“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”- Jim Rohn
Spring has arrived, which means summer will be here before we know it. Many folks begin to focus on weight loss goals in May. So I just wanted to put out a gentle reminder…
If you have weight loss goals…
🐢slow and steady 🐌
…is the healthiest and most sustainable way to go.
How slow and steady? To preserve most of your muscle mass (not just for looks **)around 0.5-1.5 lbs per week is a general recommendation. But YOUR body will let you know if you’re losing weight too fast for YOU.
Here are some signs:
frequent or constant hunger
weak immune system/ frequently sick /can’t get well
anxiety and/or depression
**Why is muscle mass important?
Quality of life and independence (especially as we age)
🍴MACRONUTRIENTS (macros) are the nutrients your body needs in large amounts. There are three major macros: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. Technically alcohol is the fourth.
🔥A CALORIE is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. When the word “calorie” is used when talking about food, we are usually using a casual definition of calorie. But we’re actually referring to kilocalories, which is what you see on nutrition labels. A kilocalorie is the equivalent of 1,000 calories.
🥩PROTEIN is vital to muscle building as well as many other processes. Animal sources of protein include: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. These deliver all the amino acids your body needs. Plant sources of protein include: tofu, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, and more. While plant based sources often lack one or more of the essential amino acids, a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need.
🍚CARBOHYDRATES are your body’s primary energy source. Sources of carbs: Fruits, vegetables, grains, and potatoes.
🥑FATS are essential for hormone function. Sources of fat: butter, oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and other foods.
🍷ALCOHOL is not needed in our body. If you’re counting calories for any reason, you can’t forget these! 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories.
🧮HOW do these calories add up?
Total Calories = (Number of grams of protein x 4) + (Number of grams of carbs X 4) + (Number of grams of fat X 9) + (Number of grams of alcohol X 7)
If your goals are to either build muscle or lose fat, it is a good idea to increase your protein intake. Protein is one of the three macronutrients (others being fats and carbohydrates). Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals in the body. It is also an important part of building bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Protein for Muscle Building
If your goal is to get the most out of your resistance training in building muscle and strength, you should make protein intake a top nutritional priority. In a review by Brad Shoenfield and Alan Aragon, they conclude that a daily protein intake of 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is a range to aim for to maximize muscle building. That’s 0.72-1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
If you typically eat four meals each day, you would aim for each of those meals to contain 0.4g/kg/meal to reach the minimum of 1.6 g/kg/day. Using the upper daily intake of 2.2g/kg/day would mean that each of your four meals should contain 0.55 g/kg.
Sometimes hitting your protein target with just your meals can be difficult. You might find yourself needing to supplement with whey protein and that is normal and okay.
Protein for Fat Loss
Protein intake can help with fat loss, but you do not need to consume as much protein for fat loss as you would for muscle building. If your goal is to lose weight, your first priority is to make sure you are creating a consistent calorie deficit. This means you are eating fewer calories than you are expending. There is no one-size-fits-all diet that will ensure this happens for you. The best weight loss diet for you will be one that you can stick to over time in that calorie deficit.
Weight loss typically happens quickly at the beginning, but then most people will notice this process start to slow down. Your body will try to defend against the weight loss, because from an evolutionary standpoint losing weight is a threat. This is called adaptive thermogenesis. To break through this weight loss plateau, or metabolic slowdown, you will want to increase your metabolism. A higher protein diet can help accomplish this for a couple of reasons:
In addition to resistance training, eating a higher protein diet will help increase muscle mass, which in turn will increase your basal metabolic rate. The higher your basal metabolic rate, the more calories you will burn over the course of 24 hours because muscle burns more calories than fat.
Protein has a higher thermic effect than other macronutrients and the process of digesting protein requires more energy.
Protein helps us feel full more so than carbohydrates and fats for fewer calories. So, if your diet is high-protein you will consume fewer calories while feeling fuller and chances are you won’t be thinking about food all day.
For fat loss purposes, you can aim for 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of your goal weight.
Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2018) 15:10. 10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1 [PubMed]