What are the best food groups to eat throughout the day to lose weight? For example, should I be eating carbs and fats for breakfast, but no protein. Or, no protein after a certain time and only carbs before workout, protein ONLY after? I am trying to lose weight, and I have 20 more pounds to lose. I have found myself stuck in a rut, and I feel that knowing how I should really be eating, what I should be eating, and when I should eat will help me? Thank you! – Gabrielle K.
There is no concrete evidence that restricting intake to a particular type of food, or eating only certain food group at meals is of benefit in weight loss. In fact, including protein at breakfast helps with concentration, staying full longer and preventing unhealthy snacking later. Likewise, there is no “carb curfew” for the evening, as carbohydrates are needed to help us fall asleep. Remember that few foods offer only carbohydrate, fat or protein [the 3 macronutrients] exclusively, such as butter/oil [fat], egg whites [protein], applesauce [carbohydrate]. Most foods contain a combination of the three macronutrients.
Therefore, I support a balanced combination of foods that provide mostly carbohydrate, some protein and little fat at each meal and overall throughout the day. How that looks on your plate is a little different than how it appears on paper because fat is almost double the calories of carbohydrate or protein, meaning it contributes twice the energy for the same amount.
The exception here is for what to eat before and after workouts. Beforehand, it is helpful to consume some carbohydrate to fuel your exercise and stimulate the muscles’ uptake of protein afterward. See our articles on pre-workout and recovery nutrition for a full explanation.
Remember, your total day’s intake of calories is critical, regardless the source. To lose weight you must eat less than you burn in physical activity!
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.