Gen Cohen lost 50 pounds and has kept the weight off for seven years.
She says she didn't cut out any foods but ate in a gentle calorie deficit.
Cohen shared her average day of eating before and after losing weight.
For years, Gen Cohen was either on a restrictive, unsustainable fad diet or overeating by getting takeout for most meals, she says.
This meant her weight yo-yoed for years, and whenever she lost some weight, she'd always regain more.
But on her 21st birthday, she says, she decided to make a change and begin a fitness journey that would be healthy and last.
She says she ate in a small calorie deficit, prepared her meals in advance, and made sure she was eating plenty of protein. Most important, she says, she didn't cut any foods out of her diet and was patient.
This resulted in Cohen losing 50 pounds in a year and maintaining her weight for the seven years since.
"I made a promise to myself that rather than hating myself towards skinny, I was going to love myself towards healthy," Cohen told Business Insider. "Every other time I had tried to lose weight, I tried to do it for a guy, for a vacation, for a special event, for New Year's, and this was the first time that I was really doing it for me."
Before losing weight, Cohen says, she would eat pints of ice cream in one go.
"I would eat very large amounts of food and feel physically terrible afterwards because I lacked a certain amount of self-love," Cohen said. But she worked on her mindset and self-love and no longer "lashes out with food," she says, meaning she's now able to have a single serving of ice cream, for example.
Cohen, now a certified nutrition coach who helps other women lose fat, shared examples with BI of how she ate before and after her weight loss, showing how her diet had changed.
Diet before losing weight
Leaving her family home to go to college meant Cohen could eat whatever she wanted, she says, which was a novelty.
She says she ate out for every meal, which wasn't hard as she lived above a café.
An average day of eating would be:
Breakfast: Blueberry muffin or chocolate croissant with a caramel macchiato
Lunch: Mongolian-style noodles with meat, vegetables, and oily sauces from a food stand
Dinner: Medium Domino's pizza and chicken Caesar salad
Dessert: Pint of ice cream
"Domino's Pizza was my absolute favorite food," Cohen said. "And in college, you're pretty broke, but for $5.99, you could get a medium-sized pizza, and for an additional $5, you could get an entire chicken Caesar salad, so I'd literally just order that and eat all of it."
Cohen says she ate large meals, so she didn't snack much unless it was in a social setting. She'd eat dessert about 50% of the time, she says.
Diet after losing weight
Cohen says she's maintained her weight loss by following the 80/20 principle: eating nourishing foods 80% of the time and whatever she fancies for the remaining 20%.
She says she snacks a little more because her meals are smaller but on the whole consumes less, which means she doesn't gain weight.
An average day of eating now:
Breakfast: Homemade protein pancakes (protein powder, egg, and ripe banana)
Lunch: Chicken, rice, and broccoli; or ground beef, sweet potato, and asparagus
Dinner: Ground turkey sweet potato skillet
Snacks: Apple, cup of Greek yogurt, protein shake, or rice cakes topped with cottage cheese and chili oil
Cohen says she keeps her lunches simple as she prepares them in advance, but she ensures they consist of a protein source, vegetables, and starch. Nutrition experts agree that a balanced meal should contain protein, carbs, fats, and fiber.
Dinner varies more, she says, but she and her boyfriend get takeout once a week, and they go out to eat once a week.
She says that when cooking, she likes making healthier versions of her favorite energy-dense meals, allowing her to maintain a healthy balance.
Read the original article on Insider