First things first… you have decided to lose weight. Let’s even go so far as to say you’ve developed an exercise plan (even something as simple as running every other day of the week). Next, you must create a diet that will not only help you shed calories, but it be a diet broad enough that you can keep to it on a daily basis.
This is most easily done by breaking down your caloric requirements into a specific amount of grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Discussed below is why this is the easiest route, and how best to calculate such a formula.
Why Break it Down
One of the biggest diet mistakes people make is just listing ten or fifteen “healthy” foods that they are allowed to eat. This may work out for the first few days, but come week two, you will quickly find that you are tired of all of these foods.
Rather, if you have a fundamental understanding of what is healthy and what isn’t or what exactly you should be putting into your body on a macro and micro level, you will have no trouble making diet decisions on the fly.
The next diet mistake people make is simply saying “I need to eat 500 less calories”. If you end up eating less calories, but a disproportionate amount of fat or carbohydrates, you simply will not see the progress that you want. It is about what you eat just as much as it is about the amount you eat.
With a firm grasp of what you should be eating on a macro level, you will be able to readily make decisions as long as you have access to a nutritional label. If you understand what various food ingredients contain as far as carbs, fat, and protein, then you will be fully equipped to make eating decisions no matter where you are.
How Much of Each?
According to the USDA, you should be getting about 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 from protein, and 20 to 35 percent from fat. Not everyone agrees with these guidelines. If you are trying to lose weight, keep in mind that these guidelines are intended for weight maintenance rather than weight loss.
The sheer amount of carbohydrates in this formula has recently come under fire too. While proponents of low-carb diets have obviously argued against the validity of the USDA guidelines for years, the medical community at large has recently began questioning them.
It is now commonly believed that you should be eating less carbohydrates and more protein and good fats. This means that your fats should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated rather than saturated and Trans-fats. Many polyunsaturated fats are actually good for you such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
Lean protein sources should also be a larger part of your diet. Your carbohydrates should be complex carb sources high in fiber that do less to affect your blood sugar levels. Ideally, attempt to eat about 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat.