The amount you eat has to be less than what you burn, to lose weight. It is not yet clear which type of diet is the best for doing this. But it is clear that you are more likely to stick to changes that you find enjoyable and fit into your lifestyle. One way of losing weight is to follow a plan that structures your intake around the number of calories you will need. The same principles of healthy eating apply but it can be helpful for those people that like to have a structured dietary plan.
The amount you eat has to be less than what you burn to lose weight. It is not yet clear which type of diet is the best for doing this. But it is clear that you are more likely to stick to changes that you find enjoyable and fit into your lifestyle.
The recommended guideline daily amounts of calories for an ‘average’ female and ‘average’ male wanting to lose weight are below:
- Men: 1800 calories per day
- Women: 1500 calories per day
In order to lose weight at this rate the calories you eat and drink need to be 600 calories less than what you burn. The recommended guideline daily amounts for weight loss are based on the individual doing low amounts of activity.
These recommendations are a good starting point; however over time you will need to adapt them to your own weight and activity levels with the support of your registered dietitian. Factors such as activity, size of body, sex and age will make a difference to your individual needs.
To make sure your diet is balanced it may be helpful to work out the number of servings you can have from each food group each day. Below is an example of a 1500 and 1800 calorie meal plan.
Average calories per serving
Breads and cereals
5 servings 450 cal
7 servings 630 cal
Fruit and vegetables
5 servings 225 cal
7 servings 315 cal
2 servings 280 cal
2 servings 280 cal
Average milk and dairy
3 servings 225 cal
3 servings 225 cal
No more than 2 portions should come from the fat and sugary food group. Your alcohol calorie allowance also needs to fit into this.
Once you have planned which food groups you will gain your calories from, you can then get an idea of how big a serving size is from the examples given below.
Most fruit and vegetables contain on average 45 calories per serving. Examples of serving sizes are below:
- Whole banana or apple
- Slice of melon
- 2 plums
- Handful of grapes
- Cereal bowl of salad
- 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables
- 1 small glass of fruit juice (150ml) can be substituted for one serving of fruit per day
Most breads and cereals contain on average 90 calories per serving. Example serving sizes are below:
- 2-4 tbsp cereal
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ small chapati
- 2 tbsp rice, pasta, noodles, mashed potato
- 2-3 crispbreads or crackers
- 2 egg-sized new potatoes or ½ baked potato
Most low fat dairy foods contain on average 75 calories per serving. Examples of serving sizes are below:
- 1/2 pint (190mls) skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
- Small pot of low fat or diet yogurt (125ml)
- 2 tbsp of cottage cheese
- 1-1½ oz (40-45mg) low fat cheese (matchbox size)
Most lean meat, fish and alternatives contain on average 140 calories per serving. Examples of serving sizes are below:
- 2-3oz (60-85g) meat, poultry or vegetarian alternative
- 4-5oz (120-140g) fish or oily fish
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp beans, lentils or dahl
- 2 tbsp nuts
Most fats and sugars contain on average 85 calories per serving. Examples of serving sizes are below:
- 2 tsp spread, butter, oil, salad dressing or mayonnaise
- sausage or 1 rasher of bacon
- 1 scoop of ice cream or 1 tbsp cream
- 1 mini chocolate bar or small pack of crisps
- 2 tsp sugar, jam or honey
- Dry medium white wine (125mls) 100 calories
- ½ pint draught beer 100 calories
- 1 pub measure of spirits (25mls) 50 calories
It is important to remember the calorie content of the foods shown are only averages (some foods will be more or less than the average) and for more specific information on the calorie content of foods use calorie counting guides on the web or you can purchase them.