How to Make a Diet Plan

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The best way to reach your weight-loss goal is to have a very specific plan. First you must decide what your goal weight is. After that, you can determine exactly how you will reach that goal.

Things You'll Need

  • Spreadsheet program, such as Excel
  • Notebook or other type of food journal

Creating Your Diet Plan

Determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. There are many calculators available on the Internet to help you determine this number (see resource section below). For a basic estimate of your healthy caloric intake, multiply your weight by 10. If you weigh 160 pounds, that would be 1,600. This is the approximate minimum number of calories your body would need per day if you were completely inactive. Next, add more calories based on your activity level. A person who spends time both moving around and sitting at a desk would need to add about another 30 percent to the minimum.

Create a 500-calorie deficit in order to lose one pound per week. By cutting out 500 calories per day, you can expect to lose about one pound per week. The Surgeon General of the United States recommends a steady weight loss of no more than two pounds per week.

Make a list of the calorie counts of your favorite foods. Use a spreadsheet to make a list that is easy to access. Include foods you eat every day; don't forget that slice of cheese on your sandwich or the tablespoon of ketchup.Websites such as CalorieKing.com and NutritionData.com list calorie counts for thousands of different foods.

Evaluate your list, and swap high-calorie and empty-calorie foods out for healthier choices. If you love bacon, try switching to turkey bacon. Instead of greasy deep-dish pizza, try homemade pizza with olive oil, tomato sauce and veggies with no cheese. Do not give up all the foods you love: Just find or make healthier versions. The book Eat This, Not That by David Zinczenko has thousands of suggestions for swapping favorite foods for healthier versions.

Write out a meal plan for the week using your calorie lists. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. You want your total calories for the day to be the amount you calculated in step one minus 500.

Make a backup plan. Some days you will feel more hungry than other days. Keep quick and healthy snacks available such as bananas, carrot sticks, protein bars and low-fat yogurt to help you stay on track.

Add exercise to your plan. Exercise for 30 minutes three times per week to start. Track how many calories you burn, and replace only half of them. For example, if you burn 100 calories, eat a 50-calorie snack. By eating back half the calories you burn, you will be making sure that your body is getting enough energy to support your workouts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Drink plenty of water - at least 64 ounces per day, more on hot days or when exercising. Include plenty of fiber in your diet by eating fresh fruits and vegetables and switching from white bread to whole-grain varieties. Add lean protein to your diet in creative ways: add soy protein powder to a smoothie or try new ways of cooking chicken. Don't forget dairy foods - milk and yogurt have many health benefits including better digestion and stronger bones. Don't get stuck in a rut by eating the same foods every day. Try eating new foods or preparing the same foods in new ways.

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