EAT to be LEAN

February 13, 2009 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Your target should be a lean body composition, improving your ratio of muscle to fat. The key is to minimize “biologically inactive” fat tissue and maximize “biologically active” muscle mass.

Good reasons to be lean:
* It is a major factor in 8 out of the 10 biomarkers of ageing.
* A higher ratio of muscle to body fat produces a higher metabolism and burns more calories. So you can eat more!
* Statistics show that lean people have fewer years of work disability and a lower requirement for long-term medication use. They are less at risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.


The question of what diet to adopt is highly individual and quite complex, however below are three tips you may want to consider.

Tip 1: Include protein at each meal

Your body uses the amino acids that comprise the protein we consume to repair, maintain and facilitate growth in muscles. Protein is also used by your body in a host of other ways, specifically by enzymes, blood and other cells. Did you know that adding protein at each meal will generally reduce the Glycemic Index of the meal? A meal which includes protein will keep you full for longer, avoid “sugar spikes” and reduce cravings for sweets and carbohydrates.

The recommended amount of protein for most adults is around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. So a person who weighs 80 kg would need 64 grams of protein per day. Lean beef, skinless chicken and fish supply about 7 grams of protein per ounce (28.3 grams). A cup of milk or yoghurt supplies 8 grams of protein. Half a cup of lentils provides 9 grams of protein and half a cup of beans provides 7 grams of proteins. Rice and other cereal grains provide about 3 grams per half cup. An 84 gram egg provides 7 grams of protein. So it should be easy to meet your protein requirements and to spread it throughout the day.

Tip 2: Control portion size

Too much of a good thing is not good! In our Western society we have grown accustomed to eating far more food than we need. Try eating from a bread and butter plate rather than a dinner plate. Psychologically you will be happier to see a small plate full of food than a large plate only half full. When you eat your meal try to always leave something on your plate – you might be surprised by how little food you actually need. Wait 20-30 minutes after the meal before deciding whether you really NEED to eat more food. Sometimes it is more a case of want than need.

Tip 3: Eat frequently

Your body can only store roughly four hours worth of fuel. The “three meals a day” tradition leaves six or more hours between meals. When you go for too long between meals your body goes into starvation mode and stores fat in case it is needed later. Alarmingly, your body will then use protein (muscle tissue) to supply its immediate energy demands. This is why half of the weight loss in traditional diets is muscle mass.

Ideally you should eat every 2-3 hours to control your blood sugar levels. Filling up on empty calories from refined and processed foods is not an option that leads to lean. A good idea is to maintain the timing of breakfast and dinner but have two lunches – one late in the morning and the other early in the afternoon. Then if each of your four meals during the day is made up of a:
– fist size serving of fruits and/or vegetables
– palm size portion of protein
– fist size serving of Low GI carbs
you will be able to keep your fat burning metabolism working efficiently throughout the day.

If the two lunches thing does not work for you, then make sure you have some protein with your morning tea and afternoon tea snacks. By consistently giving your body enough of the right foods at the right times you will stay in fat burning mode.

In summary then, eating to be lean involves eating the right sized servings of the right types of foods at the right intervals throughout the day.

Here’s to your success.



Entry filed under: Health and wellness. Tags: , , , .

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