Ok, ok, I should probably be honest with you from the outset…
I was a little… misleading, with the title of this blog.
Not misleading to the extent of “Eating this one weird fruit will burn fat right off your body!”. But misleading to the extent I implied a single meal could help you lose weight.
If however, I give you the formula, for a weight loss meal?
And you follow that formula for over 80% of your food intake?
Well then, then we’re onto something!
So, What Are The Components Of A Well-Balanced Meal?
Let’s just have another small caveat here: I’m not expecting you to eat perfectly balanced meals 100% of the time.
You’re human. And as a human? You should be able to enjoy a night out at an Italian restaurant with friends, without being limited to the exact ratios you need to be eating.
These are rough guidelines, of what should make up most of your diet, but not all of it.
So, component number one of our ‘perfect’ meal: Protein.
This probably isn’t a huge surprise to anyone that’s frequented any kind of nutrition blogs in the past. But protein isn’t reserved for meatheads or gym junkies.
In fact, getting adequate amounts of protein is key for fat loss and health.
You see, protein has a higher ‘TEF’; which refers to the thermic effect of food. Which basically means, you’ll actually burn more calories processing the fuel from a chicken breast or protein shake, than you would from a more carb or fat-heavy food choice.
This reason alone makes protein an essential addition to any fat-loss meals.
Atop of the metabolism boosting properties, it also happens to be the main component of muscular repair.
That is to say; when you break your muscles apart in the gym (which I’m sure you are, right? 😉 ), protein is required to help them rebuild.
And more muscle? Equals (once again) a faster metabolic rate.
How much should you aim to get?
As a guideline for your main meals (assuming you’re eating 3 per day), we suggest starting with 2 palm-sized portions of protein per meal for men, and 1 palm-sized portion of protein for women.
Good servings of protein include:
- Lean red meats
- Lean poultry meats
- Egg whites
- Game meats
- Tofu (a good choice if you’re vegetarian)
Ok, so we’ve got probably around a quarter of our plate filled up now let’s add in our Vegetables.
Veggies (and fruit, which we’ll get to shortly), are full of healthy vitamins and minerals- the stuff that helps make us feel healthy and energetic.
Usefully enough, they tend to colour code themselves, which means so long as you eat a wide range of colours (think peppers for red, beetroot for purple, broccoli for green etc.) you’ll be pretty unlucky to not meet your micronutrient needs.
A good percentage, if fat-loss is your goal (I’m guessing, as you’re reading this blog, that it is), of your intake should be fibrous, green veggies. Fibre not only assists with healthy cholesterol levels, it also helps you stay fuller for longer, helping to offset hunger pangs in between meal times.
Try and have 2 fist-sized portions of vegetables every main meal as a man, or 1 for women.
Oh, and fruit? A handful as a snack or dessert is great way to get more energy and nutrients, but try not to go too overboard with their consumption!
Great veggie options are:
- Bok Choy
(If you want another convenient way to get your veggies in (and some added protein), check out this blog)
So, we have our protein and veggies. What’s next? The often (unnecessarily) feared- Dietary Fat!
Chances are you’ve already caught on by now, but it’s probably best we still address the elephant in the room: dietary fat won’t cause you to store body fat (unless you eat too much of it that is- but then that’s true of all macronutrients).
A wide range of fat intake is essential for brain health, joint function and a healthy gut micro-biome, amongst other things.
And it’s been proven to (similar to fibre) help reduce appetite after a meal.
That being said, fat is very calorific- 9 calories per gram (compared to fats and protein, which have only 4!).
But so long as you watch your portions, overconsumption shouldn’t be an issue.
For men, we tend to advise 2 thumb-sized portions of fat in a main meal, for women we suggest a single thumb sized serving. If you’re drizzling oil (such as olive oil) over your meal/salad instead of including a fat source such a avocado a tablespoon sized serving is recommended.
There are many instances of fat and protein being found in the same source- which makes the portion sizing a little more complicated.
Just remember if it’s a fattier protein source (fatty fish, meats, whole eggs, etc), you can omit the addition fat all together, or reduce it’s portion size.
Some other great sources of dietary fats are:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
And now we come to the other most feared macronutrient- the good old fashioned carbohydrate.
Now carbs have had a hard go of it in recent years- as the attention went off fats as being evil, the media needed another enemy (because clearly just eating a well balanced meal within your calorie requirements couldn’t be the answer!).
This recent blame is unwarranted however. Although if you were to omit a single macronutrient from your diet, carbs would be the only option, as fats and protein are essential for health and energy, whereas we can live without carbohydrate intake.
That being said, we don’t have to- in fact carbohydrates are our preferred energy source, so if your intentions are to lose weight and perform any athletic feats, it’s usually not advised to halt consumption entirely.
With that in mind, we tend to advise 2 cupped handful sized portions for a male serving, and 1 cupped handful sized portion for females. (You can learn more about all these portion guidelines on this blog post).
Great carbohydrate sources include:
So, It’s That Simple?
2 palms of protein, 2 fists of veggies, 2 thumbs of fat, and 2 cupped handfuls of carbs (for men). That’s all you need to know?
Well, yes and no.
It’s certainly a great start. Although another major consideration is in regard to the sources of said macros.
For ease of explanation, I like to ask myself the following question before my food choices:
Did it run, swim, fly, or grow from the ground?
If the answer is no? That takes it off the menu (other than the 10-20% of meals that are more pleasure based than fat-loss orientated).
For example a lean steak, mixed vegetables, half an avocado and a medium sized sweet potato?
That’s a great meal- hitting the portion guidelines AND the food quality requisites (making it nutrient dense).
And If You Follow These Guidelines For 3 Meal A Day, But Don’t Lose Weight?
Firstly- ensure you’re eating your meals slowly, without distraction, and stop eating once you’re 80% full (starting the meal with your protein and veggies if possible).
Ensure you’re drinking enough water (2-3+ litres a day), getting enough sleep (7-9 hours), and are moving frequently.
If all those needs are being met, and you still aren’t losing weight? You can begin to reduce your portion sizes- either by a certain percentage of every macro group- or starting with carbohydrates.
Maintain a somewhat consistent level of daily intake for a few weeks before adjusting, to give your body time to catch up.
And if you happen to be on the go and unable to grab/make anything ‘healthy’? Check out this blog, on how to hit your requirements without having time to meal prep.
Believe us when we say we completely understand how difficult weight loss can be. The Luke Bremner Fitness team have worked with hundreds of clients who initially found weight loss difficult challenging, as you may be now.
If you are currently struggling to lose weight and are unsure where you’re going wrong, perhaps we can help. We appreciate losing weight and improving your health can be overwhelming and confusing. By breaking it down in to simple, actionable steps that are achieveable, we can help, just like we have with the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with – many of whom you can read about here.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.