I want to lose fat and build muscle. A nutritionist said to enjoy treats in the week instead of just the weekend.

I want to lose fat and build muscle. A nutritionist said to enjoy treats in the week instead of just the weekend.
  • A 56-year-old woman submitted an average day of eating to be reviewed for Insider's Nutrition Clinic.

  • A nutritionist said to incorporate treats into her diet during the week.

  • If you'd like to have your diet reviewed by an expert, fill out this form.

Beth, 56, submitted her eating routine to Insider's Nutrition Clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists offer advice on readers' eating habits.

She told Insider she wants to lose fat and gain muscle. Beth said she does CrossFit five to six days a week with active recovery on rest days, such as yoga (including hot yoga), walking, hiking, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding in warmer weather.

She tracks macros and aims to eat 150 grams of carbs, 50 grams of fat, and 150 grams of protein every day, she said.

Registered nutritionist Vanessa Zingaro told Business Insider that Beth's activity levels are impressive.

Eating the right quantity of food will be key to hitting her goals, and she's likely consuming enough protein, which will help with both fat loss and muscle gain.

"While I don't know her body weight, I would imagine 150 grams is an excellent intake for her," Zingaro said.

"Beth is already doing so many things right! She is clearly focused on her health and fitness and with a few small tweaks she could be even more successful toward those goals in a way that is even more enjoyable for her," Zingaro said.

Beth has a protein shake for breakfast

Beth said she starts the day with a protein shake.

She didn't say whether this is just protein powder with water or milk, or a more substantial protein smoothie. Either way, it's good eat protein at breakfast and continue as the day goes on.

"What she's doing well is that she is having a quality protein source with each of her meals and possibly snacks too," Zingaro said.

Protein, carbs, and vegetables make a balanced lunch

At lunchtime, Beth eats a protein source such as chicken, steak, or pork, with vegetables and rice or sweet potato, she said.

This is a balanced meal that should keep Beth full and satiated.

She snacks on yogurt with berries and hemp seeds.

Zingaro said that if Beth isn't already, she should choose a naturally high-protein yogurt such as Greek yogurt or the similar Icelandic dairy product skyr. Adding some fruit would increase the fiber and micronutrient content of the snack.

Breakfast for dinner

Beth said her dinner varies but she often has breakfast for dinner, such as egg whites with turkey bacon and frozen waffles.

There's nothing wrong with breakfast for dinner, and egg whites and turkey bacon provide lean protein. Adding some vegetables would provide more micronutrients, fiber, and general health benefits too, Zingaro said.

Be mindful of over-indulging on weekends

Beth said she relaxes her diet at weekends: "I'm not as focused and typically have some wine, pizza, burgers, or cake."

If Beth isn't seeing results with her current lifestyle, the problem could be that she's relaxing her diet too much at weekends.

On weekdays, she's aiming to eat 1,650 calories a day (based on her macros), but if she's consuming a lot more calories over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, this could be taking her out of her overall calorie deficit, Zingaro said.

"That flexibility is a good thing, but we want to make sure we're mindful of how changes in eating habits over the weekend could potentially impact those goals," Zingaro.

She recommended that Beth relaxes her diet slightly in the week, and enjoy the foods she typically reserves for the weekend in moderation, thus allowing her diet to stay more consistent seven days a week.

"What tends to happen often is that people are rather rigid with their eating habits during the week, but then it's offset over the weekend with many indulgences leading them to spin their wheels in terms of progress," Zingaro said.

Small tweaks to keep Beth on track at weekends could include maintaining her usual breakfast and including some of her staple meals alongside more calorie-dense ones.

Calorie balance is key

It's important to bear in mind that losing fat and building muscle simultaneously is difficult, but not impossible — it's easier to achieve if you're new to proper strength training as your body experiences what's known as "newbie gains."

"If you are newer to lifting, then you can absolutely make a lot of progress while consuming calories within your maintenance levels," Zingaro said. When it comes to muscle-building, if you're a seasoned lifter, you will get the best results from eating in a small calorie surplus.

For fat loss, you need to be in a calorie deficit. Finding the right calorie intake for Beth to hit her goals might take some trial and error, but Zingaro suggested eating just below maintenance levels while prioritizing protein.

Consuming enough protein is important for fat loss and muscle gain — Zingaro recommended aiming for 1.8 grams to 2.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily.

"On the training side of things, while CrossFit is an amazing form of exercise, it may not be the best (depending on the gym and programming) for the goal of building muscle mass," Zingaro said. "Including some strength and hypertrophy-focused workouts in her routine, focusing on progressive overload and increasing her overall intensity over a period of time will be beneficial."

Zingaro also said to remember that more training doesn't always mean faster progress — rest and recovery is equally important for muscle gains.

"We need to make sure we're resting enough so that we give our bodies the chance to recover from the stressors of training, which then leads to muscle gain," she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider