As a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, I often hear others saying that nutrition is the most difficult part for them on their healthy lifestyle journey. Many times it is not due to laziness, but other than the fact the many are just not educated. There are tons of articles out their claiming to know it all, but to me, everyone’s body is different. Finding what works for you is most important.
The biggest problem that many have is actually under eating. It is true that in order to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit, but not too much of one that your body is starving. What happens when your body has been in a deficit for too long, it begins to store your food as fat rather than use it for energy and burn it. Especially for those who are active and workout consistently. Your body becomes a power house and needs fed accordingly!
If you are looking to put on lean muscle, then you need to eat more calories than you burn in the day. Again, many are not taking in enough calories to substantiate their muscle gain!
The one macronutrient many miss out on is protein. Protein are our building blocks for muscle gain and weight loss. BUT WHY!?? Well, I will tell you why!
—-> Protein helps to stabilize your energy levels and appetite. Aside from carbohydrates (which are not the devil by the way), protein takes longer to break down and digest. This leaves you feeling full for longer. So when you feel “hangry” shortly after you have eaten, chances are you have not eaten enough protein.
—> Your body uses 20-35% of energy from protein that is consumed just to digest and absorb it! So you are burning calories more effectively! BOOM!
—> Protein is a safeguard against the loss of muscle. Especially for those who are on a strict diet and need to be in a calorie deficit, getting in enough protein is essential. Your carbohydrates and fats become slim on such a strict diet, so your body is going to search for protein.
—> Myth: Protein will cause you to look bulky…. WRONG…Yes, it does make you strong and is associated with gaining lean muscle. This what you want. You are not going to drink a protein shake and turn into the Hulk!
So I am sure you are now thinking, “So all this talk about protein, how much should I really be taking in?” Well, the average female is at least 46 g a day and the average male is 64 g a day. Please keep in mind that this is for someone who is semi-sedentary. If you are an active person and lifting weights, then your protein intake should increase because you are breaking down lean muscle tissue when exercising!
So, my recommendation is taking in between .5-1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight depending on activity level. A lean protein should be eaten at every meal to ensure that you are staying full.
Check out one of my first blog posts on where to begin and what to include in each meal and also a list of complete proteins!