Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods, Including Enough Protein
It's not just the quantity of calories you take in, but also the quality. Jim explained that not all food is created equal. "Especially when restricting calories, it's important to choose foods that are packed with nutrients," he said. He recommends following the MyPlate guidelines for incorporating each food group at every meal:
- Fruits and vegetables: Fill half of your plate with different colors and varieties of produce.
- Protein: Choose lean options like chicken, fish, and legumes.
- Starch: Choose whole grains like brown rice or whole wheat bread.
- Dairy: Include one serving of low-fat or skim milk, cheese, and yogurt.
To make sure you stay satiated at each meal and build muscle, it's important to eat enough protein. Jim said the standard protein intake is approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilograms of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, which is about 68 kilograms, you should eat about 54.4 grams of protein a day. Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, of Whole Health Nutrition says to aim for no more than 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal. But since everyone's weight and activity level matter, this handy chart should help you determine exactly how much protein you need in a day.