The most fundamental thing I do when coaching my clients is to increase the amount of protein they are currently eating, particularly when fat loss is the goal. Traditionally most of my clients will have the majority of their calories deriving from high carbohydrate foods predominantly sweets, biscuits, crisps, bread and takeaway food.
The most common worry from ladies who attend my personal training and online 6 week better bodies nutrition coaching is that protein will somehow bulk you up – or a common remark is “I thought it was for weightlifters”. Females seem to run a mile when you mention protein as they believe they will end up looking like Arnie back in the day and are also scared to death of gaining weight.
If you want to get leaner, increase your strength and burn more fat, then listen up… get more protein into your diet!!!
Why is it so important?
Well, it’s a critical nutrient that accounts for 20 percent of your body weight. It has a thermic effect which means that it can burn off more calories through the digestion process with an increase in metabolism than carbs or fats. For instance, a 200 calorie chicken breast once digested can have net calories of just 140cals, that’s a 30% burn off in calories just by the thermic effect alone. It would take you 20 minutes of moderate paced walking to burn off the same calories. It also helps balance out blood sugar, so that craving for the 4 o’clock choccie bikkie with your cuppa won’t be as strong. Finally, protein supports recovery from training and speeds up repair of muscles. Personally, and from experience with clients, it’s the improvement in insulin sensitivity, the lack of sugar cravings and the reduction in that unmerciful desire for sugar that makes protein a big winner for me. I feel that eating adequate protein helps us control the appetite and sugar cravings that lead to over eating and extra fat storage particularly around the tummy region. I recommend it as the priority macro-nutrient with every meal in my online 6 weeks better bodies program.
Here are my top 3 tips
Eat protein with every meal
I suggest eating a form of protein with every meal preferably from whole food sources e.g. chicken, eggs, beef or fish. If you are training hard particularly with weights , it’s important to increase your protein , studies suggest eating anywhere between 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, if you are 10 stone or 140lbs then that is 140 grams. Now that may sound like a lot and when you consider an average chicken breast to be approx 25grams of protein, there is an awful lot of eating to be done so you won’t go hungry.
A suggestion is to supplement with a protein powder particularly whey protein. Whey Protein is a great go-to protein source because it has a high concentration of amino acids and closely mimics human milk, which makes it less allergenic. Try taking 25 grams post workout from one that doesn’t have a high sugar content. If whey doesn’t work for you then try a rice bran protein. I mix protein powder into my foods by making yummy Protein Pancakes and blend it in my smoothies for delicious protein smoothies.
Now I know I said that it’s important to supplement with real protein but a few times a week it’s OK to indulge in the processed variety. A lot of my clients find it easier to transition to Protein bars from chocolate bars as they feel they are getting something that “hits the spot” with a cuppa in between meals. It offers a high protein snack alternative (usually 20-25 grams protein per bar) and it’s convenient and can be easily popped into your handbag. Why don’t you half the protein bar and have one half in the early part of the day and the other later on? Try making your own as they can be pricey and some can cause gastrointestinal distress due to the sweeteners used. Furthermore, always remember that protein bars do contain the same calories as a standard chocolate bar so don’t create an over dependence. Check out my video on the pros and cons of protein bars here
Eat high protein snacks
There are some great quality protein snacks such as Greek yogurts, cottage cheese and milk. All have a high protein content particularly Greek yogurts, such as Total Fage, which are high in protein. In fact a 500g tub has nearly 50 grams of protein ( equivalent to 2 x standard size chicken breasts). This is delicious served with fresh fruit such as berries as an in-between meal snack, post workout or quick breakfast option. Cottage cheese can bet served on your favourite high fibre crackers for a delicious handy snack idea. Also adding milk to your tea or coffee all help hitting that protein retirement for a healthy balanced diet.
If you’re like most women who take their workouts seriously, you want to get stronger and a better all round leaner body composition so do not neglect protein in your diet.
If you would like more nutrition advice and advice on getting the best workouts for fat loss then check out my online fat loss and fitness programs.