How to Lose Weight with Meal Plans

Using Meal Plans to Lose Weight

The benefits of this type of diet are that you don’t have to figure out what you are going to eat. This diet takes out the guesswork. This diet is very specific and can even be considered rigid. If you choose this option you will follow a specific menu. The length and variety of meal plans can vary. Meal plans can range from weekly meal plans, two-week cycle meal plans, and monthly meals plans. Some menus are on a monthly cycle, which means you have a different meal given to you for every day of the month, and then you start over the next month. Some websites offer even more variety by helping you develop your own meal plans using thousands of foods and recipes. Usually meal plan diets allow you to switch meals around or omit the meals you dislike. If you are using the menu plan option, then it is a good idea to make a grocery list of all the ingredients you need to follow your meal plan, and then Only buy the foods from your grocery list. Some meal plans are very specific and tell you what to eat at every meal and provides recipes.

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Photo by Sole Treadmill

Other menu or meal plans can be more general. These general meal plans may tell you what types of food to eat at every meal or provide you a list of allowed foods instead of giving you a specific menu and recipes. In other words, these more general meal plans tell you “Eat this food group for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.” For example, on the Fruit Flush diet you eat fruit all day and then your dinner is a meal of raw vegetables and lean protein or a protein shake.   This type of meal plan is a very strict and structured meal plan, which would help you lose weight due to the low calories; however, the diet is incomplete of all the nutrition a body needs. These stricter meal plans could be hard to stick with due to hunger and can get boring due to lack of variety.

For many, the more variety the meal plan allows the better.   Meal plans are great for people who don’t want to put too much thought into their diet. People who do this type of diet want to know that what they are eating every day is within their calorie range, but they don’t want to go through the trouble of counting calories. Meal Plan diets can be difficult because sometime you may not have time to cook the planned meal or you may be out somewhere and cannot follow your meal plan. Also, most people will not do a meal plan forever; therefore, when they stops the plan they may start to gain weight again. Meal Plan diets, especially strict ones, may not be a good long term diet, but it can sometimes be a great jump start for someone who is overwhelmed with how to start the weight loss process. A meal plan might work well for you if you are the main cook in your household; however, if you are not the cook and are not in control of what you cook, then perhaps Portion Control Tips might work best for you. If you can’t control what you eat, then you must control how much you eat. The more specific, monotonous, restricted, or rigid the menu plan is the less likely you will meet all of your nutritional needs and the less likely you will be able to stick with the diet.weight loss photo

So what are some examples of meal plans? Meal plan diets often seen conjoined with a fitness or aerobic program or DVD. For example, the “p90x” DVD fitness program also includes a menu plan to follow. The “Flat Belly Diet” includes a 28 day meal plan.

I have found that the best menu plans, however, are the plans that are individualized for your specific calorie range and again offer variety. The “Alli” program has recipes and menu options that can be geared for your specific calorie range. Alli is a weight loss pill that you take with your meals. The pill is FDA approved and prevents absorption of 25% of fat in your food. Less fat absorbed means less calories. Along with these capsules the Alli website is an excellent resource. The Alli website lets you pick the meals you want to eat. In other words, with the “Alli” program you can come up with your own menu plan, and you can change your plan whenever you want; so you don’t have to eat the same foods every week or month.   Also you can go to, to plan your own individual menu. Again, like “Alli”, you can plan a menu according to your calorie needs.

Yet another form of a meal plan would be using a low calorie cookbook to plan your menus and only eating foods from a low calorie cookbook.   My favorite type of cookbooks are the cookbooks where you can mix and match your breakfast lunches and dinners like the Cooking Light Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook: 1500 Calories a Day.

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There are thousands of wonderful cookbooks that include the calories per serving. Below I have named a few:

American Heart Association. American Heart Association Low-Calorie Cookbook: More than 200 Delicious Recipes for Healthy Eating. Clarkson Potter, 2003.

Betty Crocker Editors. Betty Crocker the 300 Calorie Cookbook: 300 Tasty Meals for Eating Healthy Every Day. Wiley Publishing, 2010.

Carpenders, Dana. Dana Carpender’s Every Calorie Counts Cookbook. Fair Winds Press, 2006.

 Editors of Cooking Light Magazine. Cooking Light Mix and Match Low-calorie Cookbook. Oxmoor House, 2010.

Hughes, Nancy. The 1500-Calorie-a-Day Cookbook. McGrall-Hill Books, 2009.

Price, Jessie, Micco, Nicci, and editors of EatingWell. EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners Cookbook. Countryman Press, 2010.

 If you would like to see if this weight loss technique or other weight loss techniques might work for you, fill out the Diet Self-assessment Form.

Have you successfully lost weight by using meal plans? Please let me know what has or hasn’t worked for you.

To understand how one small change or trick can make a big impact on your weight loss read the example below:

A client was drinking 4, 12 oz bottles of Coke a day, which is 620 calories. When he switched to diet sodas he took out 620 calories from his diet a day!!! Well, by just making this one change and changing nothing else about his diet, he lost almost 25 pounds in just 4 months!!!

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