When you decide you want to shed a few pounds, what is typically the first thing you do? Lower your calories. Eat less. Maybe you move more, too. But, what if I told you the secret might be the complete opposite of what you think you need to do?
A recent study showed that despite popular belief, our metabolisms do not slow as we age. In some cases, perhaps a person’s metabolism may slow down but not to the extent we once thought. What does cause a person’s metabolism to slow? Well, drastically reducing the number of calories consumed will do it, as can lack of sleep, stress, and lack of movement to name a few. Slow metabolisms almost always lead to weight gain. But, what if you could reverse the trend by actually eating more?
The human body needs a certain number of calories just to exist. Just to sit on your couch all day you need calories. How many calories varies from person to person, based on height, weight, and typical energy expenditure each day. If you don’t consume that basic amount of calories, you are in danger of slowing your metabolism. Your body compensates for the fact that you are not eating enough to sustain it.
The other mistake people often make is thinking that intermittent fasting is the answer to weight loss. It may work for some people some of the time but by and large it’s not sustainable and can lead to metabolic issues in the long run.
When it comes to weight loss many people turn to cardio first to lose the stubborn pounds, but cardio is also problematic as your body will adapt. So, if 30 minutes a day worked at first, over time you would need to do 45 minutes, then one hour and so on. Who has time for that?
What if I told you that there is a way to eat more AND lose weight? Here is my blueprint for eating more to lean out.
- Know your macros. Macronutrients are the building blocks of our diet. Everyone needs protein, carbohydrates, and fats, in addition to micronutrients to keep us healthy. It’s important for you to know just how much to eat each day. First, if you are trying to lose weight and you know you have a high BMI, figure out your body fat percentage. This will help you zero in on your lean body mass, which is a key number to use in order to determine the daily protein intake. If you don’t have access to a body fat analysis, you can purchase a scale that will measure this for you. It’s not totally accurate but it gives you a sense and really all you need is a ball park. You can then track your trend up or down from there. I use Renpho. Then, use a macronutrient calculator to determine total calories per day. A nutrition coach can also help figure this out for you. To build muscle and create a satiating effect, it’s best to aim for .8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, NOT per pound. This is a mistake many people make. If they weigh 225 pounds, they think they need 225g of protein a day, which is insane! Likely their lean body mass or “muscle weight” is lower. The other way to go, if you don’t have a way to determine your body fat percentage, is to base it on the weight you would like to be. So, if you’re aiming to be 150 pounds, consume 140 to 150g of protein a day. Protein is the first macro to set, then set carbohydrates at 40 to 50 percent of total calories and the rest should be healthy fats.
- Eliminate or reduce gluten, refined sugar, dairy and alcohol. Gluten and dairy often cause gut issues, which can make it difficult for your body to absorb the healthy macros you are giving it. Start by avoiding or reducing them to see if you feel better. Instead, eat more vegetables! Fruit is OK, too. It’s not evil! As for alcohol, you will find that if you eliminate or reduce the number of drinks you have, that alone will help you lose weight because you will not consuming too many calories from the drinks or the snacks you’ll inevitably have with those drinks! Sugar is an issue for many people. It causes so many problems and we all consume too much of it. Reduce it and you will find that your skin looks better, you sleep better, and you will start to look better, too.
- Drink more water. A good rule of thumb is half your body weight per day, more if you are active. Try to space out your meals so you are done eating approximately four hours before you go to bed. Our bodies work very hard to digest our food and if we eat right before bed, they spend more time digesting than sleeping well. If you quit eating with plenty of time before bed, you will find that you sleep much more soundly.
- Speaking of sleep, make sure you get enough! Seven to nine hours is ideal, especially if you are looking to build muscle. Studies show that obesity can be caused by a lack of sleep. And, let’s face it. How many times have you make a poor food choice simply because you were exhausted?
- To build muscle, you must lift weights. Resistance training two or three days a week is enough to build. Find a quality personal trainer who can tailor a routine to meet your personal goals. Cardio is OK but you don’t want to do too much of it. Our bodies are smart. For them to be good at cardio they need to lean out and be as thin as possible. Think about distance runners! This is the opposite of building muscle. We want to prioritize muscle over cardio. Do just enough cardio to keep your heart healthy or better yet make sure you move.
- Move. Walk at least 7,000 steps per day and you will be moving enough. That’s about two 15-20 minute walks per day. It’s doable! Get up and move!
If you do all these things, I promise you will lose weight. The more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism will be, allowing you to consume more calories in the future! The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you can burn simply by existing! I am 96 pounds and I eat 2,200 calories a day. This is because my lean body mass is extremely high from lifting weights for so long. Muscle is so helpful to your body – you can look good, lose weight and feel great!
Have questions about this post or want my assistance with a workout routine or nutrition coaching? Contact me today for more information!