Living Lean: How To Stay Ripped And Make Gains 24-7-365

Jeremy Scott
Written By: Jeremy Scott
July 5th, 2013
Updated: October 27th, 2021
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
58.7K Reads
Staying lean and building muscle doesn't have to involve eating foods you hate and depriving your life of all fun. Learn how to look your best and enjoy the process.

I know for many people the term “lean” is rather general and covers a wide rang of body fat. For some “lean” is 6% and for others lean is 10%.

For the sake of this article and my own personal opinion let’s consider lean to be anything under 9% body fat.

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% at the most. This takes consistent effort, training and precise 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 5-6% Jeremy)!

For some people that 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 am here to tell you today why and how I personally live in the 5-9% range 24-7-365 and still enjoy my life to the fullest when it comes to eating and drinking socially.

Jeremy Scott3 Major Keys to Staying Lean and Making Gains 24-7-365

Staying Consistent - Key #1

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.

Most of you know I come from the world of intermittent fasting, which by itself helps me stay relatively lean just based on the eating pattern itself. 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 a intermittent fasting person, you can still stay consistent with your macros day after day by - you guessed it; planning ahead. Writing down and knowing what your macros are for the next day. This enables you to plan accordingly.

If it’s important to you, like any goals in your life, you need to be writing them down at first anyway. Over time you will just know but at first writing down what you should be eating in advance will help you be successful.

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 real, clean, whole foods that fit your macro nutrient 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. If you want to break it down numbers wise, think 90/10. 90% of the time you are 100% perfect and 10% you can enjoy whatever you wish. I find most people dominate and are happy, healthy, and leaner on average if they follow the 90/10 protocols.

Eat What You Like - Key #2

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 during contest prep. I hated fish but for some reason I always thought it was a must….NOT TRUE. I have been on stage numerous times over the past 3 years and not once have I eat fish at any point unless I really wanted to eat it.

The point is there is no one way to get lean, no one magic food. If you hate chicken don’t eat it. If you hate broccoli don’t include it in your meals. Try bison, give asparagus a shot…find foods that you generally enjoy consuming.

It makes it a lifestyle and not a “DIET” or “CONTEST PREP” because that only works for so long until you crack. Eating should have not 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.

At that point it stops turning into you preparing for something or dieting it turns into how you live your life. You love the meals you eat and your hitting your macros. Being lean is now your lifestyle not just something you chase for 6-12 weeks and then blow up as soon as the shoot or the show is over.

Don’t Deprive Yourself - Key #3

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 rules above which works for most people, but if you want to take it a step further on this journey check this out. I am all about eating something you love at least once a week, or drinking something depending on your preference.

Now I know people who eat perfect for 10 weeks for a show and the minute they get off the stage they tank it. They blow up and gain a shit ton of horrible weight back in a week.

Does this sound healthy to you? No.

Jeremy Scott

It blows my mind and I can’t understand it. Depriving yourself of everything only to eat all of it when the show ends. So my suggestion is on your journey to get lean don’t deprive yourself.

Pick just one - and yes this means just one time per week; pick one 60 minute window and eat whatever you'd like. Yes, even when you are trying to get peeled like an onion take a 60 minute window and tank it if you really need to. Pizza, ice cream, whatever is calling your name.

Just make sure you limit it to 60 minutes. This way you get the urge out of the way and you can be refocused moving forward. It works best for me post workout after a killer training day – example heavy legs, back day I like to do personally.

If you have been 100% clean for 6 and a half days on a lower carb plan and end up packing in 300g carbs in your 60-minute window so be it. Odds are, depending on your training and overall nutrition plan, it might just help you out more than you think and act as your re-feed day, depending on what type of food you consume.

Stay Lean, Make Gains

Again these are tips to stay in your “lean” window 24-7-365. So if you are trying to get ripped to the bone, like 5% body fat, or trying to put on some size while staying lean, like 9% - these tips should help keep you on track and still living a life.

Being shredded and putting on size doesn’t mean 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, find clean foods you enjoy eating, and don’t deprive yourself for too long.

This is a lifestyle guys. I don’t think in terms of diet or contest prep. I am just trying to live my life large and lean.

Hopefully with these simple keys you can do the same!

Ben Streyffeler
Posted on: Sun, 06/01/2014 - 15:44

I'm currently about 16% BF by the standards of measure we use in my line of work. I recently had my third surgery on my spine and am finally back to lifting and running again. I would like to get down to 10% BF and maintain. I normally eat as healthy as I can and I exercise at least five times a week. However, my workouts have been solely to get my strength back after nearly a year of only walking. Do you have any advice? I have been a fan of Miscle & Fitness Magazine since 97' when I was a young Marine and not reinforced with titanium. I still have a few years left before I retire and I want to maintain my health and strength so I can keep up with these young bucks. S/F

Posted on: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 07:30

Hi Jeremy,
Firstly i'd like to emphasise that you have been an absolute miracle to my life!!! I was stuck in the boring 3 meals a day approach and this has had a pretty negative affect on me since i stopped training for about a year. I was a healthy 200lb (6 foot 2 just like u), and after stopping training and stopping eating the 3 hour approach I gained an increased weight of 250lb. Mostly fat :(

But since discovering the intermittent fasting this has really boosted my ambition to get my life back on track. Being a muslim we do fasting for a month every year where we drink or eat NOTHING around 20 hours a day and this approach was good this year as i heavily concentrated on nice clean food and this was effective. As soon as ramadhan was over i gained all the weight back as i went back to my usual 3 hour eating frequency. But then discovering your idea about intermittent fasting I have tested it out and it seems somewhat a good training and eating protocol.

My early morning training empty stomach has been excellent and I am gaining strength and size quicker than ever and also feeling very active.

I would like to ask is there any personal ideas you can give which you personally do as I wish to boost the effectiveness of my intermittent fasting.

I'm drinknin 4+ litres of water a day,
Calories are on maintenance, slightly above maintenance on workout days
weight training 4 days a week
16/8 and sometimes 18/4 hour fast windows
eating mostly clean, the odd burger once a week
pretty active during fast.

I would appreciate any feedback or comments you would like to state.


Posted on: Tue, 07/09/2013 - 14:32

I lost 25 pounds just by cutting out sugar from my diet, I still eat whatever i want (except for sugar of course), and my body fat is at a respectable 13-16%

p.s. And i'm 36

Jeremy Scott
Posted on: Sat, 07/06/2013 - 09:12

@ Ben - getting in the total amount of calories isn't as hard as it once was for me. I don't really do morning cardio fasted, maybe sprints on a Sunday - in fact if I ever have time to split my training I typically train (strength train heavy) around 1pm or 2pm on most days and would run through an aerobic session later in the day if my schedule allowed. I will almost always eat my 1st meal post workout and just eat anywhere between 2-6pm or 2-10pm depending on my schedule and macro goals for the day. I am typically eating 1-2 large meals in that time period in addition to nutrients coming protein shakes as well. Hope this helps

Posted on: Sat, 07/06/2013 - 00:18

How do you make muscle gains by skipping breakfast every morning? How do you make up enough calories to gain muscle? Do you do morning fasted cardio? Is this why you skip breakfast?

Posted on: Sat, 07/06/2013 - 10:32

Ben, skipping vs. eating breakfast is irrelevant. As long as you're hitting your caloric and macronutrient levels for the day then meal frequency and timing becomes a personal preference. Bottom line, eat when you're hungry, stop when you're satisfied, and track your calories/macros if you're trying to achieve a particular training/physique goal.

Posted on: Sat, 07/06/2013 - 00:15

How do take in enough calories per day to see muscle gains? Do you do morning fasted cardio? This is the only legitimate reason I see to skip breakfast.

Posted on: Fri, 07/05/2013 - 22:38

A very insightful article. However, what's the deal with getting a chiseled core? I have read hundreds of articles and tried numerous variations of exercises to see which fit, but still struggling. My first two rows of the abdominals are defined, but column wise there isn't definition. Also my lower abdominal region starting from the navel and heading off into the pubic area has no definition whatsoever. I know there aren't magic solutions, but could anyone suggest something?
Hope I made sense

Posted on: Fri, 07/05/2013 - 20:40

Hmmm... common sense plus practical tips for getting and staying lean. Yeah right, like that will ever work. I WANT THE MAGIC PILL!

But seriously, it's a great article and brings realistic perspective for those looking to lose unwanted weight.

Mike Rollo
Posted on: Fri, 07/05/2013 - 19:10

I think this is a great article! So few people right about being healthy, but more importantly, living life!!! It is about being consistent, but still having fun!! Thanks!