Hello, I am a 45-year-old male. I’m in good shape but I’m wanting to drop body fat. I’m at about 19% and would like to get down to 15%. I was wondering in regard to my daily calorie limit, is it more important to watch the types of foods I eat or is it more important to stay under a certain number of calories?

– Adam


Well, since you are already in good shape with an ideal body fat percentage for your age, I’d say to you have to focus on both food choices and calorie limit to obtain further fat loss.

You can’t eat 1,500 calories of junk and expect to get definition! Limiting calories by itself will help lose weight, but you need to retain lean mass to get that body fat % down. Selecting healthier foods alone can keep you lean but you’d have to be super in tune with your satiety to create a calorie deficit on purpose.

Just for illustration: If your estimated energy needs for weight loss were 2,000 calories, then comprising that from 40% carbohydrate (mostly complex), 30% protein (up to 0.8 gm/lb. body weight) and 30% healthy fats would help achieve your goal.

  • Breakfast:3 eggs, 1 Cup nonfat Greek yogurt, Large banana, Slice whole grain bread, 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • Lunch:5 ounces chicken breast, Medium sweet potato, 1 Cup green beans, 2 teaspoons margarine
  • Snack:Large bowl chili [made with 3 ounces ground turkey, 1 Cup pinto beans, ½ Cup diced tomato, 1 small onion, 1 bell pepper, any spices] topped with 1-ounce cheese
  • Dinner:5 ounces salmon, Medium ear corn, 2 Cups broccoli

Analysis on by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist = 2060 calories, 41% carb, 26% prot, 33% fat

– 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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