The Un-Diet: How to Design a Realistic Nutrition Plan For Sustainable Fat Loss

I’ve been thinking about food a lot recently.

Okay, I think about food a lot all the time, not just recently, but this time it is with an eye to combining the foodie side of me that drools over the fish and chips episode of Good Eats on Food Network and the health nut side that winces at the words “deep fried.” I’ve already established that I am perfectly happy eating the same foods over and over again as long as I like them, so why, I thought, don’t I just sit down and make a menu for my slow post-wedding recovery cut that ONLY contains stuff I love and crave, carefully modified to work within my caloric intake and macronutrient guidelines? It’s just as easy to make a healthy stir fry with a tasty sauce as it is to grill up a plain old rubbery chicken breast with a side of broccoli and plain brown rice, right?

With these thoughts in mind and a stack of favorite cookbooks by my side, I got to work:

STEP 1: Establish your nutrition parameters.

For my desired rate of loss of 0.75-1 pound per week, I calculated that I would need to start at 1652-1755 calories per day using my handy Fat Loss Spreadsheet. I am attempting to follow the nutrition guidelines recommended for Turblence Training as well, so my macronutrient ratios will be approximately 40% carbohydrate / 30% protein / 30% fat at this intake level. I will stick to my usual 6 small meals per day with a post-workout recovery shake (or some other fast-acting carb with protein) on weightlifting days.

Each meal will average 284 calories with 28 g carbohydrates, 21 g protein, and 9 g fat.

I tend to feel rather congested, bloated and sluggish when I have too much dairy and sugar, so I will use limited amounts of these ingredients.

STEP 2: Make a list of favorite foods.

  1. Pad Thai
  2. Chinese Beef Noodles with Greens
  3. Chicken fingers with Fries and Ketchup
  4. Pepperoni, Pineapple, and Jalepeno Pizza on whole wheat crust
  5. Chicken or Shrimp Veggie Stir-Fry with Rice
  6. Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
  7. Spinach Omelette with Salsa
  8. Sushi and Sashimi
  9. Fruit protein smoothies with soy milk
  10. Banana, pumpkin, or zucchini bread
  11. Spaghetti with meat marinara sauce
  12. Cereal with soy milk
  13. Taiwanese beef jerky
  14. Kettle corn popcorn
  15. Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  16. Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  17. Steel-cut oatmeal and fruit
  18. Chips
  19. Chinese dumplings/potstickers
  20. Chili
  21. Grilled fish with veggies and rice
  22. BBQ beef, pork, or chicken
  23. Hamburgers with fries
  24. Crepes

STEP 3: Make a list of healthy WHOLE foods that you actually like.

(A good starting point is the original Body-for-Life authorized food list from the book, not the web site.)

Protein – beef, chicken (dark and white), shrimp and all shellfish, turkey, all fish, soy milk, tofu, eggs

Starchy Carbs – rice, brown rice, sweet potato, potato, oats, quinoa, WW pasta, rice noodles, low carb pasta, beans, WW tortillas, pitas, or bread

Fruit – pineapple, peaches, nectarines, pears, lychees, longans, plums, grapes, cantaloupe, oranges, berries

Vegetables – broccoli, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, asparagus, onions, carrots (cooked only), green beans, sugar snap peas, bok choy, zucchini, squash, cabbage, Asian radish, okra, pretty much everything but lima beans and bitter squash

Fats – peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, avocado, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, fish oil

STEP 4: Reinvent favorite foods using healthy substitutions or combine with other foods to meet macronutrient targets.

The goal here is to have only one portion of protein, one portion of carbohydrate (not the usual 2-3 in Western meals), and one serving of fat in any meal.

  1. Pad Thai: Use noodles from package, but create new sauce recipe using Splenda instead of sugar. Add 1 c. veggies, 1/2 oz. crushed peanuts, and 3 oz. chicken breast, shrimp or lean beef per serving.
  2. Chinese Beef Noodles with Greens: Use only 2 oz. (dry) noodles, 4 oz. beef, and add 2 c. spinach, bean sprouts, and spaghetti squash as filler
  3. Chicken fingers with Fries and Ketchup: Make coating using ground oats instead of flour and bake chicken breast fingers. Pair with baked sweet potato “fries” and low carb ketchup.
  4. Pepperoni, Pineapple, and Jalepeno Pizza on whole wheat crust: Make “pizza” with tomato paste, fat-free mozzarella, jalapeno slices, pineapple chunks, 5-6 slices of turkey pepperoni, and 2 oz. chicken breast or shrimp
  5. Chicken or Shrimp Veggie Stir-Fry with Rice: Use olive oil spray for stir fry, sub Splenda for sugar in sauce, and sub brown rice or quinoa for white rice.
  6. Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad: Sub Newman’s Own Asian Sesame Ginger dressing or other under 40 calorie/2 T. dressing. Combine 3-4 oz. pre-grilled chicken breast with 4 c. mixed greens, 1/2 oz. almonds, and 1 sliced fruit or 3/4 c. grapes.
  7. Spinach Omelette with Salsa: 3-4 egg whites or 3 egg whites/1 whole egg
  8. Sushi and Sashimi: Make at home subbing Splenda for sugar in sushi rice vinegar mix. Pair with 3/4 c. serving of vegetables or salad and 2 oz. protein.
  9. Fruit protein smoothies with soy milk: 1/2 c. light soy milk, 1/2 c. water, 1 c. ice, 1 c. fruit, 3/4 scoop vanilla protein powder
  10. Banana, pumpkin, or zucchini bread: TBD (Check Amyella’s recipe); pair with 1 c. soy milk, 1/2 scoop protein powder, 1 T. cocoa powder
  11. Spaghetti with meat marinara sauce: Use WW or low carb pasta; 2-3 oz. limit. Include 2-3 oz. chicken breast, shrimp, or lean ground beef or turkey breast in the sauce and 3/4 c. of wilted cooked spinach.
  12. Cereal with soy milk: GoLean, GoLean Crunch, or Cheerios (oat-based) cereal only. Follow recommended serving size and combine with 1/2 c. light soy milk. Add protein source such as egg whites on the side.
  13. Taiwanese beef jerky: Use as protein snack serving. Add baked sweetpotato fries or fruit serving.
  14. Kettle corn or butter light popcorn: 1/2 bag = 1 post workout carb serving. Combine with chocolate soy protein drink
  15. Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Make popsicles with Dymatize Elite whey. Add mini choco chips.
  16. Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit: Make own trail mix with 1/2 oz. nuts, dried fruit, etc. for a total of no more than 200 calories.
  17. Steel-cut oatmeal and fruit: Use as carb serving. Pre-cook steel-cut oats for convenience.
  18. Chips: Use as carb serving. Make chips from sweetpotato using mandoline or food processor, add creole seasoning, and bake.
  19. Chinese dumplings/potstickers: Storebought; follow recommended serving size and serve with extra cup of vegetables or in a soup (wonton or egg drop).
  20. Chili: Use lean ground meat and add a LOT of extra vegetables. Serve over salad instead of rice.
  21. Grilled fish with veggies and rice: Self explanatory…
  22. BBQ beef, pork, or chicken: Modify BBQ sauce recipes to use Splenda or fruit instead of sugar. Serve with quinoa, brown rice, or SP baked fries and 1 c. vegetables.
  23. Hamburgers with fries: Make burgers out of lean turkey or ground beef; wrap in lettuce leaves instead of using bun and add sweetpotato fries or fresh fruit. Use low carb ketchup.
  24. Crepes: Sub Splenda for sugar and ground oats for flour. Use 3-4 egg whites in recipe for protein. Sprinkle with sugar and add 1/2 serving of fruit.

STEP FIVE: Develop meal plan based on list of favorite meals.

Menu 1:
M1: Spinach omelette with 3 egg whites, 60 g total oatmeal and raisins
M2: Chocolate protein soy milk shake, 1 pear or peach
M3: 8 pieces homemade sushi (1/2 c. rice, nori, rice seasoning, fish cake, pickled radish, chives, green onions, and egg), 1 cup asparagus veggie mix
M4: Chocolate protein soy milk shake, 1 c. longans (Chinese fruit similar to lychee)
M5: 1 c. lean beef chili over 2 c. spinach; 1 small black plum
M6: 5 dumplings, 1/2 c. sauteed garlic green beans

Menu 2:
M1: 1/2 c. light soy milk, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 c. GoLean cereal
M2: Pineapple protein shake
M3: Baked chicken fingers with sweet potato fries and veggies
M4: Beef jerky, zucchini slices, and peach
M5: Beef noodles with extra greens and veggies
M6: Trail mix and chocolate protein soy milk shake

Menu 3:
M1: Breakfast pita sandwich (1/2 WW pita, 3 white/1 whole egg spinach scramble, salsa or low carb ketchup)
M2: Berry crepes with optional SF maple syrup
M3: Turkey burger lettuce wrap with low carb ketchup and sweet potato fries or chips
M4: Zucchini bread with chocolate protein soy milk shake
M5: Shrimp with veggies in red sauce stir fry with 1 c. quinoa
M6: Peanut butter protein shake

I’ll be posting recipes for each of the above dishes over the next week. Today I am more or less following Menu 1.


Some diet, eh?

12 thoughts on “The Un-Diet: How to Design a Realistic Nutrition Plan For Sustainable Fat Loss

  1. Ooh, those meals sound so yum! I am definitely going to try some of those substitutions when I get back to home and my kitchen!

  2. Emily – Honey is too dense in calories to use regularly while I’m on a cut unfortunately. I like to use a little bit on my CC oatmeal pancakes, though. I’m going to focus on getting my sweet tooth fix with mostly fruit and just avoid added sugary stuff altogether if I can.

  3. On the chicken fingers you might try oat bran. I tried some the other day and it worked amazing well and tasted great. It’s a really convenient and healthy alternative coating.


  4. for the zucchini/banana/pumpkin bread, you could try Z-Trim. Z-Trim is to fats as splenda is to sugar. I heard about it in some fitness book (you on a diet, maybe), and bought some to test. You can substitute 50% of any fat in any recipe, and it adds fiber.

    We’ve made splenda/z-trim blueberry muffins and z-trim cookies so far. Volusia county schools adopted it for their cafeteria, and are already using it to cut fat down in ranch dressing.

    well, enough of my infomercialesque comment. (FWIW, Z-Trim does try to get you to market their stuff after you buy).

  5. Awesome site…..I have resolved to start the P90x program. I will use your site as my inspiration site to keep me focused!

  6. Great menu , Maggie. Your blog has very interesting topic , more post about the food. makes me hungry :em34:

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