I recently received a request from my friend Dave who asked for a simple diet for losing weight and I think he meant for me to write out which particular foods/meals to eat (I’ve given an example of a meal plan that would suit active people like Dave at the end of this article). Thing is, it’s not that simple because peoples tastes are different and their minimum calorific needs can vary hugely. In my friends case he is a hard working man in the labour intensive construction industry. Regardless of what some websites may try to tell you you can’t decide on you calorific needs just based on your activity levels as those levels will invariably change from day to day. I have however included (near the end of this article) a rough guide for working out your daily needs. With some changes in your eating habits and exercising habits you may be surprised at the amount of weight that you can lose over a month’s time period. You can average losing about 2 pounds each week safely so it won’t take long to lose the weight.
The UK Food Standards Agency recently commissioned a report into the diets of construction workers and among its key findings were the terrible lack of adequate catering for construction workers and the misconception amongst construction workers that a high fat diet is better for giving them the sustainable energy levels their jobs demand.
You can make some adjustments in the foods you are eating but don’t try too hard to diet. Just try to make different food choices.
Don’t skip meals. Eat three meals a day and even allow yourself to have snacks. Just choose your foods wisely. Eat plenty of fruit and veg. Don’t try to eliminate all fat. Your body needs some fat, or it will start to make more.
Be sure you get enough calcium by drinking skimmed milk or calcium-fortified orange juice. Drink at least 2 litres of water each day. This helps to decrease your appetite and is good for your skin and hair.
Also, be careful not to lose weight too quickly. Don’t lose more than one maybe two pounds per week, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results quickly.
1. Stretch your meals to, at least, 20 minutes or longer. Your stomach, mouth and brain are all connected and it takes 20 minutes of chewing before your stomach signals your brain that you are full. To successfully lose weight, you need to eat slowly for 20 minutes or longer.
2. Drinking 2 litres of water a day is important to your health, your normal diet and to help lose weight. Water is necessary for the metabolism of your stored fat.
3. Make good food choices such as roasted chicken, turkey, fish, tuna fish, lean ham, steak, lean beef or lean hamburger, vegetables prepared without butter, brown rice, white rice, fruits–fresh or canned without extra sugar, low calorie fruit jelly, fat free yogurts, salads with low calorie and low fat dressings, air-popped popcorn, fat free twiglets, fruit smoothies made with yogurt and pasta in 2 oz servings.
4. Use snack foods wisely. Here are some suggestions for low calorie snacks. Fat free pretzels, fat free yogurt, air popped popcorn, low calorie jelly with fat free squirty cream, fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit and frozen yogurt, sugar free ice lollies and ice cream.
5. When you go fat free or low fat, you also cut out much of the taste of the foods you eat. Add the flavour back with herbs and spices, but not salt.
6. Increase your metabolism by including some of the fat burning foods and breaking your meals into 4 or 5 smaller meals during the day. Include as many single ingredient foods as you can.
7. Negative emotions will also interfere with your weight loss program. It’s difficult to stay motivated to lose weight when you feel bad, and believe me processed foods will make you feel bad.
8. To lose weight faster, reduce your intake of caffeine. Caffeine leads to an increase of insulin in your body that retards the burning of your stored fat. This is a simple chemical reaction in your body that you can change. Reduce your caffeine intake by 50% and see what happens. Here is a rough guide to use when looking at the amount of caffeine you currently take in: Brewed coffee – 100mg; Instant coffee – 70mg; Tea – 50mg; Soft drink cans – (Coke, Dr. Pepper,) – 50mg; Dark chocolate (1 oz.) – 20mg and Milk chocolate (1 oz.) – 6mg.
9. Increase your intake of fibre rich foods. They will help fill you up faster and will help all the food you eat pass through your digestive system more easily.
10. Exercise is probably the most important key to increasing your metabolism and burning off excess fat.
11. To lose weight quickly, never skip a meal. Your first meal after waking starts your metabolism. Your metabolism then speeds up for about eight hours and then starts slowing down until you go to sleep when it goes to low until you wake and eat and start the cycle again. Skip breakfast and your metabolism won’t get started until lunch time. You’ve just missed three or four hours of fat burning time. When you skip meals during the day, your metabolism also slows down.
12. There are certain things that should be avoided when trying to lose weight such as–all fried foods–have them baked, broiled, grilled or pan fried using a non fat spray. Avoid rich gravies, sauces, rich desserts and pop because of the sodium content.
13. Try including some fibre in the diet as it is very healthy for you and also expands in your stomach and gives you a full feeling.
14. Make sure that you have your caloric needs figured out and also keep the fat grams down to only 20 percent of the daily food total.
15. Daily calorie intake. We all need a minimum number of calories simply to survive, but we can also set a calorie limit to maintain a healthy weight. You can calculate the total numbers of calories you need for your type of lifestyle, then use this figure to decide on a range of calories to consume each day – it’s not an absolute figure.
1. Calculate the minimum number of calories you need by multiplying your current or desired weight in pounds by 10 if you’re a woman, 11 if you’re a man. This number represents your basic calorie needs.
2. Calculate the number of calories required for your activity level (see tips, below) by multiplying your basic calorie needs (the calculation from step 1) by your activity level – 20 percent or 0.2, 30 percent or 0.3, 40 percent or 0.4, or 50 percent or 0.5. The resulting number represents your activity-based calorie needs.
3. Calculate the number of calories your body needs for food digestion and absorption by adding your basic calorie needs and your activity-based calorie needs (the answers from steps 1 and 2) and multiplying this sum by 0.10. These are the calories you need for digestion.
4. Add the three calculations from steps 1, 2 and 3: This is your total daily calorie need to maintain your desired weight.
Use the following as a guideline for determining your activity level:
20 percent if you sit or lie still for most of the day, with little or no exercise;
30 percent if you walk less than two miles per day;
40 percent if you are somewhat active, doing activities such as dancing, doing a lot of work in the house or garden, or taking exercise classes;
50 percent if you’re actively involved in a sport or you have job that requires a great deal of physical labour, such as construction work.
There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so to lose one pound per week, you need to decrease your calorie intake by 3,500 calories a week, or 500 calories a day.
* This is an example of an American football player’s daily meal plan to lose weight, courtesy of Leslie Bonci, R.D., Pittsburgh Steelers’ team nutrition consultant. (I’ve translated as best I can)
A sandwich on;
Whole grain bread or muffin
A scrambled egg
2 thin slices Ham or thin smoked bacon
Very thin spread of mayonnaise (light mayo)
A yogurt (150-200 calorie type) with muesli added
A cereal bowl of fruit salad
And a slice of whole grain toast with a thin spread of peanut butter
2 Scrambled egg savoury pancake
4 eggs, scrambled with cheddar cheese
spread into 2 corn tortillas with salsa
and a banana
Turkey and Mayo sub:
6-inch torpedo roll
mustard, ketchup, thin spread of mayo ( light)
one-quarter pound of turkey and 2 slices of cheese
A cup of low fat coleslaw ( can buy the coleslaw mix from the super market)
Dish of cut up fruit
Grilled chicken sandwich:
Grilled chicken breast
On a whole grain bun
Bowl of vegetable soup
Tuna salad sandwich:
175g can of tuna ( water-packed) with light mayo, relish
spread on 2 muffin halves,
top with 2 slices of cheese
grill until cheese melts
Pasta- 3 cups with sauce
A salad with a grilled chicken breast and go light on the dressing, 2-3 tablespoons at the most
An 250g yogurt with muesli
A small bowl of cereal
A smoothie with
250g skimmed milk
one cup of frozen or fresh berries or a small banana
Meat of some kind:
Steak, Pork, Venison, Fish, Chicken; 12 ounces ( three quarters of a pound) raw weight
Grilled, Boiled or Baked
2 portions of pasta or rice or potatoes- about one-third of the plate
and 2 portions of vegetables, rest of the plate- steamed, grilled.
If you have seconds, vegetables only!
One of the following:
Popcorn- microwave snack sized bag
Yogurt with muesli.
Small bowl of cereal, like Raisin Bran, or Nutri Grain type
This would suit rugby or real football player or indeed my mate Dave who works in construction and has already lost two stone, well done Dave!