Carrying extra weight around has many negative side effects. It can lead to everything from serious health conditions to unnecessary pain. If you’re considering trying to shed some extra weight this year, dieting and exercise are crucial for long-lasting change. The effort should not necessarily be about “losing weight” thought, right? You want to focus on how to improve your body composition by losing fat and gaining muscle in order to keep your metabolism as high as possible.
Let’s think about a few of the most important lifestyle habits we’ll need to change in order to get our body composition moving in the right direction.
The Importance of Diet
Diet is more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss. This doesn’t just mean eating at a calorie deficit either. You need to eat the right nutrients in the right amounts so your body can properly and efficiently break down food into energy.
Think of food as the fuel your body needs to run well. If you eat junk food, even at a caloric deficit, your body isn’t going to feel as good as it will if you eat foods that consist of the correct macronutrient makeup for you.
Pay Attention to Your Macronutrients
The three macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Each of these has a different caloric makeup. Each also fuels your body differently. Protein is used to build muscle. Carbohydrates are used as energy. They burn off quickly, which is why you experience a sugar crash a couple of hours after eating large amounts of carbs. Fats are also used as energy, but they burn off more slowly than carbs. They are necessary for organ function as well.
When eating to fuel your body, focus on protein first. Try to eat about 80-90% of your body weight in grams of protein. If you weigh 150 pounds, eat about 135-150 grams of protein a day. It might help to take a deeper dive into how much protein you should eat in a day, as you fortify your plan to improve your body composition.
After you have your protein down, it’s important to find the right balance of carbohydrates and protein for you. Figure out how many calories you need by using a metabolic calculator. Eat carbohydrates around your workout or times when you need big bursts of energy. Eat fats later in the day.
Other Nutritional Considerations
Another part of eating the best diet for you, some foods affect people differently. Even if you don’t have Celiac Disease, eating gluten might leave you bloated. If this is you, consider what has gluten in it and try to avoid it.
Dairy has the same effect on some people, leaving them uncomfortable and bloated. It can be important to limit dairy in these circumstances. If not dairy or gluten, you may have an intolerance to some types of meat, vegetables, fruits, or legumes.
If you think you might be intolerant to a type of food, try eliminating it for a month and see how your body responds. When making lifestyle changes, it’s important to listen to your body and understand how you feel after eating. A food journal can help.
The Role of Exercise
Like diet, exercise can have a huge impact on changing your body. Both metabolic conditioning and strength training play a role. The best way to lose fat and increase muscle mass is to workout three to five times a week with a combination of both.
Contrary to popular belief, weight training won’t make you bulky or big either. This is true even if you’re lifting heavy weights. It does have many benefits though.
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training will increase your muscle mass. If you increase muscle mass while burning fat, your body composition will improve. Muscle is denser than fat, meaning your clothes will fit better.
You’ll feel better too. Building muscle increases your metabolism and gives you more energy. Muscle also helps protect your joints and ligaments from injury. Having muscle will improve your balance and help protect you from serious injury if you fall.
Importance of Conditioning
At the same time, it’s important to incorporate metabolic conditioning into your routine as well. It’s important for cardiovascular health and can help you avoid diseases like diabetes. It will also help you burn calories, which is important if you’re looking to burn fat.
Weight training, cardiovascular fitness, and diet are all important when trying to create long-lasting improvements to your body composition and health. Remember that it’s not a diet; it’s a sustainable lifestyle change.