Why can't I lose my belly fat?: The role of protein
I am often asked, "why can’t I lose my belly fat? I am eating well, exercising every day but I cannot lose it’’.
To tell you the truth there are many reasons why we cannot lose weight - and fat in particular - because there are so many factors involved in the weight loss process.
So, what is going on? Why is it that some of us cannot lose weight, especially after hitting 40?
Unfortunately, things start going downhill from the age of 30 when we start losing muscles. Some doctors even say from our 20’s onwards, but I refuse to believe that one.
Why is protein important?
One reason for not losing weight that surprises a lot of my clients is not eating enough protein in their daily food. Proteins are great - they build our muscles. Muscles are metabolically active – meaning: more muscles – faster metabolism – we burn more fat – jeans get looser. Simple!
I’m sure you’ve seen those muscley guys in the gym or park. They eat so much, but they’re still fit. The reason for this is because they have lot’s of muscles and muscles burn calories. It’s also important for us ladies too when we want to target particular areas of our bodies: protein drastically reduces those ‘chicken wings’ and ‘saggy bottoms’.
But I only started understanding the importance of protein a few years ago. For years my breakfast consisted of muesli with banana and maple syrup or jam on granary toast with strawberries. I was in the frame of mind that it’s healthy because I was getting fruit and fibre. However, I forgot to mention the large latte with two sugars.
Lunch at work was a sandwich with a bag of crisps or soup with three slices of bread. Dinner was pasta bolognese. Yes, that was the norm - no protein (or very little) in sight. And then I was wondering why I wasn’t losing weight and gaining the fitness I desired. I was exercising five days a week in the gym for an hour at a time so I should have been fit - but I wasn’t.
Instead, I was finding that I was putting weight on. I was constantly tired and angry, not knowing what to do or how to eat.
I needed the answers so in my 30’s I literally went back to school. I learned. I went through the endless night studying facts and figures of nutrition, trial and error, on my own body. And I figured out what was not working for me - I was not eating the right amount of protein for my body and my age. A lightbulb flashed.
So I started to include more protein. I started slowly: I traded my jam on toast for eggs and avocados. I added nuts and seeds to my porridge and yoghurt and I made sure to include protein in every single meal and snack of the day.
I was paying attention to ensuring I had a balanced diet. And after a while, I was getting enough of the nutrients I needed.
How much protein should we eat?
- Roughly 25g of protein in each meal.
- Roughly 1 gram of protein per kg of our body weight. To put it in perspective a person of 80kg (~180 pounds = 12.5 stones) should have 80g of protein daily.
With enough protein, you will start to feel fuller for longer (that’s what proteins do). Also, you should find that cravings will subside. I found that cravings would, and still do crop up on those rare hard days but not nearly as frequently as before.
Finally, I found that I lost the weight I had been trying to lose. Understanding what my body needed was the only safe way to sustainable weight loss. Now after marriage, a child and a full-time business I look and feel better than ever at 43. I am sharing my own personal story to inspire you to start yours. It was only through understanding nutrition that I was able to make this shift. Luckily, you don’t have to devote the time to so much research (unless you want to) because you can access this knowledge via a nutritionist.
So whatever your goal, whether it’s losing weight, eating a more balanced diet or improving your mental health through nutrition, a qualified nutritionist can help. Professional nutrition guidance will motivate and encourage you to make the changes you need to eat better and feel better. A nutritionist will work with your own body, diet preferences and personal lifestyle. You can search for a nutritionist on Nutrition Resource and set up an initial consultation to have a chat about your goals.
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