Everybody wants to know what it takes to flip the switch on their metabolism to make their body a fat burning machine.
If only it really were that easy!
As much as we don’t want to hear it, it’s true….there’s no switch, no magic pill, no hidden secret to share.
Fad diets are a total bust, fitness trends change with the seasons.
If you want to build lean muscle and cut fat at the same time, there are 4 basic tried and true points to remember.
1. Eat Often
By eating meals and snacks more frequently, you are giving your body fuel to burn rather than forcing it to dip into muscle stores, which means you can keep the muscle mass you’ve already got.
Eating small meals often throughout the day also keeps your blood sugar stable which prevents the release of cortisol (a stress hormone) into the bloodstream and subsequently keeps you from feeling panicked and hungry as well.
Not surprisingly, eating regularly can also help control your mood and improve your concentration.
2. Eat Enough
One of the biggest mistakes people make is relying on calorie cutting to lose weight.
This practice is outdated and even harmful, causing the body to cut into muscle stores as well as fat stores at the risk of leaving you depleted and without energy.
“Your body will make a choice: lose body fat or lose muscle. An inadequately fueled body will choose to drop calorie-burning muscle rather than fat. Excessive loss of lean muscle mass leads to weight loss without improvement of body composition or health. This leaves you frustrated and ever-battling your weight.” – Hana A. Feeney, MS, RD, CSSD
If your body is constantly in a calorie deficit, it means that you are routinely depriving yourself of important nutrients and fuel.
On top of that, it puts you at increased risk for injury and illness, and nobody wants that, right you guys?
3. Eat the Right Foods
All calories aren’t created equal, so don’t think of the directive to eat more like a license to eat more of whatever you want!
Quantity AND quality are both important when it comes to nutrition.
Generally speaking and as far as strength training and fitness are concerned, eating the right things looks a lot like paying attention to your macronutrients.
Macronutrients, or macros, are the three main components of a healthy diet: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Finding the right balance of these three macros can have a hugely positive impact on your ability to burn fat, and build that all-important lean muscle mass.
My IdealFit nutrition programs are carefully constructed to include the correct macro content depending on your individual body weight, taking the sometimes complicated guesswork out of it!
As far as macros are concerned, here’s what you need to know:
-CARBS ARE IMPORTANT – Carbs are NOT the enemy!
In fact, they’re a vital energy source and especially important for fueling workouts and daily activities, but they’re also not all created equal.
Generally, the more processed a carbohydrate source is, the faster it digests and the higher it spikes your insulin levels, adding glucose in your bloodstream.
This is significant because insulin is what dictates how our body decides to use the food we eat, whether to add to fat stores or use immediately as an energy source.
When insulin levels spike and subsequently crash from eating fast digesting carbs (simple carbs), the body is more likely add to fat stores over time.
Carbs that come from whole grain sources generally digest slowly over time, allowing insulin levels to stay level and convert into energy rather than adding to fat stores.
The glycemic index is always a good reference for figuring out how quickly a carb will digest. Again, you should always shoot for slower digesting complex carbs over quick digesting simple carbs.
-EAT MORE PROTEIN – Protein is THE key component to building muscle since it is, quite literally, the stuff your muscles are made of.
Proteins which are made of amino acids are the building blocks of all major tissues and organs, even the brain.
These tiny proteins are especially important because they dictate how your body builds and maintains muscle.
Since lean muscle is your most effective tool in the fight to burn fat, you want to make sure you’re taking care of what you do have, and also working to build more by getting enough protein.
My recommended amount of protein equals about 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Common lean protein sources can include:
- Ground turkey
- Lean red meats
- Protein powder
Protein powder is an excellent way to increase your protein intake and are commonly used by fitness enthusiasts and professionals.
It pays to be picky (like me!) when it comes to protein supplements. Take care to choose a high-quality supplement, free from excess sugars, carbs, and fillers.