My name is Jeremy Scott; I am an author, speaker, coach, who also happens to be a fitness model. I live “lean” 24/7/365 as part of the whole “fitness model” job description. Being ready for a photo shoot for me means showing up at 5% body fat, ripped and pumped up, ready to go. Often times I will get a call on one week’s notice or less, sometimes they want a photo via text that day to see how you look. Needless to say if you’re not close to your best condition, you’re not getting the job.
Now, before you start thinking I starve myself, work out three times a day and do hours of cardio, I will stop you – I DON’T DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS! I know fitness models who do starve themselves and work out 3 times a day, but that approach violates Rule #3 (below) so I refuse to do it.
I make fitness fit into my life, not the other way around. I take the same coaching approach with all of my clients. I coach them to be able to live lean, happy, and healthy without feeling deprived, starved, and stressed about every little thing when it comes to their eating and training.
What is Lean?
I know for many people the term “lean” is rather general and covers a wide range of body fat. For some, “lean” is 6% and for others, lean is 10%, maybe others it’s 15%.
For the sake of this article and my own personal opinion, let’s consider really “lean” to be anything under 9% body fat for dudes and under 20% for women.
Before I get started, I want to mention that all of us have a ceiling or a range that we allow ourselves to live in throughout the year. For example, when I have obligations; photo shoots, competitions, and things of that nature, I generally like to be around 5-6% body fat at the most. This takes consistent effort, training and mindful eating.
Come Christmas time, depending on how many cookies I stuff in my face post-workout, or if I am looking to make some gains in size, I reach my personal ceiling and probably walk around closer to 8-9% (meaning my abs are still there and defined just a lot thicker than 5% body fat Jeremy)!
For some people, their body fat comfort window might be anywhere from 13-18% or higher. The point is that all of us live our lives in a certain body fat range.
I want to share with you why and how I personally live in the 5-9% range 24/7/365 and how I help my clients live as lean as they like – while enjoying life to the fullest, when it comes to eating and drinking socially. Same tactics and strategies, just applied with different levels of intensity – you can do the same thing.
Lean Rule #1 – Be Consistently Awesome
The biggest factor of all is being consistent with your training, but more importantly, with your nutrition plan. Eating to get lean and stay lean is not always sexy. Over the years, I have settled into an intermittent fasting approach which by itself helps me stay relatively lean just based on the eating pattern. I practice fasting every single day of the year.
I never eat breakfast and under no circumstances do I waiver from this. It helps me stay on a consistent schedule. Even if you are not an intermittent fasting person, you can still stay consistent with your daily macronutrients (or macros) and calories, by you guessed it – planning ahead. Writing down what you are eating and knowing what your macros are for the next day, with apps like myfitnesspal is so simple.
This enables you to plan and prep accordingly.
If it’s important to you, like any goals in your life, you need to be writing them down. Over time you can get more flexible with writing down or not writing down what you are eating, but at first, writing down what you should be eating will be the key to helping you be successful with your diet.
The reality is with most anything, be it training, playing sports, running a business, or in this case eating to stay lean, consistency is key. If you are constantly eating foods that fit your macronutrient and calorie breakdown day after day, week after week, eventually the results will follow.
What doesn’t work is eating perfect for 3 days and then smashing 2 pizzas because you think you earned a cheat. Some people like numbers and rock with the 80/20 rule – “80% of the time you eat on point and 20% you do whatever.” My experience has lead me to believe that if you want to be “lean”, a dietary adherence closer to 90/10 is the correct breakdown. Regardless of the exact percentages, I hope that you see that eating on point a majority of the time is a huge priority.
Lean Rule #2: Eat What You Like
This is so important for long-term success when it comes to living lean 365 days a year.
I remember years ago when I first started competing I would eat fish while dieting for a contest. I hate fish but for some reason I always thought it was what you had to do in order to get really lean
I have been on stage numerous times and on tons of photo shoots over the past 5 years, and not once have I eaten fish at any point unless I really wanted to eat it.
My point here is there’s no one way to get lean, no one magic food. If you hate chicken, don’t eat it, try bison. If you hate broccoli, don’t include it in your meals and instead give asparagus a shot. Find foods that you generally enjoy consuming and put those in your diet. The more you enjoy your diet, the more likely you will be to follow it.
It makes it a lifestyle and not a “diet”, because a “diet” only works for so long – until you crack.
Eating should not have to be terrible. There are so many amazing foods out there and ways to prepare them. You just need to find the combos and foods you love that fit into your own nutritional plan.
When you can make this shift with your food choices, it stops turning into you preparing for something or dieting, and it turns into how you live your life. You love the meals you eat. Being lean is now your lifestyle, not just something you chase for 6-12 weeks and then blow up as soon as the shoot, vacation, pool party or show is over.
Lean Rule #3: Don’t Deprive Yourself
Enjoy your life. When I say that I mean it.
If you want to eat a pizza now and then, or have drinks with your friends, you can. I mentioned the 90/10 rule above. This works for some people, but if you want to take it a step further on this journey, this is what I recommend.
You need to be tracking your macros daily, and understand that you are not just eating for pleasure but also for a goal. I would suggest planning any higher caloric or “cheat” meals for post-workout time. I find most people see better results with this practice. More specifically, I find that having a higher caloric meal after your most challenging training sessions (i.e. days you deadlift and squat) is even better. Being mindful of everything you eat, even your “cheats”, is what takes people to that next level of lean. I tell my clients all the time, “your body is counting macros even when you’re not”, meaning everything we eat and drink counts and ends up somewhere.
With my clients I don’t teach a one-size fits all eating protocol, I teach what works for the individual. If you’re an IIFYM (if it fits your macros) person you can enjoy a few things here and there daily that fit your nutritional numbers and still live lean.
I also have clients who carb cycle, and others who eat low carb with periodic re-feeding of carbohydrates. I have clients who prefer eating a Paleo style diet, and others that eat really consistent all week, expect for one hour a week – yes this means just one time per week; pick one 60-minute window and eat whatever you’d like. Regardless of the eating style, everyone is on track and understands that his or her macros are vital for success.
At the end of the day, you need to do what works for you. I coach clients like the individuals that they are, I coach them to be educated, I coach them on decision making, I coach them to make better daily choices that develop life long habits. That is the secret sauce to living lean.
Being jaw dropping lean or lean enough to see your abs doesn’t mean that you have to live out of Tupperware, eating every 3 hours and skipping every meal or happy hour with your friends. You simply need to stay consistent, track your macros/calories, find healthy foods you enjoy eating, and don’t deprive yourself for too long.
This is a lifestyle. I don’t think in terms of diets or contest preparations and you shouldn’t think in terms of beach season and weddings. I am just trying to live my life large and lean.
We can always eat whatever we want; that’s the beauty of free will. You can always eat cookies, cake, pizza and drink beer or you just choose not to because you have a vision of how you want to look and feel each day.
The choice is yours and hopefully the process that you choose is one that allows you to enjoy your life. Hopefully the 3 lean rules that my clients and I do 24/7/365 help you get where you want to go.
Jeremy is currently enrolling people in his 47 Day Transformation Coaching Program. This is a great program where Jeremy walks you through, day by day, a 47 day diet and training program. All the workouts have videos to go along with them. He helps you set up your calorie and macronutrient levels and then monitors your diet throughout the entire program. Click here to check out the program and success stories from the program.
You can save $50 on the program but using the coupon code DRMIKE50 at checkout. If you enroll in Jeremy’s transformation coaching program, I’ll also give you access to my newest (unreleased) program, 3 Keys to Strong, Fit, & Healthy Living. The deadline to enroll in the Jeremy’s program is 11:59PM this Friday.