When it comes to losing weight, many people focus on cutting calories and doing cardio exercise. While these are important factors in weight loss, there's another key element that often gets overlooked: protein.
Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean tissue, which includes muscle. When you're trying to lose weight, people typically eat less and start doing cardio exercise.
Unfortunately, this often leads to a loss of both fat and muscle tissue, with an average of 25% of the weight lost being lean tissue. This is problematic because lean tissue is metabolically active and helps to burn calories, which means that losing it can lower your metabolic rate.
When you stop eating less and return to your previous diet, your lower metabolic rate can cause you to gain weight back quickly. This is because your body has lost some of its muscle mass, which is critical for maintaining a healthy weight.
So, what can you do to maintain your lean tissue and prevent a drop in your metabolic rate when trying to lose weight? Here are four things to keep in mind:
Reduce overall caloric intake: While it's important to eat enough protein, you also need to be mindful of your overall caloric intake. To lose weight, you need to create a caloric deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn each day.
Consume protein at 1 gram per pound of body weight: As we mentioned earlier, protein is essential for maintaining lean tissue. Aim to consume 1 gram of protein for each pound of your desired body weight to help preserve your muscle mass.
Do regular/consistent strength training: Strength training is critical for building and maintaining muscle mass. Aim to do strength training exercises at least two times per week to help maintain your muscle mass.
Do regular cardiovascular exercise: Cardiovascular exercise can help you burn calories and create a caloric deficit. Aim to do cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
It's worth noting that any diet, such as Keto, Paleo, Whole 30, etc., can work for weight loss as long as there is a caloric deficit and protein guidelines are maintained.
At EverStrongSF, we do body composition measurements with our InBody 570, which provides a caloric read on your basal metabolic rate. This can help you plan and measure your total caloric intake as you progress in your training. By following these guidelines, you can achieve a healthy weight and maintain your muscle mass.
At EverStrongSF, we believe that sustainable weight loss is possible through a combination of proper nutrition and regular exercise (strength and cardio!). If you're struggling to lose weight or want to make a change to your routine, we're here to help.