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Simple Meal Plan to Lose Weight

June 5, 2020

Simple Meal Plan to Lose Weight

 

Simple Meal Plan to Lose Weight

Weight loss does NOT need to be complicated. 

Calories in VS calories out. It is really as simple as that. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning each day, your body is holding on to those excess calories and turning them into fat. 

The good news is, our bodies are created to burn calories. Someone who weighs 150lbs will burn approximately 46 calories an hour while sleeping. The human brain burns calories for “energy” (memory, information processing, calculating, etc) and even simple tasks like standing up and walking to another room are burning calories.

Food is the biggest factor in how much weight you lose… or gain. Junk food will derail your fitness gains faster than you can imagine. No amount of exercise can make up for 600 calories of pure sugar. On the other hand, eating the right foods will do more for your weight loss goals than 6 hours at the gym ever could.

Sometimes the “experts” make it seem complicated by telling you to spend an entire day on meal prep, or giving you meals plans where every recipe has 15 plus ingredients. 

Weight loss done the right way can be simple.

Meal planning can be as basic as scribbling down your known favorite meals and snacks. Most of my favorite meals are the easiest to make. Unless you love cooking, spending time making complicated meals does not make you want to eat that food any more than if it were easy.

Here are some general tips I recommend for weight loss, and at the end you will find my…

Simple Meal Plan to Lose Weight

Losing weight the simple way involves a few key things: A diet plan, healthy meals and a shopping list.

Weight Loss Tips For This Simple Meal Plan

Here are (truly) simple tips that can make a BIG difference.

1. Track What You’re Eating

Tracking what you are eating can actually be an incredibly helpful tool. It does NOT have to be something you do forever – even tracking for a few days can be an eye-opening experience. As you keep a journal of what you are eating, you will notice where most of your calories are coming from. This way, you can see what is really worth it to you.

If pen and paper is not your style, use an app. I like the app Lose It (versus My Fitness Pal) because there are fewer foods, i.e. less confusion when you are trying to pick a chicken.

How do you determine the correct calorie amount for you? I honestly have found that app algorithms and calculations based on your height, weight and gender are pretty inaccurate – because they do not take into account your metabolism!

This is where tracking your meals becomes really helpful. I recommend keeping track of what you are eating normally for 3-5 days (without restriction!) and then subtracting 100-250 calories from that average. This way, your new calorie goal will suit your metabolism, and will be doable for the long term (it does not make any sense to follow a 1200 calorie per day diet only to go back to your “normal” way of eating later on, and gain the weight back, right?)

2. Reduce Starchy Carbohydrates

Please note I did not say “eliminate,” just reduce! I do not believe that deprivation helps your overall goals.

Reducing total carbohydrates in the diet is significantly proven (1) to:

  • reduce your appetite

  • cause faster weight loss when compared to high carb diets

  • boost your metabolism while losing weight if eating adequate protein

What are starchy carbohydrates? Starches include grains like bread, rice, pasta, and quinoa, and they also include starchy vegetables like beans, peas, corn, and potatoes. 

Starch serving sizes are generally 120 calories and equal to a slice of thicker bread, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, quinoa, or beans, or 1 cup of starchy vegetables like corn.

The best way to lower your starch content is to make substitutions that feel equal. A medium russet potato contains approximately 30 grams of starch. A medium sweet potato contains only about 8 grams. When you make that switch, you still get to have a potato with your meal.

Eat your veggie burger wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. Then you are still getting a favorite lunch with only a small tweak to better suit your goals.

When you start tracking your calories, pay attention to how many servings of starches you are eating. Can you eat 1 or 2 fewer servings without feeling deprived? Can you swap something out for a less starchy option and still enjoy your favorite dinner?

3. Add Non-starchy Vegetables for Volume

This is really the best trick! Carbohydrates are primarily found in both starches (listed above) and non-starchy vegetables, but you can get so much more bang for your buck (both financially and in calorie count) by filling up on the veggies.

For example, would you prefer to eat 1/2 cup of rice, or 3 cups of cauliflower rice?

Making these small substitutions will help you feel full longer. You won’t end up running back for another snack an hour after dinner.

Here is a list of really great, non-starchy vegetables to fill up your plate with:

  • Artichokes

  • Asparagus

  • Bean Sprouts

  • Broccoli

  • Brussel Sprouts

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Cucumber

  • Eggplant

  • Lettuce

  • Mushrooms

  • Peppers

  • Radishes

  • Salad Greens

  • Spinach

  • Tomato

  • Zucchini

4. Focus on Eating ONLY When You’re Hungry, Not from Boredom, Stress or other Emotions

This is the toughest one. But it may be the most important! Boredom and emotional eating are one of the biggest causes of weight gain.

Learn your body’s personal hunger & fullness cues.  When you
‘re feeling an emotion and you’re not hungry, you have to find other activities besides eating. Text a friend to say hi, take a quick walk around the block (or even just the room), or practice calm breathing. This can be tough, but it absolutely gets easier as you build the skill. Talk with a therapist if that helps. 

One trick that might help you learn your cues is to drink water any time you feel an urge to grab a snack and see if the urge passes. Then if you are still actually feeling hungry, make sure you grab a healthy snack, like sugar free greek yogurt.

If Weight Loss is Important to You, Make Time for It

Time is really an illusion! We never feel like we have enough time, but really, we make time for things we WANT to make time for. For example – if I have work to do, but I just saw a TikTok video for a super cute Amazon throw blanket, I’m making time to do a little online shopping.

Eating healthy and meal planning are probably not the most exciting way you might spend your time, but if weight loss is important to you, you have to make the time.

Make time to sit down and plan what you are going to eat, and write it down (or use a meal plan app)! For a future time saver, keep a list of your favorite healthy meals so you can just look at your list and create your meal plan. Creating your meal plan should take 15 minutes or less.

Write up a grocery list and then go shopping. 

Finally, meal prep. It does NOT have to take very long and you CAN use shortcuts (e.g. buy pre-grilled chicken strips & pre cut-up veggies), but whatever you do, do NOT skip this important step. 

If you have space in your schedule to cook dinner at home, make extra for a lunch or two during the week. Leftovers totally count as meal prep!

To help you save a little bit of time, here is a full-day meal plan to give you a starting point. Complete with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Simple Meal Plan to Lose Weight

Breakfast

First of all, only eat if you are actually hungry. Listen to your body’s hunger & fullness cues – do not force yourself to eat. 

If you are hungry, stick with protein & fat type foods like eggs, cheese, and avocado. Here are some ideas:

  • 2 hard boiled eggs + 1 string cheese

  • Omelet with diced bell pepper and ½ avocado

  • 1 low-sugar yogurt with ⅛ cup crushed nuts

AND! Did you know that eating protein at breakfast can absolutely decrease carb cravings later in the day (2)?

Lunch

What do we want from lunch? We want to be full and satisfied but not be so lethargic that we can’t get back to work!

It is easy to create filling and energizing lunches and dinners with my “formula” also known as #thatformula:

  • 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables, like lettuces, bell peppers, broccoli, etc.

  • 100-200 calories of fats, like avocado, cheese, oil etc.

  • 4-5 oz of protein like chicken, tofu, beef, etc.

Here is an example for lunch!

1 can tuna (protein) + 1 Tbsp mayo + everything bagel seasoning. Mix those ingredients together. Dip 2 cups of baby carrots!

Snacks

Similar to breakfast, I recommend sticking with protein and fat foods to keep you full and energized, but to limit total carbohydrates.

Here are some examples!

  • 1 cup baby carrots + 1 to-go guacamole

  • 2 hard boiled eggs + 1 string cheese (yes, breakfast meals can double as snacks!)

  • 1-2 servings of jerky

Dinner

Follow the same formula I discussed above!

  • 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables, like lettuces, bell peppers, broccoli, etc.

  • 100-200 calories of fats, like avocado, cheese, oil etc.

  • 4-5 oz of protein like chicken, tofu, beef, etc.

Here is an example for dinner!

2 cups broccoli + 1 serving  frozen shrimp. Stir fry with an oil spray and drain away any excess water. Top with 2 Tbsp peanut sauce, and 1/8 cup roasted peanuts.

Citations:
1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12230
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334852/

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Simple Meal Plan to Lose Weight

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