Dieting is the most commonly chosen method for losing weight, but many find it difficult to find a diet plan that they can stick to long enough to achieve their target weight, and even more so to maintain their desired weight. This is because a lot of meal plans for weight loss that promise unreasonably rapid results in an unreasonably short amount of time are based on severe restrictions and deprivations – such strategies are typically accompanied by constant hunger and dissatisfaction.
Low-carb meal plans for weight loss have been proven to be one of the most effective, without compromising nutrition. There are many types of low-carb diets; read on to learn more about those that deliver desired results and are also sustainable and healthy.
Meal Plans for Weight Loss – Where Should You Start?
Reduce Carb Intake.
There are several ways by which reducing the carbs in your meals effectively leads to significant weight loss.
Excess fat comes from excess glucose which, in turn, comes from carbohydrates. Glucose is typically burned by the body for fuel (calories); any excess gets stored as fats in cells as an energy reserve. When you reduce your carb intake, you create a calorie deficit – this means there are fewer calories from glucose than what your body needs for energy. To compensate, your body taps into your energy stores – your fat cells. This is how fat loss happens through a low-carb diet.
The processes of metabolizing glucose for energy and storing excess glucose in cells as fat are facilitated by the hormone insulin. The release of insulin is triggered by the increase of glucose in the blood after eating carbohydrates. Studies have shown that increased insulin levels actually increase hunger and the perceived pleasantness of tasting something sweet, and both of these lead to increased food intake. By reducing your carb intake, you maintain low insulin levels and, therefore, effectively curb your appetite. This is why a low-carb diet is not accompanied by constant hunger.
Increase Amounts of Protein in Every Meal
You will have to supplement your low-carb meal plan for weight loss with increased protein intake.
Evidence from a number of studies have shown that a high-protein diet makes a person feel fuller longer, thereby reducing cravings and thoughts about food. Additionally, high amounts of protein can boost metabolism. The former leads to decreased consumption of calories and the latter leads to the burning of more calories – combined, a high-protein diet also helps create a calorie deficit so that more excess fats are burned.
Include Healthy Fats in Your Diet.
On a low-carb diet, your body switches from burning glucose for calories to burning fats for calories. You will have to sustain the supply of calories from fats by including healthy fats in your diet. Sources of healthy fats include avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and butter.
Eat Low-Carb Vegetables.
You should not miss out on the essential nutrients and other healthy compounds that are found in vegetables. But because you’re on a low-carb diet, your meal plan for weight loss should focus on low-carb vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Swiss chard, lettuce, and cucumber.
Meal Plans for Weight Loss – Do You Need to Count Calories?
As long as your meal plan for weight loss is low in carbohydrates and high in protein, healthy fats, and low-carb vegetables, you don’t need to keep track of your calorie intake. If you don’t experience any weight loss after your first week on a low-carb meal plan, you can simply cut back on your carbs further.
If you prefer to count calories, you can use a mobile calorie tracking app. But you will need to know by how much you should reduce your calorie intake per day in order to create the required calorie deficit to lose weight. You can also find free calorie calculators online.
Healthy and Sustainable Meal Plans to Lose Weight
You may want to lose a lot of weight quickly and resort to extreme dieting to achieve this. As all extreme diets go, however, you will fall off the wagon sooner rather than later and gain back the weight you have lost.
Firstly, starving your body will eventually put it in survival mode. This means that your body will adjust to the extremely limited food intake by also slowing down your metabolism. When this happens, your weight loss will stall.
Secondly, it is nearly impossible to tolerate the deprivation and hunger imposed by most extreme diets. And combined with the frustration of reaching a weight loss plateau, you will eventually give in to your hunger and cravings. Your body will respond to the increased food intake by once again replenishing your energy stores – converting glucose into fat – which will lead to weight gain.
So it’s important to design a meal plan for weight loss that you can sustain long term and which does not compromise your nutritional needs. Aim for slow but steady weight loss per week with a realistic goal. It might take you longer to lose your targeted amount of weight, but you can better ensure that the weight you lose every week will stay off. A well-balanced meal plan for weight loss is also easier to adopt as a long-term diet, and this means that you will successfully shift to healthier eating habits.
Below are more tips for creating a meal plan to lose weight.
- Your daily breakfast should be high in protein so you’ll reduce your cravings throughout the day and make it easier for you to stick to low-carb meals.
- Focus on whole foods that are rich in nutrients and are more filling.
- Drink water before every meal. This will also help you eat less.
- You can further boost your metabolism by drinking coffee and/or tea. Just skip the cream and sugar.
- Eat slowly. This will make you feel full with less food and savoring every bite will also make you feel more satisfied.
Meal Plans to Lose Weight – Final Thoughts
There are a lot of meal plans for weight loss that are healthy and easy to follow and commit to. Choose one that best suits your preferences and needs. It is also important to set realistic goals and avoid extreme dieting measures. Focus on long-term success because what you want is sustained weight loss and to be able to maintain a healthy weight after you have achieved your weight-loss goal.