It feels great counting your losses when you step on those scales. Losing weight isn’t always a sign you’re doing your body good, however. It really is true that there are right ways, and certainly wrong ways, to lose weight. To help you get it correct, we’ve teamed up with our expert nutritionist to bring you the most up-to-date advice on what, when and how much you should be eating in order to achieve measured and healthy diet success.
Understanding nutrition could make all the difference
It won’t come as a surprise to you when we say that if you want to lose weight, you need to be eating right. Along with exercise, our diet is the very foundation of our health, wellbeing and physical fitness. If you’re trying to shed the pounds, it’s going to be nigh-on-impossible to do without making some changes to what you’re eating each day.
Unfortunately, far too many people interpret this incorrectly, and make the mistake of thinking ‘eating to lose weight’ means ‘eating less’. Sure, you may have to reflect on your portion sizes, but healthy and sensible weight loss is never about going hungry.
We know that, ultimately, knowledge is power. If you’re equipped with the right tools and information, you can alter your diet in such a way that you get all the nutrients you need, you lose weight and you get to tuck into meals and snacks that taste absolutely divine. Yes, it is possible! And in this guide we’re going to tell show you how to do it.
Because we’re all unique – there’s no one size fits all approach to nutrition. How much we should be eating varies from person to person and we don’t all like to eat the same things. In this guide, we’ll help you understand how much you should be eating and when, what nutrients you need and how to get them, as well as serve you up some great ideas for delicious dinners you’ll love.
So how much should I be eating?
Before we even start to delve into discussing which foods to swap in and out of your diet, we need to know how much of it you actually need.
We’re all different shapes and sizes and we need to take that into account when we talk about how many calories you should be aiming for each day. Fortunately, there’s a reasonably straightforward way of doing that; but you will need a calculator to hand.
It’s all about your BMR
You may or may not have heard of ‘BMR’. This stands for Basal Metabolic Rate – in other words, the amount of energy you need to sustain your body at current levels without exercise.
Why is this important? Because once we know what your body requires to carry on the way it is, we can make a deduction – giving you a new calorie target that provides a calorie deficit and will result in weight loss.
To begin, choose the formula that matches your age and gender and calculate:
Got it? Great!
Now we need to factor in any exercise you’re doing (and we hope you are). Ideally, you should be exercising five times a week, for 30 minutes each time at moderate intensity. You should feel breathless, but still able to talk in sentences.
Either way, we’ve got to factor this in. Take the BMR calculation you just got and do the following, based on an honest analysis of your activity levels:
There we go! We now know how many calories your body needs each day to sustain itself. If you keep up this intake, you’ll stay exactly the same as you are now. But we don’t want that, we need a little less. That means there’s one more step.
(Your number ÷ 100 x 85)
And there we have it! If you want to get great weight loss results gradually and sensibly, this is the calorie intake you should be aiming for each day.
When should I be eating?
Now you know your daily calorie goal for sustainable weight loss, you can think about how you might apportion it out throughout the day.
The last thing you want is to be feeling hungry. With your (likely) somewhat reduced portions, going a long time between meals and allowing the hunger to kick in big could well cause you to cave and spoil your efforts. That’s why the advice is to eat smaller, but more regular meals.
The bonus? This is actually assists weight loss. Eating little and often keeps your metabolism on its toes and may help burn the calories better.
Here’s a rundown of when you should be eating, and what food groups you should cover. Don’t worry if you don’t understand these yet – we’ll tell you more about those later.
Meal 1 – Breakfast
When: Early in the morning, as soon as you rise
What: aim for some proteins, carbs and good fats
Meal 2 – AM snack
What: protein based
Meal 3 – Lunch
When: midday for very early risers, early afternoon for later risers
What: A healthy combination of fat, protein and carbs. Include some starch if training later
Meal 4 – PM Snack
What: Protein based if resting in the evening, carb based if training
Meal 5 – Dinner
When: Early evening, post-training (ensure to include starch and protein after training)
What: Starch and protein based with some good fats
Overall, you should try and ensure your meals are concentrated with proteins and whole grains. These will help avoid sugar spikes and therefore will ward away the cravings, making you more likely to stick to this five-meal structure.
What should I be eating?
You’ve worked out how much and how often, so now it’s time to focus on the big question – what to eat?
The reality is that there’s no perfect answer to that. But being able to make informed decisions when planning your meals is the key to a successful diet.
Macronutrients, macronutrients, macronutrients
When it comes to healthy eating, getting the right balance of macronutrients is key. There are three classes of macronutrient: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. We need a particular balance of these in order to diet successfully.
For most people, the macronutrients break down even with dietary needs will be the same or similar; it is age and activity which will skew the figures the most.
The typical macronutrient split is 55% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 30% fat.
So a diet for 1500kcals would look like 206g of carbohydrates, 50g of fat and 56g of protein. And a diet for 1700kcals would look like 233g or carbohydrate, 56g of fat and 64g of protein.
Our handpicked delicious and nutritious inspiration menu
Here are some fantastic ideas for healthy meals to include in your diet plan. All have been carefully selected to provide a balance of macronutrients and have an appropriate calorie content, helping you to meet your calorie intake goals. Look out for those labelled ‘Recipe’; that means we’ve included our very own recipe for you to try!
Omelettes (can be made suitable for all diets)
Egg cups (loaded with vegetables / fruit)
Overnight porridge oats (can be made with milk alternatives, gluten free porridge or yoghurt and combine with fruits such as berries) Recipe
Avocado on Toast
Green Smoothies (loads of green leafy veg such as kale, spinach, avocado, fruit for sweetness, fat free / dairy free yoghurt) Recipe
Low fat tofu stir fry with gluten free noodles Recipe
Quinoa and avocado salad Recipe
Spicy meat-free chicken and avocado wraps Recipe
Almond lentil stew Recipe
Smoky bean tacos Recipe
Sweet potato quesadillas Recipe
Potato curries with green leafy vegetables Recipe
Lentil/pulses/legumes stew with tomatoes, onion, swede, carrots and potatoes
Vegan chili Recipe
Tofu and asparagus pad Thai Recipe