequently, Every 3-4 Hours if Possible There are many benefits from eating frequent smaller snacks or meals as it relates to improving your body composition. Eating in this manner controls blood sugar better than fewer larger meals, helps maintain or stimulate growth of lean muscle mass, and allows for more nutrient dense food choices such as lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. More frequent meals also allow you to obtain adequate calories over the course of the day without having to load up at any given table visit. 2. Eat Complete Proteins at Each Meal Complete proteins are ones that contain a full spectrum of amino acids needed by human beings. Examples of complete proteins are beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy, and most protein powders. Eating complete proteins at each meal allows for balanced blood sugar, maintenance and stimulation of lean muscle mass, and an increase in metabolism due to proteins higher Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF). TEF is the measure of how much caloric energy it takes to digest a meal, and proteins require a significantly larger amount of energy to digest then fats and carbohydrates. This strategy also helps individuals consume an optimal amount of protein, which otherwise may prove to be difficult with less frequent feedings. For those concerned of consuming too much protein and it's link to kidney issues, don't fret as these traditional claims need only apply to individuals with pre diagnosed kidney disease. 3. Eat vegetables at each meal, and some fruits too Recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption have risen to 9-13 servings a day! This would be pretty hard to get without eating them at each meal. Beyond the benefits you may already know of fruits and vegetables, you may not know that they also provide something called an alkaline load. This balances out the pH of our bodies, which are fed many acidic things such as grains, and even proteins. This plays an integral role in preventing bone loss and muscle wasting. Try consuming 3 vegetables for every fruit you consume, and if you have a considerable amount of weight to lose, think 5 to 1. This has to due with the higher sugar content and subsequent higher glycemic index of most fruits in contrast to vegetables. Also, think variety in colors, as this will bring a wide array of micronutrients and phytochemicals to your diet. 4. Eat starchier carbohydrates after exercise if fat loss is the goal The idea with this strategy is to essentially earn your starchy Carbs through exercise. Examples of these would be whole wheats/grains, potatoes, and rice within 1-2 hours of the exercise session. Although these still are better choices than more highly processed carbohydrates such as juices, cereals, and cookies, they still should be limited if fat loss is the ultimate goal. This has to do mostly with controlling blood sugar and insulin, the hormone that diets should focus on controlling. 5. Remember to consume healthy fats While given a bad rap in the past couple of decades, it becoming more well known that fats are essential and can aid in fat loss. Adding in fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil improve your health and your physique. Also, cooking with fats such as coconut oil add great taste to your food and have been proven to trim your waistline. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fattier fish such as salmon, fish oil supplements, and to some extent in seeds like flax and chia, have also shown their merit in improving cardiovascular disease markers, depression, skin, and body composition as well. So there you have it! A stepwise approach to dietary success: 5 steps to a leaner, healthier you. Just think foods in their natural state. If it's in a box, has ingredients that twist your tongue, or goes through miles of conveyor belts and chemical modifications it's best to keep them out of your shopping cart and your daily menu. Don't be afraid to implement one habit at a time. Remember, as with anything in life, change is relative. You may be doing most of these habits now and only need a few changes and to drop a few body fat percentages, or you may be at square one and have a ways to go in order to mimic that high school photo. Either way, after mastering these habits you'll be leaner, happier, full of self confidence, and enjoying a longer life. Adam Bisek is a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach practicing in Minneapolis, MN. Certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) he brings a high level of intensity and passion to early morning bootcamps and a dedication to results with his personal training and weight loss coaching clientele. Adam qualified for national competition in Men's Physique with a 3rd Place finish at the NPC Badger State (Oct 2011), and will be competing this fall for his pro card.