Meal planning is one of the best ways to stay focused and lose weight. Everyone wants to be their best possible self, and they want to eat healthily and look and feel good. Planning the right kind of diet can sometimes be hard, but when it is done right, it can help you decrease your body fat percentage and calorie intake while still giving your body all the essential nutrients to stay energized and active.
A major mistake that many people who are trying to lose weight make is that they start starving themselves, or do stuff like juice cleanses or binge eating. These diet fads might work for short term weight loss goals, but to maintain your weight loss, you’ll have to use safe and proper ways to lose weight. This starts with learning to change your dietary habits and understanding your relationship with food.
A great way to create a shift in your dietary behavior is to plan ahead and stick with a healthy meal plan. This article will explore the ins and outs of how to create a weekly meal plan, what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid that will help you lose weight and stay healthy.
What to Eat?
A weight-loss diet does not only eliminate junk foods and ingredients from your regular diet, but it encourages you to add healthy food items to it.
Here are some common food items that you should add to your weekly diet.
- Lean proteins: The main idea of getting a healthy body is to decrease fats and build muscles. For this, you will need to add some lean proteins to your diet. You should try to add grilled chicken, turkey breast and lean cuts of beef to your diet. Cook the meat with as little olive oil as possible and make sure that the meat has the minimum amount of fat. You should also add some salmon in your diet to get omega-3 fatty acids.
- Whole grains and oats: Normally, you should avoid carbs in your weight loss diet but, high fiber whole grains are preferred for a healthy diet. You should add oatmeal to your diet, which can be the perfect breakfast when you are trying to lose weight. But, remember not to put any processed sugar in your oatmeal.
- Fruits: Fruits should also be a part of your weight loss diet and are the perfect snacks. Fruits usually have low calories, and they are digested very easily. Some of the best fruits for losing weight are watermelon, bananas, blueberries, apples, pears and grapefruit. All of these fruits provide you with a lot of essential nutrients that boost your metabolism and keep you energized.
- Vegetables: When you are trying to lose weight, vegetables will be a major part of your diet. You can create a wide variety of delicious and nutritious salads, soups and other dishes using vegetables. Veggies provide a lot of essential nutrients in a small calorie package, and they are the best food to fill up on when you are losing weight.
- Nuts: Any weight loss diet plan needs to include nuts. These amazing snacks are considered as somewhat of a superfood when it comes to weight loss. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and pistachios are very rich in fiber. They have a lot of healthy fats, minerals and vitamins that aid with weight loss. Nuts also have high antioxidant levels that can boost the immune system.
- Eggs: Another staple of weight-loss diet are eggs. Eggs provide us with a lot of healthy fats and proteins in a very low-calorie pack. A large egg generally has around 70 calories, and it provides us with a lot of healthy nutrients.
What Not to Eat?
To make your diet healthy and nutritious, you will need to avoid certain food items. These food items are excluded from this diet because they can increase your weight and cause many other problems.
- Processed foods: If you want to lose weight, you will have to cut processed foods out of your diet as they have unnecessary fats and lots of calories.
- Processed sugar: Processed sugar and desserts are one of your worst enemies when you are trying to lose weight. Fructose corn syrup is in just about everything and should always be avoided. Replace sugar with other natural and healthier sweeteners like honey and brown sugar in your diet.
- Carbs: Foods with a lot of carbs like white bread have to be avoided. Extra carbs can increase the amount of insulin in your blood. Insulin can increase the creation and storage of fat in your body, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
- Junk food: Of course, junk foods like donuts and fried items aren’t going to do you any favors if you are trying to lose weight. These junk foods have a lot of fats, carbs and sugar, which can increase your weight and decrease the productivity of your metabolic system.
Your Weekly Diet
There are tons of diet plans on the web that go into extreme detail and specify what you should eat for every meal. Instead of that, we are going to give you a more general idea of which foods are good in which meal so that you can add items that you like into the diet. And having foods that you prefer in your diet will also keep you motivated and make the diet easier for you.
Breakfast: The best breakfast for a weight loss diet is simple oatmeal without any added sugar. You should add some fruits like blueberries to make the oatmeal taste better. You can also make fruit smoothies for your breakfast with some healthy fruits, low-fat milk, and some nuts. You shouldn’t add any sugar to the smoothie if your aim is to be healthier. You should alternate between oatmeal, high fiber cereals (we love muesli) and smoothies for a healthy breakfast.
Lunch: For lunch, you can have a small serving of grilled meat with a side of veggies a couple of days. For the rest of the days, you can make different vegetable salads and soups according to your liking. Keep the use of oil to a minimum and eat in small portions. We recommend eating two fist-sized amounts of food for your lunch portions.
Dinner: Dinner should be similar to lunch alternating between meat and veggies, but keep the portions of dinner a little smaller because you don’t get much exercise after dinner to aid in digestion. We recommend having some salmon once a week for dinner to get the required fatty acids to keep your metabolism running optimally.
Snacks: For snacks, you should have some fruits and nuts. You can also have some veggies like baby carrots with hummus, tzatziki or guacamole as a snack.
Cheat meals: When you are on a long diet, sometimes you start craving specific food items, and it is really hard to keep the diet going. You should have a small cheat meal once every couple of weeks to keep yourself motivated.
You can have all those delicious Italian recipes you are craving as your cheat meals. As long as you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, a small cheat meal once a week does not do too much harm.
For us, we have cheat meals while traveling. We take 2 to 3 big trips each year and indulge in cuisines that we cannot easily get back home. When we come back home, we revert to our healthy meal plans.
Your target should be between 1,500 and 2,000 calories per day, so weigh your food portions accordingly and choose food options that won’t make you go overboard. We recommend using a phone app like Lose It! to track your food intake throughout the day.
Meal planning is actually pretty fun and cost-effective. Learn to cook your favorite meals with healthier ingredients. Learn new recipes that you can modify easily each week. And be sure to track what you’re eating. Typically when you know what you’re eating, you’re more likely to stay on top of your daily calorie intake.
And if you’re like me and cook a lot and in big portions, we recommend cooking with your significant other or roommates so that everyone eats healthily and can keep each other accountable. Remember that a weight loss journey is more than just about weight loss, it’s about changing our behaviors and making healthier decisions that impact our overall health.