By Toby Schindelbeck
The first and most important change you will make on your quest for a lean and mean body will be an increase in the amount of protein you consume. This applies whether your goals are to build muscle, burn fat, or just get into better shape. The reason for increasing your protein intake is that proteins make everything in and on your body. That’s right, everything. Fingernails, hair, skin, brain, internal organs, teeth, and of course, muscle.
Muscle is the key word here because the amount of muscle that you have directly affects your metabolism, not to mention your looks. The lean and hard physique that men desire as well as the tight and toned look that women want can both be achieved by adding more muscle. The way to add more muscle is to workout with weights, consume adequate amounts of protein throughout the day, and get enough rest. (Note to women: Working out with weights will not make you “bulky.” Testosterone causes men to get that big, bulky look. Women, by definition, do not have enough “test” to get that way. By putting on more muscle, you will increase your metabolism and look more like a fitness model than a bodybuilder. Also, a woman’s protein requirement will be different than a man’s.)
Let me explain how this works:
Contrary to popular belief, you do not build muscle when you workout. When you lift weights, you are actually breaking down your muscle tissue. Immediately after working out, your body begins to repair and recover. It does this by taking protein and breaking it down into individual amino acids, then reconfiguring them and placing them wherever they need to go. Instead of just rebuilding your muscle back to normal, your body super-compensates. That means you will be gaining muscle, because your body wants to rebuild a little bit bigger to withstand that same stress the next time you work out. That is how women get “tight and toned” and how men build bigger muscles. This is what happens if you have enough protein in your system. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough protein, your body goes into a catabolic state.
Unfortunately, the catabolic state is what happens to most people. In this situation, your body does not have enough protein to rebuild, so it begins to break down your existing muscle to repair what was broken down in the gym. Obviously, this is not productive. It is also the reason why so many people don’t get the results they want and get disillusioned with working out. Fortunately, you can avoid this common mistake by simply taking in an adequate amount of protein each and every day. Figuring out what an “adequate” amount of protein is for your body is fairly simple.
For a woman who wants to lose some fat, recover from a workout and get more toned, it is anywhere from a gram to a gram and a half of protein per pound of LEAN bodyweight per day. For example, a 130 lb women who has 15% bodyfat would have 110lbs of lean muscle. She would take 110, multiply that 1 and divide that by 6 (you should consume at least 5 smaller meals per day, but preferably 6-7).
So it would go like this: 110 x 1 = 110. 110 grams of Protein per day divided by 6 meals = 18 grams of Protein per meal.
For a 200-pound man, it would figure like this: 200 x 1.5 = 300. 300 divided by 6 = 50 grams of Protein per meal. Now, unless you have the time to pre-prepare your meals and take them with you, eating this many times will be next to impossible. That’s why protein supplements are essential. Out of all the brands that I carry, the the Pro 5 or Pro 7 are the best high-protein, low carb shake, bar none. The flavors are great and easily mix in a shaker cup. It has a very thin consistency and tastes awesome with none of that “chalky” aftertaste.
Why should I eat more often if I’m trying to lose weight? Shouldn’t I eat less?
Not at all. Probably the biggest mistake that people make who are trying to lose body fat is to not eat enough. The human body is designed to be fed every three to four hours; that’s how our metabolism burns. By eating only twice or three times a day, you are putting your body into a “fast state”, or “starvation mode”. When it is in this state, your body is in storage mode. That means if you wait longer than 4 hours to eat, you’re body is more than likely to store the meal as body fat, even if it is a good meal. On the other hand, if you eat every 4 hours, and your meal is in the right ratio of macronutrients (which means higher protein, lower carbs and lower fat), your metabolism will be kicked into high gear!
Here is an analogy I use to illustrate my point:
You have just lit two fires. On one fire, you toss a big fat log and let it sit for a couple of hours. The second fire, however, you feed foot long chunks of fire-wood into it every 20 minutes or so. Now, which fire is going to burn hotter and more efficiently? Obviously, the fire that you are constantly feeding with the right fuel. You’ll still have half the log left over with the first fire by the time it is dead, while the second fire is hot enough to melt glass . As far as your body is concerned, the “log” that is left over represents what remains of that big meal you ate and will now be stored as fat.
Earlier, I said that having more muscle will lead to a faster metabolism. This is because the only thing that powers your body is muscle. Every action from walking to breathing and even blinking is powered by muscle. Muscle is the only part of your body that burns calories, so the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be, period. That means even sitting on your butt, doing nothing, you will burn quite a few more calories if you have five more pounds of muscle than you do now. Conversely, if you have less muscle mass, your metabolism will be slower.
This leads me back to what a “fast state” is. When you are in this state, it means you have not fed your body for at least four hours. After the four hours are up, as I pointed out earlier, your body tends to store whatever food hasn’t been used for energy now as energy for emergencies (which is body fat). Now, whatever energy you have for whatever you do is being supplied by muscle mass.
Yes, your body is now sacrificing brain tissue, internal organs, skin and muscle mass to supply you with the energy that you need to get through your day. Talk about a vicious circle! Not only are you depriving your body of the protein it needs to rebuild and repair what you destroyed in the gym, but your storing record amounts of body fat and permanently lowering your metabolism by breaking down precious muscle mass and using it for energy! And it’s not even that great of an energy source. You will find that, once you increase your protein intake, you will sleep better, recover faster, lose bodyfat quicker and have TONS of energy!
TOP 5 Reasons to Drink Protein Shakes
Simply put a scoop of protein in a ziplock bag or two and that will allow you to take your shake on the road. And because most mix with water, not milk or juice, it’s as easy as finding a glass to drink it from.
2.) Keeps Metabolism Fired up!
Each time you ingest protein, your metabolic rate increases slightly. Keeping a steady flow of small amounts of protein going throughout your day, keeps your body’s furnace naturally fired up. It’s a great weight loss tool, and great tool for keeping the building blocks of muscle surging through your body.
3.) Maintains Stable Blood Sugar Levels
Unlike carbohydrates, which affect blood sugar drastically, protein keeps blood sugar levels stable and steady throughout the day. In the presence of foods higher in carbohydrates, protein acts as a stabilizer that regulates blood sugar and prevents it from get-ting out of hand.
4.) Keeps Nutrition Honest
Rather than reaching for whatever snack is available on the road or in a convenience store, having packets of protein in your car, purse or workout bag prevents you from reaching for the wrong foods in times of hunger. Better to reach for a protein shake than an empty-calorie candy bar!
5.) Man Cannot Live by Food Alone
Sometimes it’s hard to get all the nutrients we need by eating whole foods. Eating can be an arduous and time-consuming pursuit; particularly for those trying to add muscle weight. Supplementing the diet with protein drinks is an easy way to get the calories we need through “between-meal” protein supplementation. After all, who has time to sit down to eat 8 meals a day?