5 Tips To Building Lean Muscle
Losing fat is important, but what if you just shifted your focus into gaining lean muscle.
Building Lean Muscle is Important to Long-Term Fat Loss
Nutrition can be confusing sometimes. Following a diet plan that is pre-written and run through a calculator can absolutely deliver results for you.
Eating the same thing all the time every day could make you resent your healthier diet and change your relationship with food. It’s important to keep a colorful plate at mealtime and always remember balance.
Being on the journey of figuring out what foods are the healthiest to eat and when is the best time to eat them will impact your ability to grow your lean muscle as well.
Here is a breakdown of foods, and dieting quandaries about intermittent fasting, hidden sugars, and inflammatory foods that will impact your lean muscle mass and your dietary win-falls.
The Foods We Eat Can Work For Us
The goal is to lose fat and build muscle, the foods we eat can greatly impact this goal.
Hallelujah! It is absolutely possible to achieve both, losing fat and building lean muscle can be done! In a process called Body Recomposition, food is necessary and impacts your end results. This approach to weight loss emphasizes the importance of not only losing body fat but gaining lean muscle at the same time.
So how is it done?
In order to lose weight, we have to burn more calories than we are eating. First, it’s important to know your resting metabolic rate in this calculation. Creating a calorie deficit is only necessary when we want to lose weight. When we are trying to lose body fat and maintain or build lean muscle we need to take a slightly different approach.
Losing fat is not necessarily about losing weight, it’s about getting rid of fat and putting lean muscle in its place. Staying in a calorie deficit causes your body to use energy stores to function properly. Typically the result of weight loss also yields a loss of muscle mass as well.
Eating healthy foods like proteins, carbohydrates, good for you fats and fiber will help you lose fat and gain muscle because you are giving your body exactly what it needs to sustain itself. You are also giving your body fuel for your next weight training session.
Deciphering what foods are the best foods to lose fat and build muscle can be tricky. Exercise is essential to combine with this healthy eating in order to reach your goals in a healthy way.
Foods that can favor your goals of getting in the shape you want are:
1. Full-Fat Dairy
There are not enough good things to be said about Greek Yogurt. How does full-fat greek yogurt favor your weight loss fat loss goals? I’m going to tell you!
Greek Yogurt contains conjugated linoleic acid, known to burn fat and promote weight loss. In terms of muscle building, this slow-digesting dairy protein foods your muscles for hours after consumption.
Cottage cheese is another protein-filled snack that helps to fill you up. These types of protein are known as casein, which is typically best eaten in the evening before bedtime. This way your body has all night to recover, rest and regenerate itself for the next big day.
Eggs are a complete protein. They stay with you and promote fullness. The amino acids in this ultra nutritional food increase muscle gain. Some medical studies have claimed the protein in eggs increases your metabolic rate for several hours after you eat them, also known as the thermal effect of food.
The high protein content of eggs can be paired with high fiber food, promoting feelings of fullness that help reduce food intake of other meals that come later in the day.
3. Fish like salmon, tuna, and tilapia
I have talked about fish a lot, the vitamins we get from fish greatly influence our brain function and body’s performance. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon not only reduce inflammation but are also one of the best foods to help you lose fat. How?
Remember that anti-inflammatory effect I just mentioned? Fish helps lessen the production of a hormone called cortisol (a fat-storage hormone) because your body is not in a constant state of panic about where its next meal will come from, or irritated by processed foods that are nutritionally inept.
Omega 3 is good for both heart and muscular health. I know it sounds funny, but we need good fats to lose all the bad fat. When we eat good healthy fats (which are essential to nutrient absorption) our body starts to work the way it’s meant to work. Nourishing our muscle development and getting rid of unnecessary body fat storage.
4. Whey Protein
The importance of whey protein during a calorie deficit or weight loss plan is to protect and conserve the muscle in the body when losing weight. Not only is this characteristic impressive, but whey can be found at most grocery stores or supplement shops and added easily into smoothies or other nutritional drinks. The ability to keep you full will promote fat burning too, your body has to work harder to digest protein.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been considered a hunger reducer. If you practice intermittent fasting, your water intake will significantly increase during fasting times. Adding apple cider vinegar to your water during fasting hours will help stave off hunger and cravings. The acetic acid in the apple cider vinegar is thought to lessen fat accumulation in the stomach and increase the body’s ability to lose fat.
6. Lean Meats
Lean meats like lean beef, bison, and chicken breast supply your body with the protein that it needs and vitamins such as B6 that help give you the stamina you need during exercise. These lean meats are considered essential for gaining muscle. These proteins boost the body without a heavy caloric load, hence the benefits.
There is no one miracle food to melt all the fat away; there is no one magic pill or one specific rigid diet that will keep you healthy and strong. These talks of food and exercise, building muscle, and losing body fat are simply meant to help you understand that this is a journey.
All or nothing mentality “grit through it and go do it,” approach to dieting and lifestyle change is scary, and most people don’t do it or don’t know how to do it. Most people have a shallow buy-in of what losing weight looks like (workout and stop eating so much) mentality; there may be great things you already do every day for yourself.
What are you doing right now? If you have been going on that elliptical for 30 minutes a day and just hate it, it’s time to try something new like weight lifting. Try it and watch your body change.
Change is good; it’s hard, uncomfortable at first, but always worth it.
Down The Line
Let’s use an example here:
You plan to lose 30 pounds, you hit your goal, what’s next? You have been stacking good habits and been practicing these good habits. Once your hit your goal, how do you keep it? What comes next?
Once you screw up on a meal or a day, that does not put you back at square one; you have not let yourself down, this is where the souls searching comes in.
What you feel determines what you think and what you think trickles into what you do.
How do you stay on track when you no longer have an accountability coach or a program to follow? When stress hits you in your life, pregnancy, death, new job, how will you stay in control of your wagon without falling off?
How do you keep on track with the healthy changes you have worked so hard to develop? If you value losing 30 pounds, what happens after you lose that 30 pounds? What do you value beyond this weight loss? We prioritize what we value.
Motivation is a factor, but determination is a stronger source of energy.
My hope is for your weight loss journey and lifestyle changes to yield a conscious effort to stay well. Continue doing the good things, not because you are supposed to, but because they make you feel good.
I have a girlfriend; she beats herself up about her belly every time I see her. She tells me, “I have to get rid of this is the biggest I have ever been.”
I tell her that just because I am into fitness doesn’t mean she has to be. I highly value my good foods and exercise routine; it is imperative to me. If I am happy and healthy, my family is happy and healthy.
My friend drinks a bottle of wine every night; she values drinking and going out to eat 4-5 times a week, not the exercise and cleaner eating. Shifting her values into other healthier things could help her find the motivation and energy she needs to improve herself. Further, when she changes to cleaner eating and having more energy, she is more motivated to play with her kids and live the active lifestyle that is necessary when you have small children.
This example is small, but it is true for many people. I understand why people get overwhelmed with lifestyle changes. Suddenly, someone is telling you to drink more water, manage your stressors, get more sleep, eat clean, exercise, track your steps, lift more weights, it’s a lot!!
STOP! This doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Pretend like you are Hanzel and Gretel, leaving bread crumbs behind you while you journey further and further away from your bad habits. You will always come back to being you, but taking a journey away from the patterns that currently define you to discover something new is worth it.
Five Ways to Gain Lean Muscle
This does not come fast or easy. This type of gain will take some time. Gaining muscle will be methodical and calculated, and eating the right things is key to achieving this long-term goal. To gain lean muscle, you may need to eat at a slight surplus but eat very, very clean foods.
In order to build lean muscle and get that booty that you have been squatting so hard for, you will need to eat all the right things!
1) Eat. Eat foods that supply you with healthy micronutrients. You should eat foods that are raw and clean. You may discover that you love raw broccoli and unsalted almonds, after all.
2) Lift heavy and consistently hit a PR (personal record). Familiarize yourself with the calories you need to eat to sustain your resting body simply. Calculate what you need to cut out to lose fat. Add in or adjust your menu according to what you need when trying to get muscle and change your physique. Challenge yourself in the gym.
3) Take your rest days as actual rest days. Take them to heart. Get proper rest, feed yourself, rest your body, sleep well, and kick your feet up.
4) Get quality sleep and enough sleep. If you are going your most challenging in the gym, your body will need to rest like a rock. If you are overtraining, then you may find yourself occasionally restless.
5) Be ruthlessly patient and consistent; it takes a lot of time. Now that you have lost 100 pounds, you want to look a certain way. Building muscle will add a couple of healthy pounds. If you wish to the physique of a lean, strong person, you need to go through periodization in your nutrition; there’s no other way.
Making lifestyle changes, losing weight, eating healthy, exercising, finding gratitude, prioritizing your health, and putting it first will take some time.
Once the switch is ON, it is easier to follow your goals. Day by day and week by week, you will build your habits and become a better you.
The pathway your health takes starts with you.