Losing weight while building muscle is no small feat. These common fitness goals are challenging enough on their own, but trying to achieve them at the same time can be overwhelming. Doing this takes discipline, perseverance, consistency and hard work. However, with monk-like discipline and clockwork consistency, you can exercise, do hours of cardio and lift all the weights in the gym, but if your eating habits and nutrition are not sought after, you are doing all this for nothing. The good news is that developing healthy eating habits to meet your fitness and weight loss goals isn’t as complicated as you might think. Today, we’re here to share some solid eating habits for weight loss and muscle gain. If you’re curious, keep reading.
Most importantly, establishing good eating habits doesn’t mean you have to obsessively count calories, stress out every bite of food, or change your entire way of eating. Nor do they mean eliminating comfort foods and sacrificing your favorite meals. Instead, they focus on learning to eat intuitively and changing your diet over time until you start craving and enjoying healthy whole foods that help you burn fat and build lean muscle while losing weight.
If you’re looking for expert tips and advice to help you get started on your weight loss-muscle building journey, we can help. We spoke to registered dietitians who shared some great eating habits backed by science to help you lose weight and build muscle. Read on to learn about the best ways to stop chasing unattainable goals and improve your eating habits to make your fitness dreams come true.
It sounds counterintuitive, but eating more can actually help with your weight loss goals. Oh, and don’t skip meals like breakfast! “Believe it or not, eating smaller portions frequently can help with weight loss. This is because your body is in balance and is constantly taking nutrients to stay in balance,” she says. Bianca Garcia, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Health Canal. “Skipping meals can cause you to gain weight. You often get so hungry when you eat that you end up overeating.”
Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can increase your body’s fat-burning potential, helping you lose weight and build lean muscle. Aim to eat small, nutritionally balanced meals containing healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fats every three hours. According to research, protein in particular promotes weight loss and is essential for muscle protein synthesis. If you don’t eat enough, your body may go into starvation mode, which hinders weight loss and muscle gain. Fasting mode causes your body to conserve calories, store fat, and burn muscle instead of fat for energy.
Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDNNutrition Director at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa explains Eat This, Not That!“Cooking at home is a great way to reduce the number of meals you eat out or order. This way, your temptation to order unhealthy foods is reduced. When you cook at home, you not only save money, but also control what’s in your food and know exactly what you’re eating. you know.”
Multiple studies have found that “more frequent cooking and eating at home is associated with healthier eating quality, consuming fewer calories, and greater weight loss.” Nutrition Journal. Another pro tip for home cooking is to make the sauces from scratch. Instead of using store-bought or fast food dressings that are loaded with added sugars, sodium, and high-calorie fats, make your dressings at home with a base made from cashews, tahini, avocado, or other healthy whole foods.
If you were to choose a food that is the king (or queen) of all other nutrients for overall health, you would have a hard time finding a better competitor than fiber. In addition to making you feel full and improving digestion, fiber plays a vital role in weight loss, according to research published in the journal Science. Nutrition Journal. According to WebMD, fiber slows digestion and raises your blood sugar. This helps reduce cravings and prevent overeating.
While fiber doesn’t directly affect muscle growth, eating fiber-rich foods will improve your overall health and performance, allowing you to work longer and harder to burn fat and gain muscle. “Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain foods. High fiber intake can help limit your body’s absorption of sugar and fat. This can reduce the calories the body absorbs,” says Garcia.
One of the most powerful eating habits you can develop for any health or wellness goal is to exclude or limit highly processed foods from your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “ultra-processed foods” contain ingredients primarily found in industrial food production, including high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers, and flavoring agents. These foods contribute significantly to weight gain and may increase your risk of chronic disease.
“Avoid anything packaged with a long ingredient list, including sugar, processed vegetable seed oils, processed grains, chemicals, and additives,” says Gomer. “These foods cause inflammation and weight gain. Additionally, the food industry deliberately creates combinations of salt, sugar, and fat that are addictive but not satiating.”
Eat plant-based protein-packed foods to lose weight and gain muscle. The best sources include legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk), quinoa, seitan, nuts and seeds.
“When broken down into amino acids, protein becomes the building blocks of tissue growth, such as muscles,” explains Garcia. “Most people think that meat and poultry are the best sources of protein, but unfortunately they also come with cholesterol, which can cause cardiovascular problems. Plant-based proteins are natural, clean, and a healthy source of vitamins and minerals.”