One of the best ways to burn fat and maintain muscle mass is to make certain you are eating the right percentages of proteins, carbs, and fat.
Many Americans only consume about 85 grams of protein per day and take in over 300 carbs a day. Your body actually needs a higher percentage of protein and less carbs for building muscle and burning fat.
Research is pretty clear that protein can help you retain more of your lean muscle as you lose fat. One study suggests taking in from 0.8 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day to ward off muscle loss when reducing calories.
So if you weigh 180 pounds you would take in from 0.8 (144 grams) to 0.9 (162 grams) of protein each day. My protein amount is around 165 grams per day.
One gram of protein has 4 calories. So if you took in say 162 grams of protein that is equivalent to 648 calories (162 x 4).
Protein helps with the muscle-building process as it is critical while you’re trying to burn fat. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn, as muscle mass directly affects your metabolism rate.
I don’t recommend eating red meat all day in order to get your required amount of protein as that is not healthy either. I would suggest eating red meat only once and maybe as much as twice a week.
There are many good sources of protein besides red meat: chicken, eggs, nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews), beans (black, pinto), Greek yogurt, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), cottage cheese, lentils and meat and seafood (tuna, salmon, turkey), and whey protein.
My protein source I highly recommend is whey protein and suggest one protein shake each day.
Whey protein contains 30 grams of protein per scoop and is a very healthy form of protein. Here is my recommendation for Whey Protein.
This helps keep your protein at the level required for maintaining lean muscle mass.
When you are in a weight exercise routine, you will need more protein to support muscle recovery and growth.
You will want to consume your protein at equally spaced times throughout the day.
Your body can assimilate only so much protein at a time, so I don’t recommend more than 45 grams of protein per meal.
It is recommended to spread out your protein intake every 2-3 hours. That’s what makes this program ideal. You can eat every 2-3 hours so you are never hungry. I recommend you eat six times per day.
You will want to eat breakfast, then a few hours later a snack, then lunch, then another mid-afternoon snack, then dinner. Then your last snack will be around 8:00 PM.
It is important to not eat after 8:00 PM. That way you are fasting throughout the night and then not eating again until 8:00 am, which means you have fasted for 12 hours.
Start each day with breakfast taking in about 30 grams of protein. I usually have eggs, coffee, and protein cereal topped with blueberries.
Then for mid-morning snack I will have a protein bar (20 grams of protein).
There are numerous protein bars out there and there isn’t one perfect bar to fit everything you need. The protein bars I selected are the ones I used to lose weight. Now that I achieved my weight loss goal, I take in more calories each day to maintain my weight.
Personally, for taste and low sugar, I like the Quest bars. They also provide high fiber and 20 grams of protein per bar.
There are some protein bars on the market that are very high in carbs, calories, and sugar. So make sure to read the ingredients on the labels.
I like the Quest bars as they have 21 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber, for only 6 net carbs.
To achieve my protein level, for lunch I have 40 grams of protein, usually a sandwich with either turkey or chicken, or beef and a side of vegetables.
Around 3 in the afternoon, I work out and then drink my protein shake (30 grams of protein). Then I eat dinner usually around 5:30 or 6:00 PM. Another 30 grams of protein.
For 8:00 pm I eat either yogurt or cottage cheese and some fruit (banana or a peach). Another 15 grams of protein with some good carbs.
For my body weight (175 pounds), my protein amounts are about 165 grams of protein per day
Your body also needs rest days, which gives your body the time to repair and recover. This extra protein helps aid this recovery process.
The signs that you are not getting enough protein are; muscle cramping, weakness, and soreness.
My protein vs Carbs
You’ve seen all the low-carb diets that have been the fad for the weight loss industry over the past years. However, I don’t follow the philosophy of these low-carb diets, and here is why.
Carbohydrates are sugar compounds. Plants make sugars or saccharides from the sun’s energy, through a process called photosynthesis. The amount of sugars and how they are packed together is how you distinguish the different types of carbs.
Simple Carbs- hit your system QUICKLY, because they don’t have to break down much. Most simple carbs are empty calories that are to be avoided because they have no nutritional value. Examples are sugar, candy, soft drinks, and desserts.
(a) Monosaccharides- (simple sugar) are single sugar units. Ex. Fructose (fruit sugar), glucose (blood sugar), and galactcse (from lactose-milk sugar).
(b) Disaccharides- are carbs with two sugar units. Ex. Table sugar (1part fructose and 1 part glucose)
(c) Complex Sugars, Complex Carbs- SLOWLY absorb into your system, if they even absorb into your system. They are harder for your system to break down and therefore better for you (see Glycemic Index). They usually contain lots of vitamins & minerals as opposed to simple carbs. Examples are fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
(d) Polysaccharides- have more than two units of sugars. Vegetables are mostly filled with polysaccharides, Ex. Potatoes, beans, pasta, and rice. Starch is a polysaccharide.
Glycemic Index- This is a scale that measures the rate at which carbs absorb into your system. The quicker foods break down, the faster they enter your system. When sugars enter your system and don’t have enough time to be used, they are stored as FAT.
The more sugars that are absorbed into your body at once the more fat is stored. Slow-burning carbs get used up as energy before they can turn into fat. Carbs have the same calories as proteins. 1 gram of carb is 4 calories.
It is recommended to eat 150-200 carbs per day for losing weight based on the formula I have laid out. Once you hit your target weight loss you can increase your carbs to over 200.
Eating too few carbs (under 100 grams a day) could possibly impact your memory, according to the Institute of Medicine per the USDA. Drastically slashing carbs may also have an impact on your mood.
“Carbs are your brain’s preferred energy source, and they boost the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that lifts your mood and makes you feel happy,” Brissette says. “That’s why low-carb diets are associated with a higher risk of depression.”
Rather than going right to a very low-carb diet such as the keto diet to lose weight, Brissette encourages her clients to start by emphasizing minimally processed complex carbs, reducing portion sizes, and increasing the amounts of non-starchy vegetables they’re eating.
It is important to pay attention to eating more complex carbs from sources like oatmeal, whole grain cereal, yams, sweet potatoes, rice, beans, lentils, and peas. These complex carbs are broken down in your body slowly, keep your blood sugar stable, and help stabilize your insulin.
I recommend eating your carbs with your protein, fats, and fibers, as this combines to help slow the breakdown of carbs.
Here are some good carbs which also have high fiber and contain magnesium, essential vitamins, and antioxidants.
Quinoa, oatmeal, popcorn, black beans, apples, bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, avocados, and peaches.