How to Stick to Your Diet with Meal Planning for Weight Loss

No doubt you’ve read many a trick, tip, or hack for losing weight, but as a nutrition specialist that works with crazy busy moms, meal planning for weight loss is by far the best trick there is.

Yes, we all aspire to meal plan on a regular basis to make sure our families are fed. But honestly, that’s where the problem is when it comes to losing weight. We get hung up on only dinners because we have to feed the kiddos. We’re not really going that one step further to think about the other meals for the day. Here’s how to stick to your diet with meal planning for weight loss.

How do you make a good meal plan for weight loss?

First things first: To lose weight, you must either create a calorie deficit, or reduce your carbohydrate enough that your body goes into ketosis. Creating a calorie deficit would be dietary styles like what I call ‘smart-carb’, Mediterranean diet, Paleo (for the most part), and plant-based (this is not an exhaustive list). Going into ketosis would be very low-carb diets and the keto diet. I won’t get into specifics for going into ketosis in this post.

What I will do is say that relying on packaged and ‘quick diet foods’ to reduce calories may help your bottom line, but it’s doing you zero favors in real health benefits. Which is why I recommend using nutrient-dense foods in a smart and purposeful way when going into a calorie deficit. This includes:

  • Quitting processed and packaged foods and added sugars (which are in nearly all packaged and/or processed foods). These foods make you think you’re still hungry when you’re really not. That can make it extremely difficult to stay on track when you have a certain calorie allotment per day.
  • Load up on vegetables and some fruits. Vegetables are full of fiber and vitamins, and will help you feel full faster and longer with smaller portion sizes. This includes legumes and beans, which are sorta like power foods in terms of fiber for weight loss. Fresh fruits are good, but in limited amounts. Make sure you’re having way more vegetables than fruits. Fruit with the fiber is good (and a million x better than packaged foods), but remember that fruit contains fructose. Fructose still makes an impact on your insulin response, and every time it’s hit up for more insulin, it sends the signal to store fat. Which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. So if you have fruit, pair it with a protein and a healthy fat. Great examples of these would be an apple + peanut/almond butter or blueberries + a cheese stick.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough protein and fiber. Both help you feel full faster and longer, and protein helps you build muscle when doing strength training. This matters because more lean muscle will also boost your metabolism.
  • Try using a meal planning app. Yeah, I get it– some of us are die-hard paper planners. But storing all those recipes makes it hella easier to get organized and have a good recipe on the ready when it’s time to sit and plan. Get ahead of the game by choosing a good one, getting organized, and always use it when you find something good (ie-quit tossing them on your Pinterest board that you never look at again!)

{Recommended: How to Choose the Best Meal Planning App for Your Family}

Is meal prepping good for weight loss?

Oh my goodness YES! Meal prepping makes actual meal cooking take less time, and allows for spending more relaxing time with family during cooking and meal time!

One of the first things I recommend to clients is to meal prep anything you can. But also, pull in help. This can be a segway to teaching your kiddos cooking as a life-skill plus allows time to have conversations. Purposeful time like this is crazy important for them and you! It can also be a great way for you and your partner to connect and get on the same page for meals and maybe your plans for the week. I have lots of clients who end up pulling their partner into meal planning and change the way they both eat, resulting in healthy clean eating being a family affair.

Meal prepping for weight loss is so important because you’re not only planning out your meals (which is the number one way to stay on track with your diet), but also making sure it’s doable. We all have crazy lives when we have kids and a business to run, so having a plan and doing your prep work up front is everything when you’re trying to stay within specific calories or carbs every day!

Also, meal prepping allows you to make sure your breakfasts, snacks, and lunches are taken care of as well. This is the biggest time for downfalls when trying to lose weight, because any small meal during the day is an afterthought, until it’s not. And if you don’t have a plan in place, the hangry you will win with whatever’s most convenient. Which is usually processed and full of empty calories.

What is a good meal plan for weight loss?

A good meal plan for weight loss starts with outlining your schedule, how much time you have for meal prep and cooking, and obviously–how many calories or carbohydrates you need as your daily limit. To determine your caloric needs as a start, calculate your basal metabolic rate. Once you know that, you can cut that number according to your activity level and adjust from there.

Calculate your caloric needs with this calculator :

EER Calculator – Estimated Energy Requirement

So now that you have an idea of the deficit you need in calories daily to lose weight, use that as a guide for your meals. Two options for keeping track of those that I recommend are either MyFitnessPal (which integrates with Fitbit) or the Whisk app for recipe collection and meal planning. You can read more about that HERE. Why I love Whisk is that it was designed with data in mind and calculates all macros and calories for any recipe you put in. That way you know exactly how much of the recipe you can have portion-wise (or if you don’t need it at all!)

Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Author: Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Laura is a Nutrition Specialist and Certified Health Coach with a Master of Science in Nutrition. Her goal is to help women reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and regain natural energy with an Anti-Inflammatory Diet + Lifestyle.

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