How to Meal Plan for Weight Loss

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Daniel Pavlik Jr DC

Aug 12, 2020

Weight loss is always a challenge, no matter how motivated you are. Making meal plans can help keep you on track and take the guesswork out of your daily food intake. Meal planning let you stay on top of your calorie deficit and ensure that you get the nutrients you need. Here are some tips for creating your own weight loss meal plans.

1: Cut down carbs

Reduce your carbohydrate intake in favor of protein and a moderate amount of healthy fats. Planning meals low in carbs, but high in protein is a simple way to reduce your calorie intake without sacrificing enjoyment. You’ll feel more satiated and will be able to benefit from fat-soluble vitamins.

2: Look for inspiration

If you’re new to low-carb diets or meal plans in general, it can be daunting to start your meal plan. Many of your usual dishes may not be suitable for your new eating plan. Luckily, there are plenty of meal plans online and elsewhere that you can use for inspiration. Rather than uncritically trying to follow pre-made meal plans, be a little flexible, and adopt a plan for your needs.

3: Plan around carb substitutes

If you’re used to including a large portion of carb-heavy staple foods with every meal, it can be daunting to plan meals without them. Rice, potatoes, noodles — all these are very high in carbs. You can make things easier for yourself by learning about substitutes for your favorite high-carb ingredients. Cauliflower, for example, can substitute for many carbs. It can be riced, baked into pizza crust, or mashed and mixed with sour cream or cream cheese for a satisfying alternative to mashed potato. Look for low-carb noodles made from konjac or other ingredients that are high in fiber and low in starch. Replace rice and grains with pulses, which tend to be higher in protein and lower in carbs.

4: Plan your snacks

It’s a good idea to try and avoid eating between meals if you want to lose weight. Even so, it’s a good idea to include some healthy snacks in your meal plan. This way, you’ll be able to stick to your plan without feeling deprived.

5: Be realistic

Don’t try to change your entire eating pattern overnight. If you decide to make too many significant changes too quickly, you’re less likely to succeed in your weight control program. Instead, make plans based on changing a few things at a time. For instance, you could add more protein, eliminate processed starches in your first week’s meal plan, and then make a plan that halves your remaining carbs during the second week. Include a few treats in your meal plan, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.

6: Make meals in bulk

It’s much easier to stick to a meal plan if you’re not always having to stop and prepare food for every meal. Inevitably, a day will come when you don’t have the time or energy. You’ll be tempted to ditch your plan for takeout or ready meals. While it’s fine to do this occasionally, it’s all too easy to replace more and more of your planned meals with less healthy substitutes. To avoid this situation, prepare meals ahead of time. Many recipes can be made in bulk and frozen for later consumption, allowing you to make several days’ worth of foods with little extra effort. Before you start any major weight loss program, talk to a medical professional. They can help you by determining how much weight you can safely lose and how fast you should lose it. A doctor can also support you in finding a nutritious meal plan that’s right for you. Don’t forget other aspects of your lifestyle that can also contribute to weight control, such as taking regular exercise, getting enough sleep, avoiding tobacco, and moderating your alcohol intake.

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