To keep your body in muscle-building mode while cutting calories, you have to adjust your protein intake. When you cut calories to lose weight, your need for protein actually increases. This is because a portion of the dietary protein is being used to meet your daily energy needs; consuming a slightly greater amount than what is required to meet your energy needs will ensure you have enough left over to sustain or even build muscle.

But, before you go out and chug protein shakes, keep in mind that studies have shown that a very high protein intake does not necessarily increase muscle mass. Instead, aim for roughly 20 grams of protein per meal, four times per day. It is important to distribute it throughout the day instead of cramming it all in at one meal so that your body can use it throughout the day. This can enhance the muscle-building.

On strength training days, aim for 20 to 25 grams of protein within two hours after your workout to ensure you are refueling properly. And, remember to get enough protein throughout the day to continue to fuel muscle building. For the rest of your meals, fill up with lean protein like chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, dairy and eggs.

As an added bonus, protein provides satiety, leading to feelings of fullness and reduced cravings. This is especially helpful when your ultimate goal is to lose weight and burn fat, and at the same time, keep or increase muscle mass.

Protein is the building block of life, but often that is the first thing people stop eating when they want to lose weight. So, don’t make that mistake … keep healthy protein in your diet to help meet all your fitness goals!!