The THIRD COMPONENT of nutrition to understand for sustainable weight loss is MEAL FREQUENCY or how many meals you should eat in a day. My best advice is to try and stick to between 2 meals and a snack or 3 complete meals in a day. For someone relatively advanced, it may also be fine to have up to 4 meals in a day.
The key is to ensure that in each of those meals you ingest, there is a significant amount of protein. Ideally, just divide the TOTAL PROTEIN you are to consume for the day (which is 140g of protein for the 80kg individual) by the TOTAL NUMBER OF MEALS you plan to eat, keeping protein EQUAL ACROSS EACH MEAL. This is essential for building new muscle, repairing existing muscle – while minimising muscle loss.
Eg: for 3 meals a day:
140g/3 = 47g of protein
It is vital that during this fat loss phase, the more muscle we conserve and prevent from losing, the higher our metabolism will be. This will directly result in us burning more fat from our stores, even at rest. So, 2-4 meals are typically ideal for a fat loss phase.
Finally, the FOURTH and last COMPONENT is MEAL TIMING or WHEN to eat in the day.
This depends on how you structure your day – your wake and sleep times, and what time you exercise. Normally, I tell people to eat at times best suited to them and their lifestyle, but the one time I do recommend consuming the bulk of your calories is AFTER your training session for the day .
This is because during the post-workout window, which is up to 3 hours after your workout – your body is the most glycogen depleted. This is the time when both the liver and muscles are most insulin sensitive, glycogen deprived, and primed for growth – making it the best time to give your body carbohydrates.
To put it simply – have the majority of your carbs for the day in the meal that is AFTER your workout. This meal should ESPECIALLY be high in protein in case your other meals haven’t been. Also, this post-workout meal should have the lowest fat content.
Apart from this one recommendation regarding meal timing, all your other meals may be had at times most convenient for your lifestyle and routine.
This concludes our 3 part step-by-step guide to create a complete, personalised diet plan for yourself when trying to drop weight and body fat.
If you’ve been following this plan for two weeks or more, and feel that your weight is not really dropping, I recommend lowering carbs another 50g from your diet – which will account for a further decrease of 200 kcals from your diet. This should help you drop weight quicker.
Conversely, if you feel like you’re dropping weight quite fast, and you’re feeling tired, low in energy or motivation, and have more food cravings, two weeks after following this plan, I’d recommend ADDING 50g of carbs to your diet, which will increase your total calories by 200.
These extra 50g should come from wholegrains like oats, sweet potatoes, wheat, or wild rice. It will help get your energy and motivation levels back up and promote healthier fat loss.