So you’ve probably all heard the old time adage of ‘eat less, move more.’ But what if I told you that you can ‘eat more and weigh less’? Sounds pretty good doesn’t it. The key is to boost metabolism and turn your body into an energy burning machine!
The catch is you have to eat the right foods. It’s pretty simple – eat whole foods and protein, protein, protein!
Why do you need to eat more protein?
Proteins form the basic machinery of every cell in the body. On a basic level, you need protein for growth and repair. When looking to lose weight and build muscle, it’s more important to eat adequate protein than it is to work-out all the time.
When you do weight resistance exercise, you’re literally tearing your muscles. The magic happens during rest period when your muscles repair themselves to become stronger.
And, guess what?
If you’re not eating enough protein, your body will go catabolic; meaning, it won’t repair as effectively leading to muscle wasting. The importance of protein post-exercise (within 24-48 hours) is crucial. The availability of amino acids maximizes the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis resulting in greater muscle anabolism. This means that your body will build muscle.
The more muscle you have, the greater your metabolism will be because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does.
Protein & Thermogenesis
Protein is also harder for your body to digest because it has a greater thermogenic effect than other macronutrients. Thermogenesis is the energy your body needs to digest food. It takes 25% more energy to break down protein than it does to digest carbohydrates (5%) and fats (2%). So by eating more protein, you’re actually burning energy and boosting metabolism!
Vegan Vs. Animal Protein
I’m a huge advocate for a plant-based diet, but I understand the importance of animal protein as well. The problem with veganism is that it can be quite difficult to get all the protein you need from your diet as it takes some basic knowledge of nutrition and understanding of protein combining with nuts, seeds, grains & legumes. Animal products are called complete proteins because they contain all 9 essential amino acids compared to plants which need to be combined to be complete.
Fruits and vegetables contain protein in small amounts. They are also contain better quality protein because they are alkalinising to the body. Because animal protein is acidic, if it isn’t counteracted by lots of potassium-rich alkalinising foods, it can lead to muscle wastage as your body has to buffer the acid by leaching glutamine from the muscles to assist excretion. Read my ‘How Alkaline are You?’ post if you would like to know more.
In light of this information, it is actually very important to have a balanced diet. This means eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with small amounts of animal protein. This is a similar line of thinking as the Paleo diet which advocates greater consumption of alkaline foods to counteract the acid produced from meat.
I’m not saying that you can’t get all the protein you need from a vegan diet. I’m saying it’s easier to get your protein from meat.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
The act of eating raises metabolism in itself. As mentioned previously, your body uses energy to break down food which increases metabolism. When your body doesn’t get food (eg. skipping meals, starving yourself, waiting too long between meals) your metabolism slows down. This is because our bodies are hard-wired to protect against starvation and by slowing down metabolism it conserves energy. By eating 5-6 small meals per day, your metabolism will stay elevated knowing that another meal is coming soon. Eating every three hours is also great because you don’t get hungry between meals (compared to having 3 square meals per day) reducing the chances of over-eating.
Key Points & Helpful Hints:
- Eat lots of whole foods – green leafy vegetables and fruits should make up the bulk of your diet
- Eat 5-6 small meals a day – consistency with meals will help boost metabolism
- Eat protein at every meal – this will boost metabolism and aid in muscle repair
- Divide your plate into portions. 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbohydrates (brown rice or sweet potato) & half non-starchy vegetables (green leafy vegetables, capsicum, zuchinni, green beans etc.)
- To add more protein to breakfast, consider mixing a protein powder with your milk and pouring it over oats. My favourite powder is BSc Naturals Organic Vegan Protein – available at Woolworths in Australia; it’s alkaline, dairy & soy free and has no added nasty ingredients
I hope you found this post interesting! If you would like any more information on thermogenic foods or sports nutrition, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. If you’d like to see me for a consult, please visit my bookings page.
Have a lovely Sunday everyone!
Love Stace x