I posted this on another thread to help someone -- a member's wife -- who needed some help with dieting. I do really feel it's far more helpful to people to give them something brief and simple, preferably something brief enough that an outline with all the necessary points could fit on a single piece of paper, than it is to give them an entire book that has to be digested before they know what to do.
It's also so much easier to follow directions that are that simple and brief than to make sure of doing everything that took and entire chapter or book to explain.
And if the brief advice is correctly put together, it will really do the job regardless of having been that brief.
While it's written to be suitable to everyone including the general public, everything holds completely true for weight trainers as well. It's not compromised just so as to also meet the needs of the average person, though it does succeed extremely well with them also.
Never go too long without food: not more than 3-4 waking hours. Starvation is not the way to lose fat.
Don't restrict calories too severely. If you're relying on guesswork, try to aim for about 2/3 of your normal, pre-diet caloric intake.
If you just are not going to total up daily calories, you absolutely can still have success though there will be more guesswork in the process. If this is how you feel, then skip the parts below about figuring calories. Instead, try only to have a general idea of about how many calories are in each meal -- even though you are not going to add them up -- and try to eat about the same total amount each day, with some variation being OK. When you've lost at least 3 or 4 lb of fat or at least two weeks have passed, you can evaluate whether your calories are good or need to be adjusted. Moving daily calories up or down by 500 will change rate of fat loss by about 1 lb per week.
But if you can, it's better to count daily calories, especially at first. (Later on, it's not at all hard to guess well enough most of the time.)
Eat "healthy" fats. Some of this can be from supplements: EFA's (or fish or flax oil) and GLA (or borage or evening primrose oil) are helpful. Foods with particularly healthy fats include nuts, avocados, and olive oil, though portions of nuts need to be limited else calories can easily become much too much.
Try for roughly one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. And as for carbohydrates, try for the same thing: roughly one gram per pound of bodyweight. It is OK to have just general ideas if you're not familiar with particular values of foods.
If you are female and just really don't like protein, then at least get half a gram per pound of bodyweight. But preferably, with time, adjust your way upwards to the one gram value. It will help.
- Combine foods. Don't eat protein-only meals, or carb-only meals, or fat-only meals. Instead, have protein/carb meals, protein/fat meals, or protein/carb/fat meals.
A moderate calorie, low-or-mid-glycemic carb-only snack such as an apple is perfectly OK.
Strongly avoid carb/fat meals or snacks.
When eating protein/carb/fat meals, particularly watch out that the total meal size is not too much. More than about 1/3 of the total planned daily calories is too much, as is a meal that will push the calories for the day to too high a value.
Keep in mind that many carb/fat foods such as most muffins that are sold can easily be 600 calories each -- which is a disaster.
Try to eat your protein/carb meals during the first half of the day if possible and your protein/fat meals during the second half of the day.
Decide your portions before eating. Set out what you want to eat, and stick with that decision. No one meal should constitute more than 30 to 35 percent of your daily total, at most.
Q: How many calories should I eat each day?
A: Figure your minimum calories per day by multiplying your body weight by 12 if male, or 11 or 12 if female. For example, if you are a man weighing 200 pounds, multiplying your body weight by 12 gives you 2400 calories per day.
The exception is that if you are well over what would be a good long-term ideal realistic weight -- some figure that would be very healthful -- you can use an intermediate weight or if necessary that weight to figure calories.
For example suppose you weigh 200 and using that weight to figure calories proved to not give you a good rate of fat loss. And let's say 160 lb would be much more healthful weight for you. Then, use an adjusted weight such as 180 lb to figure your calories. If that proves after a couple of weeks to still be too much then try figuring from the 160 lb value.
Don't use an adjusted weight below what makes sense. For example, if female don't use a weight that would correspond to a painfully-thin anorexic supermodel of your height.
Q: What if I'm female, very substantially overweight, and unsure on how low is reasonable to go if needing to use an adjusted weight for figuring calories?
A: You can use this calculator:
Enter your actual weight and height, and see what your BMI is. If it's already under 20, then you are not very substantially overweight, if even at all, and just using your actual weight should be fine. The same is pretty much true if in the range of 20-22. If it's well over 22, then try entering various lower weights until you see what weights correspond to a BMI of 20-22.
You can then, if calories based on your actual weight are proving too much, try an intermediate weight between your actual weight and the value you found by this method. Again, if that intermediate weight proves after a couple of weeks to still be too much, then use the weight corresponding to a BMI of 20-22, or some weight "splitting the difference."
Q: If I found it best to use a calorie value based on adjusted weight, can I use that adjusted weight instead of actual weight to figure protein and carb grams?
Q: I've already lost a considerable amount of fat. Should I make any adjustments?
A: If you've already lost considerable fat on the program and fat loss now is too slow, you should reduce your calorie and gram values to reflect your new, lower body weight.
Q: What if the above-recommended amount has me losing weight very fast and though I'm following all these principles I'm hungry or lacking energy? Or what if I've been at it long enough that a slower rate of loss while eating more seems a good idea. Can I go higher?
A: Yes. If you have a faster metabolism or do a lot of exercise, a daily value such as 13-15 calories per lb may be more appropriate for you. Or if you've been steadily losing 2 or 3 lb of fat per week, increasing by say 500 calories per day will still allow you good fat loss and may be much more sustainable for you long-term.
Q: What if I've reached a desired weight and want to hold it? How many calories should I add back in?
A: Estimate how many pounds of fat you lost in the last month. For each pound lost, you can allow yourself an extra 120 calories per day beyond what you were having in that month. Give the new caloric intake a month to see what happens. If necessary, adjust monthly on the same principle.
Q: Any other tips on types of meals?
A: Try noticing which meals or sorts of meals meet the above principles and leave you feeling you've eaten a fully satisfactory amount both at the time and after despite being pretty modest in calories.
These are very helpful to consume on a regular and frequent basis.
And also try to notice which meals or types of meals that despite having lots of calories either don't seem to be as much as you'd have liked to eat at the time or which you leave you hungry fairly shortly after.
Limiting these types of meals will really help.
Q: Do I need to worry about any micronutrient deficiencies while I'm dieting?
A: Yes, unfortunately it's likely when reducing calories to have micronutrient deficiencies unless special care is taken.
To avoid this, use a good multi-vitamin/multi-mineral and especially make sure that these are present in adequate amounts: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and chromium. That is not always the case and you may need to use more than one product to cover all the bases.
It is also very helpful to take additional Vitamin D giving a total of 3000-4000 IU/day. There are now 2000 IU soft-tabs available so this is easy to do.
Lastly, make sure that Vitamin B6 intake is sufficient. A good amount is 50 mg/day. For some people, the pyridoxal phosphate form works better. In this case 25 mg/day is sufficient.
Q: What's a good rate of fat loss?
A: Rapid fat loss is probably best limited to eight weeks at a time, or to cycles of two weeks of intensive dieting separated by one week at weight-maintaining calories.
"Slow but steady" fat loss, this being rates of up to about one pound per week, may be continued as long as appropriate. This can be the best approach for many people. More overweight people may well be able to sustain 2 pounds per week, but an ongoing 1 lb per week really, really adds up in quite reasonable time. Next year really will happen, and if overweight by an amount such as say 52 lb or any greater value, being that much lighter a year from now is just an outstanding thing to have accomplished!
Don't knock yourself if that's your rate of fat loss. It can really do the job. If your diet change is sustainable and realistic, as these changes are, and you achieve a rate such as that, you're absolutely on the way to great success! And you will soon far surpass those that try crash-loss or other unsustainable programs.