Almost everyone has tried to lose weight at least once, but most of them fail on the way
Weight loss is a long-term process. Build habits to mantain your weight without even thinking about it.
In this post we'll go trough an step by step on how to perform a perfect weight loss diet, to further discuss some considerations to make it even easier and more enjoyable.
What Does Weight Loss Mean?
Weight loss is a decrease in body weight resulting from either voluntary (diet, exercise) or involuntary (illness) circumstances (source).
To start with your weight loss diet, you must be in a calorie deficit. Without a calorie deficit, you won't be able to lose weight(study).
What are Calories?
Calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (source). In food terms, this unit is multiplied by a thousand to get kilocalories (kcal).
Talking about calories measured the amount of energy prvovided by each food based on the specific amount of that food being eaten.
Thanks calorimetric studies, we can find the kcal provided by each of the macronutrients.
While carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 kcal/g, fats provide a total of 9 kcal/g (study).
The Calorie Balance
You obtain calories from food, and burn them during the day.
Yur metabolism needs to burn calories in order to perform all metabolic actions and keep up with our everyday life.
Almost every metabolic process requires of energy. Inmune response, inflammation, creation of new biomolecules, protein synthesis,.... In these processes, energy is used in order to carry out the specific function.
In the calorie balance, we have two terms to consider: calorie intake and calorie expenditure. Based on these, we can have different scenarios:
- Calorie intake > calorie expenditure = Calorie surplus
- Calorie intake = calorie expenditure = Manteinance calories
- Calorie intake < calorie expenditure = Calorie deficit
These scenarios will determine your "calorie status" and whether we'll gain weight (calorie surplus), mantain it (manteinance calories) or lose it (calorie deficit).
How to Start Planning your Weight Loss Diet
In this step-by-step, you'll be able to plan the perfect weight loss diet that adheres to you and your lifestyle.
Following this step-by-step, you'll be able to lose weight while keeping the optimum body composition.
HOW DO I MAKE A WEIGHT LOSS DIET?
- Step 1: Calculate Mainteinance Calories
- Step 2: Plan macronutrients content
- Step 3: Test the calculate Mainteinance Calories
- Step 4: Evaluate the progress
- Step 5: Make changes depending on your needs and goals
Step 1: Calculate the Theoretical Manteinance Calories
Out of all the formulas used to approximate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Mifflin-St Jeor Equation (1990) is the most accurate and less biased (study) (systematic review).
Step 2: Plan the macronutrients content
The next step to plan your weight loss diet is to look at the macronutrients ratio.
This highly depends on you lifestyle and what you like, but these are general recommendations to start from a good point:
Recommendations For Macronutrient Content
- Mantain protein high. Aim for 2.2-2.8g/kg of daily protein
- Fill the left calories by the desired fat-carbohydrates ratio
- Don't go below 0.3-0.5g/kg fat to avoid health consequences
- Similarly, try to stay above 0.5g/kg carbohydrates
Protein intake usually stays constant, while fats and carbohydrates depends more on each person.
For a 'normal' diet, go for a ratio carbs/fat of 60/40. If doing a low-carb or ketogenic diet, increase the fats up to 60-80% of your calorie intake.
Jhon has calculated his mainteinance calories, which are 2600kcal. He is now 75kg, and with an estimated %fat mass of nearly 14%. He practices resistance training 3-4x / week, and wants to perform a weight loss diet that 1) mantains as much muscle as possible, and 2) doesn't deteriorate his training performance too much.
To do that, we'll take the following considerations:
- He'll be eating 2.5g/kg protein, which are equal to 188g. Since we know that 1g of protein is 4kcal, then the calorie intake from proteins will be 750kcal.
- After the protein intake, we are with 1850kcal left. Since he wants to mantain as high as possible his performance, we decide to keep carbohydrates high and go for a ratio carbs/fats of 60/40. This will give 1110kcal and 740kcal, respectively. Coverting to grams for both carbohydrates and fats we obtain 278g and 82g, respectively.
- So, after all, we have a diet of 2600kcal with 188g protein, 278 carbohydrates and 82g fats.
Step 3: Test your “manteinance calories”
Formulas give an approximation of your mainteinance calories, but they will rarely be so.
To know your mainteinance calories, "trial and error".
Test your calculated calories and macronutrients for at least 2 weeks. That will give you time to adapt to the new calorie intake and stablish a weight loss (or gain) rate.
Take objective measurements such as body weight, muscle perimetres, skinfolds... to evaluate your progress:
- Weight has increased: decrease calorie intake by 300-400kcal and try again for 2 more weeks
- Weight has mantained: you got it! You found your current manteinance calories.
- Weight has dropped: Leave the calories as they are, or regulate it to lose 1lb/week.
Step 4: Evaluate the process
"You can't improve what you don't measure" - Gray MacKenzie
To succed in your weight loss journey, You need to take periodical objective measurements to evaluate the process.
These will enable to make sure you are losing weight while maintaining muscle mass.
Get on the scale every day and take the week average under the same circumstances.
Compare with past weeks and analyze it.
If you don't like weighting yourself everyday, go for 2-3 days, but they need to be the same days.
2) Muscle Perimeters
Muscle perimeters are associated with muscle strength and body composition (study)(study)
Take a measuring tape and take the perimeters once a week (possibly right after waking up and going to the bathroom).
Measure the perimeters you think are reliable and give you enough data to evaluate and analyze the process.
Skinfolds enable us to predict our %fat by measuring the thickness of our surface skin layer and the tissues behind (study). They required of instrumentation (fat caliper) and experience in order to get reliable data.
Take a reference of each fold the first day of measurements, and use that to take the same measurements every time.
Subjective measurements give you some useful data to evaluate how the weight loss is going.
Take pictures under same circumstances, evaluate your hunger and food anxiety, feel the pump after your workout or the sports performance. T
here are many ways to evaluate the process, but be consistent with your methods and procedures.
Step 5: Be open for changes
Your metabolism is a dynamic soul , and not an static "black box". As you do a calorie deficit, metabolic adaptations will eventually take place (study), creating energy imbalances and shifting your manteinance calories.
If you feel like you are reaching a plateau and weight is not dropping, it's time to make some changes. Here you can mainly go for two options:
- Increase your physical activity (other than your normal training). E.g: do a longer session of LISS, or an extra session of HIIT
- Decrease your calorie intake. Go down 200-300kcal on your calorie intake and evaluate how your body responds.
Both options lead to the same; increase the calorie deficit.
Considerations for your Weight Loss Diet
There are some aspects you may want to change in order to improve adherence and make the process easier and more enjoyable.
Include high amounts of fiber
Fiber are non-digestible carbohydrates found mainly in plant sources (study).
Their intake is associated to many health benefits, including low risk of coronary heart disease, regulation of the gut microbiota or gastrointestinal health (study).
High fiber intake increases calorie expenditure and decreases calorie intake (study). Soluble fiber increases satiety by creating a gel in our stomach and occupying volume in there (study).
The thermic effect of fibre is higher than other foods, and more energy is used on its "digestion" and "absorption" (some will never be digested) (study)
Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates or fats. Approx. 25% of the energy provided by proteins is used on its digestion and absorption (study)
Higher protein intakes will lead to higher thermic effect and energy expenditure.
Protein will help you preserve muscle mass and improve your body composition
Choose the Right Foods
Adherence is the king of a weight loss diet. Long term determines not only how succesful your diet has been, but also how well you'll do mantaining the weight after dieting.
Enjoy food and choose the right selection of foods. Nowadays, there are always better alternatives to the food you don't like.
Think of 2-3 options for each meal with different foods. Some days you may feel like you are bored of certain foods, and a change will take you out of that monotony.
Don’t forget your micronutrients
Mironutrients are involved in thousands of metabolic processes, and deficiency on them can cause severe health consequences (study).
Low-calorie density foods such as vegetables and fruits are the most nutritional dense foods of all (study).
These foods contain fiber and are low in calories.
Include vegetables of all colours. Different colors in vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals.
Eating from the whole color spectrum is an easy way to ensure the right micronutrient intake (read more about that here).
Follow different calorie strategies
You can play with the different days of the week to have 'high-calories' and 'low-calories' (study).
On a weight loss diet, the overall calorie deficit is what matters the most. There are no benefits on doing the intermittent dieting if, at the end of the week, the calorie deficit is the same.
Intermittent dieting, may help you having more calories on certain days (e.g: during the weekend) and still achieve your calorie deficit.
Place the high-calorie days on training days, and lower the calories on rest days.
What To Do After the Weight Loss Diet
When should you stop losing weight? What do I do Now?
Your metabolism has adapted to the low-energy status and it now needs less calories to survive than before (study).
If you go back to your 'manteinance calories', you'll gain a lot of weight (and some fat) after the weight loss . To avoid this, do the so-called reverse dieting (source).
Reverse dieting is about increasing your calorie intake slowly and linearly through the weeks, until you reach back the mainteinance calories.
By doing this, you'll avoid the 'yo-yo effect' an sudden weight and fat gain afterwards.
Increase calories by 200kcal (the first weeks can be a bit more) every 1-2 weeks, and evaluate the progress.
Weight Loss Diet to Improve your Physique
A weight loss diet can help you lower the body fat and improve your phyique
But that's not enough. If you want the best results and the physique you were looking for, you need to consider more factors.
Training, recovery, sleep,...
ONLINE COURSE: HOW TO START CHANGING YOUR PHYSIQUE
In this course, we explain all you need to know to optimize the process of muscle building and body composition.
From the principles of muscle building and a training program, to sports nutrition and the most important aspects to optimize the process.
And all this with a defined goal; get you the best physique and create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Weight Loss is complicated if not planned.
In this post we've seen all the step-by-step to plan and design your perfect weight loss diet.
there are many aspects to consider, and if you want to success, they should be carefully put in the equation of weight loss.
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