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On the surface you might have an idea of what you should be doing on a diet, but when it comes to specifics, most people don’t know what they need. They’ll usually think that they need to eat less, cut out the obvious bad foods, and do some exercise on the side, but for some reason after some time they tend to end up unsuccessful in their dieting attempts.

Well we’re here to clear things up. Here are the right foods you need to be eating to ensure successful fat loss and how much of them you should be having.

Protein

First and foremost the macronutrient that people tend to under-consume - protein. Protein is probably the most important nutrient when it comes to ensuring that most of your weight loss comes from fat as it allows your body to spare lean muscle mass during a calorie deficit. Most people get it wrong and don’t know that adequate protein consumption is required for your muscles to recover from exercise and be maximally retained.

However, not just for the purpose of maintaining lean mass, protein is also a great source of food in that it provides satiety. If you’ve ever tried to gobble down as many chicken breasts as you can, you probably found that you couldn’t consume many, and thus not many calories. The majority of people that fail their diets aren’t going to be people who are getting too full from eating too many chicken breasts so try to increase lean sources of protein in your diet.

Finally, protein has a higher thermic effect than your other two macronutrients meaning your body burns more calories trying to digest protein than with carbs or fat. That said don’t abuse this fact by eating platefuls of meat thinking it’s calorie free, but keeping your diet high in protein will ensure you are adding to your calorie expenditure.

The general recommendation is 1g per pound of body weight. The requirement will mostly be less than this, especially if you have a higher body fat percentage, but 1g/kg is probably a good place to start off given the other benefits from its intake.

Fiber

Likely if you’ve started your diet, you’ll start to feel hungry and oftentimes not full after meals, especially if you haven’t been throwing vegetables into the mix. Fiber is an indigestible nutrient that provides satiety that you definitely should be including in your diet, but that’s not all. Fiber also helps digestion and is also similar in its thermogenic effect as protein meaning it’s beneficial in terms of your health and will help increase your calorie expenditure. Vegetables are further a tasty addition to meals when you think about it and adds colour and flavour that gives you the assurance that you are getting enough micronutrients as well.

The general recommendation is a minimum of 10g of fiber per 1,000 calories of daily intake.

Fat

Don’t be fooled by its name and think eating fat makes you fat. Fat is a key macronutrient you have to ensure you’re getting enough of as it’s required for absorption of fat soluble vitamins, regulator of hormones, and a requirement for healthy brain function. Fat also plays a pivotal role in providing satiety in the diet as it takes a longer amount of time to digest.

The general recommendation is to get at least 0.6g per kilogram of body weight.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have been scrutinised quite frequently recently for false reasons while being backed up with unsupported claims, the major blame being that carbs inherently cause fat gain and is the cause of many health issues.

To be frank, no single macronutrient will cause a sudden increase in the risk of health issues, and many studies have found that it is actually excessive calorie intakes resulting in being overweight that leads to a lot of the health issues the carb-critics talk about.

The role of carbohydrates is to provide energy to our bodies while also replenishing depleted glycogen stores that are used up during exercise. Thus it serves as an important macronutrient, particularly when you are lifting frequently in the gym (and we assume you are doing so in order to lose body fat while maintaining lean mass), to ensure your workouts are high quality, and your energy levels optimal. 

Next time someone tells you to cut carbs for whatever reason, do some reading to see if what they are saying is in fact true before you take that advice.

The general recommendation is to eat your remainder of calories as carbohydrates.

Calories

This brings us to the most important aspect to consider when dieting - calories. Calories are what matters in the end and if your calorie expenditure is less than your calorie intake, you can be certain that you won’t be seeing any weight loss, let alone from fat. To ensure your fat loss journey is successful you need to keep your calorie intake at a deficit from your maintenance and make sure to keep it that way until you are satisfied with where you end up.

The general recommendation is 11x body weight in pounds. You should be losing 0.5-1.0% of your body weight weekly with your target based on how aggressive you want to be.

For an example

Using the above recommendations for an average adult male of 75kg, calorie intake would be 1,815kcal. Protein intake would be 165g (660kcal), fat intake would be 45g (405kcal), and the remainder of 750kcal would be made up of 188g carbs, of which at least 18g of fiber should be included!

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