Your calorie-controlled weight loss day on a plate that includes toast!
Dietitian Melissa Meier shares her eating plan for weight loss, and there’s so much food in it!
Life can be pretty confusing when you’re trying to lose weight. Eat this, not that. Drink this, not that. Do this, not that. In reality, however, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. The only rule you actually have to stick to for the scales to drop is that you need to create an energy deficit (read: consume less energy than you expend). But – there are a few caveats.
The magic number for the average Joe for weight loss is about 1,500 calories per day. Any less than that is counter intuitive, because you risk losing muscle mass and slowing down your metabolism – so don’t take it too far.
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I know 1,500 calories a day is probably far more than the last fad diet you tried or what your personal trainer might have told you, but healthy weight loss (and keeping it off in the long haul) isn’t about dropping kilos as quick as you can. Slow and steady wins the race… trust me.
In my humble opinion, the best way to lose weight is to work on building healthy habits, one at a time, with a focus on a few big-picture principles:
Top five healthy habits for weight loss
- Eat. Your. Veggies
Lots of them. They’re incredibly good for you and very low in calories, yet hardly anyone eats enough. Along with wholegrains, vegetables should make up the majority of your diet. Fruit, dairy (or calcium-fortified alternatives) and lean protein are also very important.
- Check (and re-check) your portions
The amount of food you serve yourself can easily creep up over time, and while I’m not on board with measuring out your food every single day, it’ll pay to recalibrate every now and then. Instead of free pouring your morning muesli, for example, measure out half a cup, see what that looks like in your bowl and try your best to replicate it every day. Repeat the process in a month or two.
- Watch what you drink
Yes, I’m talking about alcohol, but everything else you might sip on, too. Juice, soft drink, energy drinks, milky coffees, smoothies… unless it’s water, it’s got calories – and usually, a lot of them. I’d suggest making water your drink of choice, have one or two milk-based sips throughout the day if you wish, and minimise everything else.
- Include your favourite treats, mindfully
Losing weight isn’t about depriving yourself, so I think it’s important to factor in your favourite foods in a sensible way. Chocolate, for example, can certainly have a place in a healthy diet, but not by the block every single day. Instead, a healthier habit would be two or three squares of dark chocolate, or a row of milk chocolate from a block, one or two nights a week, enjoyed mindfully.
- Food isn’t everything – you need to exercise, too
It helps to burn calories (i.e. help to create that energy deficit I mentioned earlier) and build muscle mass, which ramps up your metabolism. Plus, it’s good for your cardiovascular health and mental wellbeing, too.
Your calorie-controlled, weight loss day on a plate
With all of this in mind, here’s my calorie-controlled, weight loss day on a plate. In no way, shape or form is this for you to follow for days on end (that goes against many principles of a healthy, balanced diet) – rather, it’s simply to show you one version of what a healthy weight loss day on a plate could entail.
- Breakfast: two scrambled eggs on two slices of wholegrain bread, served with one cup of spinach and five mushrooms, cooked in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil (1550 kilojoules/370 calories)
- Morning tea: regular skim flat white and one mandarin (620 kilojoules/150 calories)
- Lunch: salad made of 100 grams each of chicken breast and pumpkin (baked), one cup of rocket, five cherry tomatoes and half a cucumber, dressed in a mixture of reduced-fat Greek yoghurt, lemon juice and a handful of finely chopped parsley, served with four wholegrain crispbreads (1390 kilojoules/330 calories)
- Afternoon tea: small tub of reduced-fat yoghurt topped with one passionfruit and a quarter of a cup of plain natural muesli (1190 kilojoules/280 calories)
- Dinner: one fillet of barramundi baked with lemon, served with 100 grams each of sweet potato and cauliflower, plus two cups of chopped kale baked in one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil (1670 kilojoules/400 calories)
Over a whole day, that gives you 6410 kilojoules (1530 calories) to help with weight loss, plus 126 grams of protein, 45 grams of fat, 12.2 grams of saturated fat, 130 grams of carbs and 41 grams of fibre, along with stacks of Vitamin C to support your immune system, energising iron and calcium for strong bones and teeth.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.