If you learn how to meal plan for weight loss, you’ll be far ahead of the game when it comes to dropping unwanted fat. The reason is that most people don’t have their calories dialed in when it comes to the meals they eat each day.
On the other hand, those who are on diets, feel as if though they’re restricting themselves of the very foods that they love, and there’s no room to make mistakes. Because of this, people fall off diets and gain the weight back that they lost.
When it comes to meal planning though, you have the option to prepare meals ahead of time and know exactly what your calorie intake will be each day. Understanding how many calories you need to be consuming on a daily basis is crucial for effective weight loss.
Before we get to meal planning itself, and ways to make it a simple process, I’d like to first discuss calories and how important they are to weight loss.
For as long as I can remember, low carb has been a popular weight loss topic. The diet itself has changed names multiple times, but it’s still a low-carb lifestyle. In fact, I ate a low-carb diet for years, and it did cause me to burn off excess fat very quickly. However, I did gain it back eventually.
The reason it works so well initially is that low-carb foods are also lower in calories. Because you aren’t consuming foods like pasta, bread, and potatoes, which are loaded with them, your body goes into a calorie deficit.
The good news is you don’t have to restrict the very foods that you love, but you DO have to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. This is actually very simple to do, and there are a few calculations you set up based on your weight loss goals.
When I’m in the process of burning off excess fat, I go into a 400 calorie deficit each day. What this does is cause approximately 4 – 5 pounds of fat loss every month. If you have more than 20 pounds to lose, you’ll actually drop more weight than that.
I’ve found that eating at this small calorie deficit is far more enjoyable than going on a diet. The reason for that is you can eat bread and pasta if you want to. It’s okay to have pizza and fries. What matters is that you understand your calorie consumption on a daily basis.
Make sure you don’t go over your calorie budget, and you’ll lose weight progressively, even while having a cheeseburger and ice cream.
Meal Planning At Home
Meal planning is actually far easier to do than it may seem on the surface. Let’s go with a simple example of an 1800 calorie deficit. Within that deficit, you have to also hit 112 grams of protein.
If I were eating exclusively at home, I’d make sure to purchase foods that give me the nutrients and protein I need. You need to hit sufficient protein daily in order to ensure the weight you’re losing is in the form of fat and not muscle and bone density.
So, one of the easiest ways to meal plan would be to measure out one of your favorite foods for the week. When it comes to protein, my favorite foods would be chicken or steak. As far as carbs go, I’d choose rice, potatoes, or pasta. And I love all kinds of veggies.
I’d measure all the food out on a food scale, and split it up into containers for the week. Add the meat to one compartment, the carbs to another, and the veggies to another.
Let’s say this container has 600 calories and 45 grams of protein.
That’s really all you need to know. Since this example demonstrates an 1800 calorie deficit, you’d have another 1200 calories left to eat for the day.
Also, since you should be eating 112 grams of protein per day, you’d have 67 grams of protein left to consume.
Now, you’ve just fixed up one container of food. If you prepared two more containers, 600 calories each, and make sure you hit your protein goals in each of them, you’d be good to go for the week.
If you prepare these ahead of time, you wouldn’t even have to think throughout the week, whether you were hitting your calories and protein to lose weight. Plus you’d be eating foods you love anyway since you’re choosing your meals.
Meal Planning Restaurant Food
If you dread the idea of meal planning at home, and you’ve got the extra money to spend, you can make it a breeze by ordering foods at most chain restaurants.
I mention chain restaurants because you can easily find the nutritional value of items at almost all of them. Here’s a list of 5 fast-food meals under 500 calories at 5 chain restaurants.
Fast food meals don’t have to be unhealthy either. Most chains have healthy options to choose from. Most people think of Subway when it comes to “good for you” fast food, but there are plenty of others as well.
I personally love to eat at Panda Express. I now will always eat at Panda Express over any local Chinese restaurant. Why? Because if I were to eat at a local Chinese restaurant, I would have no clue how many calories the meals have. However, Panda Express has this information clearly listed on its website.
So, I’ll go with the same 1800 calorie example from the previous section. I usually get the “1 side & 2 entrees” meal. You can split sides in half. What’s nice is that you’ll see the calories add up as you add items to your order.
For my two entrees, I’ll order their grilled chicken teriyaki and black pepper Angus steak. For my side, I’ll split it in half. I’ll get half white rice, and half super greens.
This meal adds up to 715 calories total. It also has 61 grams of protein. How do I know this? It’s because I use MyNetDiary to track all my calories throughout the day. You can easily import any chain restaurant item into the app, and it automatically recognizes and calculates the numbers for you.
If you were to order this every day, you’d have a full meal already calculated into your eating plan, and you’d still have 1,085 calories & 51 grams of protein left to eat for the day. Plus, you’d still be on track to weight loss.
Why Intermittent Fasting Makes It Even Easier
I’ve personally found intermittent fasting to be a game-changer as far as weight loss goes. The reason for this is that it helps eliminate the feeling of dieting or restricting yourself.
Plus, it aligns perfectly with my own schedule, because I’m never hungry when I wake up anyway. Pretty much, I eat my first meal later in the day, around 4 or 5 pm. You can decide what time works best for you.
My first meal is always a smaller one. This gives me the opportunity to have a huge dinner, which is always over 1,000 calories. Then I have one final meal before bed, which is usually a dessert or a snack of some sort.
Regardless of how many calories you must eat per day to be in a deficit, you can make one of your meals huge, and the other two smaller. Or you can split them up evenly. It’s up to you. I find that the huge feast meal makes any eating plan far more enjoyable.
Weight Loss Meal Planning In Summary
If you know how to meal plan for weight loss, my suggestion is to start boring. When I say boring, I just mean, eat the same meals every day, so that you don’t go off track.
These can be your three favorite meals so you’re looking forward to them each day too. But I’d keep them consistent until you know for sure you’ve got your calories dialed in for your deficit to lose weight.
Once you master your calorie intake on a daily basis, for a few weeks or a month, then start to mix things up and enjoy diversity in your meals.
But keeping things simple and consistent at first will definitely skyrocket you forward towards your weight loss goals.
I hope you found this article to be helpful. If you have any questions or comments regarding anything written here, please let me know below and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks so much for reading!