We are now 2 months into the New Year and should be full swing into our top resolution, losing weight! You’ve started working out consistently, step one in your quest to lose those extra pounds and achieve a healthier weight. But wait a minute! Are you forgetting about sound nutrition? When it comes to weight loss, what you eat (and when you eat it) can make all the difference. Here’s a healthy meal plan to make things easy.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to make the right choices when it comes to meal planning. Junk food and hectic lifestyles are expanding our waistlines and deteriorating our health at an alarming rate. It’s estimated that more than two-thirds of adult Americans are either overweight or obese, and obesity related health problems are reaching epidemic proportions.
Your health is your most prized possession, so it’s important to learn how to make healthy food choices for life. Most people also understand that the body has a built in ability to maintain health and heal itself as long as it is provided proper nutrition. The healthiest meal planning approach to consider, therefore, is one that uses healthy whole food meals and snacks in tandem with a simple and easy caloric controlled meal replacement strategy. Daily meal planning that incorporates both of these concepts will end up supporting healthy weight management and overall health.
Controlling hunger is one of the most difficult issues facing people today, particularly people trying to lose weight. A healthy meal plan must offer a satisfying way to control hunger for hours at a time, helping to reduce the temptations to overeat between meals. What’s more, all foods eaten on the meal plan should provide a good source of all macronutrients: protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in a balanced format that provides the recommended daily intake for most essential vitamins and minerals.
Think six for success! Even with people who are trying to lose weight, the ideal healthy meal plan involves eating six meals a day so you’re never hungry. These six meals should be broken down into 2 to 3 whole food meals, 2 whole food snacks, and one to two high energy, nutrient dense, low calorie meal replacement shakes. Daily scheduling of these meals should be like the following example:
Breakfast: Meal replacement shake
Mid-morning snack: Either a protein or fruit (almonds or an apple)
Lunch: Whole food meal consisting of a protein, complex carbohydrate, and fat
Afternoon snack: Meal replacement shake or a protein snack
Dinner: Same breakdown as lunch
Evening snack: Whole food healthy snack (no fruits)
Your whole food regular meals should consist of lean protein plus a salad or vegetable. Read my previous blogs on eating whole foods to learn more. You can prepare them yourself, grab them on the go, or enjoy them in a restaurant, as long as you follow general guidelines in terms of content:
Protein: Choose any of the following and prepare it grilled, baked, or poached; 8 oz cooked lean meat, such as chicken, turkey, fish, beef, pork, lamb, or shellfish.
Meatless options include eggs and garden burgers. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy meatless meals.
Complex Carbohydrates: 1 cup is a serving of a carbohydrate and stick to low glycemic carbohydrates such as celery, cucumbers, lettuce, mushroom, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, peppers, and tomatoes.
Fats: Use these mostly during the cooking process and stick to the 3 amigos (butter, coconut oil and olive oil). Fats help ramp up metabolism so aside from the oils try to eat avocados and nuts.
Your healthy snacks should be mostly protein rich or a fruit. If you opt for fruits have them during the morning snack, as you will burn off the fructose throughout the day. Make sure your fruits are whole fruits and not juices or processed fruits.
You will notice that this healthy meal planner doesn’t rely on whole grains or simple carbohydrates. These foods inflame the bowels, spike blood sugar, and severely sabotage weight loss and energy levels. They also contribute to an increase in hunger, which is why they are avoided on this type of meal plan, and why people who follow this routine tend to do better in the long run and not “yo-yo.”
Lastly, a high quality meal replacement shake should not contain sugar or anything synthetic. Once again read my previous blog on things to avoid as this pertains to supplementation as well. I use whole food meal replacements like SP complete. The meal replacement shake goes great with smoothies. It should at least contain whey protein, preferably whey isolate as this is better absorbed. I like to use this as an easy breakfast and post workout snack for quick digestion and energy, while keeping hunger at bay.
Do not skip meals! Make sure you eat all six meals each day to keep your body well nourished and your metabolic rate high. This will ensure that you burn calories and keep your hunger levels low.
Eat every two to three hours. Eating on a regular basis will keep you feeling full and help you lose weight or maintain your weight. Also, be sure to eat slowly when possible. Spend at least 15 minutes eating your meals and chew more often than normal.
Drink water. The general rule of thumb is 64 oz but I have found the more water I drink, the more weight I lose. I now try to get my body weight in oz of water when on a weight loss regime.
A healthy body starts with a healthy weight. When you incorporate a healthy meal plan into your daily routine, you’re taking an important step toward long term health and wellness while losing those extra pounds your body doesn’t need and you certainly don’t want. With each pound you lose, your confidence will grow. Remember a diet is not about restrictions, it is about lifestyle and this is one of the easiest lifestyle diets for long term success.
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