There are plenty of diet plans out there offering different meal choices and words of advice. But, when it comes to losing weight the healthy way, it's best to get back to basics and understand the 5 keys for effective weight loss meal plans.
1. Calorie Counting
To start your diet plans of right, understand how many calories you need to cut back each week in order to lose weight. The safest way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. 1 pound is roughly 3,500 calories a week or 500 calories a day. It's important to remember that you should never cut back to less than 1,200 calories without medical supervision.
2. Meal Planning
Plan all of your meals for the week in advance. If you can, it's best to plan everything out a week ahead of time so that you won't be tempted to stray when at the grocery store. Plus, you'll have all the foods you need for your healthy meals available, so there is no room for excuses.
Make sure to follow up and keep a journal of everything you eat. Write down what you ate, when you ate it and the portion size. A food journal will not only help you to keep track of what you eat, but will also help to keep you honest. Use Fitday's online journal to track your daily calorie intake.
3. Smaller Meals, More Often
Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day. Aim for eating every 2-3 hours throughout the day (that's about 4-5 smaller meals per day) to boost metabolism. You'll feel fuller and your body won't store more calories as fat because you are constantly providing it with the energy it needs.
4. Healthy Balance of Foods
Make sure to enjoy a balance of a wide variety of healthy foods. Incorporate foods that will provide you with the carbohydrates, proteins and fats that your body needs to perform its daily functions. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following daily intake allowances:
- 2 cups of fruit
- 2 cups of vegetables
- 3 or more ounces of whole grains
- 3 cups of low fat or fat free milk products
Eat a variety of the above mentioned foods in order to obtain the different nutrients and vitamins that these foods have to offer in order to keep you healthy and on track with your weight loss goals.
5. Foods to Avoid
Always read the nutrition labels in order to fully understand what you are eating. Avoid foods that are high in fat, especially saturated and trans fats, and calories. The USDA suggests that no more than 10 percent of your fat intake should come from saturated or trans fats. Cut back on foods that contain added sugar and salt and try not to consume more than one to two alcoholic drinks per week.
Remember that the healthiest way to lose weight is over an extended period of time. Don't think of it as a diet, but lifestyle change and you'll be able to not only lose the weight, but to keep it off, for good.