Weight Loss Meal Plan

Many believe that you have to go on a special restrictive diet to lose weight. Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage Soup, and juice cleanse diets are all popular and may work for some. But no matter what you eat the best weight loss meal plans focus on one main aspect - smaller portion sizes. Whether or not you want to lose weight, eating healthy is important for disease prevention and longevity. Once you know the types of foods you need to eat, the issues becomes how much of those foods to eat.

First, you can use our calculators to figure out how many calories you need based on your age, height, weight, and activity level to help you plan your meals ahead of time. Here are some guidelines for creating a diet for weight loss that can be used regardless of how many calories your body needs.

What Should I Eat To Lose Weight?

Knowing your food groups and which foods to choose from them is crucial in building meals for weight loss. Calorically dense foods like white bread and pasta contain a lot of calories but not a lot of nutrients. Nutrient dense foods include fruits and vegetables, lean meats/protein, whole grains, fat-free/low-fat dairy, and oils/fats.

Although each meal doesn't have to contain something from each of these groups, it is best to eat something from each throughout the day to provide your body with a variety of nutrients. Daily allowances for each group include:

2-3 servings of Vegetables
Tips: Veggies are everything from artichoke to zucchini. Eat a variety of colors and types to keep things interesting and give your body a variety of phytochemicals.

2-3 servings of Fruit
Tip: When it comes to fruit, you also want to "eat from the rainbow" to reap benefits of different nutrients.

4-6 ounces of Meat/Protein
Tip: Go Lean with meat, fish, and white-meat poultry.

5-6 ounces of Grains/Starches
Tip: Half should come from whole grains like brown rice, barley, quinoa, and oats.

2 servings of Fat-Free or Low-fat Dairy
Tips: Some of our favorites are Greek yogurt and skim milk.

3 servings Oils/Fats
Tip: Including olive and other cooking oils. Foods like nuts, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and avocados are also good sources.

Water Although not technically a food group, hydration is key!

How Much Should I Eat To Lose Weight

Depending on your calorie needs, you can ration out calories for meals and snacks in different ways. For example, three 400 calorie meals with three 100 calorie snacks or three 500 calorie meals and no snacks will both give you 1500 calories daily.

If you are exercising, you need more food to fuel the workout and should eat more on those days. Either way, for healthy weight loss women should never eat less than 1200 calories and men 1500 calories.

For meal plan ideas for specific calorie counts, see:

Weight Loss Meal Plans Without Counting Calories

Counting calories can help you keep better track of how much you?re eating, but simply making healthier choices and estimating portions can cause weight loss as well. Try these tips when building your meals to help cut calories.

  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink skim or 1% milk and low-fat/non-fat dairy.
  • Choose whole, fresh foods over processed foods.
  • Choose foods with little or no added sugars, salt, and fats.
  • Avoid sugar and calorie dense drinks like soda and juices.
  • Cook at home to control what goes in your food.
  • Limit alcoholic beverage to 1 a day for women and 2 for men.

Sources

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