If a person eats 2500 calories a day and burns 2500 calories that person is in “energy balance,” they will not lose or gain weight. They walk the line with calorie balance.
Often times when a person starts increasing the intensity of their workouts they may cut additional calories from their diet in order to speed up the weight loss process, this strategy is counterproductive. If a person consumes less energy than the body needs the result is the body utilizes some of it’s own tissues. Lowering muscle mass in this fashion is impractical. Muscle is active, calorie burning tissue. We want more muscle mass in our bodies than fat.
A simple formula for reducing body fat includes maintaining a vigorous conditioning schedule to keep your muscle mass while consuming 300 – 400 less calories per day. Vigorous is defined as working out 3-5 days a week at 60% -85% of target heart rate for 20 – 60 minutes per session.
Maintaining better energy balance throughout the day, especially when trying to reduce body fat, is sometimes the tricky part. According to the American College of Sports Medicine eating small but frequent meals can provide some of the following benefits:
- Maintenance of metabolic rate
- Lower body fat and lower weight on higher caloric intakes
- Better glucose tolerance and lower insulin response
- Lower stress hormone production
- Better maintenance of muscle mass
- Improved physical performance.
Choosing healthy food options is also key to the whole operation. Including lean meats, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables in the small meals while avoiding high fat, high salt and high sugar snacks will help the body be ready to “burn” through the fat when energy is needed.
The bottom line is…a person should be eating more frequently to accommodate the increased metabolic effect of exercise, especially when they are trying to lose body fat. Isn’t that great news! I love to hear I can eat more to weigh less.