Phase 2: Create Your Weight Loss Diet Plan
(If you somehow got here without reading Phase 1 first, you're going to be a little lost. It's ok, just go back and read it here: Phase 1: How To Lose Weight)
In Phase 1 of The Lose Weight Diet, you learned how to lose weight. You learned that the key to weight loss is being in a calorie deficit, which means you are burning more calories than you are consuming. You learned that to do this, you just need be about 500 calories below your calorie maintenance level. You also learned that while this is the only real requirement of weight loss, making sure these calories are coming from the right food sources is also important.
Now, in Phase 2, you're going to learn how to put this information to use and create your own weight loss diet plan. The very first thing you're going to need to do is figure out what your calorie maintenance level is...
Calculate your daily calorie maintenance level.
Your daily calorie maintenance level is the key number in creating your weight loss diet plan. It is based on many factors and is specific to each person. For example, you and your friend might be the same height and weight, but you might have maintenance levels that are hundreds of calories apart. Since the effectiveness of your weight loss diet plan depends a lot on this number, it is important that you figure it out as accurately as possible.
For the most part there are really only 2 methods of figuring out this "magic" number. The first is a pretty close estimate, and the second is as accurate as can be.
1. Here's the method for getting the "pretty close estimate" of your calorie maintenance level. It requires putting your gender, weight, height, age and activity level through a 6th grade level math formula. However, I have assumed that no one actually wants to sit around doing 6th grade math. I was right, wasn't I? So, I've included a calculator for it instead. All you need to do now is just fill out the quick form below and hit "Calculate!" and you will instantly get your estimated calorie maintenance level. Go ahead and try it...
2. While the above method is probably accurate enough for most people (it was actually very close for me), I can't say for sure if it will be as accurate for everyone. And, since this is the number that will be at the heart of your weight loss diet plan, I'm going to mention the second method. It's not so much a "method" as it is a "test."
Basically, you would start eating a certain number of calories each day and then closely monitor what your weight does when consuming this many calories. For example, if you maintained weight eating this certain number calories per day, you have found your maintenance level. If you gained weight, lower your calorie intake a little and see what happens then. If you lose weight, then you know you're already below your calorie maintenance level.
If you want to give method #2 a try, I'd suggest using your current calorie intake as the number of calories to start the "test" on. To figure this number out, pick a day and eat like you normally would. The only difference is you will be keeping track of the number of calories in everything you consume. At the end of the day add it all up. Do this for a few days and then take an average of all the days. This average is the average amount of calories you are currently taking in each day and would make a perfect starting point for method #2.
Which method you decide to use is up to you. Feel free to use both, by the way.
Create your weight loss diet plan.
Now that you know what your daily calorie maintenance level is, it's time to officially create your weight loss diet plan.
To do this, just subtract 500 from your calorie maintenance level.
For example, if you figured your maintenance level to be 3000 calories per day, you would now start eating 2500 calories per day instead. It's really as easy as it sounds. Just subtract 500 from your daily maintenance level and then start eating this new amount of calories each day. By doing so, you would officially be in a calorie deficit. And, as you know, a calorie deficit is what makes weight loss happen.
As for how and when you should consume those calories, that's completely up to you and your own preferences. Eat them all in 3 big meals, 6 small meals, every 2 hours, every 5 hours... whatever. It literally makes no difference whatsoever how you do it as long as your total calorie intake is the same for the day. You may have heard differently... like how eating 5-6 smaller meals magically "speeds up your metabolism" or something along those lines. But the truth is that it's all nonsense.
I know everyone used to suggest (and many still incorrectly do) that a higher meal frequency was better for weight loss (hell, articles I wrote years ago may still even contain that recommendation), but research in recent years has proven it to be a silly myth with no scientific evidence at all. So, the key is to do whatever is easiest and most enjoyable for you. Whatever meal schedule is most likely to allow you to consistently eat the right total amount of calories per day... THAT'S what you should do.
All that's left to do now as far as your weight loss diet plan goes is make sure that the calories you are consuming each day are coming from the right food sources...
Besides just being a requirement for overall health and function, protein is an extremely important part of The Lose Weight Diet (and all weight loss diets) because of the roles it plays in controlling hunger and maintaining muscle while fat is lost. As far as food sources go, the best sources of protein tend to come from anything that used to be alive, or anything that came from something that used to be alive. Some high protein foods include:
lean cuts of meat
eggs and egg whites
Protein can also be found in all types of nuts, seeds and beans. And of course, there are always protein supplements in the form of powders, shakes and bars. I fully explain the purpose and benefits of protein supplements here: Protein Powder
As far as how much protein you should include in your weight loss diet plan per day, that depends on the person. For example, the average person who doesn't exercise at all needs less protein than someone who does. Something in the range of a MINIMUM of 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight might be alright in this case. For example, if the person weighed 180lbs, you would do 180 x 0.5 = 90 grams of protein per day.
However, someone who does exercise should eat somewhere in the range of .6 - 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. In this example a person weighing 180lbs would look to eat between 108 - 180 grams of protein per day. This is what I'd recommend most often.
The only other thing you need to know about protein is that 1 gram contains 4 calories. So, for example, if you were to eat 100 grams of protein per day, that would account for 400 calories. (100 x 4 = 400)
Despite any crazy ideas that have been put into your head, fat isn't all bad. Some types are definitely terrible for you (trans fat), some types are much less bad but still not great (saturated fat), and some types are actually good bordering on REALLY good (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat). "Bad fats" can be found in all of the usual junk foods that you already know you shouldn't eat. "Good fats" on the other hand can be found in foods like:
nuts and seeds
fish oil supplements (see below)
(*Important Note* Practically every single person reading this should be taking a fish oil supplement. It's the most scientifically proven supplement there is, with a seemingly endless number of benefits. Put it this way, it will improve your body's ability to do damn near everything (including lose fat). I fully explain all of this in my article about supplements here: Fish Oil)
As for how much fat should be included in your weight loss diet plan... about 25% of your total calorie intake should come from fat.
To figure this out, the first thing you need to know is that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. So, if an example person figured out that their daily calorie intake should be 2500 total calories per day (again, just an example), they'd find that 25% of 2500 is 625 calories. They'd then divide 625 by 9 (because fat has 9 calories per gram) and get 69. Which means, this example person would eat about 69 grams of fat per day.
And of course, most of this fat should come in the form of the "good" food sources listed above.
Now that you know how much protein and fat your weight loss diet should include, it will be pretty easy to figure out how many carbs you should eat. Quite simply, the rest of your diet should be carbs. Once you factor protein and fat into your total calorie intake, whatever calories are left over to reach the number of calories you figured you need to eat per day... those calories should come from carbs.
1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories. So, for example, after factoring protein and fat into what you calculated your total calorie intake should be (500 below maintenance level, remember?), let's say you are 1200 calories below that number. In this example you would need to eat 300g of carbs per day. (1200 ÷ 4 = 300)
And, just like fat, not all types of carbs are equal. More complex, lower glycemic, nutrient-rich foods are much more ideal for appetite control and overall health than simple, higher glycemic, highly processed junk. Some sources of the "good" carbs are:
fruits and vegetables
sweet potatoes and white potatoes
whole grains and 100% whole grain products
The "bad" type of carbs would be the typical snack/junk foods like crackers, pretzels, chips, cookies, etc. as well as white bread and white rice, candy, and drinks or food high in sugar. While you should definitely try to limit these "bad" carbs as much as possible and get most of your carb intake from foods on the "good" list, eating some white bread or pasta once in a while won't kill you.
Remember, the most important part of The Lose Weight Diet is making sure you are 500 calories below your calorie maintenance level. Everything you just read about protein, fat and carbs was to give you an idea of how to divide those calories up so that your weight loss diet plan is as balanced as possible. The guidelines mentioned aren't just ideal for weight loss, they're also ideal for good health in general.
The end of Phase 2 of The Lose Weight Diet
You have reached the end of Phase 2. Right now you should not only know how to lose weight, but you should also know exactly what your specific weight loss diet plan should be so YOU can lose weight. You know how many calories you need to eat, and you know where those calories should come from. For the most part, you're done. Take a breath. It's a good feeling, isn't it?
All that's left now is some final information to not only make sure you continue losing weight, but to make sure you keep the weight off once it's gone. That's what Phase 3 will explain. Also, any questions that may have popped into your head during Phase 1 and 2 will be answered in Phase 3. So... let's go...