Check out the latest tips and tricks on fitness, training and nutrition from Stay Decided Fitness!
At the core of your nutrition, there are 3 macronutrients that you see on every food label, protein, carbohydrates and fats. From a fat loss standpoint, carbs and fats serve as energy sources for your body. This means if you over-consume calories from excess carbs and/or fats, they will likely be stored for later use in that wonderful form we all love (heavy sarcasm here) known as body fat.
On the other hand, protein is not a first option for our body to use as energy. In reality, it’s the building material used to form a large majority of structures in our body and carry out essential functions to life. Not only does it help form hair, skin, nails, digestive tract, and other bodily tissues, but it is the key for sustaining the muscle mass we work so hard for in the gym. I know what you’re thinking “Justin, I don’t want to be “bulky”, I just want to tone up”. Don’t worry! We are speaking the same language here, see “toning up” is a fancy way of saying build lean tissue to expose natural muscularity in our body. Not only is muscle what you want, it’s what your body needs to live a longer, healthier life.
Muscle mass is your body’s most metabolic tissue, meaning that it uses the most calories to function effectively. What this means for you is that the more lean muscle you have on your body, the higher you metabolism is and the more calories you burn at rest. Moreover, muscle is the organ of longevity in the body. It has been shown time and time again in studies that those who sustain more lean tissue over time live longer on average than those with smaller amounts of muscle tissue.
In order to gain and maintain more lean mass for your body, you’ll need to prioritize protein in your diet. Resistance training to the point where you push your muscles past a comfortable level is part of the equation, but without protein to help repair the damage, you won’t take advantage of any type of training you participate in.
A good starting point for most people is 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. For example, if you’re 200 pounds but want to be 180, it is recommended that you eat around 180 grams of protein per day. Ideally, this would come in the form of several servings of meat, yogurt, eggs/egg whites, fish or whey with a minimum amount of 30 grams of protein per serving. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry! Start incorporating one more serving per day from where you’re at now and/or increase the serving size of the protein sources you already eat (no, peanut butter is not a protein source).
At the end of the day, your plate should be well rounded in proteins, carbs and fats. However, failing to get in enough protein could be short changing the results you’re looking for and leaving you wondering why you keep lowering calories but the scale won’t budge. If you need any help at all with figuring out how much and what kind of protein sources would work for you, please reach out to us below and we would be happy to help!