Counting calories to lose weight is easily said than done. Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Department of Dietetics shares the strategy to reduce calorie intake and a simple meal plan to lose weight.
Mdm Evelyn Lee* had always been the envy of her friends. She had a healthy appetite and ate whatever she pleased, but never had to watch her weight.
However, this changed after the birth of her first baby, at the age of 30. She found it difficult to lose the extra kilos she had gained during her pregnancy and two years later, discovered that her body mass index (BMI) was 27 kg/m². This marks a moderate increase in risk for obesity-related diseases. Her blood sugar level was also borderline high.
Concerned that her excess weight and borderline high blood sugar level might increase her risk of getting diabetes, Mdm Lee consulted Ms Wong Hui Mei, Senior Dietitian, Department of Dietetics, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
SingHealth group, for a weight loss plan. After a thorough nutritional status and diet intake assessment, Ms Wong recommended an individualised meal plan for her.
Based on Mdm Lee’s weight, height and age, her estimated daily energy requirement was 1,700 calories. In order to help her lose 2kg a month, a 1,200 calories diet was recommended to Mdm Lee.
“As a general rule of thumb, if you consume 500 calories less or burn off 500 calories more from your daily requirement, you can expect to lose 0.5-1 kg per week,” says Ms Wong.
Strategies that can help you create a calorie deficit in your daily intake:
- Replace energy-dense and high-fat foods with nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products
- Watch portion sizes even for ‘healthy’ foods
- Choose wholegrain/wholemeal foods as they contain fibre, provide bulk and keep you full
- Be more physically active
“While reducing your calorie intake for weight loss, it remains vital to have a well-balanced diet which will give you all the necessary nutrients required to sustain your body’s nutritional needs,” says Ms Wong.
The healthy eating pyramid is a guide to how you can eat healthily and still lose weight.
“Be wary of diets that eliminate or severely restrict whole food groups such as carbohydrates. This could cause you to be deficient in certain nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that are important for your health and well-being,” says Ms Wong.
A daily balanced diet for weight loss should include:
- Carbohydrate sources: Apart from carbohydrates, these foods provide energy, fibre and other nutrients such as vitamins B and E. Choose wholegrain/wholemeal over refined foods to increase fibre intake in order to keep you full and improve your overall health.
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals. Both are good sources of fibre which help in providing bulk and a feeling of satiety.
- Protein-rich foods: Protein plays an important role in the repair of body tissues and for growth. It is also a good source of iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins. Good sources are lean meat and low-fat/non-fat dairy products which are also rich in calcium and vitamins.
Here are 2 options for a 1,200 calories weight loss meal plan:
- Wholemeal bread (1 slice)
- Peanut butter (1 teaspoon)
- Non-fat milk (200ml)
- Rice (½ rice bowl)
- Grilled chicken breast, without the skin (approx. 90g)
- Stir-fried vegetables, e.g. chye sim/spinach (½ cup)
- Fruit (1 serving, e.g. 1 slice of papaya/pineapple)
- Low-fat/non-fat yogurt (50g tub)
- Rice (½ rice bowl)
- Steamed white pomfret (1 medium)
- Salad (1 cup) with fresh lime dressing
- Fruit (1 serving, e.g. 1 medium apple/orange)
- Low-fat/non-fat yogurt (150g tub)
- 6 small strawberries
- Half a banana
- Sliced fish beehoon soup (1 bowl)
- Fruit (1 serving, e.g. 1 small banana or 1 slice watermelon)
- Brown rice (½ rice bowl)
- Stir-fried lean pork/lean meat (approx. 90g)
- Mixed vegetables (½ cup)
- Fruit (1 serving, e.g. 1 medium apple/pear)
*Not a real person