This past week I faced three clients with three seemingly different situations. The first man is returning to the gym after some major surgery and his doctor wants him to lose 10 pounds and build up his strength. The second guy wants to get leaner, more defined abs. The third client wants to lose an inch around the middle and add an inch or two to his biceps. What do they all have in common? They want to lose fat and gain muscle. Can you achieve both objectives at the same time?
Of course, before you begin any new exercise program, it is always best to talk about your goals with your physician. Here are several effective strategies on how to build lean muscle and lose unwanted fat at the same time.
First, to lose weight, you must cut calories. This does not mean starving yourself of all fats and carbs! The low fat, lower carbohydrate debate comes down to this: you still have to eat fewer calories than you burn if you want to lose weight. The key here is eating fewer calories by cutting saturated fats and junk foods, and not depriving yourself of nutritious foods that give you energy and stamina.
Focus on eating smaller meals, five to six times a day, every two to three hours. Consume low glycemic index complex carbs (whole grain cereals, pastas, fresh fruits, veggies and nuts) early in the day so that your energy level won’t lag as the day wears on. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates such as sodas, white bread, and fast foods like doughnuts, chips, pastries and fatty fried foods.
Second, remember that eating protein builds muscle. Protein is also more filling and satisfying. Another great fact about protein is that your body burns more calories to digest it than it does to digest carbs and fats. Build your meals around lean chicken, beef, fish or pork. That way you will burn more calories throughout the day and your muscles will get the protein they need to grow (Photo: https://www.pexels.com/@pixabay).
Third, eat more fiber. Fiber is not a nutrient, but it is very important to a healthy diet. Fiber is the part of plants that cannot be digested, and it is found in all fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts. Lack of fiber can result in sluggishness and constipation. Eating enough fiber not only provides you with a healthy digestive system, but it also helps you to feel fuller. Oats, oat bran, oat meal, beans, peas, berries and citrus can lower cholesterol. Apples, whole wheat products and brown rice help keep you regular.
Fourth, remember the importance of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, flax seeds, and fish oil. Health benefits include less risk of diabetes and heart disease. But omega-3 fats can also contribute to a great physique as well. For example, omega-3s reduce inflammation throughout the body. This not only prevents heart attacks, but it also helps sore, tired muscles to recover better and faster after a monster workout. Eat fish and eggs a couple of times a week or see your doctor or nutritionist about recommending a supplement.