Eat more protein and snacks to build muscle, lose belly fat: advice – Insider
Eddie, 21, submitted his eating routine for Insider’s Nutrition Clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists offer advice on readers’ eating habits.
He told Insider his goals are muscle gain and abdominal fat loss, but he said he knows spot fat reduction isn’t possible.
He also said he does “light to moderate exercise (brisk walking) and moderate weightlifting 3-4 times a week for an hour each time.”
Georgia Head, a registered nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food, told Insider that losing fat while building muscle was tricky but not impossible, especially if you are new to training — the key is eating enough protein, not dropping your calories too low, and following a challenging, progressive, resistance training plan, she said.
“Where we store and lose body fat is mostly determined by genetics and hormones,” Head said. “The only way to reduce body fat on your stomach is by reducing overall body fat and so this is something to take into account.”
Eddie starts the day with a bowl of fruit such as papaya, banana, apple, pear, or melon, and two slices of brown bread topped with honey and peanut butter, or avocado, or a fried egg.
Head said it’s great that Eddie eats lots of varied fruits and vegetables and mainly whole foods.
“Processed foods often aren’t as nutritious and can contain too much salt and sugar, meaning they should be kept to a minimum,” she said.
However, if Eddie trains later in the day, Head said he might benefit from eating a smaller breakfast and spreading his energy intake more evenly across the course of the day.
“This will help him avoid any energy slumps and also ensure he can get the most out of his training,” she said.
For lunch, Eddie said he eats white rice and baked beans with mixed vegetables.
Head said he should try to eat more protein both to boost satiety and help with muscle gain (aim for 1.5-2g per kilogram of bodyweight spread out over the day).
She recommends adding lean sources like chicken, turkey, white fish, salmon, and eggs, as well as plant-based alternatives such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
Adding more healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, salmon, or avocado, to his meals would also help with exercise recovery because of their anti-inflammatory properties, Head said.
“Reducing inflammation is important when performing at your peak, as it helps reduce muscle soreness post-training (the dreaded DOMS), allowing you to recover more quickly,” she said.
Eddie’s dinners are often pasta with corned beef and mixed vegetables, or baked potatoes with stew and mixed vegetables, he said.
While he is getting some fiber in his meals, Head said he could work to increase his intake over time to help boost his digestive health and stabilize blood sugar levels.
“Fiber can improve weight maintenance by helping with feelings of satiety and has even been said to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer,” she said.
Small tweaks could be choosing wholemeal bread, whole grain pasta, or brown rice, adding lentils to stews, and eating the skin on vegetables and fruit.
Head said eating smaller meals and adding snacks into Eddie’s diet might help boost his workout performance but he should give himself one to two hours to digest food before training.
It’s important to refuel adequately after a workout by consuming a snack or meal containing protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
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