What is a simple balanced approach to weight loss?

A simple balanced approach to weight loss

A balanced approach is where no-one food is excluded.  Everything can be consumed in moderation providing it gives a balance between carbohydrates; proteins, fibre and fats which are controlled by portion sizes that are relevant to the energy levels used on a daily basis.  This approach should be used in conjunction with 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
This approach follows NICE guidelines.

The eating principles

Where possible, keep a maximum of a nine-hour window between your first meal and the last one of the day.  It will help to keep your body keeps ticking over, rather than going for more extended periods between meals and allows a fasting period whilst your body accesses your energy reserves. However if you find this is an issue to your lifestyle, then don't worry too much it is just a guideline.

Breakfast: choose a higher fibre option as this will keep hunger at bay until you are ready for your lunch. Breakfast can be as late as 10 am if that suits you, there’s no need to have it at 7.30am if that does not suit your lifestyle.

Lunch:  This should have a higher protein level, but not free of carbohydrates.  It means your sugar levels are more likely to stay stable throughout the afternoon, meaning you’ll be more alert and the need to pick between meals will diminish.

Dinner: This should be a balanced meal,containing carbohydrates, protein and a little fat.  Avoid ready-made meals, if you do have them keep to one per week and bulk up with veg and cutback on those potatoes.

Snacks: These need to be higher in protein and complex carbohydrates.  Have no more than one-two snacks between meals per day- if you are having snacks make your main meals slightly smaller.

Calcium: Aim to have 300-450ml of milk each day. This can be both dairy or dairy free (providing it is enriched with calcium). If you find this amount is difficult to incorporate each day then you can source calcium from other products such as cheese, yoghurts, green leafy vegetables – such as broccoli, cabbage and okra. Soya beans, tofu and nuts.

Five a day: you should aim for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day (except for ordinary potatoes which are not included within this).  Avoid having more than two portions of fruit each day to control your sugar intake.  One portion is very roughly equal to 80g in weight, or a handful of berries or 1 small piece of fruit such as an apple.

Fruit,vegetable juices and smoothies should be kept to one glass per day (approx. 125 -150ml) to control the amount of sugar consumed.

Basic portion sizes per person for the main meal, (for lunch the amounts can be halved as guideline):


  • Pasta(70g dry weight)

  • Rice 60g(dry weight)

  • Couscous (50g dry weight)

  • Lentils/Pulses (50g dry weight)

  • Quinoa (50-55g dry weight)

  • Sweet Potato(160-180g- raw weight)

  • Ordinary potatoes (150-160g raw weight)


  • 100- 120g beef, lean steak or mince

  • 150-160g chicken breast or Turkey (without skin)

  • 100-120g lean pork

  • 100 -120g lean lamb

  • 180 - 200g any white fish

  • 150g any shellfish such as prawns

  • 130-140g oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herrings etc

  • 160g cooked weight lentils or chickpeas

  • 120 -160g meat-free products, such as Quorn, tofu, seitan, tempeh

  • 3 medium eggs

Bread: Choose multigrain, stoneground brown bread, or rye bread - avoid white bread.  If you suffer from gluten intolerance, use a gluten-free alternative.  You should try to keep bread to one meal per day, so if you have toast for breakfast, then avoid a sandwich for lunch or a slice with dinner.  All bread bought pre-sliced should be a medium slice.  There is no need to buy ‘slimming bread’ on this plan; We recommend you don’t. One medium bread roll or a slice of bread should be about35g.

Breakfast Cereals:Choose oat-based or high-fibre varieties, e.g. Porridge, Shreddies, no added sugar or salt muesli or cereals containing natural grains (such as Shredded Wheat and Weetabix).  Portion sizes should be 35-40g

Oily Fish: For good heart health, it is essential to try and eat two portions of fish per week, ideally one of which should be oily fish – e.g. mackerel, salmon, sardines,herrings.  If you are vegetarian, vegan, or don’t like oily fish you needto ensure that you eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as chia seeds,rapeseed oil, algal oil, hemp seed, walnuts, flaxseeds and even Brussels sprouts!  Adding chia and flax seeds to your breakfast is one of the simplest ways to achieve this, 1tsp per day will help

Rice: Use Basmati rice where possible(ideally brown wholegrain rice) as this has less effect on your blood sugar levels than regular white rice, and therefore helps to keep your blood sugars slightly more stable after eating. Keep your portion size for rice dry weight to 55-60g for dinner.

Pasta: Use dry or fresh; ideally brown, lentil or buckwheat based – if not ordinary pasta is fine.  Max serving size is 70g dry weight for a dinner

Drinks: You should have 6 - 8 glasses of fluids per day. Tea, coffee and sugar-free drinks can form part of this. Staying hydrated is key to helping your body function properly.

Cooking:  Rapeseed oil in spray form is perfect, as it controls the amount of fat used.  It’s incredibly versatile as it can be used cold and in shallow frying without compromise. It contains the least amount of saturated fat of all oils. One to try is Red palm Fruit & Rapeseed oil mix, beautiful colour, great flavour and packed full of good things and it’s a fantastic source of Omega 3, 6 and 9. It contains more Omega 3 than olive oil.

Fats: Where possible choose low-fat alternatives. Some fats are essential to our wellbeing such as those found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados as an example. However, that does not mean they can be eaten in unlimited quantities as they carry higher energy values,and if we are trying to lose weight then this must be considered. Foods high in saturated fats should be avoided, as too much saturated fat in our diet can put us at risk of developing diseases such as CHD.

Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are fine as long as you control your intake and have just one portion per day – which is about 25g. Brazils, walnuts, hazelnuts are good choices as they contain the least amount of carbohydrates than other nuts.

Alcohol: Avoid alcohol where possible and if you do have a drink keep it to no more than two units per day (maximum of 14 units per week), aim for two to three alcohol-free days per week.

Cheese: Use reduced-fat options where possible and control the portion size; aim for no more than 30-35g of grated cheese per person per meal.

Eating Out: Limit eating out to once a week, and choose sensibly. Be realistic and understand that often, restaurants don’t have a perfect choice, and that’s fine – you are dining out as a treat! Never be frightened to ask for slight changes to a meal, i.e. no sauce,less cream etc.   Don’t starve yourself before or after the meal, be more active instead and walk an extra 30 minutes the next day.