Just about everyone knows that you need to eat less calories and burn more energy in order to lose weight. But just how much should you eat? The answer is, it depends on your state of health and a number of other factors, including stress, sleep and exercise.
MyPyramid makes it easy to plan meals and snacks to meet the minimum nutritional needs of most Americans. Individual needs vary, so, it would be a good idea to consult a registered dietitian for additional guidance on how to use MyPyramid to meet your personal diet and weight loss needs.
Here is a summary of the recommendations for how much food from the basic food groups American adults should eat daily, based on MyPyramid. You will have to make adjustments based on your personal health status, weight loss goals, and the amount of exercise you get. Keep in mind that exercise is the biggest factor when it comes to burning calories to lose weight.
Basic Food Groups and recommended intake
Grains - 5 to 8 ounce equivalents servings
These should be mostly whole grains. One serving is the equivalent of 1/2 cup cooked cereal or 1 slice of bread.
Fruits - 1-1/2 to 2 cups
One serving is the equivalent of 1cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice or /1/2 cup of dried fruit.
Vegetables - 2-1/2 to 3 cups
One serving is the equivalent of 1cup of raw or cooked vegetable or 2 cups raw leafy greens.
Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) - 3 cups or equivalent
One serving is the equivalent of 1 cup of milk, 6-ounce cup of yogurt or 1-1/2 ounces of natural cheese.
Meat or Other Protein - 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 ounce equivalents
One serving is the equivalent of 1 ounce of meat, fish or poultry; 1 egg; 1/4 cup cooked beans or peas; or 1 ounce of nuts.
Fats or Oils - 5 to 7 teaspoons
Avoid Avoid saturated fats and trans fats.
Avoid eating foods with added sugars while you are trying to lose weight.
Here is a sample low-calorie menu for one day. Note: (The actual calories in this sample menu would vary depending on the actual ingredients used as well as actual amounts eaten. In general, the day's intake should range from 1600 to 1800 calories. You should be able to lose weight on a diet between 1200 and 1800 calories. If you exercise regularly, you will have more flexibility in how much you can eat and still lose weight.)
Breakfast: 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup low-fat milk and 1/2 cup raisins, water
Morning snack: 1/2 ounce nuts, water
Lunch: 2 slices whole wheat bread, small chicken breast, 3/4 ounce swiss cheese, 1-1/2 cup broccoli, water
Afternoon snack: 1 apple, water
Dinner: 1 small baked potato, 1/4 cup of baked beans, 2 ounces baked salmon, 2 cups tossed salad, 1 tangerine, water
Night-time snack: 6 ounces yogurt, water
Note: Avoid food and drink containing added fat, sugars and limit the amount of sodium you consume.
Cutting calories is important when you want to lose weight. But you need to eat enough to maintain your health. Use MyPyramid as a starting point for planning low-calorie meals and snacks, and talk to a registered dietitian for personal guidance to meet your unique needs. Get more details from the USDA.