The keys to weight loss and muscle gain is three things. Those are proper nutrition fueling at the correct time, the burning of calories and resistance exercise. We all know some or all of those principles. Let’s look at them a little closer.
Proper nutrition – Protein First
Proper nutrition is protein first. Many people do not eat breakfast. We KNOW it is THE critical meal, but many people choose not to eat first thing in the morning. Ok, how do we overcome this for real people in the real world? Have a snack. Then have another mid-morning. This will make up for no breakfast at all. The patterns of eating fall into two general paths. Three meals and a snack or two OR two to three snacks and two meals would be the best of choices. Both of these patterns will allow for optimal fueling patterns for the body IF the proper food is chosen in terms of quality. The key is protein first. Every snack should have a minimum of 10g of protein and every meal should have 20g of protein. That is the key. Why only 20g at any given meal? The body can only metabolize and utilize about 20g at any given time. So the excess is excreted or stored. The quality of the protein is the next critical factor. Breakfast meats, many protein bars and other choices will have too many other ingredients that will overload your system in terms of sugar, fats or calories. READ THE LABELS!! If you have three snacks and two meals with the minimal optimal protein content you will ingest a minimum of 70g of protein. If you choose 3 meals and two snacks of the minimal optimal protein content you will have 80g of protein. Keep your protein levels constant throughout the day, much like when you have to take medicine 2 – 3 times per day in order to keep the levels high enough in the blood stream to create an effect! If you just keep your protein levels optimal and your sugar levels optimal throughout the day, your health will improve almost immediately in terms of how you feel, energy levels and frame of mind. Here are some common foods with calories and protein content listed.
PEANUTS, OIL ROASTED, SALTED 1 CUP 840 39
CASHEW NUTS, OIL ROASTD,SALTED 1 CUP 750 21
ALMONDS, SLIVERED 1 CUP 795 27
CHICKEN, STEWED, LIGHT + DARK 1 CUP 250 38
ICE CREAM, VANLLA, REGULR 11% 1/2 GALN 2155 38
TUNA SALAD 1 CUP 375 33
CHICKEN, CANNED, BONELESS 5 OZ 235 31
COTTAGE CHEESE,LOWFAT 2% 1 CUP 205 31
HAMBURGER, 4OZ PATTY 1 SANDWH 445 25
TURKEY, ROASTED, LIGHT MEAT 2 PCE 135 25
PORK CHOP, LOIN, BROIL,LN+FT 3.1 OZ 275 24
BEEF STEAK,SIRLOIN,BROIL,LN+FT 3 OZ 240 23
GROUND BEEF, BROILED, LEAN 3 OZ 230 20
OYSTERS, RAW 1 CUP 160 20
ENG MUFFIN, EGG, CHEESE, BACON 1 SANDWH 360 18
REFRIED BEANS, CANNED 1 CUP 295 18
When choosing to eat what we eat, this will give you a great idea on how to choose protein first.
Proper Nutrition – Portion Size
There are many little tricks to eat less. One of the best is to drink lots of water each and every day. Many times when we are hungry, we are really just thirsty. Drink a large glass of water before any meal or snack. The second trick is to make sure that the first meal or snack of the day has the optimal amount of protein. If you have carbs first then your body will want carbs first the rest of the day! Another trick is to eat a small salad first. This will tend to fill you up with less caloric dense foods. Watch the dressing choice! When you finish eating, get up and get busy with something. Don’t linger and graze as you will end up eating more as you talk and watch others eat. The last trick is when eating, just eat, do not ever eat and do something else (especially something quiet like read or watch tv!!). This is a killer for max caloric intake. Finally, order the smaller portion. Sounds easy, but it can be difficult to do. If it is not available, share one entre as this will cut the portion size for both of you!
Set your watch and have a snack or a meal every 3-4 hours. Eat when you are NOT hungry, but eat small portions with adequate protein numbers. When you workout, make SURE that you have protein and sugar available for the muscle cells and get some protein and sugar back into your body as soon as the workout is over. Try half of a bar or drink before and half after, as this will be more in line with what your body can utilize. MORE IS BETTER – but it is more often, not more quantity!
The key to adding muscle mass is resistance training. Just getting up and moving will tend to add mass to your lower body which are some of the largest and dense muscles in the body. You can choose to lift weights or just do body weight resistance training as either will tend to add muscle to your body if the volume of the training is more than you are used to and adequate nutrition is available to the cells during and immediately after the workout.
The key to resistance training is to do circuits that push you beyond your comfort zone. If you do a long run, a long bike ride, a long elliptical session you will certainly burn calorie during the session. However, AFTER the session, your body will quickly return to homeostasis and its’ resting state. If you choose to do a circuit or interval sprints then not only do you burn calories during the session, but for HOURS after the session, the body will need to repay the debt incurred during the intense training session in terms of increase heart rate, increase metabolism and increase respiration. You can actually DOUBLE the amount of calories burned in one half hour session in an intense circuit or interval workout over a steady state “distance” workout. Yes, you read correctly – DOUBLE!! The trade off is that the intensity is difficult to maintain. So, how do YOU incorporate this into your exercise program? Do a circuit 1-2 times per week and keep up your normal long, slow, mental health session. Then, after your work capacity and ability to recover gets better, then do 2-3 circuits in one week and then 1-2 sessions the next, so every month you go from 4-8 circuits up to 8-12 circuits. Now you will see big time results IF you combine it with your optimal nutrition program. Remember guys and girls, it is thong and speedo season!! Good luck!