By Trevor Lomax
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of texts from friends that all go something like this: “Trevor, can you give me some advice on what to eat? I want to lose weight and gain muscle mass.” For all of my knowledge-hungry friends, here’s your answer:
The goal for this process is to burn more calories throughout each day than you eat through food. How do we do this? We do it through weight training, cardio, and eating the right foods.
What does the weight training do? The resistance training increases your muscle mass so that your resting metabolic rate increases, or in smaller words, the amount of calories you burn simply living is higher. As a beginner, it’s advised you weight train 3-4 times per week, which is enough time for your muscles to repair and rebuild stronger in between trainings. As for cardio, you should do these on your days off, usually spaced evenly with at least one rest day a week to completely revitalize your body. So if you weight train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, you should do cardio, like running, biking, or swimming, Wednesday and Saturday. That leaves Sunday to rest your body, but don’t just sit around! On your rest day you should still get outside and go for a walk or play some basketball with friends, even if its just shooting around.
As for what you should eat, eat what looks like it came from nature. You should space your meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up. This means somewhere between 4-7 meals a day. Keep your calories low, but not too low. This number is hard to find but a good guide is to eat every meal to when you’re satisfied, not completely full or stuffed.
Eat enough protein to allow your muscles to rebuild. An easy way to figure this out is a gram of protein per pound of body weight. The best sources of protein include poultry like chicken or turkey, meat such as beef, or fish such as salmon or tuna.
Carbohydrates should come from sources that add fiber to your diet. Fiber slows the absorption of nutrients into your body to provide a longer sustained energy rather than a rush of energy like candy would give you. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains from brown rice, whole grain pasta, and whole grain bread, as well as carbs from vegetables and fruit. Be careful consuming too many carbs from whole grains because although they provide essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), they are very dense and can add too many calories to your diet especially on rest days and cardio days. Vegetables and fruit on the other hand provide critical micronutrients your body needs to run efficiently, as well as make you feel full and are not very calorie dense!
As for fats, don’t worry; they don’t all make you fat! The main fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats. These are fats your body doesn’t need but are very difficult to avoid completely. As for the other fats, these are okay to have and can even help you with your goals. Remember, fats have 9 calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This means that you must limit your fat intake to lose that excess weight. Try avoiding things like pizza, cheeseburgers, and fried foods, which have a high concentration of unhealthy fats. Foods like olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fish have the healthy fats you want!
Overall, losing weight is hard! Set firm goals and write them down to look and think about daily. Find friends or other sources of motivation and support to help you on your journey. Learn to cook. Do your research and find good, reliable resources. Use UREC’s Personal Training and Nutrition Analyst programs to get started. I promise, once you start seeing results, you’ll want to keep going and set new goals for yourself.