As summer is fast approaching it is important to find and cultivate sustainable ways to keep fat off and remain as healthy as you can. Staying in shape may be a challenge especially with a hectic lifestyle. Also many are confused and tricked into believing myths such as ‘crunches get you a lean stomach’ or spot fat burning. That’s why we offer some reliable tips on how to stay lean and fit especially in the summer!
Increase Your Protein Intake
Many people, especially women can be skeptical about this one because of a common misconception that protein makes you fat or you should only eat a lot of it when you work out. There’s nothing more misinformed! Protein is the most filling of macronutrients and it speeds up your metabolism. It will also protect your muscle for the optimal fat burning effect. Aim for at least a gram per pound of bodyweight.
Most of our bodies is actually made up of water. It is absolutely essential for the functioning of all systems in our bodies including the digestive system and metabolism. 3 litres per day is a goal you should keep in mind. Drinking will flush and cleanse your body and keep you full so you can avoid food cravings.
Your Diet Should Be 90% Whole Foods
This tip, as opposed to many complex diets and restrictions thrown at us daily is simple. Stick to whole, natural and unprocessed foods most of the time. They have all you need to stay healthy and lean, including vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fill your menu with veggies, fruit, whole grains and lean meat, poultry and fish.
Bring Intensity Up To A New Level
To get leaner keep your workouts intense and avoid long breaks between sets. Continuously look for new stimuli for your body so it gets tired every time. You can take it up a notch from your usual 8-12 rep range to exhaust your muscles and keep your heart rate up for maximum fat loss.
Use Cardio Wisely
Don’t be one of the people who spend their lives on the treadmill with little or no result. Be smart – do good cardio (with the right heart rate for fat loss) or high intensity intervals a few times a week. Variety and consistency will bring more effect than doing it all the time – for hours every day.
Take Rest Seriously
Your body works and develops when you rest. Sleep maximizes that potential as during sleep you produce more growth hormone which helps your body heal, regenerate and develop. To see best results commit to 8 hours of sleep every night. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body can go into a stressed state, which can lead to elevated cortisol levels and other hormonal imbalances. Try to make your bedroom a stress free environment and avoid watching TV directly before bed. Take a relaxing bath or drink some herbal tea to help you unwind.
As you probably already know – protein – the ‘building blocks’ of all of our cells is crucial for all bodily functions. It regulates processes such as tissue growth and regeneration as well as managing and producing hormones. You may also know that it’s very important to have a high protein diet especially if you are an athlete or you have a hard training routine. After a workout our muscle fibers are ‘torn’ and have to be regenerated and repaired as soon as possible. Protein has such anti-catabolic properties and helps our cells (including muscle) grow and recover. It has also been established that 30 minutes before and after workout are the optimal times to consume protein (or extra protein) in order to reduce catabolism and maximize muscle growth. But how much is too much? Can an unlimited amount of protein be consumed at any given time?
Basically, when we ingest protein, the stomach breaks it down to amino acids by means of stomach acid and enzymes. Amino acids are then transported into the small intestine and further into the bloodstream. They are then distributed into all the various cells in your body. But the small intestine can only shoot a limited number of amino acids into our bloodstreams per hour. This is why only a limited amount of protein can be absorbed at any given time. According to estimates whey protein can be absorbed at a rate of 8 to 10 grams/hr casein at ~6.1 g/hr, soy at ~3.9 g/hr, and cooked egg at ~2.9 g/hr. Also, according to another study, our muscles won’t use more than 30 grams of protein consumed at one meal. Unfortunately this matter can’t be simplified as it all depends on numerous factors. Some of those include:
-Type of protein eaten- whether its Whey Protein Gold Standard or a steak?
-What are you eating it with? On its own or with fat and carbs?
-The fiber content of the whole meal – more fiber equals slower absorption
-When you last ate – are you full or hungry?
These factors can affect the protein absorption. For example a steak will take longer to be broken down and move through your digestive system and therefore you will benefit more from a steak than chugging 3 whey shakes at a time. Also, as much as the protein will be used in your body, it may not be used for muscle building in excess of the said 30-40 grams.
This information is crucial, not only in order to maximize muscle growth and anti-catabolism but also to avoid over – consuming protein and storing the excess as fat. Keep in mind that it is still important to stick to the recommended daily intake. Spreading it out through the day and increasing your pre- and post -workout intake will maximize your muscle and strength gains. Try to have a balanced diet and alternate between supplements and whole foods rather than drinking shake after shake. Many sources agree that you should be getting most of your protein from food and limit your supplementation to 2 shakes a day, such as Rule One Protein, to maintain balance and health.
Many people have doubts when it comes to establishing their macros (amount of carbs, protein and fat they should eat everyday). Between the vast amount of advice on the internet and official government health organization recommendations this can be a truly confusing task. Basically the general recommendation is to eat 0.8g/kg of bodyweight. This means that an average sedentary man, weighing 80kg should consume 64 grams of protein a day. But of course, that all depends not only on your size and lifestyle but also your goals.
Function of Protein
Protein is the building block of every cell of your body. It is the most abundant substance in your system, after water. Repair and growth are one of the vital functions of protein which is one of the reasons children and physically active people require more than sedentary adults. It can also be used for energy, but in case of sufficient carbohydrate intake spare protein will be turned into fat. Protein is involved in the regulation and metabolism of some hormones and enzymes. These are responsible for regulating vital bodily function. For example insulin is a small protein – a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Protein also forms precious antibodies that help fight illness and disease.
So How Much Do I Need?
If you train regularly for fat loss and muscle gain you will need around 2g/kg of bodyweight. Intense training breaks down your muscles and in order for them to regenerate and grow you will need to provide it with lots of quality protein. If you find it hard to eat protein rich foods, you can help yourself with protein shakes and bars. According to Dr Karen Reid, a sports science nutritionist, after a while you can reduce this intake down to 1.2-1.6g/kg of bodyweight or if your training is not as intense as the bodybuilding regime you can also take in less than 2g/kg. For those dieting for fat loss this is also beneficial as protein provides satiety and helps you stick to a clean diet and lose weight. Apart from your usual food protein try a shake before and after workout.
How Much is Too Much?
Stuffing your face with 10 steaks at a time is neither reasonable nor beneficial. There are a few main reasons for that.
Firstly, your muscles will not grow automatically from consuming protein. In fact, without the energetic expenditure protein will simply be transformed into fat cells. However, remember that swapping carbs for protein will enable weight loss. Your body burns fat before it does protein.
Secondly, you can only absorb around 30g of protein at a time. Now you know why bodybuilders eat little and often. Thirdly, timing matters so try to focus your intake around workouts. The 30-minute post-workout window is when you need this rapidly absorbed protein to optimize muscle repair and growth. This is when you will need a simple quick snack such as a whey shake like Rule 1 Protein or Whey Protein Gold Standard some milk.
Lastly, too much unneeded protein and nitrogen from the amino acids puts extra strain on your liver and kidneys, which have to filter it out.
So you’ve reached a point where you have your diet and workouts all figured out. But are there any supplements that could maximize your results further? What kind of shakes do you usually go for and why? If you are still unsure hopefully this article will clarify which ones to use and when.
Casein is the main protein present in milk and cheese and it is considered a ‘slow’ protein. In practice this means that around 3 to 4 hours after consumption it reaches the highest levels of blood amino acids and protein synthesis. But what is the reason for this? The simple answer is that it moves through the digestive tract slower and it takes up to 7 hours to fully digest. One common explanation is that casein coagulates in the stomach and forms gel-like ‘clots’ that cannot be quickly digested.
According to the study conducted at the University of Giessen the explanation for the slow release of casein protein is different altogether. The study concludes that the slow digestion of casein can be attributed to casomorphins (protein particles) present in casein. In casomorphins are peptides formed during the digestion of casein. These particles can cause in some aspects similar results to those of opiates. Of course, they do not cause any sort of intoxication but they can be expected to bind to the opiate receptors in the digestive tract and affect the intestinal activity, slowing down the digestion process.
Thanks to the slow release slow digest properties, casein has been called an ‘overnight protein’. It is excellent to take before bed to ensure you put your body in the optimal state for muscle recovery and growth all night long. No need to get up and have a ‘mid-night shake’. According to a study conducted at Baylor University, men who drank a casein protein shake for 10 weeks gained significantly more muscle mass than the ones who consumed whey only. For long term muscle recovery casein as opposed to whey, which may pass through your body before you reap all its benefits, will provide a lasting anticatabolic effect. It is also believed to have metabolism increasing properties so that you can build lean muscle mass and burn fat quickly and more efficiently. What’s more, it turns out that casein significantly increases strength! In a Massachusetts study, it was discovered that casein doubled the effect of whey protein on legs, chest, and shoulder strength. But you don’t necessarily need to drink shakes ever night. If you opt for a late night snack (or simply for your supper) consider including milk products such as milk and cheese. Also, if you are on a low calorie diet, casein will prevent muscle breakdown that could normally occur in a calorie deficit.
Additional benefits of casein include protecting tooth enamel, promoting intestinal health (especially when compared to meat and soy protein sources). Finally, casein is a good choice for vegetarians who work out and want to maintain a good level of high quality protein in their diets.
Even though there is no magical supplements out there, slow digesting casein such as Rule 1 Protein, is superior for muscle recovery and quality protein. Don’t forget about balance (whey also has its benefits and uses) and try to keep a healthy proportion between shop bought supplements and natural milky products.
Muffins are so great because you can enjoy them any time of the day. However, most are about the size of a softball and loaded with calories, carbohydrates and sugar. These protein muffins are wonderful because they have minimal calories and are packed with protein! To avoid dry muffins, be sure to remember the banana and do not add any dry flour, such as ground oats or almond flour.
Prep and Prepare Time: 45 minutes
– 3 Scoops BPI Sports Whey HD Banana Marshmallow Protein
– 1 Banana
– 1/2 Cup Egg Whites
– 1/8 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
– 1 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
– 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
– Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray muffin pan with oil
– Mash banana until most of the chunks are gone
– Blend all ingredients together until smooth
– Scoop batter into muffin tins 1/8 cup at a time (small protein scoop works great!)
– Sprinkle sesame seeds over each muffin
– Bake 17 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes
Amount Per Serving