Losing weight while building muscle is no small feat. These common fitness goals are hard enough on their own, but trying to achieve them simultaneously can be overwhelming. Doing this takes discipline, perseverance, consistency, and hard work. However, you can exercise with monk discipline and clockwork consistency, do hours of cardio and lift all the weights in the gym, but if your eating habits and nutrition are not taken into account, you are doing all this for nothing. The good news is that developing healthy eating habits to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals isn’t as complicated as you might think. Today we are here to share some good eating habits to lose weight and gain muscle. If you’re intrigued, keep reading.
More importantly, establishing good eating habits doesn’t mean you have to obsessively count calories, stress over every bite of food, or completely change the way you eat. They also don’t mean eliminating comfort foods and sacrificing all your favorite meals. Instead, they focus more on learning about intuitive eating and adjusting your diet over time until you start to enjoy and crave healthy whole foods that are right for you. help burn fat and lose weight while building lean muscle.
If you’re looking for tips and expert advice to get you started on your weight loss and muscle building journey, we’ve got you covered. We spoke with dietitians who share some fantastic science-backed eating habits to help you lose weight and gain muscle. Keep reading to learn the best ways to improve your eating habits so you can stop chasing unattainable goals and make your fitness dreams a reality.
It sounds counterintuitive, but eating more can actually help you reach your weight loss goals. Oh, and don’t skip meals like breakfast! “Believe it or not, eating frequently in small portions can help with weight loss. This is because your body is in balance and constantly getting nutrients to stay in balance,” explains Bianca Garcia, RDN, dietitian nutritionist graduated from Canal Santé. “Skipping meals can cause you to gain weight. By the time you eat, you’re often so hungry that you end up eating more than you should.”
Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help you lose weight and build lean muscle by increasing your body’s fat burning potential. Aim to eat small, nutritionally balanced meals containing healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fats every three hours or so. Protein, in particular, promotes weight loss and is essential for muscle protein synthesis, according to research. If you don’t eat enough, your body can go into starvation mode, which hampers weight loss and muscle gain. Starvation mode causes your body to conserve calories, store fat, and burn muscle for energy instead of fat.
Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDNdirector of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, says Eat this, not that!“Cooking at home is a great way to reduce the number of meals you eat out or order. This way you are less tempted to order unhealthy foods. When cooking at home, not only you save money, but you control what’s in your food and know exactly what you’re eating.”
Numerous studies have shown that “higher frequency of cooking and eating at home is associated with healthier eating, fewer calories consumed and greater weight loss”, according to an analysis published in the Nutrition review. Another pro tip for cooking at home is to make sauces from scratch. Instead of using store-bought or fast-food sauces loaded with added sugars, sodium, and high-calorie oils, make your sauces at home with a base made from cashews, tahini, avocado or any other healthy whole food.
If you were to pick one nutrient for overall health that was the king (or queen) of all other nutrients, you’d be hard pressed to find a better competitor than fiber. In addition to filling you up and improving digestion, fiber plays a vital role in weight loss, according to a study published in the journal Nutrition review. According to WebMD, fiber slows digestion and raises your blood sugar. This helps reduce cravings and prevent overeating.
Although fiber does not directly affect muscle growth, eating high fiber foods improves your overall health and performance, allowing you to train longer and harder to burn fat and gain muscle. “Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grain foods. A high fiber intake can help limit the absorption of sugar and fat in your body. This, in turn, can reduce the calories the body takes in,” says Garcia.
One of the most powerful eating habits you can develop for any health or fitness goal is to eliminate or limit ultra-processed foods from your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “ultra-processed foods” include ingredients found primarily in industrial food manufacturing, including high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers and flavoring agents. These foods are major contributors to weight gain and may increase your risk of chronic disease.
“Avoid anything packed with a long list of ingredients, including sugar, processed vegetable seed oils, processed grains, chemicals and additives,” Gomer advises. “These foods cause inflammation and weight gain. Additionally, the food industry deliberately creates combinations of salt, sugar, and fat that are addictive but cannot provide satiety.”
To lose weight and gain muscle, eat foods high in plant protein. The best sources are legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk), quinoa, seitan, nuts and seeds.
“When broken down into amino acids, proteins become the building blocks for tissue growth, such as muscle,” says Garcia. “Most people think that meat and poultry are the best sources of protein, but unfortunately they also contain cholesterol which can cause cardiovascular problems. Vegetable proteins are natural, clean and are a healthy source of vitamins and minerals.”
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