I teach a Zumba class every Tuesday night at 6PM where afterward, I get to chat with my participants about some of their biggest fitness struggle(s).

The most common issue we talk about always comes back to the overarching subject of nutrition.

They struggle with, not knowing what to eat, how to eat or how much to eat to reach their goals. Some of the most common questions we discuss is : 

  1. What should I be eating if I'm plant-based but want to build muscle?

  2. What's a good pre and post-workout snack?

  3. What should I eat for breakfast?

  4. What's your go-to breakfast?

  5. Do skinny tea's work?

Unfortunately, many of us (me included,) have been brainwashed by elusive fitness marketers.

We believe the (very smart sounding) lies and forget that proper nutrition is the foundation to our results.

We kill ourselves for hours at the gym and on yo-yo diets that end up masking the symptom(s) but never getting to the root cause of our problem.

This blog post is dedicated to the many women I meet (or haven't met yet!) who are frustrated, confused and are constantly on the hunt for the truth to help get them to the next level.

1. To Burn Fat + Build Muscle: You Need To Eat More Protein

When working with my 1-on-1 clients, one of the first goals we focus on is eating more protein.

At first, they find it quite challenging because they never realized they weren't eating enough:

  1. food in general

  2. protein to support muscle growth

I know that this can be hella confusing when your entire life you've been told that you have to eat-less (think boring *ss salads steamed broccoli and dry chicken breast) but if you want to build muscle (like your booty) you're going to need to eat more.

& by eating more, I mean eating more nutrient dense food and protein specifically.

This can be overwhelming when you're first starting, so let me break it down for you:

Fitness is like chemistry. 

Chemistry is based on science, however, mathematical equations are absolutely necessary to explore and understand important concepts in chemistry.

Let's look more closely:

All food can be broken down into three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Some foods contain only one or two of the macronutrients, while most contain a combination of all three.  

My job is to help you understand what role each macronutrient plays in your body.

Protein makes up every tissue of the body—hair, skin, bones, muscles, and organs—as well as hormones and enzymes that catalyze reactions in the body. 

  • Part 1: Protein is the building block of muscle. (science)

  • Part 2: Without enough of it each day - consistently it's going to be very difficult for you to see any real progress. (Math)

  • Part 3: When we strip it down to it's most basic level, to build muscle you need .8 to 1g of protein per pound of body weight. In other words, if I weigh 145 lbs and I want to build muscle my protein consumption PER DAY needs to be up there in the 100's. (Science + Math = Chemistry)

At the end of the day without some basic math skills chemistry would be extremely difficult to understand.

The same applies to fitness.  

If you're not eating protein and/or not eating enough consistently to meet your bodies needs you're not allowing your muscles to build and recover.

Free Training: 5 Best Tips To Building Muscle


2. Start Tracking Your Food

You can't change what you do not track.

The first step in getting to where you want to go is knowing where you're at. Paying attention to what you eat helps create awareness & awareness is the doorway to mastery.

If you have no idea how much food you're eating or what you're actually eating every day it's going to be hard to add the numbers you need to see the changes you want.

We want to start thinking about what we're really after (not just short-term weight loss, but long-term fat loss.)

Your results are going to be in the tracking.

By tracking what you're consuming every day you'll learn what's working, what's not and what needs improving.

The only way you're going to start weight loss is through nutrition first to lower your body fat percentage.

Here's the tea: you can go to the gym and burn calories every single day and lose zero overall body fat.

Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D teaches us that, "burning fat doesn't equate to losing body fat. People lose body fat if by the end of the day they've created a calorie deficit." 

If that just confused you, and you're wondering if you should focus on losing body fat or burning it the answer is BOTH.


In other words, you could be busting your *ss in the gym and weeks later come to find out that you look exactly the same.

This usually happens because we don't track the food we're eating.

& don't realize that a surplus of calories (without the proper workout program) will make us gain unwanted fat.

We've often been fooled into thinking that we can just burn fat off with a lot of hours of exercise but that's actually quite difficult.

The truth is: It's going to take you 10x longer to burn overall body fat in the gym vs controlling what you put in your mouth.

For example, have you ever wondered why you see certain people at the gym day after day, week after week and they look EXACTLY the same when you look back on them months later?

That's because (again) it doesn't matter what workout you're doing at the gym (or how much you sweat - but that's a different post for another day).....

If your nutrition isn't on point no overall body fat will be lost.

@@Getting rid of your fupa, chichos or excess belly fat can't happen if your diet is trash. - @getfitwithmassi@@

How do you determine how much you need to eat? It's going to be relative to your current body weight and the goal you're trying to accomplish.

The best place to start is to take an inventory of what you're doing right now which is why tracking your meals is critical. 

3. Focus on Eating Clean

If you want to change the system (your body) you need to change what you're put into it, not just the amount. 

& not fake food life "fortified/Enriched ingredients" buy whole, real foods.

Food quality matters because you want to start eating calories that satisfy, energize & maximize (your results.) 

I encourage you to work on retraining your pallet for new foods by incorporating new fresh foods consistently.

Before you even begin to weight train you need to focus on clean eating because no amount of equipment, strategy or training you add into your week you won't be able to transform without a clean diet.

There are so many alternative greens that trump lettuce that you want to start incorporating into your diet. 

We often get trapped in the thought that the only thing that can make a salad is lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and chicken.

Remember, you can make amazing salads that do not include lettuce. You can also make your own salad dressing to help cut the excess calories.

Sometimes we're seeking for complicated solutions to our problems but the key(s) to eating healthy is simple:

Eat more greens + eat less processed + eat more whole foods.

The bulk of the food that you put in your mouth needs to be non-starchy vegetables = priority #1.

Greens are low in calories and high in macronutrients. If you want to burn fat more quickly you want to start adding your greens to your base.

Ask yourself this week: How can you eat healthy and push the boundaries of what you think a typical salad might be?

Think outside of the box, lettuce doesn't count as a green food in 2018. ( Yes, I just made this rule.)

Here are 3 new greens I encourage you try this week:

  1. Arugula

  2. Asparagus

  3. Bok Choy

**Bonus Tip: Swap All Drinks For Water**

Some of the time you think you're hungry when you're just thirsty. 

Most of us can't tell the difference between hunger pains and thirst because they are so similar to our brains.

Also, don't get stuck focusing on the nitty-gritty. If you're getting started it doesn't matter what temperature the water is or what you add to it - just focus on drinking it often.

You also want to consider swapping many of your high sugar drinks for water like coffee.

Coffee dehydrates the body and also suppresses your appetite.

Coffee is a drug and if you have to drink it to "get up" in the morning you've developed a dependency on it.

If you're not sure if you're addicted to coffee, skip it for one day. If you start getting a headache after skipping your caffeine fix that means you've developed a dependency which is a huge problem. Your body doesn't need a stimulus to wake up.

Coffee is problematic because lord knows (most of us) don't drink it black. Black coffee means it's in its natural liquid state without any additives - no sugar no cream.

We go to our favorite coffee joint is, and we're adding 7 pumps of caramel, 3 cubes of sugar, whip creme, milk & the creamers which equal a shit storm of sugar and unnecessary calories.

You can easily drink half of your daily calorie intake by ordering your morning coffee. We want to start creating healthy relationships with our food and drinks and if you're dependent on coffee = that can become unhealthy.

So, it's time to swap it. You can swap coffee with Green tea or Green Matcha Tea (these have caffeinated options.)

Interested in losing fat fast? Click below to sign up for my 5-Day Reset Challenge:

Your Virtual Fitness Coach - Masiel Encarnación