A good weight loss plan should focus on three primary concepts–total calorie intake, food choices and meal timing.
When it comes to weight loss, total calories consumed must be less than what is needed by the body. The total amount of calories that equals one pound of body fat is 3500 calories. In order to lose one pound of fat, a 3500-calorie deficit must be created. That is very difficult to do in one day but over a period of time (i.e. a week) that is very feasible. As long as calories consumed stays consistently less than calories burned, weight loss can be achieved. A healthy weight loss goal would be 1-2 pounds per week. That is a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day. Generally, most females should consume 1200-1800 calories per day and males 1800-2500 calories for weight loss.
Even if your calorie intake is less than what you are burning, if you continually choose unhealthy sources of calories, weight loss may be slowed or not seen at all. A majority of calories need to come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein (fish) and dairy, and healthy fats. Only a small amount of calories should come from things like fried foods, sodas, potato chips, desserts, candy, or other high calorie, low-nutrient dense foods.
Most people do not realize the importance of meal timing. Our bodies are very good at preserving themselves, especially during times of starvation, and when our bodies go long periods of time without eating, the metabolism begins to slow down in order to preserve the tissue. Additionally, going long periods of time without eating will trigger overeating when food is finally eaten. When food is consumed, regardless of how long it has been since the last meal or snack was eaten, only a certain amount of calories are utilized and the rest are stored as fat. When going long periods of time without eating, even more calories have the potential to be stored as fat as metabolism slows. Eating regular meals, about every 3-4 hours, keeps the metabolism elevated. This is important when you are trying to lose weight. Each day should always start with breakfast to increase metabolism and then meals and/or snacks should occur about every 3-4 hours after that. Consistent meals and snacks eaten about 3-4 hours apart will ensure a healthy metabolism and successful weight loss. Fish oil (Omega-3 EPA/DHA) supplementation also maintains a healthy body weight.