5 Super Quick Tips on Lean Tissue for Beginners
If you’re familiar with the term “recomposition”, you know the importance of keeping lean tissue. While losing weight is a goal for many of us, precious lean tissue can be lost at the same time. To avoid this, here are 5 quick tips to help make protein-forward decisions throughout your day.
1. Aim for 30-40 grams of protein per meal
That is, if you eat 3x a day. This is a preliminary guideline- while actual recommendations for macros are best left to nutritionists and trainers, a good goal for most protein newbies is about 100 grams a day. If you do snack, try to make sure there isn’t a 0 for protein on the nutrition label! Think almonds, baked chickpeas, tuna or egg salad, yogurt, beef jerky, or minimally processed meat snacks.
2. Calculate what your protein needs are
You can do this by getting a body composition scan and finding out your lean tissue weight. That number is an excellent benchmark for daily protein intake. If you haven’t done a DEXA or other body composition scan before, you can use estimates based on calculations done by exercise and dietary researchers.
A meta-analysis of 49 different studies suggests that the optimal calculation range is
0.7 X (bodyweight in lbs) = recommended grams of daily dietary protein
If a person weighs 200 lbs it would be recommended that they eat a minimum of 140 grams of protein a day.
A person who weighs 140 pounds would be recommended to eat 98 grams of protein per day.
More or less than that is up to your preferences, your physique, your goals, and most importantly the advice you get from physicians, nutritionists, or a qualified physical trainer.
3. Consider your goals; assess your activity level
Are you trying to build significant lean tissue onto your frame, or perhaps trying to get strong to carry all of the groceries in from the car in one trip? You probably want to live longer and feel more energetic. Consider how your exercise might be impacting those goals. Many people who want to lose weight or lose fat disregard weight training because they see it as antithetical to their goals. It’s a great idea to book a DEXA scan and a free consultation to talk with an expert about why your exercise might be slowing your progress.
4. Lose weight slowly
Rapid weight loss has a strong correlation to increased losses in lean tissue. Preserving lean tissue is worth the “weight”! If you’re up against a hard deadline like getting fit for a wedding, it can be tempting to try to crash diet. Not only is intense dieting challenging mentally and physically, but lean tissue loss can also decrease your metabolism and blood glucose control. Which just creates further problems as your energy (and mood) decline. Inversely, more lean tissue creates net metabolic benefits that last far beyond your single workout.
“Decreasing daily intake 300-400 calories will help you lose weight gradually and result in about a 9% loss in lean body mass. However, when you reduce your caloric intake by 800-1,000 calories, up to 45% of the weight lost is lean body mass.”
5. Look for higher protein than fat on nutrition labels…
As well as higher protein than sugar. (I’m looking at you, greek yogurt!) This is an excellent rule of thumb for easier decision-making in the grocery store. Prioritizing items that have lower fat may not work for all diet types. But in general, more protein than fat is a safe bet you’re making a satiating choice! Both protein and fiber are well known for increasing how satisfying the food you eat feels. Protein-forward choices support more balanced eating choices throughout the day by providing essential nutrients.
References and Additional Resources:
How Much Protein Do I Need to Build Muscle?
A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults
The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss