Reader Diet Makeover – Skinny Thighs

Today’s post is in response to a reader question. See below for how to have your questions answered in an upcoming article.

Hi Kat! I’m quitting Jenny Craig today.  While I was breastfeeding I was on 1700 calories per day, and when I quit I was on 1200.  I lost 5 pounds in 5 weeks, but 4 of it was in the first 2 weeks.  I’ve lost nothing since weaning the baby. Can you help me with something?  I’m writing to get your opinion on a sample menu.  These are things that are easy for me to make and that I like to eat and total 1520 calories per day.  I’m 5 foot 9 (175.3 cm) and 163.6 pounds (74.2 kg) and want to lose 18.6 pounds (8.4 kg) and hope to make it to the gym for strength training and sprints 3 days a week (about 30 minutes per day).

What do you think about 1520 calories per day?  Too high?  Too low? What do you think of this menu?  Tell me if you think it’s too much sugar, carbs, or not enough vegetables and protein.  The calories are written in parenthesis on the side. Thank you so much!

Kiki Dogwood of Skinny Thighs (a blog that pulls no punches when it comes to looking and feeling amazing!)
Breakfast (430)

  • Chicken tender (100) in 1 tblspn coconut oil (120)
  • Oatmeal (150) with agave (60)

Mid-day snack

  • Cherry tomatoes, 1 oz mozzarella, garlic in 1tblspn in olive oil (225)

Lunch (300)

  • Sandwich on 12 grain (100)
  • 2 oz Turkey (70)
  • With low-fat mayo (35)
  • Red/yellow/orange bell pepper (35) in full-fat sour cream (60)

Treats: (230)

  • Fiber 1 bar (140)
  • Soy ice cream sandwich (90)

Dinner (335)

  • Turkey burger (200) on whole grain bun (100) with low-fat mayo (35) OR
  • Mixed greens salad (350) with nuts, feta, and oranges
Total:  1520, plus 1.5 Liters of water per day
Kiki, here’s what I love about this diet. You totally get how important it is to eat regularly throughout the day. In my experience it’s true that some people function well and also achieve their health goals when eating only 2 or 3 times daily, but the vast majority of us need to manage that blood sugar regularly or we risk losing control. We risk losing control of our hormones (particularly insulin, which has a nasty habit of increasing fat storage if we mess with it by skipping meals or letting ourselves get too hungry), and as a result of that we risk losing control of willpower.
Bring on the leftover Easter chocolate.
The other thing I absolutely luuurve about this is that you are starting the day with some animal protein and coconut oil. Eating protein first thing is an excellent way to improve motivation and concentration throughout the day, and it definitely gives your metabolism a much-needed wake-up call after a night’s rest. From there on, I have to admit there’s a few changes I’d love to see you try.
This is what I’d suggest
  1. If you haven’t yet tried the meat and nuts breaky, you don’t know what you’re missing. What does it consist of? Meat (when I say meat, I mean any form of animal protein including red meat, poultry, and fish) with – no prizes for guessing – nuts. Raw, organic nuts specifically. About 6-10 of them. Definitely keep cooking that meat in coconut oil; it really is a wonder food.
  2. Agave: Cut. It. Out. I used to think that agave was a healthy substitute for sugar, and many health practitioners still advocate its use. But lately I’ve been reading nothing but bad on this sweet fructose blend. The words “rapid fat storage” and “worse than HFCS” have been used. If a little sweetness is your thing try a touch of raw honey, some fresh berries, or some stevia powder.
  3. Snacks. Kiki I’m quite liking your mid-morning snack (sounds yummy), but I’d be happier if there were some protein there. I’ve heard it said that in 99% of cases failure to lose weight is due to a lack of protein, and when you consider the many benefits protein has to cell metabolism and therefore every aspect of your well-being, it makes sense. I’d like to see you eating animal protein at least 4 times a day, and up to 6.
  4. When it comes to protein – for fat burning and the attainment of lean muscle Coach Poliquin recommends roughly 2 grams of pure protein per kilo of body-weight for women (the figure is slightly higher for men), which means you need about 150 grams all up. Typically 100 gram of meat has 22 grams of protein, so you’d be aiming for close to 700 grams of meat each day. You can make it a little easier to hit this goal by using a post-workout whey protein shake. The good news is that even by starting to increase your protein intake you’ll be on the right track. Why not aim for an extra 50 grams per day for a week, an additional 50 the following week, and so on? Adding a soft-boiled egg a small piece leftover beef to your mid-morning snack would be a great start.
  5. Lunch and dinner. I was about to applaud you on using full-fat sour cream at lunch and then I noticed low-fat mayo at dinner! Okay, so most mayo probably has nothing good going for it at all but in general I advise full-fat products as they’re easier on your digestive system. In general I’ve noticed that you prefer to go for leaner or low-fat foods. Many people on a healthy weight loss plan take the same approach, but it could actually be slowing your results. If you think about it, in nature you’d never find protein without natural fat so it makes sense that it would be healthy for us and optimal for improved metabolism to accompany each meal with some good fat. I’d suggest up to a whole avocado per day, more coconut oil or milk through the day, raw dairy if you can get it, plenty of olive oil, and 40-60 raw nuts/seeds in total per day. You can also eat the fat off the meat itself if it’s organic.
  6. I’m not a massive fan of the sandwich, even if it is ‘healthy’ wholegrain. Personally I think that the only place for grains is on a cheat day, unless you’re one of the very few people out there who tolerate carbohydrates well and find they actually do better on a smart carb diet. Even then the best choices are often rice and sweet potato. I know that sandwiches are really convenient for lunch, but how about a salad box with protein? You can put it together the night before when you make dinner – just throw in some raw or lightly steamed salad/veg and add some of that extra meat you know you should always cook :-). I’d suggest aiming for green veg with 2-3 meals each day at least – it’s important to get plenty of fiber in your diet and this is one way to do it.
  7. Avoid processed snacks and soy. Soy is a big no-no in my book and I’m sure you knew I wasn’t going to be so crash-hot on the whole ‘bar’ thing. I could be getting ahead of myself, but I’m guessing that fiber bar has some sugar and god-knows-what-other-crap in it? Your best snacks are always a mini-meal. Having said that, if there’s one supplement (aside from fish oil!) that everyone should take for weight loss and health, it’s fiber. It’s a cheap and easy addition to any diet! More on that in an upcoming post.

I hope that’s given you some good food for thought Kiki! I do realise that I’ve taken away some of the convenient options although I don’t really believe that eating this way is difficult – it’s just about getting used to it; same as any new habit. My best tip is to always cook up a storm when you do prepare food. Leftovers rule! Oh – and don’t forget to have a glass of red and some dark chocolate now and then; the polyphenols are a must for any woman on a weight loss plan – seriously.

Thanks again for letting me share your question and your rockin’ blog 🙂

Life is Now. Press Play.


*Do you have any questions for me that you’d be happy to have answered in the form of a blog post? Contact me here or reply in the comments below. I am happy to withhold your name if you prefer. Thank-you!

PS – I just realised after writing this that I didn’t really address the whole ‘total calories’ thing. Whilst I believe that it would be foolish to ignore calories altogether (i.e making perfect food choices but hitting 10,000 cal would def not work for weight loss), I do think that quality of nutrition and the effects of foods on our hormonal system is far more relevant. If you eat a clean diet of protein, smart fats, and plenty of green veg/fiber then you do not need to count calories. In theory 1520 cal is okay, although many experts advise around 1200 for a woman for weight loss. But the question is 1200 of what? If you ate 1200 from protein/fat you’d feel a hell of a lot better than if it were only from ‘healthy’ carbs and lean protein, and in my clinical experience even eating up to 2000 as long as it’s from the right foods will work for fat loss. When you eat clean your body will tell you how much you need. One exception to this rule is nuts. I find people go nuts on nuts if you give them half a chance! For this reason it’s recommended you limit yourself to 40-60 nuts p/day.

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18 responses to “Reader Diet Makeover – Skinny Thighs”

  1. Kiki Dogwood says:

    Did you just give me permission to drink whole milk? Woo-hoo! And wine and chocolate? I’ll tell you something, woman. I’ve been doing this the hard way and it’s not working.

    I’ve already stopped buying the soy ice cream sandwiches (but man do I miss them) and I’ll replace them with tiny servings of dark chocolate. The fiber bar habit is down to less than one every-other-day. In case you don’t have them there, you’re right, they’re 10 grams of sugar and 9 grams of fiber. If you say no, I won’t buy them anymore, but I’m looking forward to your post on how to get more fiber because these little buggers are delicious. (And they work. Ahem.)

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. I’m reworking my meal plan today and will start cooking all of my meat first thing in the morning so I have no excuse not to snack on protein. I think getting a little food scale would help me figure out the proper serving size of protein, too.


    • Kat says:

      Thought you might like the wine n choc thing! As for fiber bar – absolutely NO. 10 grams of sugar is 10 grams too much. I’d suggest suing ground flaxseeds (grind them in a coffee grinder) in water, or psyllium husks!

  2. ANON. says:


    • Kat says:

      That’s an entire topic in itself! As it happens I already have this topic on my posting calendar for late next week 🙂

  3. Joanna says:

    Hi Kat

    Thanks for all the great info. Please can we have some more info on the Agave syrup as I have been usuing it as what i thought was a healthy substitute to sugar ( i love it) but i am happy to use raw honey instead i would just like to know more about the studies you found.

  4. Catherine says:

    Meat and nuts for breakfast! I could totally eat that.

    Is the reason for choosing raw nuts over roasted because of the oil they are roasted in?

  5. Kat says:

    Yum, right? I can’t live without my meat and nuts breaky!
    It’s not necessarily the oil, the problem is that even if it were good oil (and it’s probably not), nuts are designed to be eaten raw. Roasting them changes the molecular structure of the fats and proteins and some experts believe it makes them rancid. Tastes good though 🙂

  6. Joanna says:

    Thanks for that link thats a very interesting article and his cook books look good to. Do you know much about rapadura sugar it is sugar cane juiced the evaporated and ground up no other processing so still has molasses and minerals etc in it and supposedly dosnt have same affect on your body as processed stuff. love to know your thoughts.


  7. Kat says:

    Hi Joanna. I haven’t heard of it actually, but I would suggest keeping it to a minimum. The main thing to bear in mind even with natural sugars, is that they are still sugar. In nature it’s not normal to come across sugar regularly, it’s seasonal. So I don’t believe our bodies are equipped to handle it on a day-to-day basis, or in any sort of significant dose. Even if you were a cavewoman and came across a honey hive, chances are you would have had to do a lot of activity to get to that honey, so you’d earn it a lot more than what we do today!

  8. Kiki Dogwood says:

    Dates. 3 grams of fiber per serving and 28 grams natural sugar. (I can’t help but laugh as I type this asking for your opinion.)

    Yes or no?

    And when I asked about fiber options, I meant good tasting ones. Psyllium husk tastes like gag reflex in a glass.

  9. Kat Eden says:

    3 grams to 28 you gotta be kidding me!! I just wrote a post on fiber, it’s coming out tonight 🙂

  10. mika says:

    Meat and nut breakfast + veggies is the best!

    At the morning I can feel the energy-levels rising when eating meat and nut breakfast.

  11. mika says:

    My favorite is steak and Brazil nuts

  12. we always use digital food scales in our kitchen coz they are very accurate :