The summer is fast approaching and this means time is running out to shed that unwanted body fat gained this winter without sacrificing our muscle. People wanting to lose weight often get caught in the vicious diet cycle.
They decrease their calories by skipping meals, cutting food groups, or buying into the latest gimmicky shake line. This causes the body to go into the famine response, meaning that weight loss is from muscle, metabolic rate is reduced, and your body wants to hold on to your excess fat.
They’re hungry and no longer seeing results so naturally, they go into a feasting phase. Though they may be eating normally again, a compromised metabolic rate and decreased muscle mass results in fat gain. The cycle repeats. You absolutely can lose fat while maintaining or even gaining lean body mass, but it is not easy. If you stay consistent with your nutrition plan and implement these five tips, you’ll find yourself both stronger, and leaner.
Top Diet Tips
#1 Have A Meal Plan
Choose a meal plan that you can follow. A long-term study from Harvard University compared a variety of popular diets and followed up with participants years later. The study did not look at body composition, but all diets resulted in weight loss. Those that were most successful long term were those that could stick to the diet. Plan to set yourself up for success for the diet plan of your choice.
You’ve probably heard about how sometimes your brain thinks you are hungry when you are in fact, just thirsty, but did you know that a body mass loss of just 2% due to dehydration results in a decrease in power production? A good recommendation is to divide your body weight in lbs by 2 and drink that number of ounces of water per day. If not your fat shredding could be severely compromised.
Lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat is significantly down regulated when the body is not hydrated. Dehydration is also associated with cognitive deficits and increases in reaction time. These effects thwart your body composition goals by decreasing your ability to get the most out of your workouts and decreasing your ability to make good nutrition decisions.
#3 Choose Quality Calories
Not all calories are created equal. The thermic effect of food, or the number of calories your body utilizes to break down the food you eat, is different depending on the macronutrient composition of that food.
☐ Protein thermogenesis is 25 to 40%, depending on digestibility, and has 4 calories per gram.
☐ Carbohydrate thermogenesis is 6 to 8%, depending on fiber content, and has 4 calories per gram. If you choose carbohydrates that are low in fiber and high in sugar, then the liver is greatly taxed. The pancreas must secrete insulin to combat the excess sugar and converts it to be stored as fat. High levels of insulin can also block your brain from receiving the message that you are full.
☐ Fat thermogenesis is only 2 to 3%, and it contains 9 calories per gram. This is not to say that you should not consume fat. Merely that you should choose fat sources with health benefits when available. Avocados, almonds, and flax seed are some good examples of fat options.
If you were wondering, alcohol has 7 calories per gram and your body will digest it prior to using any of the other macronutrients for fuel.
#4 Don’t Go Too Low on Calories
With temping headlines like “How to Lose 50 lbs in 3 Months,” and “Lose your Excess Belly Fat in One Week!” it is easy to fall prey to severe caloric restriction. However, our bodies are programmed to hold on to body fat when it thinks it is being starved. The metabolism slows down severely which makes it extremely difficult for you to lose fat. During this state, you are also likely to lose muscle. Slow and steady weight loss of 1-2 lbs per week has been shown to be the best for long term weight loss and keeping the weight off, while sparing muscle in the process.
#5 Pack in the Protein
Per the United States Department of Agriculture, healthy adults should consume 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. If you are exercising and especially if you are in a caloric deficit, this will not be enough protein to spare muscle breakdown.
A high protein diet has been defined differently by different authorities, but a consensus is 2.2 g per kilogram bodyweight per day. High protein diets can also stave off hunger due to the high percentage of thermogenesis associated with digesting protein. When on a high protein diet, be choosy with your sources. Protein quality varies greatly among different sources. Processed meats tend to have lower protein quality scores than eggs or whey supplements for example.
Many people find it difficult to obtain that amount of protein from food products alone. Thewhey is Myprotein’s premium blend of whey concentrate, isolate, and hydrolyzed whey, containing 25g of protein, only 2g of carbohydrates and a mere 10mg of cholesterol in each scoop. Unique from other whey protein supplements, Thewhey includes Digezyme®, a blend of enzymes that break proteins down into their amino acids to be easily absorbed into the muscle to ensure that you are getting the best protein digestibility possible. This makes it a great option to increase the amount of protein in your diet without adding additional meal prep time to your weekends.
Take Home Message
Getting lean does not have to be a daunting task. You can be well on your way by finding a way to eat that is full of healthy, unprocessed foods, that fits your lifestyle. If you are finding it difficult to consume enough protein in your diet, then consider trying Thewhey.
Having something that you can grab quickly will help satisfy those cravings for unhealthy foods. And remember, aim to hydrate adequately throughout the day, especially during and after your workouts.