Confession: I brush off an entire pie of Dominos pizza once a week.
Yes, good nutrition is a critical component of any effective fitness program. But so is enjoying life while you’re doing it :)
You may wonder, how do I keep my great physique while indulging in my favorite foods?
The secret is simple: I have a bigger-than-normal “budget” for calorie intake, thanks to my hard work at the gym.
But not just any hard work that makes me sweat buckets. I’m talking about strength training strategically designed to help me build muscles.
The Science: Get the Body to Burn More Calories
The body burns calories to maintain basic functions such as breathing, circulation, digestion, and cell processes even if we aren’t doing anything. The number of calories the body needs to perform these life-sustaining functions is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR).
The higher your BMR, the more calories you burn. You can eat more food, and your body will burn off the energy content—even if you’re just sitting around. You have a higher “budget” for your calorie intake, and you can eat more without gaining weight.
Many factors affect our BMR. While we can’t control our gender, height, age, ethnicity, and other genetic factors, we can improve our body composition to turn up our BMR.
So, what’s body composition?
It’s the proportion of lean mass (i.e., muscles and organs) vs. fat tissue in your body. Since muscles are more metabolically active than fat, you can burn more fat and calories if you build more muscles.
That’s why I can afford a bigger budget for my calorie intake than someone who doesn’t strength train. On the flip side, it’s easier for a person with less muscle to gain fat even if we consume the same amount of calories.
Bonus: Muscle is denser than fat. Even if you weigh the same, you’d look leaner!
The Deets: Turn Your Body into a Fat-Burning Machine
Building muscles allows you to burn more even when you’re just sitting around or going about your day-to-day activities. Good deal, isn’t it?
Here’s the caveat: You can’t just phone it in and go through the motions.
We’re talking about hard sets here. We’re talking about aiming to make each rep perfect. We’re talking about pushing yourself to lift a little heavier than you did last week.
But there’s a method to the madness. You have to do these hard sets smartly and safely, so you can gain all the benefits without the risks of injury.
That’s why it’s so important to work with a qualified personal trainer who takes the time to help you design a routine that’s right for your body and your goals.
Last but not least, keep in mind that even if you can afford more “cheat meals” when you strength train consistently, it doesn’t mean you have a carte blanche! The right diet can help you build more muscles and accelerate your results—and should be part of your fitness program.