The Fundamentals of Fat Loss – Part 1: Setting Up A Diet Plan

January is the time when people are scrambling to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. But it is a well-known fact that 90% of resolutions fail by February. Does this sound familiar? In this series, The Fundamentals of Fat Loss, you will learn how to set up your own fat loss program. This will enable you to kickstart your journey today, regardless of the time of the year at which you read it. In this series, we will cover various aspects including the set up, mindset, what to expect physically and psychologically, introducing exercise into your life, tackling sleep & stress issues, and habit formation.

Here at MyHealthBuddy, we create fitness plans using a science-based approach, which essentially means our programs will not only help you lose weight and look good, but also feel and perform optimally. The great thing about using a scientific approach is that it is easy to replicate the results on different people. We have tried and tested this approach on ourselves, as well as on hundreds of clients we have coached so far.

Here are the essential components of setting up a diet plan.

  1. Calories

Calories are the most important factor to take into account when setting up a diet plan. There are two acronyms you will hear often – BMR and TDEE.

Say you wake up one day and decide you do not want to get out of bed at all. Hypothetically, you would not perform any physical activity. BMR, or your Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories your body will spend in a day if you were to lie in bed all day. To calculate your BMR, in two simple steps, click here

But most people, for better or worse, need to get up and go about their lives. We get up, we walk around the house getting ready, we may walk around the office, or even have some exercise in our daily routine. All these activities also require some energy to be spent. The amount of energy you would spend in a day – or – the number of calories you would burn in a day with all these activities included – is your TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure

It is worth noting that your TDEE might vary drastically from day to day. If you have a day off and you go shopping, your TDEE will be much higher than if you were to sit at your desk all day.

So everyday, you are spending a fair amount of calories. To set up a diet plan for weight loss, you must ensure that you eat fewer calories than you spend in a day. This is known as a caloric deficit. Whether it’s a keto diet, paleo diet, vegan diet, or any other type of diet, fat loss will only take place if you are in a caloric deficit. Which means – yes, you can gain weight even on keto.

On any fat loss diet, we should aim to create a caloric deficit of a few hundred calories per day. Consider using your BMR as a starting point.

Let’s take two people as example:

  Sita Ram
Age 30 30
Height 157 (5’2) 178 (5’10)
Weight 80 80
BMR* 1543 1844
TDEE* 1853 2858

 

*Using Harris-Benedict Formula

Sita, 30 years old is 5’2 (157 cm), is 80 kgs and has a sedentary desk job. 

She does not exercise, and is looking to lose weight. BMR 1543 Using Harris-Benedict formula. TDEE is 1853. A caloric deficit of 310 wll be created if Sita consumes her BMR per day.

Ram is 5’10 (178 cm), and has an active lifestyle 80 kgs. He exercises 5 times a week and wants to maintain his weight. His BMR is 1844 and TDEE is 2858. Since he wants to only maintain his weight, he will need to consume 2858 calories per day.

Keep in mind these are only estimates, the real story will unfold once the diet has been implemented and the changes are monitored.

 

So, where do these calories come from?

  1. Macronutrients – Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates.

Macro Nutrients

When geared towards weight loss, it’s all the more important to ensure the calories are coming from the right food sources.

Once you have your calorie target for the day, it’s time to determine where those calories will come from. Every food item is made up of proteins, carbs, and fat in varying amounts. For instance, 1 medium banana contains 27g of carbohydrates, 1.3g of protein, and 0.4g of fat. This means it is primarily a source of carbohydrates. A large boiled egg, on the other hand, contains 5g of fat, 0.6g of carbohydrates, and 6g of protein, making it a great source of protein and fat, but very low in carbs.

1g of protein has 4 calories

1g of carbohydrates has 4 calories

1g of fat has 9 calories

Alcohol is also a separate macronutrient, which we will cover at another time.

Let’s investigate each macronutrient in detail.

 

Protein is a word that tends to evoke fear of the Gods in people.

Protein sources

 Binging on pizzas and burgers is a frequent occurrence for many people, yet if someone asks them to eat a bit more protein, they are worried it will cause damage to the body.

Protein is the most important macro-nutrient, which should be considered first and foremost in any good diet plan. Protein is responsible for numerous functions in the body, and is made up of amino acids. Biologists love to call amino acids the “building blocks of life.” All your muscle tissue, organ tissue, the collagen in your skin, your nails and hair – these are all made up of protein. It’s essential to get certain amino acids from the diet, or the body starts looking for those amino acids from its own tissue. Ensuring adequate protein intake is the foundation of any good diet plan.

So how much protein should you take? As a starting point, one can begin with 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, a 70 kg person should have at least 70 grams up to 105 grams of protein per day.

Protein helps:

– Maintain and build muscle tissue

– Support immune function

– Make you feel full and satiated

– Regulate hormonal functions

 

Fat is a great source of energy and micronutrients. 

Fat Sources

It is also essential to carrying out a number of functions in the body as well as forming certain structures. It is an essential nutrient and we must not be afraid to have fat in our diet, in the right quantity.

Fat helps:

– With regulating various functions of the body including stress and mood

– In the absorption of vitamins and minerals

– Keep your energy levels up by fulfilling your daily caloric requirement

– Make your taste buds happy

 

Carbohydrates can be divided into two distinct types: Fibrous and Starchy.

Fibrous carbohydrates are derived from vegetables such as broccoli, 

carbohydrate sources

spinach, tomatoes, and cauliflower – the vegetables nobody would eat if given a choice! Fibrous vegetables, however, are extremely important in a nutrition plan, because not only do they help keep you full, but they also provide plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Fibrous carbohydrates help:

– Make you feel full after a meal

– Keep your bowel movements healthy

– Provide plenty of essential micronutrients

Starchy carbohydrates, on the other hand, are a non-essential nutrient. This means that the body can survive long periods of time without them. All starchy carbohydrates are broken down into various forms of sugar to be absorbed into the body.

Starchy carbohydrates:

– Helps with muscle building

– Easy source of energy

 

Ratio of Macronutrients:

The type of diet is determined by the ratio of the macronutrients. Any good diet contains a baseline of at least 30% protein. Fat and carbs can vary depending on the lifestyle and requirements.

Sources of macronutrients:

Although every food contains some degree of all 3 macronutrients, the ratio of one macronutrient will be higher. Here are some examples to help you set up your plan.

Fat Protein Carbs
Nuts (Peanuts, Almonds) Chicken Rice
Seeds (Chia, sunflower) Eggs Roti
Ghee Paneer Pasta
Butter Tofu Potatoes
Oils (Olive, coconut) Protein Powder Bread
Cheese Soya chunks or granules Sugar
Coconut milk Fish Fruits

Start by choosing a protein source, then add some carbs or fat.

You can calculate your macros using an app such as MyFitnessPal or FitDay. We are currently developing our own calculator to help you determine your macros!

Now that we have figured out what to eat, and how much to eat, the next question that arises is: when?

  1. Timing: How many meals should I be eating?

How many meals in a day ?There is a myth that if you don’t eat for five minutes, you will get acidity.

Many people tout the benefits of eating 5-6 meals a day every few hours. This keeps hunger at bay. The truth is that it really does not matter. For some people, eating too many meals is neither feasible nor desirable. Both approaches can be right for the right person.

No, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Every meal is important, rather, what you eat during those meals is important. If you are a short female with a TDEE that hardly touches 1400, eating 6 meals would mean having only a few bites of food every 2 hours. On the other hand, if you’re an active, tall male with a TDEE of over 2500, eating 3 meal would entail 833 calories per meal, which would be tremendous!

Once you have figured out what you need to eat, you can divide it into manageable meals throughout the day as per your own schedule.

[Sample low carb diet plan for Sita and Ram]

The following is a 1800 calorie low carb plan for Ram, who is a non-vegetarian. Protein: 35% Carbs 25% Fat: 40%


The following is a 1400 calorie low carb plan for Sita, who is vegetarian. Protein: 35% Carbs 25% Fat: 40%.

Notice how “low carb” means totally different food items when your target calories are much lower as in the case of most females. Our Sita is no exception!

The bottom line is that you should choose the structure that works best for you. Some of our clients who are busy professionals tend to eat fewer meals, while others who are at home all day require more meals. Timing is far less important than what you eat.

In the next article, we will discuss how to measure progress and what to expect once you embark on a new program.

If you are anything like me, you are now excited to dive in and create your own diet plan! However, if this seems like too much effort and hard work, you can always get in touch with us for help or join our facebook group.

Neha is a fitness coach at MyHealthBuddy who became inspired to help others after going through her own transformation. She is also a freelance copywriter, biology student, futurist, and wonder junkie, pursuing her dream of alleviating human suffering.

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