To get a flat stomach, you start by losing excess weight. Depending on what your weight and level of physical activity are, you may be able to lose weight by eating more, say 1700 kilocalories a day, or less, say 1300 kilocalories a day. But for weight loss to be successful, it has to be sustainable.
Sustainable weight loss happens when you lose weight slowly and steadily. But in order to avoid desperation and frustration from setting in, your diet, be it more or less drastic, has to be varied. That is, you should still eat bread and pasta and rice and meat and something sweet even though you are on a diet.
More important, for sustainable weight loss, you need to balance your macronutrients. Ideally, you should eat carbs, protein and fat with every meal. Balancing your macronutrients will help you feel satiated as well as mentally satisfied, and keep the frustration of dieting at bay. With this in mind, I invite you to find inspiration with my day 4 meal plan for weight loss to help you reach your goal of achieving a healthy weight and a flat stomach. Also see my day 1, day 2 and day 3 meal plans.
Day 4 flat stomach diet
Breakfast: chilled black rice pudding with toasted walnuts/almonds
- Ingredients: 50 grams whole grain black rice, water, 250 ml low fat 1% or 1.5% dairy milk or a plant milk with similar energetic value, 10 grams brown sugar (2 packets), 15 grams raw or toasted almonds or walnuts
- Calories (average values): 175 kcal (kilocalories) from the black rice, 110 kcal from the milk, 40 kcal from the brown sugar, 90 kcal from the nuts for a total of 415 kcal
How to make the black rice pudding:
This is a make-ahead meal that you prepare the night or day before and just leave in a bowl in the fridge. You measure your serving of black rice and boil it in water until the rice is 80-90% cooked. Then add the milk and stir over medium-low or low heat until the milk is almost completely absorbed. Don’t worry if the pudding looks watery – it will thicken beautifully on its own.
Once most of the milk is absorbed, remove the rice pudding from heat and add the sugar. Mix it in well, then pour the pudding in a bowl and allow to chill. Separately, toast 15 grams of almonds or walnuts or other nuts or seeds you like either on a baking tray in the oven or in the pan. Or you can just enjoy them raw.
What are the benefits?
If you’re not allergic, you can also substitute the brown sugar in the recipe with a tablespoon of a raw honey of your choice (e.g. clover, acacia, tualang honey). Discover more raw honeys and their benefits for health. Just allow the pudding to cool down more before incorporating the honey so that you ensure it preserves its natural beneficial properties (immuno-modulating, antibacterial, antiviral, reparative).
Black rice pudding is actually a great meal for a weight loss diet. For one, it’s sweet so it will really boost your morale early in the day because it won’t make you feel like you’re diet eating. Just as important, it’s a relatively balanced meal in the sense that you get all your macronutrients in one meal.
You get complex carbohydrates and indigestible carbohydrates from the rice as well as nuts. You get simple carbohydrates (sugar) from the brown sugar and dairy milk. You get both protein and fat from both the nuts and dairy milk, albeit in small amounts.
Balancing your macronutrients is the key to curbing hunger and feeling satiated and satisfied. Eating whole grains such as black rice not only curbs hunger and cravings, but also helps you feel mentally satisfied with what you’ve eaten because the complex carbohydrates in black rice release energy slowly over the course of several hours. See more benefits of eating rice.
Both the body and brain use the sugar that is released into the bloodstream gradually from the complex carbs in the black rice, hence the sustained feeling of satiety and the mental satisfaction that comes with it which counteracts cravings that cause binge eating.
Lunch: whole wheat spaghetti with ground turkey meat, tomato sauce, onion and fresh parsley
- Ingredients: 70 grams whole wheat spaghetti, 170 grams ground turkey meat (from turkey breast without skin), 200 grams plain tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, 50 grams onion, fresh parsley to taste (chopped), salt, pepper
- Calories (average values): 245 kcal (kilocalories) from the rice, 200 kcal from the ground turkey breast meat, 40 kcal from the tomato sauce/fresh tomatoes, 20 kcal from the onion, 85 kcal from the chickpeas for a total of 490 kcal
How to make the whole wheat spaghetti and turkey pasta
Finely chop the onion and cook in a little water for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the plain tomato sauce (not paste) or chopped fresh tomatoes and ground turkey meat. Add a glass of water and cook until the meat is done, making sure you break the meat apart and move it around using a wooden spoon or spatula. Reduce the sauce to your liking. Season with your favorite herbs and spices.
Separately, bring water to a boil, salt generously and cook the spaghetti to your liking. Once done, add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to your sauce and the spaghetti, mix well and, if needed, finish cooking. Plate and top with generous amounts of fresh parsley.
What are the benefits?
The whole wheat spaghetti accounts for the carbohydrate portion of the meal and aids with satiety, contributing to macronutrient balance. Because it’s whole wheat, it’s high in complex carbohydrates which release energy gradually and help you feel full and satisfied.
The tomato sauce (or fresh tomatoes) adds digestible and indigestible carbohydrates to the meal, as well as flavor, and provides healthy pigmented carotenoid antioxidants with benefits for eyesight and blood pressure.
The ground turkey meat accounts for the protein and fat part of the meal, rounding up the macronutrient profile of the meal. Because it’s turkey breast, no skin, the meat is very low in calories (only 115 kilocalories per 100 grams) and fat (only about 4 grams of fat), but rich in nutrition.
The turkey meat provides almost 40 grams of protein and all essential amino acids the body and brain need to continue their activity. You get 18% of your total daily zinc requirements from just this amount of ground turkey breast meat, close to 10% of total daily potassium, and 68% of all the selenium you need in a day.
The ground turkey meat also provides over 95% of all the vitamin B12 you need the entire day for elevated energy levels and vitality. It also supplies close to 110% of all the vitamin B3 you need to get in a day for benefits for cardiovascular health – vitamin B3 helps correct high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol levels.
- Option no. 1: 1 small banana (around 110 grams) with 1 cup of your favorite herbal tea, unsweetened (approximately 100 kcal)
- Option no. 2: 1 medium green apple (180-200 grams), raw or stewed in a little water with a sprinkle of cinnamon (approximately 100-110 kcal)
- Option no. 3: 300 grams fresh strawberries (approximately 100 kcal)
- Option no. 4: 1 medium to large nectarine (around 230 grams) (approximately 100 kcal)
- Option n0. 5: 160 grams of seasonal red or black cherries (approximately 100 kcal)
A snack is just as important for curbing hunger as it is for curbing cravings. While you do need to limit the number of calories and go for healthy options, do eat things you like. Just make sure you stay within a reasonable intake (or number of calories) as this is not a main meal.
For today’s meal plan, I am proposing fresh fruit to add variety to the diet, include a different type of food that is also healthy and good for you, and balance nutrient intake (fresh fruit provide much needed dietary fiber to the diet).
Dinner: chicken drumsticks, without skin, vegetables
- Ingredients: 250 grams of chicken drumstick meat (about 3 or 4 small chicken drumsticks, bone in), 250 grams vegetable mix (with one starchy vegetable such as potatoes)
- Calories (average values): 300 kcal from the chicken drumsticks, 175 kcal from the vegetables for a total of 475 kcal
You can boil, grill, bake the chicken drumsticks, but do not add any fat to them. At most, cover with seasonings (e.g. garlic powder, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, spicy paprika, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon juice) or cook covered in foil to ensure they stay tender and juicy. The same goes for the vegetables – cook them simply. You can boil or stew the vegetables if they are store bought (e.g. generic vegetable mix for soup) and come diced or chopped. If you prepare them yourself, you can cut them in strips and bake, roast or grill them.
You can buy or make your own vegetable, but go for one that has potatoes in it. Potatoes represent the carbohydrate part of the meal and substitute bread/rice/pasta. If you make it yourself, consider the following vegetables:
- 100 grams potatoes: 77 kcal
- 100 grams green beans (string beans): 31 kcal
- 50 grams green peas: 45 kcal
- 50 grams orange, red, purple, white or yellow carrots: 22 kcal
Alternatives: celery stalks or yellow string beans (instead of green beans), celeriac or celery root or parsnip (instead of potatoes or carrots), corn (instead of green peas), sweet peppers, pumpkin, leek, green onions, bulb onions (for extra flavor), portobello mushrooms etc.
What are the benefits?
Chicken and vegetables represent a balanced meal, great for a weight loss diet as they provide satiation and good nutrition without packing on the calories. The chicken drumsticks account for the protein and fat part of the meal, while the vegetables represent the carbohydrate part. The potatoes replace bread, pasta and rice in a meal and are great for preventing simple carb cravings that are known to cause binge eating.
You get a lot of B vitamins from the chicken meat, in addition to complete protein that helps with sleep and supports muscle function. The vegetables are an important source of dietary fiber to keep you full and happy, and help with transit. The more colorful they are, the more antioxidants they provide. For instance, you can go for purple or black carrots instead of orange, or even red or yellow.
As a dinner, it is quite simple and light so it won’t cause indigestion or acid reflux at night. If you do have acid reflux, avoid peppers and paprika, onions, green onions, leek, garlic and other foods that are bad for acid reflux.
It’s also an easy meal to make so it’s ready quickly if you’ve had a long day and can’t find the energy to cook something proper. You can just throw everything in the oven, on a baking tray or in an oven safe dish, covered, or just boil in a pot. Or if someone else has already started the grill, let them do ‘the cooking’.
A vegetable mix for soup is also easy to find at any grocery store or supermarket – just look at the nutritional information on the package and choose something that is around 50-60 kilocalories per 100 grams.