Tag: Lean Muscle
The human body is built and rebuilt everyday from and by proteins.
Protein plays an important role in any fat loss program. To lose weight you must restrict the number of calories you consume. However, when you cut down on what you eat, the body starts using muscle protein as energy – so it’s important to get enough protein from your diet to cover these losses. Among other important functions, protein is essential for
stimulating cell growth and helping to repair body tissue. Foods rich in protein help the body build lean muscle and can be converted into glucose for energy. Because this method of
energy is more time consuming for the body, the body burns more calories digesting proteins, and does not convert as readily to stored fat. (As with food rich in carbohydrates and
fats) This is one reason why high protein, low carbohydrate diets are popular for those attempting to lose weight and build muscle. And protein does a better job of filling you up and keeping you full longer than carbohydrates or fats.
Any type of exercise or physical training increases the body’s need for additional protein which is why athletes and those with very active lifestyles generally consume a higher daily intake of protein. Since protein is the building blocks for new muscle tissue, it is a staple for anybody (or any body builder) wanting to pack on a little (or a lot) of mass. Training alone will not make the body grow. And a lack of quality protein will result in a loss of muscle tissue and tone, as well as reduction in the function of your immune system, a slower recovery rate, and a lack of energy. If you fail to get enough protein on a daily basis, you’ll quickly lose strength and slow down your metabolic rate. The body will also breakdown
muscle and conserve protein for basic, life sustaining needs and may not perform other duties such as healing and immune function if protein intake is not sufficient.
Proteins are found in all varieties of foods; however, some forms of protein are more healthful and beneficial than others. Choose foods that are complete proteins and do not contain high saturated fats or sugars. Fish and poultry are excellent choices of high protein foods, as are foods in the legume family including: beans and lentils. Eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt (and other dairy); as well as various nuts and seeds are also protein rich choices. Red meats contain a great deal of protein, but take care to choose lean cuts of meat, avoiding the extra fat.
A Whey protein shake makes for excellent snack or a meal replacement for those trying to lose weight. Most protein powders mix easily with milk, water or juice and will quickly add 25 or more grams of protein a day. And shakes are easy to make and very portable, making it simple to get your protein on the go. Here is a “recipe” that combines 3 of my all time favorite flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, and Coconut!
Coco- Mocha Protein Shake
1 scoop chocolate whey protein
1 tsp instant coffee granules
~8 oz of coconut water (or unsweetened coconut milk)
ice (3-4 cubes)
Blend all ingredients for 1-2 minutes in a personal blender : AWESOME!!
The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.
–A couple weeks before my last Body Building competition in 2009, I weighed 100 lbs with a body fat ~11%. I was hungry and exhausted from extreme dieting for over 16 weeks. My entire life revolved around insanely meticulous calorie and nutrient counting and timing. I spent HOURS every week preparing, carefully weighing and packing each meal, and was (many would say) obsessive about eating the exact calculated ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats at precisely the right time of day. As my weekly caloric intake decreased, so did
my energy and I had less to put into my training or more importantly … to my family, friends and work.
—Today, I weigh 115 lbs and maintain a body fat of ~16%. Eating healthy is still a top priority in my life. I do not allow my diet to control me, although I am quite strict and careful about what I put into my body. .. but it is a process that still requires self control and discipline. And YES, I still carry my cooler with me almost everywhere I go… (Some habits never die!) These days however, I enjoy a variety of foods, and feel freedom to experiment with new recipes and ingredients without depriving my body of the nutrients it needs… or worrying that I may eat too many carbs or not enough protein at any given meal. I go to restaurants, and cook-outs and cocktail parties again.
After each body building season, I was nervous about gaining too much weight….I liked looking lean and muscular. But what I learned was this: All this new energy allowed me to focus more intensely on my lifting. … AND I quickly found out:
More Energy = More Intense workouts = EVEN MORE MUSCLE
Yes, I know, this is NOT rocket science. But initially I was so worried about that damn scale. Just like SO MANY of us. Why do we so obsess over the scale? What exactly is “too much weight” … We need to stop focusing on the scale but on our own unique body composition. Today, I weigh more than I have in years, but I wear exactly the same size clothes, though I have stronger, more athletic physique. My body fat percentage is in the excellent range for someone who is almost 50 years old. My energy and my disposition are better than ever… I feel (and look) healthier than I have in a long time. (Most days) I am not obsessed by the mirror, or the scale. And as I get stronger and continue to build more muscle…. I continue to burn unwanted body fat.
So now I look back on the last year or two with an entirely different perspective. Body building gave me purpose and a goal and provided a direction and an accountability I needed in
my life. It is a part of me but it doesn’t define me anymore. I’m not saying that I am done body building; I honestly don’t know. The competition circuit is amazing fun and has given me the privilege to befriend some really spectacular people. I have great respect for the athletes and the sport. I appreciate how difficult the journey to the stage is. So, it’s not so much that I have fallen out of love with bodybuilding but I’ve got a new itch. I have fallen in love again… with power lifting. The dark side, as some of my new lifting friends joke. I am a student again and I love all of it –from the scraped up shins to my overly callused hands. You not only have to have physical strength, you have to be tough to be a power lifter. There is no place for fear. You have to overcome your fears and your weaknesses. You have to not be afraid to fail or afraid of pain because there will be many failed attempts and a lot of pain. So here I go again pushing to my very limits, taking on new challenges, not only in body, but also in mind and spirit. I’m on a journey again. I am chasing numbers again, but this time around, the numbers I chase have nothing to do with counting carbs. All I know is that while on this journey I’m determined to become the best lifter I can be…
Yes, I’ve fallen to the dark side. And I’m all in. Some may even say I’m obsessed.
“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”
… and build more muscle in less time with supersets.
Strength training is an important component of fitness, but when done improperly it can result in muscle imbalance and result in injury. The effectiveness of a workout also depends on what you want to achieve in regards to your fitness. There are many ways to combine muscle groups to get the most out of your workouts. One popular technique is to train opposing (antagonistic) muscle groups together especially if the goal is to improve muscularity (muscle tone) and endurance.
Opposing muscle groups are your chest and back or your biceps and triceps, for example. (Think front/back or inner/outer). But because the triceps support the muscles of the chest, you could also consider the triceps to be a secondary opposing muscle group of the back muscles and train them together. Other examples would include training quadriceps with hamstrings, or abdominals and erector spinae. (lower back) in the same session.
PRIMARY ANTAGONIST MUSCLE GROUPS
4) Abdominals/Lower Back
Opposing muscle workouts are most effective by doing supersets.
A superset is performing two exercises in a row without stopping (or with very minimal rest) for a prescribed amount of sets. An example of this type of superset would be doing one set of bench press (for your chest) followed immediately by a set of pull ups (for your back). When you first start doing these, you may find that endurance is a problem but stamina will improve with time.
Let’s say you choose to train your chest and biceps during one workout. Because the biceps are involved minimally in exercises for the chest, you will not be pre-exhausting your biceps. The result is that you will be able to train both your chest and your biceps with the maximum amount of concentration, effort and weight and because each muscle group gets the maximum amount of rest in between sets, you may ultimately be able to lift more, and thus over time, increase strength.
Opposing muscle supersets are a very effective training technique for many other reasons too:
- Saves Time
- Offers a greater challenge than traditional workouts
- Creates variety and encourages new muscle growth
- Eliminates the natural tendency to rest too long between set
So when you find yourself crunched for time, instead of skipping exercises, or reducing the number of sets or even ditching your workout completely… opt for super-setting for a new challenge. With super setting, you can complete the same 60 minute workout in 40 minutes… and with increased intensity! You will recruit more muscle fibers, over different muscle groups, in a shorter period of time. WOW!
Training opposing muscles may also prevent injuries.
This is because the muscles that work together are in balance with one another rather than one over powering another. Working opposing muscles combined with stretching the muscles that have been worked prevents one muscle from becoming significantly tighter than it’s opposer and thus injury is less likely. When a muscle is worked it becomes tighter and the tendons connecting those muscles to the bone also become thicker and stronger. When muscle imbalance occurs it is important to strengthen the opposing muscle and also to stretch the tight muscles. So if you want to prevent injury and keep muscles in balance, train opposing muscles and always stretch after exercise.
“I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds”
Building muscle strength is really good for you. And if you’re a woman, I promise you’re not going to end up looking freakishly masculine by lifting weights. There are many documented benefits to strength training, which include toning your muscles, increasing bone density, decreasing your weight, and decreasing your resting blood pressure… not to mention how much better you will look and how much more energized you will feel!
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make however is doing too much too soon. Think of the first few weeks of your
program as a prep-time; a period in which you concentrate on learning proper technique and form, which exercises to do, which muscle groups to work and how much weight to use. I’m going to say this part again… use this time to learn about proper form and get into the habit of regular strength training.
An important part of strength training is to be consistent. Everything is life that is good requires efforts to achieve. You want results? You will have to work at it for at least 6 months. Set yourself this timeline and keep to it. At the end of the 6 months, you will see results if you are consistent.
You can begin your program in a gym or at home… the most important factor to making improvements to your health is that you start… somewhere.
There are hundreds of websites that offer general guidance on getting started and although very helpful, for a newcomer it all can also be overwhelming, contradictory (depending on who is giving the advice) and therefore a bit frustrating. Books and DVD’s also offer fundamental information and starter workout programs to follow.
There is probably no better option than an actual, live person to help you get your program going. A coach or trainer will listen to your goals, note your limitations and observe and help you with proper form. Most gyms offer complimentary orientation sessions to new members or you can always enlist the services of a trainer to help you design a program that is right for you and sets you up for success!
Before you begin your strength training exercises, it is important that you always warm up at least 5-10 minutes. The warm-up will help to prevent injury. The goal of warming up is to increase blood flow to the muscles you are about to exercise.
A sample beginning routine would include a total body circuit program that would incorporate 2 sets per exercise using a weight where 10-15 repetitions can be completed, with the last 2-3 repetition considered “challenging”. Start off with 2-3 days of strength training per week and focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups. For example: you would complete 1 exercise each for Chest, Back, Shoulder and Arms, and 2 exercises for Legs. Allow your body to recover a day or two between workouts.
As your conditioning improves, and your fitness level increases, you may wish to incorporate an additional training day and break down your routine into an upper body workout one day and lower body on another. Periodically, you will need to change up and vary your exercises and you should be increasing the weight you lift every two to three weeks in order to prevent plateaus. If your body isn’t being challenged, you won’t make any gains. Ideally, you should be bettering yourself every time you train. You may not increase the weight you lift every time—(if you can, that’s great)–but you will be able to increase the number of reps or sets that you do. Strive to reach a new level of fitness every single time you lift.
The best workout is one where your muscles feel worked, and you feel satisfied with your progress. If you’re ever in pain, don’t ignore it. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and it should never be ignored.
The human body is not designed for inactivity.
You and I need to exercise to get healthy to maintain good health. Period.
It is hard to admit that we are getting fat as a nation. While it may be hard to admit in words, it is not hard to see the evidence as we look around. And it is no longer just one particular group that need to make lifestyle changes, it’s every where, every demographic…and every age group; even our children.
But, What many don’t realize is that even if you are not overweight, exercise has numerous benefits that are important for maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Besides a general increase in overall quality of life, here are 10 documented benefits of exercise.
- Lower mortality – a daily 2 mile walk can add years to a life over that of a sedentary person’s life.
- Improves cardiovascular health – Heart becomes more efficient through exercise and heart rates decline (good cholesterol – LDL decreased).
- Has a positive effect on blood pressure and reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (Bad cholesterol –HDL increased).
- Reduced risk of certain types of cancer; particularly colon.
- Lower risk of diabetes because regular exercise lowers blood glucose levels; which help to control blood sugar levels.
- Regular exercise helps in weight control as well as favorable effect on body fat distribution away from abdominal area and aides in bringing dangerous body fat levels down to a healthy range.
- Exercise (especially weight bearing) can contribute to optimal bone density and help protect against osteoporosis.
- Physical activity counters anxiety and depression, improves mood and the ability to cope with stress. Exercise releases chemical substances called endorphins that work as an effective anxiety reliever.
- Moderate activity enhances immune system and aides in resistance to colds and infections.
- Exercise improves balance, strength and flexibility – all which canreduce risk of falling.
BOTTOM LINE: Get up and move. Leave all of the excuses. A little exercise not only does your body and mind good…. It may just give back to you much more than you put into it.
In good health,
Getting really lean is an art form…and a science. It is NOT about starving yourself. In fact starving yourself would be the worst thing you could do.
The months before entering a physique competition are extremely difficult and require plenty of discipline and perseverance. Eating the correct foods in the proper proportions and at the appropriate time is vital to getting your physique primed for the stage.
The information presented here assumes the reader has a certain level of nutritional knowledge.
HOW MANY CALORIES EVERY DAY?
Calories: A VERY general rule of thumb is 16 x your bodyweight. So if your goal is to weigh 125 pounds that would be 2000 calories a day intake to maintain a bodyweight of 125. To lose weight eat clean and eat with a slight calorie deficit, about 200 to 300 calories below your maintenance level. Over time you will figure out the correct balance and will make adjustments accordingly.
PROTEIN: Eating the correct amount of protein is PARAMOUNT to helping you build and maintain a muscular physique, since proteins are the building blocks of muscle in your body. You should eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight EVERY day. Protein should be consumed at every meal.
CARBS: Fifty to sixty percent of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates until about three months before your competition. At this point, carbohydrate intake begins to be cut to 20 to 40 percent. Eating the right types of carbs will make all the difference in your physique. Whole-grain carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains and quinoa digest slowly in your body. As weeks progress and the number of allowable carbohydrate grams is reduced, you will be getting more of your carbohydrate calories from veggies and limiting fruits to 2-3servings daily.
FATS: Fat intake will be reduced when preparing for a physique competition. Most people can consume up to 30 percent of calories from healthy fats until about the three-month mark, then as weeks progress, gradually reduce fat intake to 10 to 20 percent.
You need to keep an eating log and record your food intake so you can make accurate adjustments. If you are very active you may have to eat more. If you are naturally obese and hold onto body fat easily you may have to eat less. The only way to really know (how a certain level of food intake will affect you) is keep an eating log and discover what effect eating a certain amount of calories for a month has on you. Ask yourself: Did I get leaner? Did I lose muscle? Did I gain fat? Then make adjustments.
** Remember metabolisms vary significantly from person to person – I am able to keep my healthy fats at ~25% during the leaning phase. I focus more on gradually cutting carbohydrate calories, and increasing cardio sessions as the weeks progress. I am also not as “carb sensitive” as some.
This basic template for macronutrient ratio’s works for me: Protein: 35-40%, Carbs 35-40%, Fats 25%. As I begin to cut carbohydrate calories, I may gradually increase protein, (to keep calories up) depending on the progress I am making.
Basic rules to lose body fat:
Eat every 3 hours. Six small meals a day. Avoid foods that spike your insulin levels (like bread, sugar, and pasta) or foods high in fat (bacon, cakes, butters, fatty meats). Focus on high fiber foods (vegetables, whole wheat, fruits) and protein foods (whey protein, egg whites, fish, lean chicken, low fat cottage cheese, and meal replacements). This increases your metabolic rate. Remember to consume 200-300 calories a day below maintenance level. Also eating every 3 hours tricks your body into thinking YOU ARE NOT DIETING (constant blood sugar level) so it does not store fat (go into famine mode).
As weeks progress, gradually decrease carbs without cutting calories. Eat more vegetables and more protein. Low carb intake lowers insulin levels, you store very little fat, and activate fat burning mechanisms in the body. Keep the calories up though. As you begin to decrease carbs, you will also increase cardio.
When your metabolism slows (from dieting), eat more for 1 to 3 days. Usually one day will do it. Exercise more (increase intensity) as well. Get your metabolism moving again. Usually 300 to 400 calories above maintenance will do it. Carb cycling works well for me when dieting. I incorporate 1 – 2 “re-feed” days per week; with the 2 higher carb days falling on the most strenuous training days (eg squat, leg days). Having these 2 days also helps to restore depleted energy stores (physically and mentally!)
Water and Supplements
Water is one of the most important components of a competition diet and should not be overlooked. Aim to drink at least a gallon of water every day leading up to the competition. Avoid alcohol consumption. Certain supplements can aide you in the preparation phase as well. Consider taking supplements such as a multivitamin and mineral; antioxidants, including green tea; branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s); glutamine and glucosamine.
Train your body to handle real-life situations.
Functional fitness focuses on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in a restrictive posture created by a gym machine. The key to functional exercise is integration. The primary goal of functional training is to transfer the improvements in strength achieved in one movement to enhancing the performance of another movement by affecting the entire neuromuscular system. It’s about teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently as conventional weight training does.. Functional strength training is not just done to improve your appearance, but to help improve performance in everyday activities. Exercises that
isolate joints and muscles are training muscles, not movements; which results in less functional improvement. For example, squats will have a greater transfer effect on improving an
individual’s ability to rise from a sofa than knee extension.
Train movements instead of muscles. If you’re training the movement, the muscle will follow.!
Functional strength training (FST) is becoming more popular because it is so practical and is an ideal way to help maximize sports performance. The goal of FST is to develop athleticism. Athletic movements like running, jumping, throwing and lifting are enhanced. Sound technique and optimum speed with movements that are within the context of your sport are further developed. Functional movements offer an effective method in improving balance, coordination, and stability as well as agility, speed, power and strength. FST should supplement traditional weight lifting and is not intended to replace it. It provides variety and additional benefits that directly transfer to common sport movements. And because movements are neuromuscular in that they require the power of both your brain and your brawn, the best exercises to increase functional strength simply involve practicing the movement or motion you want to get better at. Basically, exercises should mimic the movements of the sport while working against resistance. Weight training for strength may not enhance the endurance or strength required for a golfer. A golfer needs to work on core strength, and training involving swinging. A runner, on the other hand, should enhance local muscular endurance.
Standard resistance training machines are of limited use for functional training – their fixed patterns rarely mimic natural movements, and they focus the effort on a single muscle group, rather than engaging the stabilizers and peripheral muscles.
- Body Weight
- Resistance Bands and Loops
- Cable Machines (Pulleys)
- Exercise Balls
- Medicine Balls
Strength training isn’t just about improving your physique. Incorporating Functional Strength Training can enhance overall well-being and help you achieve your potential, no matter the overall fitness goal.
Get fit. Lose the excuses…and those membership dues.
No money. No time. No babysitter. Too busy. Too self conscious. These are the reasons given for NOT joining a gym. But we all WANT to be fit and healthy. Guess what? You don’t need a gym to get an amazing workout. And you don’t need to fight crowds to wait for fancy, expensive equipment. You can get fit and healthy….at home!
Exercise should be made convenient and not made to rule your life… With a few simple, inexpensive aides, you will be on your way to a better you. These aides will add versatility to your at home training sessions. Adding variety to your workouts will keep you engaged and interested, and keeps your muscles guessing and challenged so that you will make progress.
So swing by your local Wal-mart or Target and pick up one or all of the following:
Get back to basics with the 3 B’s…..
Bands offer constant tension on the muscle, both in the positive and the negative part of the movement. Bands incorporate more stabilizer muscles to keep the band in alignmentthroughout each exercise, adding a different dynamic to the same old moves. This helps with coordination and balance as you engage more muscle groups. They also offer more variety than cables for example because you can create resistance from all directions – overhead, below, sideways, etc.
- You can perform the same exercises as you do with free weights–the difference lies in positioning the band. For example, stand on the band and grip the handles for bicep curls or overhead presses. Or attach it to a door and do lat pulldowns or tricep pushdowns. The possibilities are endless and you’ll find there are a multitude of exercises available to you.
- Bands range from $6 – $20, depending on how many you buy. Most bands are color coded, according to tension level. (It’s best to get at least 3, as different muscle groups require different levels of resistance).
- And, they are easily packed away in a suitcase so that you can get your workout in even when traveling.
Exercise balls challenge you by placing your body in an unstable environment. They are among the most versatile (and my favorite) exercise aides in that they help to improve core strength as well as strengthen abs and back. When you lie or sit on the ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to keep you from falling off. Add an exercise to that (like a chest or shoulder press or crunch), and you’ve just increased the intensity of the movement.
Use the stability ball as your “weight bench”. This adds difficulty to the movement as well as engages the legs, butt and abs.
Before you buy a ball, make sure it’s the right size for your height. To test it, sit on the ball and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees. Again, you can find a stability ball for under $20.
**When shopping for fitness balls, you may also consider purchasing a medicine ball. A medicine ball is a weighted, hollow ball that varies in size from the size of a volley ball (lighter) to a basketball (heavier).
You don’t need a whole rack of weights to supplement your home workouts. 2 -3 sets of dumbbells will enable you to get in a full body workout; especially if used in conjunction with a stability ball and/or bands. For every exercise you can do with a traditional barbell, you can do a similar exercise (and more) with a set of dumbbells. Use the heavier set for exercises in which you can manage more weight — squats and lunges for example; and lighter weight for exercises that work best with comparatively lighter weights — raises, rows, curls, etc.
For the exercise suggestions that follow, remember that many times the stability ball can replace a weight bench.
All of those ab crunches you’ve been doing will make your abdominal muscles stronger. But they will not whittle away belly fat.
Our hormones determine where we will store fat in our bodies. Fat is lost in a pattern dependent upon genetics, sex and age. Overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in any particular area.
We all have our trouble spots. For women this is typically in the hips and buttocks; the tummy; and/or the upper arms. Unfortunately, the first place we store fat is also the last place it leaves when we begin to diet and exercise.
But training one particular area of your body to reduce fat (also known as spot training) does not work. So if you have a large tummy, then simply doing ab crunches and leg raises will not result in a flat stomach. Here is why. Fat loss occurs in the body as a whole. Unfortunately, the fat in a particular area isn’t governed by the muscles in that same area. So if you want to lose belly fat for example, you have to have a fat loss strategy that burns fat throughout your body.
You must always treat your body as a whole which means changing your diet to a whole food diet (healthy eating) and exercising your whole body.
The answer is to combine weighted compound exercises that work all of the major muscle groups (like squats, rows, and presses to name a few) with high intensity cardio.
High intensity cardio releases fat burning hormones, and revs up the metabolism in a way that slow, steady state, and long duration cardio does not. Cardio raises the heart rate and determines how many calories are burned. Strength training also helps to raise the metabolism, as well as build strong muscles. The more muscle you have, the more calories will be burned. This is why strength and cardio exercise should be a part of your regimen to achieve the maximum fat burning results.
And if you’re serious about reducing your overall body fat percentage; you must incorporate a healthy and well balanced diet. This is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and grains. This does NOT mean to starve yourself. If you deprive yourself of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) you will be counterproductive in your efforts to lose weight and body fat. Essentially, you’ll end up slowing down your metabolism and stopping your fat loss before it even starts.
So, if you are ready to lose that excess fat, you can’t spot reduce it away. Spot training does not work. Instead, focus on fat loss in the body as a whole. The best way to lose fat from one particular area is to lose fat overall, then concentrate on toning individual parts of your body
Knowing your body’s daily caloric needs is an important step in adopting a realistic diet and exercise plan that will help you reach and maintain your desired healthy weight.
To determine your energy needs specific to your age, weight and activity level, click on the attached link to calculate your daily calories. This is a basic guideline… Remember, no two individuals’ body composition are identical and activity levels vary for each person. But this number will provide an important starting point.
You now have a baseline number of calories to maintain your current weight. Next, determine how many calories you are taking in. This must be done before you modify or make adjustments towards your desired weight goal. Keeping a food journal or logging on to a web based calorie tracker such as www.fitday.com can assist in this task. I suggest you
track your calories for at least one week. Write everything down, including sodas and alcohol. Many people are surprised when they compare the numbers. They are surprised to find they are not taking in enough nutrition for their body. As a result, their metabolism has slowed and the weight loss has stopped. If you find that your total caloric intake is too low for your current weight, you must gradually up your intake some before you begin to cut again. This alone will jumpstart your metabolism.
This might sound scary, but you will have to eat more, to burn more….
And you will need to exercise (especially weight bearing to increase lean muscle). By restricting calories too much, the body responds by holding on… or going into “starvation mode” and will lock up from fat burning mode. It will store as much adipose (fat) tissue as possible .
It is not just enough to eat the proper foods, but nutrient timing is key to revving a stalled metabolism. To keep “the furnace” burning, it is optimal to eat small frequent meals (every three hours). By “fueling” up frequently with “Clean” and nutritious foods, you will prime your body to build lean muscle and in the process lose the unwanted fat. You also will not feel deprived because you will have something in your stomach all day long, which in turn will make it less likely for you to binge on unhealthy snacks.
Be sure that every meal contains quality protein, as proteins are more satiating than other foods and by increasing protein, you will decease you daily consumption of carbohydrates and fats, which are more readily converted to fat. Research shows that escalating protein levels in your diet results in weight loss.
So what percentage of total calories should be protein?
I hesitate here, again because we are all different. 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight is often recommended. For a 150lb person this equates to 120 grams of protein every day. Others prefer a macronutrient breakdown based on total caloric intake instead of body weight: -40% protein-40% carbohydrate & 20% fat or a 40-30-30 distribution of total calories for example. For the same 150lb person eating 1600 calories, this equates to 160 grams of protein a day. You get the picture. This is something you will have to experiment with to assess your response and make adjustments.
Once your metabolism is moving again & if your goal is weight loss, you will need to GRADUALLY and safely create a caloric deficit. This is done by a combination of eating fewer calories and increasing activity levels. Again, accountability comes into play. You need to track your progress. Stop guessing and measure everything that you want to improve.
- Keep a nutrition AND training journal
- Weigh and measure food and track your progress – weekly weights and body fat composition
- Take photographs
Finally, revisit and re-establish your calorie deficit. What worked for you before is no longer working, so it is time for a new strategy. Calorie needs and metabolism changes with weight loss. The trick to avoid plateaus is to adjust your food intake (calories in) and your exercise/activity (calories out)
each week to reconcile the difference between hypothetical (on paper) calorie needs and
actual (real world) calorie needs.