A healthy diet includes a balance of the following key macronutrients:
- Good carbohydrates: whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Lean proteins: chicken and turkey (skinless), eggs, low-fat dairy products and small amounts of lean red meats, legumes.
- Healthy fats: salmon, Omega-3 eggs, olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, almonds, avocados, hemp and flax oil.
The right balance of these foods is different for every person, but generally a ratio of 50 per cent carbohydrates, 25 per cent to 30 per cent protein and 20 to 25 per cent fat is a good target. Caloric needs are also very individual and can range from 1,200 to 2,500 calories (or more) depending on height, weight and activity level.
Remember, when you are planning your nutrition program you need to make sure you are eating enough calories. If you eat too little, your body will go into "storage" mode and actually hold on to excess fat. Aim for a goal of one to two pounds of weight loss per week and don't let your daily caloric intake go below your BMR.
HOW MUCH TO EAT
To lose a pound a week you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. Below is a formula you can use to quickly calculate your approximate caloric needs:
- Step 1: Calculate your body mass requirement (BMR). This is your caloric expenditure before exercise (calories you need to simply function):
Formula for women:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x your weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x your height in inches) - (4.7 x your age in years)
For example, a woman who is five feet, five inches tall, weighs 130 lbs and is 30 years old would calculate as follows:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 130) + (4.7 x 65) - (4.7 x 30) = 1,384 calories
Formula for men:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)
- Step 2: Once you have your BMR, you need to then multiply this by an activity factor to determine total daily calories required.
Sedentary (no or very little exercise): 1.2
Light activity level (exercising two days per week): 1.375
Moderate activity level (exercising four days per week): 1.5
High activity level (exercising four days per week): 1.7
Higher activity level (exercising five or more days per week): 2
- If you don't want to do your own calculating, go to mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598 and simply type in your information to find out your daily calorie requirement to maintain your current weight.
To lose weight at a rate of one pound per week you need to expend 3,500 more calories than you consume per week. Using the example of the woman above, she would decrease daily calorie intake to 1,603 per day (note that this is above her BMR of 1,384) for a reduction of 2,100 calories per week and increase her activity to burn an extra 1,400 calories per week for a total weekly deficit of 3,500 calories.
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