My 16 Week Weight Loss Plan Part 1: The 5 Food Fundamentals
In my last post (Beginning My Weight Loss Journey) I talked about my recent decision to make some major changes in my life. For those of you who want to join me on my journey, I have outlined the dietary guidelines (Food Fundamentals) I have decided to follow in this post.
Diet is one of my least favorite words. I associate it with being tired and cranky due to lack of carbs or being deprived of the foods that I love. That is not how I want to look at this plan. So instead of diet let’s just call this section Food Fundamentals.
Fundamental #1: Whole Foods Only
Don’t eat anything processed, pre-made, or “instant”. All meals will consist of meat, vegetables, and/or dairy in their simplest forms. Personally, I don’t have the patience to go all out on the organic, non-gmo, etc. bandwagon so I just try to make smart decisions. If regular strawberries and organic strawberries cost almost the same price – I go organic. When selecting meat, I try to find a grass-fed variety that doesn’t cost an obscene amount. Regardless, eating non organic produce is still way better than a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese (nutritionally speaking anyway).
Fundamental #2. Wheat Over White
Grains are whole wheat only (bread, pasta, etc.) or, preferably, non-existent. My aim will be to cut grains from my diet almost entirely during this time period, as I will be focusing on keeping carbohydrates low. This is not because I think that whole grains are not a part of a healthy diet, but rather that reducing them lowers carbs, which can result in weight loss. Once I have reached my weight loss goals, I plan to add more whole grains into my diet, in moderation, of course.
Fundamental #3. Timing is Everything
The majority of my carbohydrates consumed will be consumed early in the day or immediately following a workout. If you are weightlifting, post workout protein is always a good idea as well. I will be doing strength training but not significant weight lifting, so my protein intake does not need to be as high as, say, my husband’s. Which brings me to my next point…
Fundamental #4: Get Enough Protein
Every meal needs protein, but it doesn’t all have to come from meat. Greek yogurt, cheese (including cottage cheese and cream cheese), nuts, quinoa, eggs, protein powder, and many more options are out there.
Tip: If you enjoy yogurt, buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit rather than buying the flavored stuff. Remember – Whole Foods only.
Fundamental #4: Fat is Your Friend
Believe it or not, fat is your friend. Sure, maybe the fat you’re carrying around your waist isn’t so friendly, but consuming healthy fats can actually help eliminate those love handles! For this weight loss plan, I am going to take a tip from the Ketogenic Diet and increase my fat intake considerably. I am doing this for two reasons:
- I am still breastfeeding my son and healthy fats are excellent for breastfeeding moms. A high-fat diet also keeps you feeling full and breastfeeding makes me more hungry than when I was pregnant!
- If I am going to lower my carbs significantly, I am going to need another source of energy. As a mom, I simply cannot be as exhausted as I have been in the past when I went low-carb (pre-baby).
Fundamental #5: Count Calories
I’m not a huge fan of counting calories but I have to admit that it has been extremely effective for me in the past. The biggest benefit that I can see is simply a better understanding of how many calories are in the foods we eat. I was shocked when I first realized how many calories I was adding to my sandwich by putting mayonnaise on it.
Personally, I find it best to pick a goal and stay within 100-200 calories either direction. The type of food you are eating is more important than the exact number of calories. If you go over by 100 calories because you ate a second serving of green beans with dinner you shouldn’t beat yourself up; however, if you are under your calories for the day but you ate processed foods all day, you are not doing yourself any favors. For the purposes of my personal plan, I am aiming for 1300 calories a day on average. I certainly don’t want to fall below 1100 calories but 1500 on some days, with healthy foods, is not going to set me back, particularly if I had a very active day.
A Note About Calories:
This is my personal goal, but everyone is different. If you want to determine how many calories you need, you can use this calorie calculator. For more information on the nutritional guidelines of the Ketogenic Diet, you can use this free Keto Calculator.
I highly recommend downloading the My Fitness Pal App if you are new to counting calories. You can download it on iPhone or Android free. If you really want to go all out, the premium version provides detailed food analysis, information about the timing of your meals, dashboard customization and additional resources. Regardless, free version or premium, the app simplifies the process of calorie counting and helps you to see the percentage of carbs, fat and protein you had throughout the day as well (also known as macros).