Confused about exactly how much to eat of which foods? The Biggest Loser experts lay it out for you
The Biggest Loser Diet Food Pyramid recommends three daily servings of protein foods each day (8-ounce or 1-cup portions), regardless of your daily caloric limit or target. For flexibility, you can choose from three different types of protein: animal protein, vegetarian protein, and low-fat dairy protein. You can divide your protein up into any size portion you want through the day. For example, you can have half a portion at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and for snacks, as long as you fulfill your protein allotment for the day. Protein is best eaten in smaller quantities anyway, so your body can use it throughout the day. So make sure you have some protein at each meal. Here is a closer look at your many protein choices.
Animal Protein Serving Size: 1 cup or 8 ounces
Choose These to Lose: Any type of beef, pork, or veal labeled as 95 percent lean; white meat chicken; white meat turkey; egg whites; fish (any type); and shellfish (any type). Try to choose fish that is rich in heart-protective fats called omega-3 fatty acids. These fish include salmon, sardines (water-packed), herring, mackerel, trout, and tuna.
Vegetarian Protein Serving Size: 1 cup or 8 ounces
Choose These to Lose: Beans and legumes (black beans, broad beans, chickpeas, edamame, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, split peas, white beans, and so forth); miso; soybeans, soy bacon, soy or veggie burgers, soy hot dogs, and other natural (meaning not the powders or pills) soy products; tempeh; and tofu
Low-Fat Dairy Serving Size: 1 cup or 8 ounces
Choose These to Lose: Buttermilk, low-fat milk (1 percent), skim or fat-free milk, soy milk, yogurt (plain), yogurt (no sugar added, fruit flavored), and reduced-fat cottage cheese
Biggest Loser Food Pyramid Pointers
Ideally, try to choose a variety of proteins each day, as noted above in order to meet your calorie target and help with weight loss. For example, with breakfast, you might have a cup of yogurt; with lunch, a cup of kidney beans as part of a vegetarian chili; as part of a snack,
1⁄2 cup of cottage cheese and with dinner, 4 ounces of grilled salmon.
Especially in their menopausal years, women require ample calcium, available from low-fat dairy proteins. For that reason, women at this age may want to select two servings of protein from the low-fat dairy category, and the other serving from either animal proteins or vegetarian protein. Here are some other pointers:
- For variety, consider soy foods such as soy hot dogs, soy sausage, and even soy pastrami because they contain no saturated fat. You can find them at your local natural food store and in many mainstream grocery stores.
- Before cooking poultry, remove the skin. This greatly reduces the fat and calorie content.
- Fish is an excellent source of low-calorie protein, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and selenium. Farm-raised seafood tends to be high in toxins called PCBs and other chemicals, although recent advancements in fish farming have led to reduced levels of these toxins. If you are concerned about this issue, you may want to purchase wild fish. It is usually more expensive, however.
- Consider replacing conventionally raised meat or poultry with free-range or grass-fed meat or poultry. These foods contain more healthy fats and less saturated fat than conventionally raised meats and are free of antibiotics and growth hormone.
- Go easy on red meat. Limit your servings to twice a week, since red meat tends to be high in saturated fat.
- Avoid processed meats, such as bologna, hot dogs, salami, and so forth. Not only are they generally high in fat, these foods contain sodium nitrites, which react with foods in your stomach to form highly carcinogenic (potentially cancer-causing) compounds.