Get the low down on ripped nutrition with this comprehensive guide. By Bill Geiger and Eric Velazquez

1. Eat More Frequently

Eating 5-6 small meals a day as opposed to “three squares” causes your metabolism to work constantly. Eating larger meals, however, slows your metabolism and forces leftover calories to be stored as fat.

2. Get Leafy

Those who eat a salad before dinner tend to consume less calories overall during dinner. But don’t sabotage yourself – stay away from high-fat dressings like ranch, blue cheese and Caesar.

3. Eat Protein

Since muscle-building is the fastest route to slim down, make sure your protein consumption is enough to keep up with your weight training. Eat too little and your gains could be slower. Get 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day to help your muscle gains along. Use protein bars and shakes to supplement your whole-food consumption and stave off cravings.

4. Carb Smart

Keep your carbohydrates low to moderate when trying to lose weight. If you rotate low- and high-carb days, you’ll be able to keep your energy levels up while running a caloric deficit. Good, clean, fiber-rich carbs include oats, potatoes, rice and whole-grain bread. Also, limit high-carb drinks like fruit juice to postworkout, when your body needs carbs to speed recovery.

5. Cut Out Soda

Instead, rely on water and other flavored drinks like Crystal Light to get your fluids every day. If you drink one soda per day, you’re adding 1,750 calories per week to your diet. Also, studies have shown that those who regularly consume diet sodas tend to gain weight in the long run because of over-indulgences elsewhere.

6. Skip Happy Hour

Alcohol consumption can temporarily blunt testosterone levels, hindering muscle repair and growth and blunting sexual drive. Also, the calories from alcoholic beverages – in the neighborhood of 100-200 each without cocktail mixers – add up faster than you may think.

7. Slow Down, Turbo!

Successful dieters and fitness buffs will tell you that fast eating and bodyfat go hand in hand because you end up overeating. It takes about 10 minutes for the food in your stomach to signal your brain that you’ve eaten enough.

8. Operation Dinner Out

Be diligent when ordering in a restaurant. Ask to have your meats grilled without oil or grease. Request steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either low-fat dressing or vinaigrette.

9. Calories Out!

The goal in any fat- or weight-loss program should be to burn more calories than you consume. Aim to cut total calorie consumption by about 250 calories per day. That means you’ll have to figure out how many calories you eat in a normal day. The math will pay big dividends later.

10. Avoid Simple Sugars

Too much sugar in your diet can wreak havoc on your metabolism by spiking your insulin response and promoting the accumulation of bodyfat. Immediately after exercise, however, is an ideal time to ingest simple sugars; otherwise, steer clear.

11. Timed Consumption

When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Eat two-thirds of your daily calories before dinner to avoid overeating later.

12. Eat More Fiber

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is essential to health and helps decrease bodyfat. Adults should consume 35-40 grams of fiber per day, with about one-third coming from insoluble fibrous sources. Along with fiber-rich whole grains, consume large amounts of fibrous vegetables, such as broccoli, to attain your daily intake and promote satiety.

13. Prepare

If your workplace serves nothing healthy, tote food or snacks along with you. If you’re at a function where only junk food is served, pre-eat something healthy and adequate in calories to meet your energy needs. That makes it easier to say no to empty calories.

14. Get Yolked

Eating eggs for breakfast was found to reduce hunger and food intake for up to 24 hours.

15. Don’t Be Salty

Excess sodium consumption can make you look softer and cause you to burn less fat. To help you look leaner and strip sodium from your diet, drink more water, cut back on highly processed foods and use potassium chloride to season your foods.

16. Got Milk?

Individuals who consumed high levels of dietary calcium in a 24-hour period had higher rates of fat oxidation that day than those who consumed lesser amounts. So stock up on low-fat versions of cheese, milk and yogurt; if you’re lactose intolerant, choose dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes and almonds.

Bonus: Go Nuts!

Looking for a healthy snack? Eating a handful of almonds helped test subjects lose 62% more weight, 56% more fat and 50% more from their waistline after 24 weeks compared to those who followed the same diet without almonds.