So here’s the deal; If you believe any of the thousands of diets books available you’d be forgiven for thinking what to eat for fat loss was a pretty complicated. Well, in most cases that just isn’t true. In fact, we’ve boiled the topic of what to eat for fat loss down to 5 simple questions. Questions you can evaluate your diet against right now.

1. Are you eating too much food?

The rules here are simple; if you eat more calories than you burn each day you’ll gain fat. If the amount you eat and the amount you burn are equal, you won’t gain, but you won’t lose fat either. If you eat less calories than you need you lose weight.

So before your next meal ask yourself ‘Am I eating too much?’ You should end up about 8/10 on the fullness scale when you’re done. Which means you’re satisfied, but not stuffed.

2. Are you eating enough protein?

The amount of protein you eat determines whether it’s fat or muscle you lose. If you eat enough protein it’ll be fat loss. If you’re not eating enough protein it’ll likely be lean muscle you’re losing. Plus, protein helps keep you fuller for longer and prevents overeating later on.

Here’s a nifty chart that summarises some good sources of protein:

Meat Fish Dairy Vegetarian Supplement
Lean Minced Beef Wild Salmon Cottage Cheese Tofu Whey Protein
Lean Steak Tuna Feta Cheese Tempeh Rice Protein
Chicken Cod Yoghurt Other Soy Products Hemp Protein
Turkey Haddock Milk
Lean Game Meats Prawns Eggs

So for your next meal are you going to be eating enough protein? For men, well, you guys should be having one and a half to two palm sized servings from the protein sources above (at least 150g serving). And for women, you need to be getting a palm sized serving (at least 100g serving).

3. Are you eating too many sugary and starchy carbohydrates?

Foods like cereal, bread, rice, pasta and potatoes are all high on the starch. And for fat loss this is something (along with the sugars) you’re going to want to reduce. Not cut out, just eat less than you normally would.

Take a look at the typical starchy and sugary carbs I see popping up in the food diaries I review:

Breakfast Cereal, toast and fruit juice
Snack Cereal bar, biscuit with coffee
Lunch Sandwich or jacket potato
Snack Small cake with coffee
Dinner Pasta, rice or potato with meat and veg
After Dinner Bowl of ice cream, glass of wine

These starchy and sugary carbs do a great job of blocking fat loss, and in some instances even contribute to fat gain! So at you’re next meal are you eating too many starchy or sugary carbs? For fat loss, men should eat less than a small fist full, and women should eat less than ½ a fist full of starchy carbs.

4. Are you eating enough vegetables?

This is usually filed under the heading; ‘Things we know we should do, but choose to ignore’. So when fat loss is the goal you’ll improve your chances by increasing your veggie intake.

Not only is the fibre from the vegetables going to help keep you full; but cancer, stroke and heart disease risks are dramatically reduced (20-30%) with a high intake of fruits and veggies.

So a simple strategy for increasing veg intake and reducing starchy and sugary carbs? At your next meal swap some grains for greens. Instead of loading up on the rice or pasta, have a smaller serving and increase the amount of green veg on your plate.

Men should aim for a large handful of veggies per meal (about a cup) and women should aim for a small handful of veggies per meal (about ½ a cup). Here are a few different ways to get them in:

Stir fry/Sautéed Peppers, pak choi, tenderstem broccoli
Baked/Roasted Aubergine, mixed peppers, courgette, garlic, red onion
Raw in salads Peppers, avocadoes, spinach, tomato, cucumber, celery, carrot
Steamed Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots etc
Juiced With vegetable juicer

So with your next meal, are you eating enough vegetables? Just chose some from the table above and eat more than you usually would.

5. Are you eating enough healthy fats?

What do you think of when I mention the word fat? Most people think of fats like fatty meat, like bacon, cheese, or maybe butter. To be honest it’s the highly processed fats in processed foods that are most harmful to your health and lead to fat gain. Having a balance of the naturally occurring fats is actually good for fat loss. And the best way is to get eat equal amounts of each type of naturally occurring fat. Take a look at the chart below and see if you’re eating a balance from each column:

Saturated Fat Monounsaturated Fat Polyunsaturated Fat
Keep eating Increase your intake Increase your intake
Lean Meat Olive oil Flax Seeds (milled)
Milk Mixed nuts Flax Seed Oil
Butter Avocado Omega 3 Fish Oil
Eggs Walnuts
Cheese
Palm Oil
Coconut Oil

So at your next meal are you eating some healthy fats? For fat loss, just replace some of the unhealthy fats in your diet with the natural healthy ones.

Summary

So that’s it. You’ve probably noticed that you already ‘know’ a lot of this stuff. But that’s only part of the fat loss puzzle. Perhaps more important is execution. And most people fall at the first hurdle; they fail to actually get started on their fat loss plan.

So don’t worry about trying to overhaul your diet in one go. It rarely works like that. Just focus on your next meal. Use one of the questions above to improve just your next meal and you’ll have taken the first step. The step that most people never actually take.