If you’re thinking about trying (or have been desperately trying) to lose some weight; i.e. body fat, there’s a new way of thinking about things. The concept isn’t new, but the focus of 99% of people trying to shed excess body fat needs an upgrade. What’s the typical plan of attack when you’re trying to cut some calories and melt away body fat? Limit calories, increase cardio, maybe even pump some weights? Sound familiar? Well, those things are all fine and dandy, but guess what, you’re creating an uphill battle for yourself, especially if you’re a woman. Today, I’m going to tell you what every woman’s prime fat loss focus SHOULD be, why it’s so important, and what you can do about it.
Check out nearly any magazine, blog, or gym and you’re going to get the same old run around; burn more fat by expending more calories than you take in. On paper it sounds perfect. Though if it were that easy, the weight loss industry wouldn’t be the behemoth that it is today. The fact of the matter is the average exerciser will initially drop some weight, put a little back on, yo-yo around for the next six to nine months, before eventually ending up back where they started from.
There’s obviously something missing from the puzzle here. The piece that’s missing is, as you may have guessed, related to your diet. And, as today’s article has noted, it’s especially relevant to women for reasons to be discussed below.
While cutting junk from your diet is essential to any fat loss goals, the more impactful focus is going to pertain to your macro intake, specially, protein. As you probably know, protein builds muscle, muscle boosts metabolism, and a better metabolism burns more calories. What may know realize however, is muscle growth has not been created equal. While men can pack on muscle with relative ease, the average woman is going to have a much more difficult time. While this can be attributed to several factors, it’s principally related to the fact women are simply working with just 10% of the testerone levels of the average man. Testosterone is a key player in building muscle, and without it, putting any lean muscle mass on your frame is going to be tough.
To compensate, women in particular need to make sure their protein intake is exactly where it should be. I’ve seen far too many women, with a variety of goals, kill themselves in the gym for the most meager of results. The common theme in nearly all scenarios, was a lack of consistent protein intake. Hitting your daily protein goals every. single. day. is the only way to ensure you maximize your lean muscle mass, boost that metabolism, and ultimately burn away that excess fat and hit your fat loss goals.
As a quick aside, please note that I’m saying “fat loss” goals NOT “weight loss” goals. The goal should always be to improve measurements, improve muscle to fat ratio, and look and feel better. The number on the scale is absolutely not the yard stick to measure your success.
The logical question that follows; how much protein should I be eating? The answer is, it depends. Based on your current weigh and body composition, the amount of protein you eat is going to change. As a rough guideline, aim to take in .75-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Hard gainers may need a little more, those of you who gain muscle easily may need a little less. Personally, I shoot for a gram per body weight and have always been pleased with the results.
Now, here’s a big caveat – if you have significant weight to lose, consuming 250+ grams of protein per day isn’t going to be the right move…not even close. For all individuals, cap your grams of protein per day at 175. If you find yourself with a body weight well above this figure, focus more on portion size, healthy food choices, and caloric reduction until you find yourself in the 180-200 pound range. At that point feel free to proceed with the recommendations in this article.
If packing in as much protein as you weight each day sounds difficult, that’s only because you’ve probably never given it a genuine shot before. Let me break things down for you quickly…
For a 140 pound woman who wants to reduce her body fat while adding a little lean muscle mass to her frame, check out the following sample…
Breakfast: 2 eggs + protein shake made with non-fat milk
Total protein intake: 48 grams
Lunch: Chickpea + broccoli salad with hemp seeds and healthy dressing of your choice
Total protein intake: 24 grams
Dinner: Chicken breast + baked sweet potato
Total protein intake: 40 grams
Bed time snack: Greek yogurt + strawberries
Total protein intake: 21 grams
Total daily protein intake: 133 grams
This sample diet was extremely boring and not something sustainable, so feel free to spruce this up with additional grains, veggies, etc. The point is, hitting a reasonable level of protein isn’t hard. A chicken breast, a couple of eggs, a salad, a protein shake, and a little yogurt before bed is all it’s going to take. You can keep the variety by adding in other protein heavy sources like lean beef, fish, nuts, tofu….the list is endless.
Take a minute to digest all of that (pun intended) and give me a shout in the comments below if you’ve got any follow up questions or concerns!