Eat a High-Protein Diet
If you’re trying to keep fat off and muscle on, eating protein is second to none. Proteins, like chicken breast and egg whites, build muscle and are the least likely nutrients to be converted to fat and increase fat stores. Protein will also help our fat-loss efforts because, as clinical studies have shown, it causes a greater increase in our metabolisms than any other macronutrient. In other words, the body burns a substantial amount of calories just in the process of breaking down protein. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, protein is also a very potent appetite suppressant. No need for those over-the-counter appetite control pills when we’re on a high-protein diet.
Now the big question is, how often and how much protein should we eat each day? Well, it’s a fact that muscles grow because of net protein synthesis, which is the difference between protein degradation and synthesis. In the average couch potato, this net difference is zero. He or she isn’t causing any muscle damage, so protein requirements are the same day in and day out. If we’re bodybuilding or weight training intensely and correctly, we should be causing a good deal of muscle fiber damage, and thus we need extra protein to repair this damage.
As to how much protein we need, some studies show that to elicit muscle growth beyond what we’d normally achieve, we need quite a bit more than the RDA of 70 or so grams. I personally make sure to get at least one gram per pound of my lean body weight. For example, if I weigh 200 pounds and have a body fat percentage of 5 percent, my lean body mass is 190 pounds, so I’d make sure to get at least 190 grams of protein, preferably more, each day divided among my six meals.