Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
Now that you’ve got your cardio and weight training plans in the works, it is time to tackle the final portion of The 3 Pronged Attack for Weight Loss: DIET. There is no one-size-fits-all eating plan for weight loss. The approach that works best for you will be one that fits your body, mentality and intended lifestyle. By choosing an eating plan that you can stick with, you’re more likely to achieve your weight loss goals.
Simply cutting calories isn’t enough to lose weight and keep it off long-term. Successful weight loss addresses the needs of fueling your muscles, preventing hunger and supporting the rest of your body to enable it to function optimally. Below are the primary ways to successfully lose body fat while taking into account the factors mentioned above.
Find Your Diet Plan
Find your diet plan based on what fits your body, mentality and intended lifestyle.
This diet plan requires you to eat a defined percent of calories from each of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Example – 50 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent fats, 25 percent proteins.
Ideal for – Athletes, detail-oriented people and planners.
This approach, tailored to fit your physical and performance goals, entails a bit of label reading and calculating, or diet recording using software analysis. However you choose to do it, you’ll need to know the actual portion total that you consume from each meal item to know the correct amount of grams you are getting from each macronutrient. However, it doesn’t take into account if you’re on a high-fiber diet (fiber carbohydrates don’t translate into calories) or an alcohol drinker (a fourth source of calories, but not a nutrient). You’ll need to set some time aside to plan ahead to achieve the correct distribution percentage. A macronutrient distribution diet plan certainly requires some time commitment, so only take this approach if you’re certain that you can put in the time.
Food Group Servings
This diet plan requires that you adhere to a set number of servings from specific food groups: milk, protein, starches, fruits, vegetables and fats.
Example – Based on a 2000 calorie diet from The USDA’s SuperTracker[i] — 2 cups of fruit, 2 ½ cups of vegetable, 6 ounces of grains, 5 ½ ounces protein, 3 cups of dairy, 6 teaspoons of fat.
Ideal for – People with little time to commit, low-key diners and those with allergies.
This diet plan is similar to a common diet plan designed for people with diabetes called an “exchange pattern.” Each food group is based on the typical amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins they contain. The beauty of this diet is that it gives you multiple options that can fulfill the serving requirement for each food group, but you need to follow the specified portions for each one of them. Using food groups allows for the most variety and flexibility because it abides by the most basic diet principle: moderation. Your true calorie and macronutrient intake will depend on your choices (e.g., bran cereal versus mini muffin as a grain; prime rib versus chicken breast as a protein). You just need to track the number of servings you eat from each food group and plan on consuming the remainder at dinner.
This diet plan moderately restricts your carbohydrate consumption both in type and quantity.
Example – 120 grams of carbohydrates from whole grains, beans, berries, yogurt or starchy vegetable; unlimited other veggies, meat, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, nuts and oils.
Ideal for – People who are not athletes, black/white thinkers, meat lovers and people with little time to commit.
This approach limits the sources of carbohydrates — starches, fruit, milk products and starchy vegetables (e.g., corn, winter squash or potatoes). Often, you are unable to obtain the amount of calories or nutrients your body needs if you aren’t consuming enough grams of carbohydrates (minimum of 120 grams recommended by Institute of Medicine), or you do not balance the remaining protein, vegetable and fat sources you eat. That’s why reducing carbohydrates may be tough for vegans or vegetarians. This plan is easiest to follow, knowing which foods to avoid as “Yes” and “No” lists.
Each of these plans can accommodate a variety of taste preferences, ways to incorporate organic foods, the desired amount of time you spend shopping & cooking, and your food budget. Also, each of them allows you to be flexible when setting your individual intake goals, which you can achieve best with assistance from a nutrition expert.
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.
Do you want to know more about how to apply these diet plans to you? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.