If you’ve been working out with weights for any length of time, you know the importance of supplying your body with frequent feedings of quality protein so that your body will be able to have the necessary building blocks to build muscle in the shortest amount of time possible.
How much protein should you be consuming each day? Well, that debate has been raging for many years. Eventually, the mainstream will accept what those in the bodybuilding community have known for a long, long time.
In order to increase muscle mass, you should be consuming at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This is a good starting point. However, this is the same thing you need for fat loss. You need to eat more protein to burn fat.
After awhile you may gradually increase your protein intake, monitoring your progress as you go, to determine if a higher protein intake allows you to make better progress.
Personally, I make better progress when my protein intake is somewhere between one and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, spread out over 6 meals per day.
The above paragraph may not be new to any of you. What you might not realize, however, is that protein is also extremely important when dieting to burn off excess body fat. You definitely want to eat more protein to burn fat. Eating more protein burns calories and helps you lean out.
Yes, it’s important to keep your protein intake high when dieting to make sure that you don’t burn off any muscle tissue in your quest to get ripped or lean.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about taking in protein to burn fat in order to boost your metabolism and burn more fat, in addition to helping preserve and build your lean muscle tissue.
Eating more protein to burn fat was confirmed in a study published in the American Journal of Physiology. One group was fed a high protein diet (just over one gram per pound of bodyweight per day) while the second group consumed a protein diet near equal to that of the RDA.
The group eating the high protein diet burned more fat than the group consuming protein near equal to the RDA.
One reason for the ability of protein to burn fat could be an increased “thermic” effect. The thermic effect of the RDA group was elevated 16% after eating.
However, in the high protein group the thermic effect increased 42% after eating, almost 3 times that of the RDA group.
This thermic effect of digesting your food peaks approximately one hour after eating. Spreading your daily caloric intake over 6 meals a day, eating every 2 to 3 hours, helps to take advantage of the increased metabolic rate that accompanies eating.
In other words, the more oftern you eat, the higher your metabolic rate, i.e. the number of calories your body burns each day.
In addition, by adding more protein to each meal, you also increase your metabolism. Your body requires more energy (i.e. calories) to process protein than it does carbohydrates.
Let’s review some simple changes you can make right now in your nutrition program to rapidly increase your body’s ability to not only build muscle but burn fat also.
1) Eat 5 to 6 smaller meals per day, as opposed to 2 or 3 larger ones. This will ensure that you supple your body with the nutrients necessary to build muscle, as well as increase your resting metabolic rate.
It will also prevent your body from kicking into “starvation” mode, which can happen when you go too long between meals.
If this happens, your body will start burning muscle for energy and increase your body fat stores, as well as slowing down your metabolism. All of these are things you want to avoid.
2) Eat a high protein diet consisting of at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This helps ensure that your body has the protein available to increase maintain a positive nitrogen balance, which can lead to an increase in your muscles mass.
It will also increase your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more body fat than a low protein diet, without as large a decrease in your daily caloric intake, which will also help avoid the “starvation” mode discussed in the previous paragraph.
Try these simple changes in your nutrition program to help you rapidly increase your muscle mass, burn off unwanted body fat and achieve the ripped muscular body that you’ve always wanted.
Gregg Gillies is the founder of [http://www.buildleanmuscle.com] and has contributed articles to Ironman magazine as well as being a regular contributor to Body Talk magazine. He publishes a free newsletter availabe at Build Muscle and Burn Fat [http://www.buildleanmuscle.com/ezine.html]. He is the author of two books, also available at his site.