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The balanced low-calorie diet

[The balanced low-calorie diet]

Balanced low-calorie diet

Each individual is unique.
The history, family and medical background, the way of life and tastes vary from one person to the next. It is important that the dietician proposes a personalized program that takes into account these elements for a person wanting to lose weight. Food intake must be reviewed and food habits modified. Simples rules enable significant weight-loss, provided food supply is healthy, varied and balanced, providing all the essential nutrients (proteins, lipids, glucides), vitamins, minerals, fatty-acids and fibres.

A balanced diet should cover the following daily nutritional requirements : 12 to 15 % proteins, 30 to 35 % lipids, 50 to 55 % glucides.
When weight-loss is required, the usual calorie intake is lowered, and the focus is placed on the choice of food and meal frequency in order to obtain a lasting effect.

Glucides: intake should bring complex glucides and a few simple glucides (sugar-products). Glucides should make up more than half of the total daily calorie intake because they provide the energy for daily activity, but also help calm hunger. Calories supplied by complex glucides are mainly burned and will not be stored as fat.

Lipids (fat) intake should be minimal (i.e. about 30 % of total calorie-intake). They are the nutrients that contain the higher percentage of calories and therefore favour the development of adipose tissues. However, the organism needs a daily supply of lipids, albeit in small amounts, to fulfil its requirements of essential fatty-acids.
A daily intake of 30 to 40 g lipids is recommended, i.e. 3 to 4 spoonfuls of oil, margarine or butter.

Some foods contain fat. It is important to chose foods with a low fat content: fish, lean meat (fowl without the skin, rabbit, veal, lean beef, fillet and fillet mignon, white fat-free ham, bacon…), eggs, soft white cheese … Foods with a high percentage of fat should only be eaten on rare occasions.

These are:

- Pork meats : sliced sausage, sausage, rillettes, pâté…
- Full fat cheese : gruyère, comté, blue cheese, Camembert cheese, boursault….
- Viennese bread and buns (chocolate-filled pastry, croissant…), pastry, sweets, ice-cream…
- Fried food (doughnuts, French fries…)
- Some meats : mutton and lamb have a high fat content, as do some pieces of beef (rib steak, ribs) and pork.

The supply in proteins should remain constant. It is recommended to eat protein both from vegetable and animal sources. Animal proteins are present in meat and meat by-products, fish, eggs and milk products. The most lean foods should be preferred (refer to the list above).

Dried vegetables are rich in proteins, as are cereals and bread.

The supply in fibres, which should equal 30 to 40 g per day, is supplied by vegetables, fruits, cereals, dried vegetables. Each main meal should contain a piece of fruit and green vegetables, and a starch-based food.

Beverages should bring 1.5 litres of water per day. Water is the only essential beverage for our organism. There are various kinds of water, such tap water, water with gas, mineral water, spring water…

In order to restabilize our eating habits, let us become reconciled with foods discarded until now, and modify our habits. Continuous snacking, excessive amounts of lipids and too high volumes absorbed during the meals are mostly responsible for weight-gain.
It is recommended to comply to three varied meals a day, possibly including a snack in-between. It is important to have the meal in a good atmosphere, to take one's time and appreciate each course.

Advice about choice and quantity of food intake will have to be tailored to each individual's needs, as will diet support.

Here is a rough example of a menu for a day, corresponding to a calorie-intake of 1600 cal or 6700 kJ.

<Breakfast Quantity
-A drink (tea, coffee, herb tea)
-Half-cream milk 1 bowlful (250 ml)
-Wholemeal bread 80 g
-Butter 10 g

<Lunch Quantity
-Entrée (raw or cooked vegetables) 100 to 150 g
-Meat, fish or eggs about 100 g
-Starchy food 200 g ( about 50 g uncooked rice, 2 middle-size potatoes…)
-1 yogurt or a portion 100 to 125 g of white cheese 100 to 125 g
-1 fruit (cooked or not)
-Bread 40 g
-Butter 5 g
-Oil 10 g

<Dînner Quantity
-Cooked green vegetables free
-Processed cheese 1 portion (30 g)
-1 fruit
-Bread 40 g
-Oil 10 g

If, for example, you prefer milk-products to plain milk, you can use the following equivalences:

<Equivalences in calcium
- ¼ litre of milk 200 g yogurt
300 g white cheese
4 petits-suisses
80 g Camembert cheese
45 g roquefort
30 g gruyère

<Equivalences in proteins
- ¼ litre of milk 2 yogurts
100 g white cheese
35 g emmental
50 g meat or fish
1½ egg

N.B. Be aware that these equivalences are valid for a precise nutrient (calcium or protein…), but not for others, neither for calorie-intake.


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