GET LEAN FASTER
The goal: Limit your intake of processed carbs.
The challenge: Eliminating carbs may be a trendy way to lose weight, but it also severely limits the amount of insulin your body releases, which will stunt muscle growth. "In normal proportions, insulin is just as important for triggering the metabolic functions that encourage muscle growth as testosterone is," says Perricone.
Hence, you don't need to expel carbs from your dietary curriculum—they're crucial, in fact. Simply avoid the high-glycemic types that promote insulin secretion.
The plan: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables with glycemic ratings below 50. Cucumbers, plums, pears and peppers are good choices. (For a comprehensive list, go to www.glycemicindex.com.) "These types of foods can give your body enough of an insulin response to have an anabolic effect on the muscles without storing excess body fat," says Perricone.
MAINTAIN ENERGY ALL DAY, EVERY DAY
The goal: Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big ones.
The challenge: Throwing down a large, high-calorie meal raises your glucose levels drastically, causing an increase of free radicals in the bloodstream that can last up to three or four hours. "For your body, this means an inflammatory burst that can affect your serum levels and increase your risk of developing heart disease, among other health problems," says Perricone.
Breaking up those three meals into five throughout the day keeps your blood-sugar levels stable and produces an even flow of energy. But allowing yourself to snack between sit-downs doesn't mean you can ignore the rules of nutritional balance. "Most guys throw out any semblance of smart eating when they eat between their main meals," says Perricone. "Every snack should always include three things: a good source of lean protein, low-glycemic carbohydrates in the form of fruits or vegetables, and an essential fatty acid like olive oil or fresh, unsalted nuts."
The plan: Eat what you would usually reach for, and figure out whether it's composed primarily of a protein, carbs or fat. Then balance it with the other two macronutrients, even if it's just a bite of each. For instance, if you like munching on slices of smoked turkey, add a few celery sticks and a handful of olives. If pears and apples are your thing, combine them with a few grilled shrimp and some almonds.
BEAT THE BLUES
The goal: Avoiding harmful oils.
The challenge: Certain types of artificial fatty acids, notably partially hydrogenated oils, have to first be altered by your body by an essential enzyme called delta-6 desaturates. Never mind the arcane tech stuff, here's what you need to know: It's this very process that triggers inflammation throughout your body. But avoiding oils altogether can have a negative impact on the matter between your ears. "Having little to no fat in the diet has been shown to cause clinical depression," says Perricone. "The brain has to have enough fatty acids in order to function properly."
If you're more concerned with your waistline than your cranium, you can put your mind—and belly—at ease. "As odd as it may sound, you can actually lose body fat by eating the right kinds of fat," says Perricone. "Without enough essential fatty acids in your system, your body tends to retain the very body fat you're hoping to lose."
The plan: Perricone recommends always using olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, instead of vegetable oil, which is a polyunsaturated fat that can make your body more susceptible to free-radical damage. "Olive oil also contains oleic acid—an omega-9 fatty acid—that makes it easier for your body to utilize fatty acids on a cellular level instead of converting them first."