Designing Meals for Weight loss


For years good nutrition was considered a daily balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, etc.

New research is proving that optimum health for adults requires nutrition balance at each meal and this balance is especially important during weight loss. If you don’t have the right balance at each meal you will always be hungry and tired and you will not lose the unwanted and unhealthy body fat.
The right food choices at each meal are created with a balance of three main nutrients:

  • protein
  • carbohydrates
  • fiber

The ideal balance has been scientifically tested and is now presented in the
METABOLIQ Lifestyle and visually represented with the METABOLIQ Plate­Look concept.

Generally during weight loss the best way to control total calories and get a balanced diet is to eat
three daily meals. The concept of eating lots of small meals and snacking is a concept derived from
early research (now proven not correct) and from use of high Carb diets that leave you always hungry
(see up coming blog: Snacks and Obesity). Lots of small meals create a carbohydrate addiction and
keep your body in continuous fat storage. You can’t lose weight if you keep insulin high all day.

This first meal of the day is critical to jump­start your metabolism and get you into the fat­burning
mode. (see previous blog: Breakfast to Energize Your Day) If you make mistakes at breakfast, it’s
virtually impossible to correct your metabolism or feel good for the rest of the day. Once you get
breakfast right the other two meals have more flexibility. Most Americans have a small meal at noon
and a larger meal during the evening. While the larger “dinner” meal can be at either noon or evening,
the timing should be consistent every day. Many individuals find they are more satisfied (and less
hungry) if they have their dinner meal at noon. This also works well for individuals who wake up early
and off to bed by 9:00 pm.

Dr. Donald K. Layman Qivana, CSO
Dr. Donald K. Layman
Qivana, CSO

There are four main steps in creating the right meal balance.

1) The first step at every meal is to decide on your protein source and how much protein you want. For every meal you need a minimum of 30 grams of protein but you can always eat more. Sixty or 70 grams of protein for lunch or dinner is okay. You want to get your “full” feeling at a meal from the protein and fiber in the meal, never from the carbs like bread, chips, or French fries. When you’re out at restaurants never eat bread or chips before the protein arrives.

2) The second step in meal planning is to reduce starchy and sugary foods such as grain­based foods like breads, rice, pasta, chips, crackers, and cereals, plus starchy foods like potatoes and corn, or sugary foods like bananas. The Plate­Look rule is this group of starchy and sugary foods can never be visually larger than your protein choice. For every bite of the protein food group you can have a bite of the carb group. This visual size relationship of 1 to 1 will keep you from overeating carbs. These foods are part of the fun of eating, but they have almost no nutritional value and they must be controlled for successful weight loss. If you’re not losing the weight you want, this group is the problem.

3) The third section of the plate is the “SmartCarbs.” These are vegetables and fruits that have a ratio of total carbohydrates/fiber of less than 6. Using the carb/fiber ratio less than 6 guarantees that the food is high fiber and low calories. At breakfast, foods in this group are most likely berries; at lunch, choices are likely to be salads and fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, cauliflower; and at dinner salads or colorful vegetables like green beans, asparagus, beets, and peppers. Use this section of the plate to be sure you feel full. For every bite of food out of the protein and starchy Carb sections, you should have 2, 3 or 4 bites out of the SmartCarb section of the plate.

4) The last principle for designing the METABOLIQ balance is making good fat choices. Remember
the villain in the obesity problem is carbs not fat. Don’t obsess about fats, but you should make good
choices. Avoid high fat and high carb foods like French fries, pizza, chips, donuts, desserts, and
candy. Always select reduced fat foods like 1% milk, lean meats or fish, and low fat salad dressings.
Avoid foods that claim to be fat­free because that means they contain high carbs. Finally the best fats
are olive oil, fish oil (omega­3), canola oil (or rapeseed and flaxseed oils), and butter. Avoid
margarines and other hydrogenated oils.

Planning your meals around these four steps allows you to create good eating habits. Whether you’re
eating at home or in a restaurant you should always be able to visualize the Plate­Look you want to
create. Don’t fall into the “clean­your­plate” habit. Almost all restaurants serve you over 1000 calories, so eat the proper balance and take the leftovers home for lunch. A last point to make here is to recognize the unconscious calories in drinks including sodas, sport drinks and alcohol. A liter of soda contains 400 calories and a margarita has over 500 calories. Calories in drinks substitute for the
carbohydrate portion of the meal.

The METABOLIQ Lifestyle is a simple approach to meal planning. Once you understand protein there
is no counting and no measuring. Get the balance right and you’ll be successful. Food is fun. You
should always enjoy eating, but cherish being healthy.

For your health,

Dr. Donald K. Layman

Qivana, CSO


Dr. Donald K. Layman, Ph.D is Professor Emeritus of Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois. With more than 33 years of teaching and research experience, Dr. Layman has numerous awards and recognitions, including awards from the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, the National Institutes of Health and the Nutrition and Metabolism Society. To learn more about Dr. Layman, click here

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