If improving size and shape were an easy task, every female gym trainee would likely resemble the few perfectly proportioned physiques we see hitting the treadmill and reaping the rewards of a fit, low fat body. However, even with the strongest of intentions and incentives to achieve this common goal, the end result is usually less than favorable unless we have a Training and Protein Plan.
Indeed, getting bodyfat low while boosting muscle and keeping energy high via a sound diet remains one of the toughest tasks facing aspiring female fitness trainees. Such an undertaking – which remains the most important of all fitness facets – seldom gets any easier the longer one progresses in their training.
The reasons for this are many and include daily metabolic adjustments made by the body to compensate for activity level, advancing age, too few calories, stress and multiple other factors. Sticking to one dietary approach, and not deviating from its caloric composition and macronutrient profile, has also been shown to provide fewer returns over time and, save for a few soon-to-be-discussed hard and fast rules, is far from the ideal approach.
This is because as the body changes, so too must the composition of one’s diet to reflect a higher degree of muscle mass and the inevitable age-related metabolic decline. Further, the subtle or not so subtle metabolic adaptations that may occur when the body continues to be placed in a caloric deficit may also serve to stifle fat loss and muscle gains, which goes a long way to explaining why most diets do not work.
So how might we solve this all-too-common training dilemma? Keep reading the Training and Protein Plan for a sensible and sustainable approach to steady gym gains; one that’ll provide sufficient energy and the right balance of raw materials for ongoing improvements in muscle and strength – at any age, size, and training stage.
Achieving the correct caloric balance for one’s individual requirements is far from a one-size-fits-all endeavor. In fact, multiple factors will determine our daily caloric needs, which we must formulate in line with a desirable macronutrient ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Taking into account bodyweight, training goals, age, training stage, activity levels and existing bodyfat percentage, achieving a caloric balance conducive to steady muscle gains and fat loss takes much planning and the constant monitoring and tracking of calories consumed.
The key here is to take in a steady supply of nutrient dense foods and supplements sufficient to ensuring that a small enough caloric deficit may gradually strip off any unwanted weight while ensuring muscle gains continue unabated. Here we must have enough energy to support the proper functioning of our bodies while also preventing fat storage.9
Many of us are taught that the foods we eat (whatever the macronutrient) equate to energy. This underpins much of the thinking behind the popular notion of ‘calories in versus calories out’ (a dietary model based on the idea that to maintain a stable weight, the number of calories consumed must match the number expended).
However, this is not the complete story and can be rather misleading. Instead, only the most efficient forms of energy are required by the body to power to the fullest extent myriad metabolic processes, physiological functions, muscular activity, heat production, and the growth and synthesis of new tissues. Such energy – taken from carbohydrates, proteins and fats – is released from food components via the oxidation process.
Each of these macros releases energy in different ways and at different rates, and different types of each macro can have profoundly different effects on how the body functions and how various tissues respond to the training process. Therefore, the exact macronutrient composition of our diets is as important as our total daily caloric intake (2000 calories of junk food will have a radically different effect to the same number of calories made up of beneficial nutrients).
It is believed that the average woman needs around 2000 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight and around 1500 calories per day to lose one pound of weight per week. However, when we add fitness training to the mix, such recommendations will need to be adjusted in accordance with activity level and specific training goals. In addition, the quality of the foods consumed along with ever-fluctuating energy demands will need to be carefully planned for and closely monitored. Achieving such precision can be difficult, but there are ways to make this process easier and more streamlined and effective.
When planning our daily macronutrient intake for ongoing body composition improvements, it’s important to ensure that we include only the best nutrient-dense foods to provide the biggest return on caloric investment. This means including only those items that most effectively address the body’s energy and tissue growth requirements and optimize metabolic functioning.
The rate at which the body burns calories at rest (the primary factor in sustaining fat loss) is determined by our basal metabolism, which represents 45–70% of daily energy expenditure and is made up of a set of functions necessary for life. These functions include cell metabolism; synthesis and metabolism of enzymes and hormones; transport of various substances around the body; maintenance of body temperature and ongoing functioning of muscles (including the heart); and brain function.7, 8
As mentioned, our activity level largely determines our energy requirements. Such activity is also the second largest user of energy after the basal metabolic rate (BMR). While caloric expenditure via physical movement is pretty self-explanatory, engaging the BMR is a little trickier and can be stifled or enhanced depending on the kinds of foods we eat, when we eat them, and the degree to which caloric intake may be manipulated to keep the body in a constant fat burning state.21
Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts the world over, along with much research, has shown that one macro trumps the others when it comes to ramping up metabolic functioning, boosting muscle protein synthesis (enhancing growth), and ensuring a steady fat burning response: protein. In fact, the metabolic response of this one nutrient could be the single most important dietary step to increasing the BMR (by upwards to 10% over the course of a day), making it crucial for ongoing improvements in lean muscle and steady fat loss.
The energy required to process proteins into their constituent amino acids causes a substantial increase in heat production and oxygen consumption, otherwise referred to as ‘dietary-induced thermogenesis’. This process alone may burn an additional 100 or more calories per day when protein is prioritized.24, 25 Protein, which provides four calories per gram, also reduces appetite and produces feelings of contentment that make gorging on poor food choices less likely.22, 26 Perhaps best of all, its extremely difficult to overconsume protein and any protein that is consumed above one’s recommended requirements is unlikely to be converted to fat (unlike carbohydrates and fats, which often end up on the hips and waistline).2
The best forms of protein are also the leanest. Low fat chicken and beef are popular choices, as are fish, cottage cheese, and eggs (consume five whites to one yolk per serving when wanting to keep calories under control). Unfortunately, however, when we weigh-up and track the caloric composition of a serving of chicken or beef, we tend also to consume a hefty amount of hidden fat calories that may push our daily caloric intake into the fat gaining (rather than fat burning) zone.
The best way to counter the hidden calories contained in whole foods is to include throughout the day several servings of high protein whey isolate from products such as the market leading ISOFLEX. Your Training and Protein Plan includes taking 2-3 servings of ISOFLEX per day, the hard-working female gym trainee receives the best quality, most effectively absorbed form of protein available, with all the many benefits protein provides but without the excess fats and sugars that may accompany more common protein choices.
When most people diet for physique improvements, a plan of attack is formulated and seldom deviated from. Unfortunately, while such approaches (and literally hundreds exist) may work well at first, the body soon adapts to the same number of daily calories, which often leads to a fat loss plateau and reversal of results over time.14
To steadily lose fat (not weight overall, which should never be encouraged), a caloric deficit must first be achieved, a highly individualized process that is to be determined on a case by case basis. While such an approach will cause the body to offload plenty of adipose, it cannot be sustained over the long term as eventually the body will adapt to it and fat loss will stop. This often causes the dieter to quit their efforts, at which point the fat lost is regained, fast (often with interest).3, 6
Simply put, the body may perceive a caloric deficit as just another form of stress to be avoided. So, it adapts to ‘survive’ this stress by putting the brakes on the fat burning process (here, bodyfat is retained in effort to prolong survival) and stifling the body’s energy systems (we may become more lethargic and less compelled to give our best in the gym).5, 9, 12
What we need to do here is to trick the body into sustaining a high level of metabolic functioning while avoiding overconsumption. The best way to do this is to strategically stagger our caloric intake while avoiding its opposite: yo-yo dieting, in which diets are constantly abandoned for new approaches or when previous, unhealthy dietary habits are periodically reverted to.10
Caloric cycling (or zigzag dieting), as used by most knowledgeable fitness trainees in an attempt to avoid the aforementioned stress state, requires that a caloric deficit be maintained for 3-4 days before daily calories are increased to more substantial levels for 1-2 days. The best way to do this is to increase the intake of healthy nutrients by around 400 calories on higher calorie days, which can include adding 1-2 ‘cheat’ or ‘refeed’ meals during this phase (typically, carb-heavy meals that also contain a little extra saturated fat). Again, this process is not one size fits all approach and needs to be perfected with trial and error or in alliance with a qualified expert (fitness coach).
By periodically increasing caloric intake, the body may avoid numerous negative biological changes, otherwise known as metabolic adaptations. Besides the aforementioned decrease in resting energy expenditure and physical output, such adaptations include decreased testosterone and thyroid hormone, increased cortisol, lower levels of leptin (the hunger hormone that encourages us to stop eating), and higher levels of ghrelin (leptin’s opposite, which signals hunger).1, 4, 5, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20 When combined, these diet-included changes make it impossible to achieve steady fat loss.
However, strategically incorporating the right macros and Training and Protein Plan at the right times can be made that much easier and sustainable with the right balance of high-performance supplements. Let’s take a look at which work best and why each will allow you to achieve your lean body goals faster.
Avoiding fat burning plateaus and keeping fat loss consistent is the number one goal of most female fitness trainees. Here, by ensuring the steady consumption of quality nutrients, prioritizing protein, and staggering caloric intake, the prized lean beach body can more readily be enjoyed.11
However, two further requirements must also be addressed in this quest to keep the gains coming: general health and wellbeing and optimal nutrient assimilation. These, along with nutrient quality, can both be enhanced with the right supplements. Incorporating the products listed below into your Training and Protein Plan, your body composition results are guaranteed to be that much greater.
Whey Protein Isolate: ALLMAX ISOFLEX
The market-leading whey isolate ISOFLEX provides the most rapidly assimilated and purest form of protein for sustained muscle protein synthesis and cellular rebuilding. ISOFLEX also provides all of the aforementioned fat blasting advantages (including contributing to periodic caloric increases and metabolic enhancement) in a convenient, great-tasting formula.
Advanced Carbohydrate Formulas: ALLMAX CARBION+
Dieting for consistent fat loss does not mean curtailing the carbs. Rather, while carbs, in particular, must be kept in check during lower calories days (particularly breakfast carbs), this primary energy macro is nonetheless important for sustained fat loss and healthy hormonal functioning, and thus must not be neglected This is one reason why the aforementioned high calories days are so important for consistent fat loss (here, among other factors, low carbs may contribute to poor thyroid hormone status).23
The key to boosting carb intake is to ensure that only the most efficiently assimilated carbs are consumed. While complex and high fiber carbs are preferable to high sugar carbs, the medium-chain maltodextrins and specially engineered carbs contained in CARBION+ provide an a highly soluble and great-tasting formula for optimal carbohydrate absorption and assimilation.
Delivered to the muscles is a sustained fashion and also providing superior versions of the key electrolytes sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium to keep the muscles functioning at a high level, CARBION+ can be included before training and as an additional carb source to round out the macronutrient balance of any good lean body plan.
Without good health, the body will struggle to burn appreciable fat and our gym efforts will be sluggish at best. By enhancing the functioning of the body’s many metabolism-boosting processes – from thyroid to muscle, cardiac and immunity – various key micronutrients along with health-specific compounds will make fat loss easier than would otherwise be expected.
This is exactly what to expect from the comprehensive VITASTACK, an all-in-one health formula that comes in both powder and an individual pack form. Containing over 70 highly bioavailable and efficiently absorbed nutrients, each serving of VITASTACK improves health on a great many levels while also assisting the assimilation of the foods we eat into usable energy (for example, its key selection of B vitamins and vitamin C maximize the benefits of carbohydrates and iron respectively).
A conditionally essential amino acid, Glutamine is required in higher does among those who routinely push their bodies to the limit in the gym. Thus, low Glutamine reserves are bad for muscle recovery and growth. But sufficient Glutamine is beneficial for enhancing immune status given that it is used at an especially high rate by the cells of the immune system and required to support optimal lymphocyte proliferation to bolster resistance to pathogens.
Poor immune status combined with an incomplete micronutrient balance can fast put the brakes on fat burning and muscle regeneration. Along with VITASTACK, ALLMAX GLUTAMINE is yet another important part of any good lean body plan.
Of the highest bioavailability, easy to ingest, rapidly and completely absorbed within the body, and, due to the hyper-particulation process (GLUTASURE) used in its production, manufactured to be ultra-fast-acting, the clinically-dosed ALLMAX GLUTAMINE is by far the best on today’s market.
Despite selecting the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods, the plan below may lack the necessary enzymes needed to properly process these recommended foods to the fullest possible extent. This is primarily due to various cooking methods combined with the ways such foods are processed. Rather than simply hoping for the best, a superior approach is to include a digestive enzyme formula to assist nutrient digestion and assimilation.
By taking 1-2 ALLMAX DIGESTIVE ENZYME capsules before each meal you will receive 11 highly-active and bioavailable enzymes, collectively designed to process each macronutrient to the greatest degree. As but one example of this product’s effectiveness, its Protein Digestion Complex will ensure a dramatic increase in circulating plasma amino acids to boost muscle remodelling.19
Taking into consideration the above-listed pointers, use the following plan to keep the gains coming regardless of which training stage you are at. Be sure to adjust the caloric balance in accordance with activity level and individual training goals.
Also, be sure to increase calories by 400-500 across 1-2 days of the training week (it’s advised that a ‘cheat’ meal be included on each of these days to reignite the metabolism; this alone may contribute to the additional 400-500 calories). All serving sizes are to be tailored to individual caloric requirements.
Note: the following meal plan includes different options for select meals. Alternate these options from day to day.
- -One serving of fresh salmon or lean chicken breast
- -One serving (approx. 28 grams) of pumpkin seeds
- -One apple or banana
- -One slice of whole grain toast with all-natural peanut butter or one small bowl of steel-cut oats
- -One serving of VITASTACK
- -1-2 digestive enzyme capsules (depending on meal size)
- -One serving of Glutamine
- -One scoop of ISOFLEX
- -One Serving of CARBION+
- -One skinless chicken breast drizzled with olive oil or serving of lean shredded beef mixed with onions and garlic
- -One serving of spinach or broccoli
- -One serving of sweet potato or baked potato
- -1-2 digestive enzyme capsules (depending on meal size)
Afternoon-Tea (pre-training meal)
- -Two scoops of ISOFLEX
- -One serving of brown rice or quinoa mixed with pineapple
- -1-2 digestive enzyme capsules (depending on meal size)
- -One serving of CARBION+
- -One scoop of ISOFLEX blended with chopped pineapple and mixed berries
- -One serving of Glutamine
Evening (Post-Training) Meal (to be consumed one hour after Post Training meal)
- -One serving of either lean red meat, skinless chicken, or salt water fish
- -One serving of avocado
- -One serving of broccoli or spinach
- -One serving of sweet potato or baked potato
- -One serving of pumpkin
- -One serving of casein protein (ALLMAX CASEIN-FX) or one serving of low-fat cottage cheese
- -One serving of Glutamine
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- Bray, G.A. et al. (2012). Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 307:47-55.
- Byrne, S. et al. (2003). Weight maintenance and relapse in obesity: a qualitative study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 27(8):955-962.
- Cummings, D.E. et al. (20020. Plasma ghrelin levels after diet-induced weight loss or gastric bypass surgery. N Engl J Med. 2002;346(21):1623-1630.
- Davoodi, S.H. et al. (2014). Calorie shifting diet versus calorie restriction diet: a comparative clinical trial study. Int J Prev Med. 5(4):447-456.
- Dulloo, A.G. et al. (2015). Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview. Obes Rev. 16 Suppl 1:1-6.
- Friedl, K.E. et al. (2000). Endocrine markers of semistarvation in healthy lean men in a multistressor environment. J Appl Physiol (1985). 88(5):1820-1830.
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- Hill, J. O. et al. (2009). Using the energy gap to address obesity: a commentary. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(11), 1848–1853.
- Kresta, J. Y. et al. (2010). Effects of diet cycling on weight loss, fat loss and resting energy expenditure in women. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(Suppl 1), P21.
- McGuire, M. et al. (2011). Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food.2nd edn. Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning
- Martin, C.K. et al. (2007). Effect of calorie restriction on resting metabolic rate and spontaneous physical activity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 15(12):2964-2973.
- Maljaars, P.W. et al. (2008). Ileal brake: a sensible food target for appetite control. A review. Physiol Behav, 95:271-281.
- Müller, M.J. et al. (2015). Metabolic adaptation to caloric restriction and subsequent refeeding: the Minnesota Starvation Experiment revisited. Am J Clin Nutr.102(4):807-819.
- Rossow, L.M. et al. (2013). Natural bodybuilding competition preparation and recovery: a 12-month case study. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 8(5):582-592.
- Reinehr, T. et al. (2002). Thyroid hormones before and after weight loss in obesity. Archives of disease in childhood, 87(4), 320–323.
- Sari, R. (2003). The effect of body weight and weight loss on thyroid volume and function in obese women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 59(2):258-262.
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