Monday, 31 July 2017 19:55

Sponsored: Turn your body into a fat-burning machine

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Increasing your protein intake is easier than cutting carbs and can help you burn calories at rest, and turn your body into a fat-burning machine. Increasing your protein intake is easier than cutting carbs and can help you burn calories at rest, and turn your body into a fat-burning machine. Livestrong MyPlate app screenshot

In pursuit of six-pack abs for the first time at 31, I’m learning that what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat and when are all more important than how much cardio or ab exercises you do. I’ve finally gotten into a groove of feeding myself so my body turns into a fat-burning machine, which is harder but more important than exercising.

What not to Eat

Cut out the right carbohydrates and you’ll be doing your body a huge favor. I never really wanted to believe this because I love carbs -- breads, bagels, pastas, cereals, microbrews and Animal Crackers are my favorite. But six-pack abs don’t show through a carbohydrate gut, and the problem with carbs isn’t that they’re bad for you necessarily, but they make you want more carbs. One serving of Animal Crackers is never enough for me.

 

I’m not giving up Animal Crackers, though, and you shouldn’t necessarily give up your favorite carbs either. You should just try to limit your serving sizes and try to eat healthier carbs. Whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils) and fruit are rich with carbohydrates but are nutrient-rich, too. Substitute more of those carbs for your Animal Crackers and you’ll eat fewer Animal Crackers.

 

You can eat more fat than you think, too. I’ve read of diets consisting of 58 percent fat resulting in six-pack abs, and while I wouldn’t recommend it, I also wouldn’t recommend cutting fats to zero. The trick is to trick your body into burning the fat already stored in your body, which requires cutting down on carbohydrates -- not fats. The more carbs you cut, the more body fat you’ll burn, even while you sleep.

 

Livestrong’s MyPlate app recommends my diet consist of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fat and 30 percent protein. I’m lucky if my calories from carbohydrates are below 50 percent of my daily consumption, so it’s a process, but I’m making progress. Carbohydrates have been 47 percent of my calories consumed the past three days, with fats averaging 28 percent and protein averaging 25 percent.

What to Eat

My focus has been increasing my protein intake, which is a lot easier than cutting carbs and better allows my body to burn fat at rest. Protein, protein and more protein is the recipe for six-pack success. Just like any other muscle, your abs require protein to grow. Ideally, you’d consume a gram of protein for each pound you weigh, but that can be really difficult and expensive to do. I can’t afford fresh fish, so I eat canned tuna (mixed with cottage cheese instead of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip for sandwiches). I can’t afford red meat, either, so I resort to eating a lot of eggs. My budget is likely why my diet consists of so many carbohydrates, too. But I have three types of artillery to boost protein intake.

How Much to Eat and When

I keep three different powdered proteins on hand at all times. Two tubs of whey protein -- one chocolate and one vanilla flavored -- are used everyday. Both of the Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein powders taste pretty good but are at least 200 calories per serving despite offering 30 grams of protein per scoop, so you can’t use them to replace protein in your diet. That’s just silly. They’re called supplements because they supplement your diet, which is exactly what I do.

 

I’ll have one milk-based, whey protein shake with breakfast. It’s the most important time besides post-workout to shock your system with protein (and water...you should drink two glasses within an hour of waking). Breakfast should be your largest meal of the day by far, with lunch next largest and dinner the smallest in terms of calories. My breakfast of a fried egg and two slices of banana oatmeal toast was roughly 677 calories this morning thanks to my milk-based, whey protein shake. My lunch was less than half the calories of my breakfast.

 

I also consume a milk-based, whey protein shake post-workout or before bed if I don’t workout. Recovery days are important, too, but pre-workout is also an important time to consume protein. So I’ll also make a fruit smoothie using hemp protein powder to cut back on calories. I recommend Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein, which provides 11 grams of protein per 80-calorie serving. I mix it with whatever fruit I have around and add a little Tampico punch (which is really cheap and low in calories) just to thin out the smoothie because the hemp protein is more grainy than the whey.

 

Altogether, my protein powders run me $1.68 per day, or $47.04 per month, which is $564.48 per year. I know that sounds crazy, but considering what I’d otherwise spend on less healthy snacks, it’s an investment I’m willing to make until I can afford to eat more protein-rich meals. Whey protein is actually third on Strong Lift’s top-10 list of cheap proteins behind tuna and eggs, so it’s not all that expensive.    

 

So thanks to my protein powders, I’ve managed to consume at least 142 grams of protein the last three days (going on four). While that’s 30 grams light of my target of consuming a gram of protein per pound of body weight, 142 grams of protein per day is the recommended goal set by Livestrong’s MyPlate app for someone my size, age and gender looking to lose one pound per week. This will be the first time I’ve done it for an entire week, and I’ve got to say I can feel my body appreciating and responding to my efforts. You too can turn your body into a fat-burning machine.

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