We’re just going to come right out and say it: trying to lose weight can be plain awful. And that’s because most diet plans call for tiny portions and super-human willpower—two things that leave the majority of us super hangry (hungry + angry = hangry). If that sounds familiar, you’re definitely not alone. We’ve all been there—and it’s the primary reason why we love the idea of ditching complicated and restrictive conventional diets in favor of something called the 3-4-5 rule.
While following the rule, dieters consume 300 calories for breakfast, 400 calories for lunch, and 500 calories for dinner, for a total of 1,200 calories per day. (That's an ideal amount for a woman who’s looking to slim down and lose her love handles). What makes that strategy so effective? “It keeps energy levels relatively even throughout the day and prevents people from skipping meals, a diet no-no that can result in eating too much later on,” explains Isabel Smith, MS RD CDN. Another reason this strategy is so sustainable: “Consistently eating throughout the day also promotes satiety,” says Smith, so you’ll never go hungry.
This plan doesn’t require you to relinquish chocolate for lettuce, either. You can eat whatever you want as long as it stays true to each meal’s calorie requirements. Of course, we strongly recommend relying on high fiber foods, fresh produce, and quality sources of protein as your primary fuel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t allow yourself some room for indulgences—and we’ll show you how. Our examples below demonstrate exactly what three perfect days of 3-4-5 eating looks like. Give ‘em a peek to plan out your own perfect week of eating for weight loss!
Breakfast: 1 full egg, 1 egg white (without yolk), 1 small banana, 1 slice whole grain toast, 8-oz black coffee with 3-oz 2% milk and 1 teaspoon sugar
Lunch: 0.7 cup cooked quinoa, 3-oz chicken breast, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 2 cups spinach, ½ cup corn
Dinner: 6-oz tuna steak, 1 cup steamed carrots seasoned with cinnamon, 2 cups swiss chard, 1 baked potato sprinkled with ground pepper
Breakfast: 1 cup Cheerios, 1 cup 2% milk, ½ cup strawberries, 1.5 tablespoons chopped almonds
Lunch: 0.25 cup cooked and cooled brown rice, 3-oz sliced lean steak, 1.5 cups kale, 2 cups spinach (toss into a salad and top with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
Dinner: 5-oz baked salmon with capers, 2 cups kale topped with seasonings
Dessert: ½ cup chocolate ice cream
Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal cooked in water, ½ cup blueberries, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, ½ cup skim milk
Lunch: 1 cup steamed asparagus, 1 cup boiled potatoes seasoned with rosemary and oregano, 6-oz chicken breast
Dinner: 3-oz ground beef, 1 light soft tortilla, 1/6 cup black beans, 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt