As a fitness model and former natural bodybuilder, I have tried every diet trick in the book to get lean while holding on to muscle—carb backloading, carb cycling, ketogenic and even paleo. Each has its pros and cons. There are multiple branches of that tree, and some particular training protocols that need to be observed along the way because a number of factors contribute to real fat burning. It’s essential to learn the fundamental strategies that will speed up your shred.

It’s important to set real expectations—burning fat requires serious dedication and hard work. But while there’s no magic quick-fix solution to getting lean and shredded, there are some basic, simple habits that I found were especailly helpful, and don’t require extreme lifestyle changes. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about how to burn fat and keep it off.