Shortcuts to packing on new muscle mass and getting ripped are peddled constantly in infomercials and online, but sadly, you won’t get there with quick fixes or next-day miracles. You can, however, implement dietary practices that, over time, will guarantee real results. Yes, getting in your best shape requires hard work in the gym, but without the proper nutrition to fuel your gains, you’re dead in the water. Feeding your body the right way is just a matter of repetition—learning and developing the kinds of dietary habits that leave your body with no choice but to respond with size, strength, and detail. By applying the bulk of these 16 strategies to your diet, you’ll find that things really do fall into place automatically, even if they don’t happen overnight.

Adding new muscle to your frame is an admirable pursuit, but no matter how much weight you lift in the gym, you’ll never obtain a tight, shredded look without chipping away at your bodyfat stores. Many people mistakenly think that losing fat is simply a matter of exercising more and eating less, but it’s really about striking a balance. These tips will help you get lean without losing that hard-earned muscle.