Making dietary changes to promote weight loss can seem overwhelming at first, but once you learn some basics, you will be well on your way to an optimal healthy lifestyle.
Men can only process 600-650 calories at one time. (700 if active) Women can only process 300-350 calories at one time. (400 if active)
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. These numbers might vary depending on your body type and metabolism, but this is a good range to follow. The bottom line is that if you are in a daily caloric surplus those extra calories will turn to fat.
You need an personalized plan for your individual needs. There is no cookie cutter plan, so to speak, but there are basic rules to follow.
When preparing a meal plan for optimal weight loss, it is imperative that you keep your calories clean. You must have frequent clean feedings to rev up your metabolism.
Think of your metabolism as logs in a fire. What happens when you stop throwing logs on a fire? The fire dies out; the same thing happens with your metabolism. The body’s metabolism converts food into energy, uses it for repairs or stores it as fat for future use.
The more muscle you have; the more fat you will burn. A faster metabolism burns calories more efficiently and stores less fat. A slower metabolism burns calories less efficiently and stores more fat.
Aerobic exercise is essential for burning fat, but aerobic exercise in excess leads to a loss of muscle and slows down the metabolism. So don’t overdo the cardio.
It is imperative you have breakfast to rev up your metabolism for the day. What your mother always told you still holds true, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” If you miss out on this meal, you are setting your body up for failure.
As it implies, breakfast breaks the fast. Your body has been fasting for 6-8 hours and just like a car you need to give it the proper fuel or in this case nutrition. Just like a car, if you don’t put gas in it you will not get too far in your day.
If you have had this happen to you, you know exactly what I am talking about. You miss breakfast and by 8 or 10 am you have no energy and are searching for a ‘pick me up,’ consisting of strong coffee and a sugary snack. Now you are unable to grab lunch until after 1 p.m. in the afternoon, by this time you’re starving and eat a big lunch and become lethargic. This just sets the body up for failure.
At each meal you will need to include a small portion of protein, complex carbohydrates and some healthy fats. Let’s first take a look at protein and what it does for our bodies.
Maximize Your Food Intake
Protein and Fat Loss
Protein is important because:
- Forms muscle, bone, blood hormones and cells
- Repairs tissues
- Supplies energy
- Makes up approximately ½ the body’s total weight
- Enhances brain function
- Tells the brain “STOP EATING”
- Stabilizes blood sugars
- Reduces cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
Protein - Go Lean
Choose meats that are grilled baked, broiled or poached-not fried. The leanest choices are:
- Fish - Cod, flounder, grouper, tuna (in water), shell fish-crab, scallop, shrimp, lobster.
- Game Meat - Deer, buffalo, elk, ground turkey or other meat no less than 98% lean.
- Meatless Options - Egg whites, eggbeaters, protein powders.
Carbohydrates and Fat Loss
Carbohydrates are important because:
- Body’s primary source of energy.
- What is not converted into energy the body stores as FAT.
- Over consumption of simple carbohydrates is the leading cause of weight gain.
- Complex carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Complex carbohydrates may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, obesity, constipation, cholesterol, diabetes and other diseases.
Carbohydrates - Choices
- Low Carbs - Celery, collards, green leaf endive, white mushrooms, mustard greens, spinach, sprouts, spring mix, radishes.
- Mid to High Carbs - Cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, kale, portabella mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini, asparagus.
Other important tips to consider when planning your carbohydrate sources:
- Choose whole grains.
- Choose foods with whole oats, whole rye, or whole wheat listed first on the label ingredients list.
- Look for bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.
- Be wary of foods labeled multi-grain, stone-ground, 100% wheat, or bran. They are usually not whole grains
- Brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal are good choices.
Healthy Fats and Fat Loss
Fat is not a BAD word. Fats are important because:
- Protects, lubricates, build and reproduces cells.
- Help keep skin, hair and joints healthy.
- Source of energy.
- Insulates and cushions vital organs.
Healthy fats include all cold water fish, including salmon; walnuts, almonds, various seeds and nuts, flaxseed, avocado, olive oil, almond butter, and peanut butter.
Water and Fat Loss
Water is important because:
- Makes up 50-70% of the body weight.
- Transports nutrients to their final destination.
- Lubricates joints and spinal cord.
- Regulates body’s temperature and removes waste products.
Water consumption should be one half your bodyweight in ounces per day.
Unhealthy Foods, Health and Fat Loss
Some important facts about unhealthy foods:
- Interfere with calcium absorption.
- Overstress the pancreas.
- Increase buildup of fat deposition.
- Over produce acids in the stomach.
- Deplete the body of minerals and vitamins.
- Affect brain functioning, alter mood and behaviors.
- High Sugar intake has been linked to diabetes.
Instead of having a ‘weight loss emergency,’ this is an ideal nutritional plan and a way of making healthy changes for life. Losing weight does not involve ‘gimmicks.’ It involves being aware of the foods that you are putting into your body and making nutritious choices.
Designate a day to prepare all of your food in advance for the upcoming week. Purchase plastic containers, snack bags and shaker cups.
Pack all your meals and snacks in a lunch cooler, and take it with you so you won’t miss a meal. If you have your meals readily available to you throughout the day, you won’t go hungry. Or worse look for sugar snacks to fill the void! Eating clean consistently to fuel your metabolism is the SECRET to losing fat and keeping it off for good!
Once you get in the habit of start reading labels and being more aware of what you are putting into your mouth, you will spend less time in the gym killing yourself with mindless cardio, and you will be spending more time in the kitchen. You just might surprise yourself when you see that scale move!
Im supposed to be eating 1200 calories a day to loose 2lbs a week but i weigh around 140 so how am i suppose to eat 140grams of protein if i only can eat 1200 calories help please!
Thanks for contacting me. At 140 lbs, 1200 calories is far too low. I would like to see you eating roughly 1,500 clean calories a day, as a starting point. I would be happy to help you a little further, you can contact me directly through my website.
Best of luck to you.
can you leave some side snacks, i eat almonds, tuna, salmon, potatoes,and yogurt what else?
Looks like you are doing good! You may want to add hardboiled eggs, protein shakes, raw vegetables with natural peanut butter,or turkey breast and a 1 slice of whole grain bread to your snack list! Hope that helps!
I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in this article. A lot of stuff seems like broscience. I'm with Brandon on this one, let's see some research/studies.
This seems to contradict other articles on this site.
Lisa, can you please source me to a peer reviewed scientific study concerning paragraph numbers 2, 5, and 9. Thank you.
This is simple and very good article. Easy to understand. Thanks