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There are many meal plans for losing weight available out there. Whether it is some fad diet that imposes low carbs or low fat or the new princess diet; they are all meal plans that result in weight loss that cannot be sustained for a very long time. It usually results in instant gratification and then slowly regaining the weight and then some.
The best meal plans for losing weight are those that encourage eating on a regular basis. Eating every few hours allows the body to maintain an elevated metabolism because your body is working to digest the meal. During the digestion process we burn calories and our body never goes into shut down mode. It is important to not allow your body to think that it is starving.
Balancing your meals is extremely important. All three macronutrients should be present in some form in all meals and snacks. Usually carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, vegetables or fruit dominate the meal since the majority of our calories needs to come from there. Round out your meal with a lean protein like egg whites, chicken breast or tuna and stick to heart healthy fats like avocados, olive oil or peanut butter. Limit saturated and trans fats as much as possible.
Pay attention to portions. Too much of a good thing is no good. At the end of the day calories are still the main focus. Learn to portion your plate so that half the plate is vegetables, a quarter of the plate is complex carbohydrates and the other quarter of the plate is lean protein. Limit fats and desserts should not be consumed regularly.
Aim for "whole" foods. Avoid foods that come out of a box or a bag. The less processed a food is the better off you are- it usually means that you will get a lot more volume for less calories when the food is closest to its original form. For example consuming a baked potato (without all the fixings) versus eating mashed potatoes. The baked potato is just a potato baked where as mashed potatoes have cream, butter and salt added to them. These add-ins increase the calorie and fat content significantly.
Try to have snacks that incorporate fruits and vegetables. Aim for five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. A serving of fruit is typically a four ounce portion and a serving of vegetables is usually a half cup cooked or one cup raw.
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Sample Balanced Meal Plan
1 c. lowfat cottage cheese
½ c. Kashi Mountain Medley Granola
6 oz. fruit
4” wheat roll with 4 oz. turkey
1 tsp light mayo, lettuce, tomato
6 oz. fruit
1 c. cooked brown rice
1 c. cooked vegetable medley (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
4 oz. chicken breast
1 c. raw vegetables with 1/2 c. hummus
4 oz. fruit with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
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A Message From Your RD
Weight loss is not an easy road. It takes a lot of discipline and determination that results in habit and behavior change. Look for plans that encourage lifestyle change and not just being on a diet. When you change your lifestyle you will achieve permanent results. The best meal plans for losing weight will always be those that support balance.
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This information is based on my education and experience working at SHS Nutrition, LLC in Piscataway, NJ.