Question:

Good afternoon, my name is Howard G., and I am a member of LA Fitness. I am a 49-year-old male, I weigh 294 lbs., and I am 6’2″.  I have been consistently working out for the past two weeks. I would like to know what would be the ideal calorie intake along with what specific foods should I consume. I am looking to drop weight which is my first goal and then to tone my body. Whatever help you can give me will be much appreciated.

– Howard G.

Answer:

Hello Howard. You really don’t want to count 2000+ calories, do you? I suspect that your interest in “what specific foods” to eat lies more in a desire to follow a plan laid out for you than in constructing one with a large/vague limit like total calories.

In suggesting a sample diet plan for you as an individual, I’d ask you to consider what are the dietary changes you know you need to make and which are the ones you are willing to consistently apply? For example, fried foods may be a problem but unavoidable in your work/social environment yet you only eat sweets because they are there, so could

consciously skip those. Often I observe that one’s diet is reasonable and he just needs to reduce portions across the board. Hint, hint.

That said, IN GENERAL, a 2000-2200 caloric intake that reflects that following meal pattern could be a place to start for the next couple of weeks for someone not used to managing his intake at all.

2 cups FRUIT

1 cup of fruits counts as:

  • 1 cup raw or cooked fruit; 1/2 cup dried fruit; or 1 cup 100% fruit juice

3 cups VEGETABLES

1 cup vegetables counts as:

  • 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables; 2 cups leafy salad greens; or 1 cup 100% vegetable juice

6 ounces GRAINS

1 ounce of grains counts as:

  • 1 slice bread; 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal; or 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal

6 ounces PROTEIN

1 ounce of protein counts as:

  • 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or seafood; 1 egg; 1 Tbsp. peanut butter; 1/4 cup cooked beans or peas; or 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds

2-3 cups DAIRY

1 cup of dairy counts as:

  • 1 cup milk; 1 cup yogurt; 1 cup fortified soy beverage; or 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese or 2 ounces processed cheese

Remainder of calories from 3 servings of healthy plant fat.

The above is based on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines which are supported in the ChooseMyPlate.gov recommendations and MyPlate checklists.

Laid out across meals and snacks with examples, it may look something like this:

Breakfast

1 fruit: small 5” banana

2 grain: 2 whole wheat waffles

1 fat: Tbsp. peanut butter

1 dairy: 8 fl. oz. 1% milk

Lunch

2 vegetable: 2 cups raw spinach

3 protein: half roasted chicken breast

1 grain: ½ C. white beans

1 fat: 2 Tbsp. reduced-fat salad dressing

Dinner

1 vegetable: ½ C cooked broccoli

3 protein: 3 oz. salmon

2 grain: 1 cup cooked brown rice

Snacks

1 grain: 3 C. popcorn

1 fat: tsp. oil for popping

1 fruit: 1 cup melon

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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