Eating Plan Details
DFP Eating Plan Details
Focusing on Calories
My eating plan is simple, and very calorie based. Yes, I’m well aware that calorie counting is very out of vogue, but in my opinion it is critical to get a handle on how much you are eating.
All diet plans out there that help you lose weight are restricting calories in one way or another. Make no mistake about that. But unless they give you specific food proportions for your body and activity level, you’re likely over or under eating which has direct impact on the progress you make. If you think about it, a professional dietician wouldn’t give you a one-size-fits-all diet plan, and for good reason.
So what I’m doing is giving you the tools and encouragement you need to take control of your diet. It’s the next best thing to hiring a dietician.
Does that mean you need to count every single calorie for every day for the rest of your life? Nope. After a while you will have a good handle on your diet and will simply know when you’re eating the right amount of food. But if you never start tracking what you eat and where those calories are coming from, you really will never know how much you’re truly eating.
Okay, now that I’ve had my say on that subject, let’s move into how the plan works…
Following the DFP Eating Plan
The second section in the DFP will indicate to you what to do with your diet for the day. Most days will simply call for you to try and hit your DCT (Daily Calorie Target), as calculated and described below. Other days will be either ‘free’, ‘maintain’, or fasting days, which are also described below.
Calculating Your Daily Calorie Target (DCT)
First we’ll calculate how many calories you should be targeting each day. For that you can use my online calorie calculator. Remember, this is just a target to give you a number to shoot for. Don’t get too caught up in hitting the number perfectly, just be somewhere in the ballpark.
On days you’re supposed to hit your DCT the DFP eating plan section will just say “DCT”.
I believe in the value of cycling your calories between different levels. In other words, your body does better than if you were to eat the same number of calories each day. For example, if you constantly eat too few calories your body will adapt to that by decreasing its metabolism. To counteract this, on some days you will be instructed to hit your ‘maintenance’ level of calories. This number is also provided to you along with your DCT on my online calorie calculator page.
On days you’re supposed to hit your maintenance number of calories the DFP eating plan section will just say “MAINTAIN”.
Once a week the DFP will allow you a ‘free’ day. This is a day when you can pitch calories and other dietary wisdom out the window and eat as you please. The reason we do this is to help you maintain your diet on the other days of the week, because you know you won’t be deprived of the things you love forever.
My guess is that over time your cravings for other, less healthy foods will decrease, and your free day will start to look more like every other day. This is a good thing, as your body is beginning to break the addictions it has to things like processed foods, chemicals, and sugars.
On free days the eating plan section of the DFP will read “FREE”.
About once a week the DFP will call for a fasting day. There are studies that have shown fasting to help create a healthy body, as well as increase life span. But please, please research fasting and talk to your doctor before beginning any kind of a fast. Until you have done so and are comfortable attempting a fasting day, you should simply follow the DCT on the days that call for a fast.
On free days the eating plan section of the DFP will read “FAST (or DCT) “.
More information on fasting:
Begin Tracking Your Calorie Intake
Knowing your DCT won’t make a bit of difference if you don’t know whether or not you’re hitting it. By tracking your diet you will immediately know whether or not you need to make adjustments and where those adjustments need to be made (to eat or not to eat the jelly doughnut, that is the question).
There are many ways to track your diet. I’ll recommend two and you can choose which one suits you best.
The first is to use a written eating log, where you simply write down what you eat and add it all up at the end of the day. This requires you to have on hand a good calorie counts book or access to a calorie counts web site in order to look things up. Yes, many foods have labels, but these are often the processed foods I will be asking you to avoid. Here’s a eating log template you can use and a link to a good calorie counts web site:
Free Diet Tracking Log [PDF]
Another option is to use a free online tool, which will help you count AND track your diet at the same time, and already includes nutritional information on a wide array of foods. You can also enter your own foods for those made from scratch meals or the like. The best site for this that I know of is FitDay.
A key component of following a healthy diet is to spread your calories out over multiple meals. 5 smaller meals per day, as opposed to 3 larger meals, will help increase your metabolism.
Follow my “rule of 3’s” when determining when those meals should be eaten. The rule of 3’s says to eat every 3 hours starting when you wake up. For me that makes my 5 meal times 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.
The number of calories you eat per meal should be larger earlier in the day, and grow smaller as the day progresses. Here’s how I try and space out my calories:
|Time of Day
|% of Total Calories
|5 Total meals
|100% of my DCT
The 9 a.m. meal is more of a snack between breakfast and lunch. Your afternoon snack (3 p.m.) will be roughly the same size as your smaller dinner (6 p.m.)
Further Details on a Healthy Diet
My emphasis on this site isn’t to teach you what foods to include in your individual diet, but I do provide some nutritional and dietary guidelines and some links to other helpful resources. I encourage you to read up on these, because WHAT you eat is just as important as HOW MUCH you eat.