By the end of this article, you will know the best meal plan to help you lose weight.
Before you jump ahead, let me explain that this article lays out the best meal plan for parents trying to lose weight; however, the same principles apply to anyone trying to lose weight.
You will learn the foods to eat and avoid to lose weight as fast as possible, all while keeping your busy schedule. In addition, I will share the exact steps I give my clients, like my friend Sam.
Sam has been in my online coaching program for a year and has never felt more comfortable in her skin.
You’re reading this because your diet no longer works. You are in the same boat as my buddy, John. He was a part of my online coaching program for eight months while working full-time, earning his MBA, and being a dad.
John credits his 20+ pound weight loss to developing a sense of confidence that (he) is in control and that (he) can accomplish things because of putting in the work!
These are just a few folks who have achieved their goals while keeping their busy schedules and losing weight. You can read more about their success here.
Okay, let’s get down to brass tax and discuss the best meal plan to help busy parents lose weight.
Which Foods Should You Avoid?
Here is a list of the foods to have and avoid while losing weight:
|The Food You Enjoy||Any Foods You’re Allergic To|
|Foods With Gluten||Raw Meat|
|Carbohydrates||The Bits Of Hot Dog Your Kid Sneezes|
|Meals With Your Loved Ones||Meals With Your Arch Nemesis|
All joking aside, I’m sure you are about to get your mind blown.
Energy balance plays a role in your weight management. This concept is referred to as Calories-In, Calories Out.
- You can gain weight if you take in more energy than you use. (Energy Surplus)
- You can lose weight if you take in less energy than you use. (Energy Deficit)
- If you take in the same energy you use, your weight will stay the same. (Energy Balance)
In other words, someone needs to be in a calorie deficit if their goal is to lose weight.
A calorie is a calorie; it doesn’t matter if it comes from an apple or a donut.
Sure, other things, such as fiber, make an apple more nutritionally dense; however, including both makes it much easier to stick with your plan.
What Foods To Include in your meal plan?
Now that you know you don’t need to avoid your favorite foods while trying to lose weight, here’s something to consider.
Protein needs to be a part of your meal plan.
Protein helps to preserve and build lean muscle mass.
Protein has a thermic effect of 20-30%, which is why it is an essential nutrient in your diet to lose or maintain weight. The body requires the most energy to digest protein properly. That’s why it can help with fullness between meals.
If you need help determining how much protein to have, click here for my FREE Weight Loss Calculator.
As a rule of thumb, aim for a range of .7-1 gram per pound of goal body weight.
*If you are plant-based, you can use .6 grams per pound of goal body weight.
Enjoy this handy-dandy chart chock full of protein source ideas.
|Meat & Fish||Dairy||Convenience||Plant Based|
|Chicken Breast||0% Greek Yogurt||Chomps Meat Sticks||Tofu|
|Lean Ground Turkey or Beef||1% Cottage Cheese||Barebell Protein Bar||Temphe|
|Top Round Steak||Fairlife Milk||Protein Powder||Setain|
|Pork Tenderloin||Low-Fat String Cheese||Beans or Lentils|
|Tuna, Cod, Tilapia, Mackeral, Haddock, Sole, Flounder, |
|Black Eyed Peas|
|Eggs & Egg Whites|
It’s helpful to choose a starchy carbohydrate higher in fiber to help with fullness.
Most Americans consume less than half of the recommended amount of fiber.
Adult Men: 36 g/day
Adult Women: 28g/day
Carbohydrates higher in fiber tend to be lower in calories, too.
Low-Calorie Carbohydrate Options
Oatmeal: Holy heck, is oatmeal filling. This starchy carbohydrate is 150 calories for a half cup, which will double in size once you add water and cook it. Not to mention the 5 grams of fiber per serving!
Sweet or White Potato: Potatoes tend to be incredibly filling, even without all the fixing. 4oz of sweet potato comes in at 100 calories and 3.7g of fiber!
When you compare that to 1/4 of a cup of brown rice, which comes in at 170 calories and 2g of fiber, you will find that you could have two servings of sweet potatoes and be pretty darn satisfied.
Additionally, brown rice and sweet potatoes are fricken delicious, but from a lower-calorie fiber point of view, potatoes work well.
Barley: Well, barley is pretty tasty, and 1 cup has almost 9g of fiber and 193 calories. You will be full and get away with a half cup based on the balanced plate you enjoy.
Popcorn: If you enjoy plain popcorn on the stovetop, a cup is about 31 calories. Again, there is about 1.2g of fiber per serving, too!
Legumes (Black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, etc.): All my plant-based friends know how satisfying beans can be! That is due to their combination of protein and fiber.
These are easy to add to any meal and leave you feeling full.
A word to the wise: soak your beans overnight before cooking. It is a tiny tip that can help with the toot factor.
They are filling, packed with fiber, and low in calories.
Here are some of the MANY tasty options you can try.
- Raspberries: 1 cup has 8g of fiber and 64 calories
- Strawberries: 1lb is only 140 calories, and a cup has 4g of fiber
- Blackberries: 1 cup is 7.6g of fiber and 62 calories
- Watermelon: 1 lb is 138 calories and has 2g of fiber.
- Orange: 1 orange is 74 calories and has 4.4g of fiber
- Apple: 1 medium size apple is 93 calories and has 4.3g of fiber
- Papaya: 1 medium size papaya is 118 calories and has 5.5g of fiber.
- Cantaloupe: 1 large cantaloupe is 150 calories and has 4g of fiber.
Oh, and to save a few bucks, you can buy frozen fruit.
No matter what fad has popped across your social media feed this week, I will shout this from the mountain tops: EAT YOUR FRICKEN VEGETABLES.
Beyond the health-promoting benefits, such as reduced all-cause mortality, they are very filling, packed with fiber, and lower in calories.
Because you are in a deficit, you will want to take advantage of feeling full. 😉
The goal is to work up to 50% of your plate being vegetables.
Oh, and the calories from vegetables still count; they aren’t magical. However, no one ever said, gosh, I eat too many vegetables; I need to cut back.
If you don’t know where to begin, try having 1 Big Ass Salad daily. Fill it with as many different vegetables as possible, and you will find that you can curb hunger.
You’re an adult, and eating the veggies is a good idea; if you need help getting started, here are a few good options.
What Should You Drink to Lose Weight?
It is easy to fill up on liquid calories; here are some alternatives that can work well.
Diet & Zero Calorie Soda: They are a good option to help with a sweet craving. There are zero calories, and folks who switch from regular soda to diet soda tend to lose weight; go figure. 😉
Coffee & Tea: Both are beautiful gifts from the caffeine gods. Just be aware of how much of your favorite creamer you’re adding, and no, olive oil is not a creamer.
Water: If I started recommending water first, you would have rolled your eyes.
Look, thirst is often confused with hunger, and water will quench your thirst better than most other beverages.
You can switch from diet soda to flavored seltzer water.
Another option is having a glass of water with every meal.
If it sounds more tasty, add fruit or lemon to your water.
If you don’t like any of those options, knock it off and drink a glass of water.
How Much Should You Eat To Lose Weight?
There is no magical secret number of calories to eat for weight loss; the only answer is to be in a calorie deficit.
You will lose weight if you eat within your daily calorie range, plus or minus one hundred calories.
How you split up those calories throughout the day is entirely up to you.
How many meals should be in your meal plan?
If you are reading this and are a big believer in skipping breakfast for “health benefits,” but you are hungry in the morning, do yourself a favor and read my fasting article.
For my client Melanie, adding breakfast into her routine allowed her to reduce snacking and dial in her eating skills.
Remember, the important thing is to be within your calorie range. Snacks are something that goes unaccounted for by most individuals.
As a reference point, anything that enters your mouth between meals can be considered a snack.
What works best for someone trying to lose weight is aiming to have an eating schedule. Focusing on eating at specific times during the day will make sticking with your meal plan much more manageable.
If you are scratching your head and need help figuring out where to start, focus on hitting three balanced meals that prioritize protein & fiber.
Balanced plates make it easier to stay full between meals.
FYI: Doing the easy thing is sometimes a good idea.
What If You Like To Eat Smaller Meals?
What about if you enjoy eating smaller meals throughout the day? Or what happens if you find that you aren’t as hungry, so you eat less?
When I first entered the fitness space over ten years ago, the big thing was to talk about stroking the metabolic fire by increasing your eating frequency.
What does that mean? I’ve got you covered with my deep dive into meal frequency and fat loss.
The truth: It doesn’t matter how many meals you eat daily. All that matters is hitting your calorie range and staying in your deficit.
Suppose you prefer eating six smaller meals, cool beans. I support your choice.
If you’re not hungry in the morning, and you end up doing a variation of intermittent fasting and don’t end up overeating in the evening, do it!
If all of the above feels very confusing, you can work on hitting three balanced meals with healthy portions of protein & fiber about 4-to 6 hours apart.
The Perfect Meal Plan To Lose Weight
The perfect meal plan hangs on one thread, and if you can follow my advice, you will have the best meal plan to help you lose weight.
You need to look at the system of Good, Better, Best.
Good: Prepping breakfast for the week might only be one meal, but it helps with motivation for your other meals.
Better: Batch cooking protein, carbohydrates, & vegetables. Then, put each into a container and use each to mix and match, making your meals.
Best: Setting a daily macro target, dividing it across all meals, and putting all meals into individual containers. Bonus: Pre-logging all meals the night before in your tracking app.
You would lose weight if you picked any of these options and stuck with it for 30 days.
Why am I so confident? Consistency matters most, and if the easier option allows you to stick with the plan, then go for it.
Most of my clients succeed with Batch Prep instead of Meal Prep, and I outline the difference in my article, Five Ways To Make Meal Prep Easier.
Give it a read, and I think you will better understand why the Better option might be Best for you.
What’s the best meal plan for weight loss?
Well, you made it to the end of this article, which means you are committed to figuring out the best meal plan to help you lose weight.
The truth is that the best meal plan for losing weight is the one that you can stick with.
Sorry, the answer isn’t sexy.
Sorry, the answer isn’t sexy.
I’m not sorry because if you follow every section of this article to a T, you will stick with your meal plan.
The secret is that there is no secret. The only thing that will work is choosing something sustainable flexible, and meeting yourself where you’re at.
The goal is to stick with this for the long haul and to allow you to enjoy your life.
Remember, calories matter, but so does your well-being.