When you are trying to get yourself into shape, you shouldn't just focus your efforts on losing fat. You should also be developing your muscle and strength - and not just because it could give you an impressive six-pack or make it easier for you to lift heavy books.
With more lean muscle, you can burn more calories, registered dietician Katherine Tallmadge writes for Live Science. However, what should you eat to make this boosted metabolism a reality?
What's the appeal of building muscle?
Have you ever wondered why a man of identical weight to a woman can eat much more without putting on excess blubber? It's because men generally have more muscle than women, allowing their bodies to burn more calories without even exercising.
Nonetheless, building muscle is not straightforward. One big reason why is that muscle mass falls with age. Between the ages of 35 and 50, the average person will shed 5 to 7 pounds of disused muscle. With every lost pound of muscle, that person will also be capable of burning 35 to 50 fewer calories. Furthermore, just losing weight will sacrifice muscle - but you can minimise that effect...
The importance of getting enough protein
Protein is second just to water in importance as a nutrient for the human body. Your muscles particularly heavily rely on protein - without which, the function, strength and mass of those muscles would all be impaired. Furthermore, to effectively gain muscle, you need to not only eat protein of a suitable amount but also consume it at relevant times.
So, exactly how much protein should you eat? The National Academy of Sciences in the United States has advised that protein should account for at least 15% and no more than 35% of calories. Exceeding that quota of protein could bring rise to adverse symptoms.
Worthwhile sources of protein
One especially heartening piece of news is that a broad variety of foods contain protein; therefore, you shouldn't necessarily struggle to find protein-heavy foods which are also to your taste buds' liking. Nonetheless, there are many different types of protein which can drastically vary in the quality and tally of their amino acids.
Nutritionist Liam Mahoney told Express that "the most commonly known sources of protein are found in meat and fish". Though he hails meat as "a brilliant quality source of protein because it provides all nine essential amino acids", he adds that you should select the leanest meats due to the excessive amount of saturated fat that you could otherwise end up consuming.
He also praises fish for its high protein content and scarce saturated fat. He adds: "You can also get good quality sources of protein from a plant-based diet", noting that "lentils, quinoa and hemp seeds are all high in protein and suitable for those who do not eat meat or fish."
Also, remember to evenly consume protein throughout the day for the best results. Joining a boot camp could help you learn even more about healthy eating and nutrition.