Protein and strength training for weight loss.

We talked about eating enough protein and strength training in our previous post – slow down to lose weight, but how do we work it all out?

In this post, we are going to delve a little deeper into the maths. Don’t worry, it’s easy.

Calories in.

The first thing to do is to work out your calories in. Just how much is a modest calorie deficit. A good calculation here is around a 10% cut to your maintenance calories.

Find your maintenance calories using the calculator in the side bar.

Ok, so we have the magic number. Now divide by ten and that is you deficit.

It may not seem much, but it will keep the balance in your body so you do not lose out on important nutrients.

How many calories should be protein.

In a person who does not exercise it is 1g of protein per 1kg of body weight. For example, if you weigh 65kg, it is 65g. Protein is 4kcal per gram do 65 x 4 is 260kcal.

When people strength train, they create a small amount of damage to their muscles. The muscles then heal, using protein as building blocks to create new muscle tissue which is stronger than before. This damage and repair cycle is how we build stronger muscles so it is important we eat a little protein after our strength training and allow those muscles to rest while they rebuild. Muscles are damaged during exercise and build during rest, so don’t overdo it.

You are going to exercise so you will need a little more protein in order to recover from your strength training. Aim for 1.6g per kg of body weight of you are strength training a few times per week. In our example, we can work it out like this:

65 x 1.6g is 104g

104g x 4 kcal is 416 kcal.


Prioritise your strength training. Strength training is going to help you build lean muscle, which will help to continually burn fat. Just having more muscle requires extra calories everyday.

Aim for at least three strength training sessions per week. You can increase these if you want to, but make sure each muscle gets at least 24 hours rest before training it again. Some people who like to work out more will split their workouts allowing one muscle group to rest while they work out other muscles the next day.

The amount of resistance you should use will differ from person to person. Try to use resistance or weight that you can work to about 6 reps before you start to find it a struggle – the last 2 should require some effort. Aim for 8 repetitions and repeat these for 3 sets. Remember, once those last two start to feel easier, add some weight or resistance.

Keep your cardiovascular workouts modest. Aim for one to two sessions per week, for no more than 45 minutes at lower intensities or 10-20 minutes at high intensity. Excessive cardio can cause muscles to break down rather than grow, so this would undermine your strength training.

What kind of exercise should I do?


Strength training is where we add resistance to load the muscle. You can strength train with weight, using dumbells or weight plates, medicine balls or sandbags. Weight is weight though, so even bottles of water, tins of beans or the weekly shopping bags can be used.

You can also use bands for resistance training. They are cheap and easy to store so they are a favourite for home workouts. We can pull or push the bands in different positions to add resistance to moves which will work the muscles.

You also have the option of using your own body weight. Moves like squats, lunges press ups and pull ups a good examples of body weight work out moves. The beauty of body weight workouts is that you do not need any equipment and very little space.

Aim for a workout of 10 to 20 minutes when you begin. You can do some great body weight workouts at home in a short space of time. Learn the basics first, focus on understanding proper form before you add further resistance.

Proper form is positioning the body for each move, so that we work the muscles properly and minimise the risk of injury. Take some time to learn about how to proerly perform some basic body weight movements. If you get the form right, you will feel the full challenge each move has to offer.


Cardiovascular training is training tat increases your heart rate and breathing rate without adding resistance. Walking at a moderate to fast pace, jogging, cycling on a flat surface, aerobics and dance are all good examples of cardio.

You should not do lots of cardio without strength training when you are looking to preserve muscle. We need to get a good balance. That being said, there are so many benefits to cardio, beyond just losing weight. Increased heart rate, strengthens the heart muscle and increases circulation. Heavier breathing improves lung capacity and increases oxygen intake which sends oxygen rich blood to your organs, muscles and cells helping htem to become stronger.

If we are doing a lower intensity cardio workout, where we are left slightly breathless, but still capable of holding a conversation, then we want to limit these sessions to 45 minutes each. If we up the intensity, to a level where we are breathing heavy and struggle to talk, we only need to work out for 10-20 minutes to get a similar result.

Go at your own pace and progress at your own pace.

Everyone has different fitness and strength levels.

High intensity for one person can be very different to high intensity for another. The measure here is how difficult YOU find the exercise. Jogging for one person may increase their heart rate as much as a faster jog for another person.

It is the same with strength. A 10kg sand bag may take the same effort for one person as a 25kg sand bag would take for some one who has stronger muscles.

It is important to find your starting point, and always aim to progress from there.

Making your plan

With all of this in mind, you can begin to make your plan.

Strength train 3 times a week. Find the method of resistance that you like and learn the form. Gradually increase the resistance as you grow stronger.

Do cardio 2 times per week. Find a cardio exercise that you love, you should enjoy your activity.

Prioritise your protein intake, make sure you are getting enough and boost your vegetables and fruit for excellent nutrition. Eating with nutrition in mind will help make that 10% cut in daily calories.

Remember to time some of your protein intake. Eating protein after strength training provides the building blocks your body needs to recover from your workout.