When we round the corner on Winter and start seeing the first signs of Spring, weight loss is on the mind of many more and more. We see the articles like, “Ten Moves To Torch Fat”, or “Six Days To A Six-Pack”, Getting in shape, losing weight, and changing our bodies takes time. We need to be patient, and persistent in our efforts, but we can also leverage some help from good nutritional practices to get to our goal.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Weight loss is a numbers game – sort of. Yes, spending more calories than you eat results in weight loss. However, we need to not go overboard on calorie reduction. Reducing our calories too low may cause our metabolism to slow down and kill weight loss. Excessive calorie restriction may also result in loss of lean body mass because less food equals fewer muscle-building nutrients. Try smaller reductions in caloric intake at a time to give your body the chance to adapt to slightly fewer calories while maintaining your level of activity. Then once you’re used to performing on slightly fewer calories, decrease your caloric intake slightly again, and repeat until you get to about 500 calories less per day. This may take a few weeks.
Eat More Protein
When most people think about weight loss, they are really thinking about fat loss. There is a difference. Fat loss with muscle maintenance, and lean body mass is far more helpful than when weight loss includes loss of muscle mass. The key is to eat more protein. There are many studies that show that increasing protein intake in your diet when you are trying to lose weight is a successful practice. Both people that have reduced their calories and people that have not reduced their caloric intake, but eat more lean protein show greater fat loss than people who simply reduce their calories.
Time Your Eating
The old saying “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is good advice. It’s common sense. Start your day by fueling yourself well, as opposed to the western tradition of eating larger meals when we will do nothing else but go to bed. The second point on timing is that we should eat around our periods of highest activity, either before or after. There are also many studies that show that eating protein one to two hours before exercise or within an hour after exercise improves muscle building to a greater degree than eating at other times.
The bottom line is this. In your weight loss efforts, eating more protein, results in the preservation and increase of muscle and lean body mass, which ultimately results in increased fat burning and loss of the weight we really want to lose.
So at the risk of sounding like your mom, “Eat your protein!” 🙂