Glassman suggests starting with a calorie baseline: If you're trying to lose weight, she recommends a meal plan that contains (roughly) 1,500 calories, with 40 percent coming from whole, fiber-rich carbs, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from healthy fats. That balance is ideal for keeping energy levels up and helping you build lean muscle while squashing hunger and the cravings that come with it, she says.
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
First things first – planning. Before you start to prep your meals, you need a nice, solid plan. Coming up with a meal plan may sound overwhelming at first, but it’s not as bad as it may seem. Just take it one step at a time and start with one, simple meal you love and that you know is healthy, and then work your way up. Soon, you’ll be prepping all your meals! Watch out – it gets addicting!
Eat at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, daily. If your protein intake is too low on a restricted-calorie diet, you'll lose a lot of muscle in addition to any fat you're lucky enough to shed. A high-protein intake will help you preserve lean mass during your dieting phase. Choose lean, high-quality proteins like egg whites, poultry, lean red meat, and protein supplements. The diet provided here contains about 220-250g of protein daily, fine for a male weighing 200-250lbs. Up your protein only if you're heavier than 250lbs, or you're very hungry and need to add food during the day. Juge suggests an additional protein shake for an easy quick fix. (If you're under 180lbs, cut out 3oz of meat or chicken per day from the diet.)
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
When you need to lose a lot of weight, you want to lose it fast. Don't fall victim to fad diets that make big promises and don't pay off in the long run. To lose an extreme amount of weight and keep it off, you need a meal plan that supplies the right number of calories and is filled with a healthy balance of nutrient-rich foods. Consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss a weight-loss diet that fits your specific health needs.
Changing your eating habits can be intimidating, I know. It may even feel like you’re leaving everything you love behind. All the midnight snacks, takeouts, sweets… But, although it may seem like that at first, soon enough you realize that eating healthy will not only make you feel and look good but can also taste darn good! The key is finding a lifestyle you love (not one you dread) so that you stick to it.