The year was 1992.
I had just finished a long cycle of weight gain
whereupon I had moved my bodyweight up from
about 150 pounds to about 215 pounds. And let
me just tell you, it wasn't all muscle!
I hadn't been
all that careful about my diet previously but
I thought I knew pretty well what I was doing.
It was time to lose some of that fat.
The first thing
I did was make the biggest mistake a dieter
can make: in my focus of trying to eat only
low fat foods, I unwittingly and drastically
reduced the amount of protein that I was eating.
The result? I
lost weight and plenty of it. The problem was,
I lost mostly muscle! I was smaller, weaker,
lighter and nearly as fat as I was before. Not
quite the results I was looking for.
I know exactly what I did wrong and it's something
I'll never do again.
FORGOT ABOUT PROTEIN!
Protein is an
extremely important nutrient whether your goal
is to lose fat, gain muscle or just tone yourself
up. It is the main structural nutrient in your
body, making up the bulk of your muscles and
organs. Protein is essential for proper hormone
function and immune system health. Most importantly,
for our purposes, protein is used for building
and repairing muscle tissue.
When you are trying
to lose fat, you reduce your calories. Unfortunately,
your body views fat stores as more precious
than your muscle tissue and will tend to eat
up muscle tissue before it goes to fat for energy.
This physiological adaptation used to protect
our ancestors from famine but works against
This is very unfortunate
because muscle tissue is a great calorie-burner.
The more muscle you have, the more calories
you burn even when you're doing absolutely nothing!
Protecting your muscle tissue makes fat loss
so much easier, it will amaze you. Not only
that, it will help you keep that fat off permanently!
What can you do to protect your muscle tissue?
The first thing
you can do is exercise. Exercise, especially
resistance training, provides a stimulus for
your body that sends it a signal saying "keep
this muscle, you're going to need it."
The second thing
you can do is provide your body with enough
protein. This can be in the form of food or
Good food sources
of protein include chicken, fish, eggs, lean
meats, legumes (beans), soy, and dairy products.
Protein supplements are derived from food sources
but are concentrated for convenience and effectiveness.
How much protein do you need?
The standard recommendation
for athletes is between 1.2 to 1.7 grams per
kilogram of bodyweight per day (or 0.5 to 0.7
grams per pound of bodyweight per day), though
some research indicates a ratio as high as 2
grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.9
grams per pound) is beneficial. This means if
you weigh 150 pounds, you should try to eat
between 75 and 105 grams and up to around 135
grams of protein per day.
should experiment with your protein intake to
find out what works best for you. As far as
importance in your supplement program goes,
I would rank protein as next in importance to
a good multi-vitamin.
When I made my
first grand attempt at fat loss, I made the
mistake of neglecting protein and it cost me.
Don't make the same mistake I did!
How to Maximize The Results You
Get From Your Protein Powder. Timing Is Everything!
Whether it be
for fat loss or muscle gain, I always recommend
taking a good protein supplement. The reason
for this is simple: it is a convenient way to
get high-quality protein without excess calories.
Be aware, however,
that in no way am I advocating that you live
on protein powder (like the dangerous Liquid
Protein diets that used to be popular) alone.
The key point to understand here is that a protein
supplement is exactly what the name suggests:
a supplement. It should be taken in addition
to a nutritious diet in order to achieve a certain
purpose, in this case increased protein intake.
and protein bars can also be used as meal replacements
on occasion, especially when you are on the
go. They are far more nutritious than a fast
food meal and more convenient.
The most popular
and highest quality protein powder is whey protein.
Whey is very digestable and is used efficiently
in the body.
You can maximize
the effects you get from your protein supplement
simply by knowing exactly when to take it. Here
is a list of the when, why and how of effective
protein supplementation, ranked in order of
After A Workout
If you only take
protein once per day, this is the absolute best
time to take it. Immediately after you finish
your workout, your body needs raw materials
to rebuild and recover with. If you don't supply
the raw materials through eating, your body
will break down muscle from elsewhere in your
body in order to rebuild the damaged areas.
This is very counterproductive as you can well
By taking in some
protein (20 to 30 grams or so) within minutes
after exercise, you provide your body with the
raw materials it needs to recover without breaking
down it's own muscle tissue.
2. An Hour
After A Workout
About an hour
following a workout, your body has settled down
from the excitement and is ready to really start
rebuilding. The protein that you took in immediately
following the workout has been metabolized and
your body is looking for more. Another protein
shake at this time is a good way to help speed
recovery. Try to take in another 20 to 30 grams
about an hour after working out.
3. First Thing
In The Morning
waking, or as soon after that as you can manage,
take a scoop of protein powder. Your body has
just been through an (approximately) 8 hour
fast and is hungry for nutrients. Feed your
is more quickly assimilated than solid food
and gets into your muscles faster. This protein
shot gives your metabolism a boost, which can
help with fat loss. Be sure to follow it with
a good breakfast, of course.
4. Last Thing
Prepare your body
for the long overnight fast by giving it a little
something to work with. A good combination for
this purpose is to mix a scoop of whey protein
in with a small glass of milk.
Whey is what's
known as a "fast" protein, meaning
that it's digested quickly, while milk protein
(casein) is what's known as a "slow"
protein, meaning it's digested relatively slowly.
At night, you want your protein to be metabolized
slowly so that your body gets a more even supply
over the course of the night. By mixing "fast"
and "slow" proteins, you get the benefits
of the higher-quality whey with the slower digestion
time of the milk.
A quick protein
shake can be a great snack in between meals.
It helps keep your body supplied with protein
all day long. This is especially useful if you
tend to have long periods of time in-between
meals. It could mean the difference between
losing muscle and building or keeping muscle!
6. With Meals
Taking a protein
supplement with meals is a handy way to increase
the protein content of a meal. This is perfect
for when you ake
a meal that is somewhat low in protein.
7. In The Middle
Of The Night
This is a trick
that bodybuilders sometimes use in order to
keep their muscles supplied with protein throughout
the night. Keep a pre-mixed protein shake right
beside your bed. Although some trainers have
been known to set alarms to wake up to drink
it, I prefer to have it there waiting just in
case I wake up, but I don't try to wake up on
purpose. If I don't wake up, it's right there
ready for me to drink first thing in the morning!
This strategy is more targeted for muscle growth
rather than fat loss.
By following these
protein-intake recommendations, you will increase
the effectiveness of your supplementation. Even
if you choose to take advantage of only one
or two of these timing techniques, you will
certainly see an improvement in your recovery