Build Your Meals For Sustainable Weight Loss

Posted: January 20, 2022

The secret to sustainable weight loss is learning how to build your meals. You really don’t need to count calories or count every morsel of food you eat if you learn this simple method.

The biggest mistake I see happening is women will overly restrict their calories and get into a cycle of feeling stressed and overwhelmed around food. This leads to a negative body image, an unhealthy relationship with food, and eventually regaining all of the weight back. 

Also PLEASE know that reducing your food intake, skipping meals and filling up on low calorie foods creates an unbalance of hormones in your body that is hard to repair and can lead to lasting health conditions.

In today’s post, I am going to share with you the exact formula I use with clients to help them lose weight without cutting out their favorite foods or obsessing over calories.

Snacking smartly for sustainable weight loss
Building your meals for sustainable weight loss can be delicious and satisfying!

Build Your Meals For Sustainable Weight Loss

The Weight Loss Formula:

  1. Aim for 20-30 grams of fiber a day
  2. Eat at least 20 grams of protein at every meal (this number will depend on many factors)
  3. A serving size of healthy fats at every meal (around 10-15 grams)

Learning to balance your healthy meals by adding fiber, protein and healthy fats will keep you satisfied and full. This formula also helps balance your blood sugar levels which in turn helps curb cravings.

These 3 nutrients work together to help you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way while also nourishing your body.

Let’s talk about the details of each nutrient:

Fiber & Weight Loss

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate… yes you heard me right, it’s a carb and carbs are good for you! They are our body’s main energy source, so you need them for your daily activities – both voluntary and involuntary activity like breathing, thinking, heart pumping, etc.

There are two types of fiber and they are usually both found together. However, one may be higher in one type than the other.

The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber is great for digestion, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure while insoluble fiber attracts water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass with less strain on your bowel.

Sources of soluble fiber include: oats, apples, beans, and nuts

Sources of insoluble fiber include: whole wheat bread, legumes, and brown rice.

Both are equally important for your digestive health and your overall body.

What’s really cool about fiber is that it acts like a sponge in the stomach attracting water and making the food turn into a gel which helps you feel full for longer between meals. And feeling full between meals helps with weight loss because then you’re not tempted to constantly snack and eat. 

Reaching 20-30 grams of fiber per day is not very difficult especially when you know which foods are higher in fiber.

High-fiber foods:

Fiber is found in many different kinds of food but is especially abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Eating more fiber is one of the most freeing ways to lose weight because you can be generous with your portions!

Additionally, they are loaded with nutrients giving your body what it needs to function properly and helps you feel good.

Here are some examples of high-fiber foods with their serving size and grams of fiber per serving:

Food Serving Size Grams per serving
All Bran Buds ⅓ cup 13
Fiber One ½ cup 14
Whole-wheat spaghetti 1 cup 6
Popcorn 3.5 cups 7
Wasa Fiber Crispbread 4 crackers 8
Chickpeas ½ cup 6
Pinto beans ½ cup 7
Lentils ½ cup 8
Black -eyed peas ½ cup 6
Kidney Beans ½ cup 6
Artichoke 1 6
spinach 1 cup cooked 4
jicama 1 cup raw 6
carrots ½ cup  4
Blackberries 1 cup 8
Raspberries 1 cup 8
Pear 1 fruit 5
Chia seeds 1 tablespoon 4

Tips for increasing fiber in your diet:

  • Replace white bread, rice, and pasta with whole wheat
  • Eat fruits and vegetables with skin on
  • Add in lentils, beans, couscous, or any legumes to your dish at least 2 or 3 times a week
Berries are a great source of fiber
Berries are a high-fiber fruit and are a great snack for a boost of antioxidants

Protein

I recommend eating at least 20 grams of protein at each of your meals and snacks OR aiming for 1/4 of your plate of protein. 

Studies show that including protein at every meal helps keep you full for longer periods of time because protein digests slower and it activates satiety hormone release which means you feel full earlier. Please note more peer reviewed studies need to be done.

Protein is also important during weight loss because it preserves muscle mass during periods of caloric restriction.

When you hear protein, you think of meat and chicken… but did you know that lots of plant based foods contain protein too, like lentils and beans?

It is preferable to consume more plant-based protein because they typically contain fiber, which promotes good gut bacteria, better digestion, and improved heart health.

Here are some examples of high-protein foods with their serving size and grams of protein per serving:

Food Serving Size Grams Per Serving
Cheese 1 oz 7
Eggs 1 each 7
Tofu 4 oz 7
Tempeh ¼ cup 7
Greek yogurt 0% ¾ cup 7
1% cottage cheese ¼ cup 7
Hemp Seeds 2 tablespoons  7
Beef/Turkey Jerky 1 oz slice 7
Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Lamb 1 oz 7
Fish, Tuna Fish 1 oz 7
Seafood (Crabmeat, Shrimp, Lobster) 1 oz 7
Soy milk 8 oz 7
Edamame, fresh or frozen ½ cup 8
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 7
Nuts 1⁄4 cup 4-6
Sunflower seeds 1 oz 5
Milk, skim or 1% 8 oz 8
chickpeas as a part of a sustainable weight loss plan
Chickpeas are a great plant based high protein food you can easily add into your meals

Healthy Fat

Fat is in a variety of foods and is usually used within your cooking process like oils, butter or ghee.

Fats are so important when it comes to a healthy diet because fats provide energy, supports cell growth, protects organs, and keeps your body warm. Eating healthy fats is also necessary for the absorption of vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K and helps with hormone production.

A serving size of healthy fats at every meal would look like a tablespoon of olive oil on a salad or a handful of almonds as a snack.

Here are some examples of healthy fat foods with their serving size and grams of fat per serving:

Food Serving Size Grams per serving
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 16
Peanuts 2 Tbsp 5
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 15
Flax seeds 2 Tbsp 3.5
Chia seeds 2 Tbsp 6
Pumpkin seeds 2 Tbsp 7
Olive oil 1 Tbsp 14
Avocado oil 1 Tbsp 14
Coconut oil 1 Tbsp 13.5
butter 1 Tbsp 11
Ghee 1 Tbsp 14
Avocado  ¼ medium 5
Egg yolk 5
Olives 8 – 10 5
Sesame seeds 1 Tbsp  5
Tahini 2 tsp 5
avocado, oil, nuts and seeds are a healthy fat choice and great for weight loss
Avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds are a healthy fat choice and great to include in your weight loss plan

When it comes to your long term weight loss goals, it is important to find ways that make sense for you and your current lifestyle. This is why fad diets do not work because they are short term solutions that do not last.

Also please be aware that weight loss is not just about the food you are eating. Your stress management, emotional regulation, sleep, hormones, age, gender and physical activity all play a role as well.

However, having said that, food does play a pretty significant role and it’s one that you have full control over. As I like to say, control the controllable whenever you are able to and I promise you will reach your goals.

If you have a hard time staying motivated to lose weight, make sure to check out this blog post I wrote a few weeks ago!

Here are some meal ideas to help you gain a better understanding of using these 3 nutrients together:

Breakfast ideas: 

  • Greek yogurt + high-fiber cereal + berries 
  • High-Fiber cereal + berries
  • Veggie omelet with low-fat cheese with 2 high-fiber crackers
  • Two tablespoons basil seeds (or pre-soaked chia seeds) soaked in water (see package instructions) with splash of vanilla extract, 1 tsp maple syrup, topped with berries 
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies, four GG crackers topped with cheese 

Lunch ideas:

  • Vegetable soup, 6 oz tuna fish made with light mayo, two high-fiber crackers, 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • Whole wheat wrap with tuna, spinach, tomatoes, and sliced avocado. 
  • Chili with beef, beans, and vegetables, topped with avocado or sour cream. 
  • Salad with grilled chicken
  • Large salad with 5 ounces lean-protein and 2 high-fiber crackers 

Snack ideas:

  • One tablespoon nut butter with 2 crackers
  • ½ cup cottage cheese with fruits and four high-fiber crackers
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt with ½ cup bran buds
  • ¼ cup dried fruit mixed with ¼ cup nuts 
  • Four high-fiber crackers with 2 tablespoons nut butter and a piece of fruit
  • Two hard-boiled eggs with four high-fiber crackers
  • One string cheese with one piece of fruit
  • Raw veggies with 2 tablespoons hummus
  • Apple + peanut butter
  • Deli turkey + avocado
  • Almonds + banana 

Dinner ideas:

  • Grilled shrimp with veggies 
  • Large salad made with 2 tbsp vinaigrette and protein of choice
  • Veggie broth-based soup with a salad and two high-fiber crackers
  • Grilled salmon, roasted potatoes, and roasted broccoli
  • Pasta with unlimited vegetables, grilled chicken, and marinara sauce, with a side salad. 
  • BBQ chicken, wild rice mix, roasted vegetables, with a side salad 
Build your meals for sustainable weight loss balanced meals
Building your meals for sustainable weight loss means you don’t need to restrict food

I know this was a lot of information, but I promise it is much easier than restricting and trying to use willpower.

Healthy meals and healthy eating does not have to be difficult especially if you use meal planning tools. Meal planning can help you stay on track of your weight loss goals.

BONUS TIP: Try to visualize your plate into 3 sections where 1/2 your plate is veggies, 1/4 plate protein and 1/4 plate high-fiber carbs. This helps you avoid counting macros or calories.

Learning which foods belong in which category is maybe the most difficult part, but once you grasp the idea building meals for sustainable weight loss becomes super simple. Of course you are more than welcome to send me an email (info@ayatsleymannrd.com) or a DM on Instagram with your questions and I would be more than happy to answer them!

Weight loss dietitian cutting an apple
Weight loss that lasts does not have to feel impossible. Learning to balance your meals is key

Here is a 4-part reel series I created on Instagram if you want more details!

Part 1: Fiber and weight loss https://www.instagram.com/reel/COk9aVrlER7/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Part 2: Protein and weight loss  https://www.instagram.com/reel/CO0bq2ZFKtD/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Part 3: Healthy fat and weight loss https://www.instagram.com/reel/CPGb9mdlXqb/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Part 4: Putting it all together https://www.instagram.com/reel/CPYfQbclcdz/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link