Eat less added sugar and more fiber

Eat less added sugar and more fiber

Low-carb diets providing less than 35–40% of calories from carbs seem very effective at promoting fat loss (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

However, restricting carbs too dramatically is not always best for athletes. That’s because it can negatively affect training and sports performance (2, 3Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Aim for a carb intake that’s 40% of your daily calories to maximize fat loss. Still, consume no less than 1.4–1.8 grams of carbs per pound (3–4 grams per kg) each day (2, 11Trusted Source).

Cutting out added sugars is the healthiest way to reduce your total carb intake.

To do so, check labels and minimize foods that contain added sugars like glucose, sucrose, and fructose. Also, avoid cane juice, dextrin, maltodextrin, barley malt, caramel, fruit juice concentrate, fruit juice crystals, or other syrups.

Instead, increase your intake of vegetables high in fiber. These will help keep you fuller for longer, making you feel more satisfied (12, 13Trusted Source, 14).

Eating less sugar and more fiber can help you reach your body fat goals. Athletes should aim to eat no less than 1.4–1.8 grams of carbs per pound (3–4 grams per kg) each day.
4. Eat more protein
Protein aids fat loss in several ways.

To begin with, high-protein diets increase feelings of fullness and the number of calories burned during digestion. They also help prevent muscle loss during periods of weight loss, including in well-trained athletes (5Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

In fact, several studies show that eating 2–3 times more protein per day can help athletes retain more muscle while losing fat (9Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

Therefore, athletes restricting their calories to lose weight should eat 0.8–1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.8–2.7 grams per kg) per day (2, 3Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

That said, there’s no advantage to exceeding these recommendations.

Consuming more than these amounts can displace other important nutrients, such as carbs, from your diet. This can limit your ability to train and maintain good sports performance (2, 3Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

Higher protein intakes help limit muscle loss while your weight is dropping. Athletes should aim to consume 0.8–1.2 grams per pound of body weight (1.8–2.7 grams per kg) of protein each day.

5. Spread protein intake throughout the day
In addition to eating more protein, athletes can benefit from spreading their intake throughout the day (20Trusted Source).

In fact, 20–30 grams of protein per meal seems sufficient to stimulate muscles to produce protein for the following 2–3 hours.

This is why many scientists believe that it’s ideal to consume a protein-rich meal or snack every 3 hours (3Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).

Interestingly, studies in athletes show that spreading 80 grams of protein over 4 meals stimulates muscle protein production more than splitting it over 2 larger meals or 8 smaller ones (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

A 2-week weight loss study in boxers also found that those who spread their daily calorie allowance over 6 meals instead of 2 lost 46% less muscle mass (24Trusted Source).

Eating a snack with 40 grams of protein immediately before bedtime can also improve recovery from training and increase muscle protein synthesis during the night (25Trusted Source).

However, more research in athletes is needed to draw strong conclusions.

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