Eating Protein For Lean Muscle Mass: A No-Fad Diet

In 2011, I won’t be surprised to see another five or six books hitting the market, their spines packed with the newest secrets to losing weight and building lean muscle. It has all been tried before– from a no-carb diet to a program that has us calculating points as we go—and yet nothing seems to work as effectively as good, old-fashioned protein.

Perhaps I am stating the obvious with this article or perhaps the simple concept of eating good quality protein has become buried under a pile of weight loss myths and magic tricks. Although it may be tempting to buy that fancy fad diet book and try out a new dietary regimen, this is not an issue of subtracting foods from our diet but rather adding in the power foods that our body really craves.

Cutting Calories= Cutting progress short

I have never been a fan of cutting calories.

I am all about cutting a workday short, cutting my hair into a new style and cutting inches off my waistline, but I stay away from the cutting of calories.

I don’t know exactly how it happened but somewhere, amidst a long line of fitness and diet articles, people began clutching to an idea that cutting calories would lead to weight loss. Eat less, weigh less. It seems like it makes perfect sense. Right?

We can use this method for about two seconds before our bodies get smart and realize that we are depriving them of the calories that they need. When the body does not get the nutrients it is expecting, it clings tighter to the fat storage and enters into “starvation” mode. The body actually refuses to let go of its hold on the fat, in fear that we are not going to properly replenish them anytime soon. When the body is left scrounging for fuel, it resorts to the burning of lean muscle in order to keep going throughout the day. Isn’t that the muscle we wanted to keep around though? The muscle that makes us look fit, lean and defined? Well, without the proper amount of good calories throughout the day, the body will keep burning lean muscle to keep us pushing forward.

So we are not cutting calories but we certainly need to cut something out of our daily food intake. The key is cutting out the fatty, unhealthy foods instead. However, it is important that when we cut out the calories of the highly-processed foods and fast food, we replace them with calories and nutrients that our body actually craves. Instead of bulking up on french fries and Holiday leftovers, let’s make some room in our stomachs for protein.

The Benefits of Protein

Our body cries out for protein. It is considered a macro-nutrient that our body wants in high quantities. It fuels us, it helps us grow, it gives us energy.

This is all the stuff we have heard a thousand times before. What we forget too easily is that, unlike carbohydrates and fats, our body does not store extra protein. Therefore we need to make sure that protein finds its place on our plates with every meal. Not only does protein build our lean muscle tissue, it also helps the metabolism to burn fat, the exact opposite of what happens when we cut our caloric intake in half.

When we spread out meals and properly place protein into each one the body works hard to burn off that protein, much harder than it would work to burn fat or carbs. Adding protein throughout the day keeps the metabolism from slacking on the job. When the metabolism stays working hard it continues to burn body fat effectively, instead of the lean muscle that we work so hard to gain at the gym.

It is important to note that not all foods that are high in protein should make the grocery list. Be mindful of the other components on the nutritional label i.e. saturated fats, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. When eating meat, it is best to stick with lean meats that have less animal fat. The best choices for adding protein into your daily regimen include fish, chicken breast, turkey breast, skim milk, nonfat yogurt, eggs and egg whites, beans, and lentils. Another great addition to your diet, and an easy way to rack up 25 extra grams of pure protein, is consuming natural whey protein smoothies and drinks. These tasty health shakes will surely shake up your metabolic rate and keep you burning throughout the day.

Although adding high-quality protein to the daily regimen is essential to losing weight and gaining lean muscle, it is important to incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Adding a few sessions of cardio and weight training to your week will ensure the best results, a better burn, and a healthier lifestyle overall.


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