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Articles Fitness Nutrition

How To Burn Fat / Build Muscle

Sep 23, 2009

The key to burn fat and build muscle in a weight loss diet is determining how and when to eat protein, fats and carbohydrates. The first step to burning fat and building muscle is to encourage your body to use its fat reserves for energy.  

Understanding the Three Macronutrients

The body burns calories using the three macronutrients known as:

  • protein
  • fats
  • carbohydrates 

The body burns these macronutrients in this order: First carbs, then fats, then protein. That means if you eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, your body will use the carbohydrates in the cereal to provide all the energy you need, burning no body fat.  If you have a protein shake or eat an omelette, your body will go to your fat reserves and use stored energy to provide the energy your body needs to function. Most people eat more carbs and fats than protein, therefore, their bodies never get around to losing fat while maintaining muscle mass.  If you reverse that, by eating protein and very little fat and only slow-burning carbs, you will get the desired result.

Burning Fat

You must create an imbalance in your diet in order to lose weight. In order to eat enough protein to maintain or build muscle (1/2 gram of protein for every pound of lean body weight), you need to eliminate foods that have sugar in them until you have reached your weight loss goal. This includes fruit and sweet vegetables like carrots and beets and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.

Maintaining Muscle with Diet and Exercise

Protein is a building block used by every cell in your body. When you add more protein foods to your diet and greatly reduce the fats and simple carbohydrates (grains, starch and foods with sugar), you are encouraging your body to use stored fat for energy, while maintaining or building muscle mass.

Any kind of aerobic exercise burns calories. Sustaining a fast walk for 30 minutes will burn about 300 calories. This should be your minimum goal.  Exercising in the morning helps to raise your metabolic rate throughout the day, thus maximizing your results. To maintain and build muscle, power yoga or weight lifting are effective exercises.

Eliminating Hunger

By eliminating starches and sugar and keeping proper levels of protein, your pancreas and its proper release of insulin is stabilized allowing blood sugar levels to be easily maintained. When blood sugar levels are stable, cravings for sugary or sweet foods are all but eliminated, making it easier to attain your weight loss goal. Some examples of good protein are soy-based proteins, egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish and whey.  

Sample Meals

Breakfast can be a protein shake or eggs with herbs.

For lunch, eat your choice of chicken, fish, eggs, or vegetarian protein and vegetables (slow-burning carbs). Your body will continue using its fat reserves for energy throughout the rest of the day.

For dinner, you can eat a small amount of vegetable protein and salad with salad dressing to taste or grilled, roasted or steamed vegetables. You can experiment with eating a very small serving of whole grains for dinner, which means, you are eating only one serving of carbohydrates in a day.

Eliminating sugars from your diet is crucial during the time you want to lose weight. When you have reached your weight-loss goal, you can add carbohydrates sparingly back into your diet and still maintain good muscle tone.  Lastly, make sure to drink 8 glasses of pure water each day.

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