Meal Plan FAQ

1. How many calories should I be eating per day?
2. I'm diabetic and do carb counting. How many carbs can I have in one day?
3. I'm really concerned about my fat intake. How much fat is allowed in my meal plan?
4. I want to make sure I'm getting enough protein. How much protein am I allowed in my plan?
5. I don't have time to follow a specific meal plan and want to know how many servings of each
     food group I'm allowed in my plan?
6. I have high blood pressure. How much sodium is my meal plan?
7. I have a medical condition and I may need to make some adjustments in my meal plan. Can
     you help me?

1. How many calories should I be eating per day?

We have 2 calorie levels depending on whether you're male or female and your starting weight. Your recommended calorie level will be 1200 or 1500 and can be found on your meal plan page.

We recommend you use this as a starting point by following the meal plan and monitoring your hunger, fullness and weight change. You can make adjustments as needed.

For example, if you're losing weight and feeling good on the meal plan, this calorie level is working well for you.

If you're very hungry on the meal plan and not doing well, you may need some extra calories. This would be a good reason to email us here in the coaching corner or to our registered dietitian Shauna in the "Rate My Plate" discussion board to get guidance.

If you're not losing weight, this calorie level may be too high for you and you may need to be eating fewer calories. This may be a situation where you want to get some help and direction from the diet.com team of experts.

Most experts agree on not going below 1200 calories a day. Going below 1200 calories a day puts you at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

2. I'm diabetic and do carb counting. How many carbs can I have in one day?

Diet.com meal plans average 45-55% calories from carbohydrates. This level is also recommended when planning your own meals.

If you are following a 1200 calorie diet, this is equal to 135-165 grams of carbohydrate per day.

If you are following a 1500 calories diet, this is equal to 188-206 grams of carbohydrate per day.

Remember to choose healthy carbs such as fruit, whole grains, beans and vegetables and space them throughout the day.

3. I'm really concerned about my fat intake. How much fat is allowed in my meal plan?

Diet.com meal plans average 25-30% calories from fat. This level is also recommended when planning your own meals.

If you are following a 1200 calorie diet, this is equal to 33-40 grams of fat per day.

If you are following a 1500 calories diet, this is equal to 42-50 grams of fat per day.

Remember to choose healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts and nut butters, olives and avocado.

4. I want to make sure I'm getting enough protein. How much protein am I allowed in my plan?

Diet.com meal plans average 20-25% calories from protein. This level is also recommended when planning your own meals.

If you are following a 1200 calorie diet, this is equal to 60-75 grams of protein per day.

If you are following a 1500 calorie diet, this is equal to 75-94 grams of protein per day.

Remember to choose lean protein sources such as chicken breast, turkey, fish, extra lean beef, lean pork, non-fat or low-fat dairy, beans or soy products. Vary your protein sources and try to eat at least 2 vegetarian based meals per week.

5. I don't have time to follow a specific meal plan and want to know how many servings of each food group I'm allowed in my plan?

The following chart breaks down the recommended calorie levels into servings from each food group. If you are following a different calorie level, write to RDShauna in the Rate My Plate board for assistance.

Suggested Number of Servings for a 1200 Calorie Weight Loss Diet*

Fruits: 1 cup
Vegetables: 1.5 cups
Grains: 4 ounce equivalent (1 ounce = 1 slice of bread, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal). Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains per day!
Meat and Beans: 3 ounce equivalent (1 ounce = 1 ounce of lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1/4 cup cooked dry beans, 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds, 1/4 cup tofu, 1 ounce tempeh, 1 vegetarian burger or 1 cup lentil or bean soup).
Milk: 2 cups equivalent (1 cup = 1 cup non-fat or low-fat milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup low-fat shredded cheese or 2 cups non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese).
Oils: 4 teaspoons (includes vegetable oils, nuts, olives, avocados, mayonnaise, salad dressings and soft margarine).
Discretionary Calories: 171 (remaining calories- use on forms of foods that are low in added sugars and/or low-fat).

*Adapted per the USDA My Pyramid

Suggested Number of Servings for a 1500 Calorie Weight Loss Diet

Fruits: 1 cup
Vegetables: 2 cups
Grains: 5 ounce equivalent (1 ounce = 1 slice of bread, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal). Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains per day!
Meat and Beans: 5 ounce equivalent (1 ounce = 1 ounce of lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1/4 cup cooked dry beans, 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds, 1/4 cup tofu, 1 ounce tempeh, 1 vegetarian burger or 1 cup lentil or bean soup).
Milk: 2 cups equivalent (1 cup = 1 cup non-fat or low-fat milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup low-fat shredded cheese or 2 cups non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese).
Oils: 5 teaspoons (includes vegetable oils, nuts, olives, avocados, mayonnaise, salad dressings and soft margarine).
Discretionary Calories: 132 (remaining calories- use on forms of foods that are low in added sugars and/or low-fat).

*Adapted per the USDA My Pyramid

6. I have high blood pressure. How much sodium is my meal plan?

The majority of Diet.com meal plans fall below 2400 mg sodium (most health organizations recommend healthy people stay below this amount). However, weekly averages range from 1716-3162 mg of sodium. Meal plans that include more meal replacements and eating out have slightly higher weekly averages of sodium. All meal plans use fresh or frozen vegetables and most fruits are fresh or frozen.

Steps to lower blood pressure include eating less salt or sodium, adopting a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating style and weight loss and/or regular exercise. The DASH eating plan includes eating more fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy and whole grains all of which can be found in Diet.com meal plans.

If you are following a low sodium diet, it is recommended that you consult your health care provider regarding your individual needs. You can print out your meal plans and/or an information sheet for your doctor called "Get a Printout for Your Doctor" which discusses Diet.com program information. You will find this sheet on the home page in the "Get Expert Coaching" section.

Here are some tips to further reduce sodium:

  • Rule #1: Do not salt your food! Season naturally with dried or fresh herbs, onion, garlic or salt free seasoning such as Mrs. Dash.
  • Rule #2: Always read food labels to determine the amount of sodium per serving.
  • Use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables whenever possible. If you use canned vegetables, buy no salt added. Canned fruits are okay.
  • Use no added salt beans, drain and rinse with water. Better yet, boil your own.
  • Use low sodium soups or make your own using low sodium broth.
  • Make your own salad dressing by mixing 1 tsp olive oil with 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Season with dried or fresh herbs and garlic (fresh or powder). *Tip: look on the community boards for the Exchange Recipes board!
  • Use low sodium pasta or tomato sauce.
  • Choose frozen entrees with the lowest amount of sodium (aim for less than 800 mg per entrée).
  • Use lite soy sauce and teriyaki sauce or try Bragg Amino Acids which in naturally lower in sodium and tastes like soy sauce.
  • Buy unsalted nuts and peanut butter.
  • Buy unsalted crackers and low fat chips (aim for less than 250 mg/serving for crackers and less than 350 mg for low fat chips).
  • When dining out, ask for nutrition facts. Look for key words that signal high sodium such as smoked, pickled, marinated, barbequed or broth.
  • When ordering Chinese food, ask if you can have it without MSG and do not add soy sauce. Drain dishes that come in a lot of broth, ask them to go light on the sauce, put it on the side or even skip it!

7. I have a medical condition and I may need to make some adjustments in my meal plan. Can you help me?

Yes! If you have questions or need to make modifications, please send RDShauna a private message or write to her in the Rate My Plate board.

She will be happy to discuss your special needs and give you guidance on how to modify your meal plan.

If you have a food allergy, you will find a Food Allergies tip sheet located on your meal plan homepage. This sheet gives you alternatives to common ingredients used in the Diet.com meal plans.



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