Building Your Meal Plan! Learn How To Calculate Protein, Carb & Fat Daily Intake For Your Goals!
How to Create Your Own Diet Plan
Have you tried what seems to be thousands of different diet plans? Have all of them been unsuccessful? Then stop picking cookie-cutter diet plans. Do some research, fix up some meals, and follow some simple guidelines. Create your own diet plan and be on your way to either losing or maintaining weight.
Understanding Nutritional Requirements
Determine the amount of calories you need.Your daily caloric intake depends on your age, sex, weight, height, and activity level. Generally, the more active you are, the more calories you'll need to maintain your current weight.
- The US government recommends between 1,600 to 3,200 calories per day for adults. On average, most adults need about 2,000 calories.
- To lose one pound per week, cut 500 – 750 calories from your weekly diet. 2 pounds per week will require anywhere from 1,000 – 1,500 calories less than your normal diet.
- Activity levels have a huge impact on the number of calories you can consume. Males can typically consume more without gaining weight. For instance, if you're sedentary, you might only be able to eat 1,800 calories without gaining weight; but if you're very active, you might need 2,200.
Understand the breakdown of a healthy diet.A good diet needs variety and balance. Deciding how much protein, fruits, veggies, grains, dairy, and carbs is an important process when building your diet.
- Eating protein-rich items like beans, eggs, fish, legumes, meats, milk, nuts, and soy, and helps you grow, self-repair, and develop.Try to get 10 – 35% of your daily calories from protein, which equals about 200 – 700 calories from protein.
- Fruits contain vitamins and antioxidants, they're fat-free, reduce the risk of multiple health issues, and are essential to a balanced diet. Aim for about 2 cups of fruit per day.
- Veggies — whether fresh, frozen, or canned — contain many vitamins (e.g. A & C), potassium, and fiber, with minimal negative aspects and numerous health benefits. The amount you should get per day is about 2 – 3 cups, the same as your fruits.
- You need carbohydrates for energy and to bolster your immune system, so aim for 5 – 8 ounces a day.Eat whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice, and avoid processed carbs like white bread and products with added sugar.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy options to satisfy your dairy requirements. Get 3 daily cups of any calcium-rich option like milk, cheese, or lactose-free dairy.
Understand the role of fats in your diet.Fats often get a bad name because of the association with actual body fat. There are good fats, however, that are absolutely essential to functions in your body like maintaining body temperature and combating fatigue.Depending on the authority, fats should be 30% or less of your diet.Knowing which fat is which can help a diet be successful.
- Good fats in your diet should come from a variety of sources like sesame, olive, and canola oils, soy beans, and nuts. You should also get omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon, tuna, and bluefish.
- Bad fats — trans and saturated — can cause cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These fats are often in processed oil form or solid at room temperature like red meat fat, shortening, and butter.
Limit salt and sugar.Too much salt (sodium) leads to fluid retention, which causes stress on the heart, and can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.Similarly, excess sugar leads to obesity and a litany of health-related issues.
- Sodium should be minimized to 2,300 mg or less per day.Some high-sodium foods to minimize are pizza, soups, taco mixes, and salad dressing.
- Limit your added sugars to no more than 24 grams (6 tsp) for most women or 36 grams (9 tsp) for most men.Added sugars go by a variety of names, many sounding the same: dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, sucrose. Other common sources are maple syrup, raw sugar, corn syrup, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.
Research different diet plans for ideas.Most of the industry-leading diet plans have been vetted by dieticians, doctors, and myriad other experts. Look into the rules, restrictions, and science behind the diet to be sure it’s legitimate, and apply portions of those diets as a reference. Some popular diet plans include: Vegetarianism, Paleo, Atkins diet, Zone diet.
Customizing Your Diet
Decide how much weight you want to lose and a reasonable time frame.Expect weight loss of about 1 lb per week by lessening daily food consumption by 500 to 750 calories. More drastic weight loss may be difficult and unhealthy. For example, there are about 3,500 calories in 1lb of fat. To lose 2 lbs in a week, you would have to cut 7,000 calories from your weekly diet.
Reduce your calorie intake gradually to lose weight.Try a few simple approaches to shave off calories wherever you can.
- Eat slower to reduce calories. It takes about 20 minutes before your brain tells your body it is full. According to some studies, eating slower results in feeling full quicker.
- Substitute a salad to drop daily intake. Salads have low calories but still aid in losing weight. Try to make it your lunch-time choice every day.Be sure to use a low-calorie and low-fat dressing option, such as oil and vinegar.
- Use almonds to satiate hunger and drop calories. About 15 – 20 almonds can make for a quick snack, but 50 or so could be considered a meal replacement. One study showed a six-month diet that included almonds as snacks resulted in 18% body weight loss.
- Increase your protein intake to lose fat. Some studies showed that people who double their protein lose more weight via fat. To determine the amount of protein you need, weigh yourself then multiply by 0.36, then multiply that number by 2. The result is the amount of protein you should get in grams.An added benefit is more protein intake has been shown to increase metabolism.
- Substitute salsa for unhealthier options. At only about 4 calories per tablespoon, it’s a 20 calorie savings versus sour cream or guacamole, a 70 calorie saving versus ranch, and it’s also an extra boost of vegetables to boot.
Pick the right proteins.For less calories, aim for proteins lower in fat. Try to maximize the protein grams in the amount of calories. Here are a few examples of foods packed with protein.
- Milk – 149 calories for 8 grams of protein
- Eggs – 1 egg has 78 calories and 8 grams of protein
- Greek yogurt – 15-20 grams of protein for 100 calories
- Cottage cheese – 14 grams in 100 calories
- Edamame – 100 calories contain 8 grams of protein
Choose your carbs wisely.Carbs are sometimes thought to be "the enemy" by people trying to lose weight, but they play an important role in your health, especially in providing you with the energy to get through your day. Choose complex carbs that are lower in calories to get the most value out of your foods.
- Complex carbs: Carb-containing foods that are in their whole, unprocessed form. Foods in this category include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, and legumes.
- Simple carbs: Sugars and starches that have been refined and stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients. Includes white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc.
- Lower carb diets help with not only weight loss, but they have been shown to help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides.
Creating Your Meals
Make breakfast.There are numerous healthy options for making breakfast without straying from the traditional breakfast favorites like eggs, oatmeal, and sausage.
- Try peanut butter oatmeal raisin. Mix 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, and 1/4 cup raisins for a quick, easy meal. Add 1 cup of orange juice for a healthy drink.
- Cook two scrambled eggs with 2 Tbsp low-fat milk, using 1 tsp vegetable oil. Add two turkey sausage links, one slice whole wheat toast with 1 tsp jelly. Drink one delicious cup of freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Whip up one serving of scrambled tofu. Put it in an 8” flour tortilla, with 1/4 cup black beans, and 2 Tbsp salsa. Wash it down with 1 cup of low-fat milk.
Choose your lunch.Eat a light lunch with plenty of variety, mixing in veggies and other healthy choices. There are many creative ways to make delicious lunches. Here are a few great examples:
- Have a green salad. Put 3 oz of tuna with 1 cup of romaine lettuce, 1/4 cup of sliced carrots, and 2 Tbsp of vinaigrette dressing. Pair it with a slice of whole-wheat bread with 1 tsp of margarine. Drink 1 cup low-fat milk.
- Eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich by combining 2 Tbsp of peanut butter and one medium banana on two slices of whole-wheat bread. Add 1/2 cup celery sticks for veggies, and 1 cup of low-fat milk for the beverage.
- Make a roast beef sandwich with 2 oz lean roast beef between two slices whole-wheat bread. Add two tomato slices, one leaf of romaine lettuce, and 1 Tbsp of mayo. Have 1/2 cup of carrot sticks as a side. Add 1 cup of sliced apple with a Tbsp of peanut butter for dessert.
Cook delicious dinner.Create some simple, family-friendly recipes sure hit the health, diversity, and taste marks. A few options follow:
- Try some Red Hot Fusilli Pasta. Sauté 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup parsley in 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Then add 4 cups of ripe, chopped tomatoes along with 1 Tbsp basil, 1 Tbsp oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, and ground red pepper. Once thickened, put it over 4 cups cooked fusilli pasta. Add 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese to taste, and cook 1/2 cup green peas (with 1/2 tsp margarine) as a side. Finish off the meal with a white roll and 1 tsp margarine.
- Pan fry a 5 oz pork chop, and eat it alongside a baked potato with 2 Tbsp salsa on top. Pair it with a cabbage slaw of 1/2 cup shredded green cabbage mixed with 1 Tbsp vinaigrette dressing.
- Cook 5 oz lean beef and serve it with 1 cup of mashed potatoes (add 1 Tbsp low-fat milk, 2 tsp margarine for taste). Serve 1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables with 1 tsp margarine.
Choose wisely when eating out.When eating out, use healthy eating options provided by restaurants to make it easier. Many restaurants have entire sections dedicated to meals under a certain number of calories.If you can’t make up your mind, try a health food finder website to narrow down your list into the most healthy.
Control your portions by measuring food.You’ll need to determine how much food you eat, and the most common measurement for dieting is in ounces. For instance, a handy guide for protein could be started with the options below:
- A small steak or hamburger is typically 3 – 4 ounces.
- Chicken breasts are about 3 ounces.
- One egg equals one ounce.
- 1/4 cup of cooked beans, peas, or tofu is about 1 ounce.
- Go easy on the peanut butter! 1 Tablespoon is equal to 1 ounce.
Ensuring Your Success
Track your progress.You’ll only know progress via quantitative measurement. Picking a goal weight, measurement, or shirt size may help determine how long you will need to be on your diet.
- Weigh yourself before starting, and pick out a day to weigh yourself each week at the same time, wearing the same clothes. Be consistent to see the gradual changes. Track it graphically or with an app to see your gradual improvement.
- Break out the measuring tape. The scale may not tell the entire picture because muscle has a different composition than fat.While the scale may not show significant change, there could be drastic changes in the waist, hips, etc. Take your measurements, or have someone help you take them, to get your starting point. Just as with your weight, take the same measurements periodically to gain an understanding of the changes in your composition.
- Track the days you stay on track. Knowing the number of consecutive days you’ve managed to stick to your diet provides positive reinforcement. It’s easy to be confident with your results when you know you’ve been dedicated. Try challenging yourself to a timeline, like reaching for a specific weight, a max bench press, or the completion of a race at the end of your time period.
Revise your diet.Change small things, and try new ones! Determine what is working for you, what isn’t, and make small modifications that you can stomach. Try a food gallery for options that may whet your appetite.
- Revisit your goals every month and make changes as needed.
Reward yourself for making progress.Some experts recommend rewarding yourself for hard work by steering away from food and doing something else that makes you happy, like getting a massage, buying a book, or seeing a movie.Some diets may even build in sweets or reward meals. Be sure not to use a cheat meal to overindulge or as a reason to eat something ridiculously high in calories.
Whittle down your diet.Figure out which foods you can or will cut out to improve upon your current efforts. Making even the smallest changes can make a significant impact.
- Carbs have gotten a bad reputation recently, but they are key to a healthy diet. Not only do they prevent disease, but they also provide energy and control weight. It is recommended to cut out sugary sources (e.g. candies and sweets), and replace them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Drop sodas and fruit juices, both high in sugar, from your diet. Try not to drink your allotted calories. One 12-oz can of cola is 131 calories, which would take 15 minutes of jogging to work off.
- Be careful not to be too difficult with restrictions. Some studies suggest the more restrictive the diet, the more likely negative feelings, poor eating habits, and higher weight will be associated.
Pre-pack your meals.Not only can preparing your meals beforehand help you diet by keeping you on track, but it can also make cravings easier to contain since there is food on hand. One extra benefit is a potentially huge cost savings.
List the nutritional aspects of your meals.There are plenty of handy methods to keep yourself motivated and informed, like nutritional value posters.Most restaurants have nutritional aspects listed in plain sight. Use those guides to select healthier options.
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