Hello all! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful here in Georgia. The pollen is finally dying down and it’s a perfect time to get out and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Since the weather is warming up soon swimming pools will be open and we will be pulling out our shorts and swimsuits. We all want to look our best and it’s not too late to shed some of that extra weight that we have put on over the winter. Here we will discuss an easy way to come up with a low-calorie meal plan for weight loss. Let’s get started!
So let’s dive right in. There are many different options when it comes to designing a menu but I want to start out with something very basic and easy to plan and manage. Most of us want to lose weight however, it becomes overwhelming to try to figure out what to eat and when to eat it. You hear so many different stories on the “best” way to go about eating to lose weight. I want to make it simple and easy. There will be no calorie counting. That’s exhausting and will drive you crazy if you let it. We don’t want that.
As I mentioned earlier, I worked in endocrinology for six years and was fortunate to get to work one-on-one with many people to help them reach their weight loss goals. Most of our patients said the same thing. They didn’t want to think about what to eat. They wanted us to tell them what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat it. That’s what I want to focus on today. I’m going to give you the structure of the meal plan and also give you a list of food items to chose from so that you can essentially build your own plan.
Get Ready To Plan A Menu
We will start out with the blank menu template. You can print this one out or make up your own. You will need slots for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Another key point I want to make is to never let yourself get hungry. If you allow yourself to get to the point of hunger and your stomach starts growling then your metabolism has already slowed down. We don’t want that to happen.
We want to keep consistent energy levels and blood sugar levels and to do that we have to eat at regular intervals. Have breakfast within one hour of waking. You need to try to eat a little something every three to four hours while you’re awake. While I know that this seems like a lot it’s really not because you will be eating low-calorie, nutrient and protein dense foods that will actually help you lose weight. Trust me on this.
Okay, now you have the template ready. Next, I’d like for you to find a container or pitcher that you can fill with water for the day. You will need to drink a minimum of two quarts of water daily. Some people require more than this in order to stay hydrated.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Symptoms of dehydration are headache, fatigue, dizziness and rapid heart rate to name a few. These are the common symptoms that you will likely notice. If you at any time notice any of these you will need to increase your water. And when I say water, I mean water only. If you want to drink additional zero calorie drinks in addition to the two quarts of water, that’s fine. Try to steer clear of caffeine if possible. I recommend no more that two cups of caffeinated beverages daily. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and we don’t want for you to become dehydrated.
Alright, we have the template printed and the water pitcher filled. You can refrigerate the water if you prefer it cold or leave it at room temperature. Having the water premeasured really helps out with making sure that you do drink enough. So keep in mind you should try to drink the majority of the water earlier in the day prior to dinner so that you’re not up all night going to the bathroom. Now you’re ready to start filling out your menu template.
Plan Your Menu
I have listed some items below for you to pick from for each meal. The goal is to have at least two low-calorie entrees daily and at least five full cups of fruits and vegetables daily. Also, I recommend finding yourself a good protein shake powder. I like Muscle Milk but you can use any that you prefer. Muscle Milk even has a 100 calorie per serving option. I like to use shakes in between meals for snacks and also for breakfast. They can be used as a meal replacement any time of the day and they are very versatile. You can add fruit and flavorings to them to really mix them up so they never get boring.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating soon after waking amps up your metabolism and gives you the energy to get your day started. You want to have protein and complex carbs with each meal and breakfast is no different. Protein shakes are the best and easiest option for breakfast in my opinion. You can add frozen or fresh fruit. You can use calorie free sodas or even coffee as the liquid. Other add-ins that you might try are sugar-free pudding or jello (1 tbs. per shake), or sugar-free syrups like DaVinci or Torani.
Another breakfast option is greek yogurt with either fruit or veggies. Greek yogurt is good because it is high in protein and not too bad on calories, depending on what brand and flavor you get. I prefer Oikos or Chobani personally. They both offer 100 calorie options with just as much protein as the higher calorie ones.
Lunch And Dinner
Lunch and dinner will be about the same as far as planning on what to have. I recommend picking an entree and pairing that with veggies. The more the merrier with the veggies. They really are packed with vitamins and nutrients and are low calorie. Of course you can have any veggies, however, try to steer clear of a lot of starchy ones like corn and potatoes. Those are both good options just try to spread them out and not have a lot on the same day. It will slow your weight loss somewhat.
Another important thing to remember is seasoning. We don’t want to put a lot of fat like butter or margarine on our vegetables. Try to find other ways to season them. Lemon juice is a good option. I really like lemon on green beans, broccoli, and asparagus. Also, you can use spices or herbs just be careful with the ones that have a lot of sodium in them.
You can always add your veggies to your entree and use the sauce from it to season them. Steaming is probably the best way to prepare vegetables. More nutrients are retained with this preparation. Boiling and roasting are other options. As far as entrees go, you should try to stay under 300 calories per entree. Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, and Healthy Choice are my go to brands for entrees. Some of them like the pizza ones are over 300 calories each. It’s okay to have these sometimes just add lower calorie vegetables when you have them.
There are many options with snacks and this is where some folks really blow it. Try to keep snacks to about 100-150 calories. This sounds like a hard thing to do but it’s really not. You just have to choose the correct foods. The ones that will satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling satiated until your next meal.
Below are the food lists. These are just recommendations. In addition, there are a few other points to keep in mind while planning your menus.
- Breakfast should include at least 1 cup of fruits/veggies
- Lunch should include 1 entree and at least 2 cups fruits/veggies
- Dinner should include 1 entree and at least 2 cups fruits/veggies
- Snacks should stay around 100-150 calories
- Drink plenty of water (at least 2 quarts) your body will not burn calories efficiently if you are dehydrated
- Have extra veggies for snacks
- Don’t let yourself get hungry
- Protein Shake-Mixed per shake instructions using either water or calorie-free soda or coffee.
- 1 cup frozen or fresh fruit (strawberries, banana, blueberries, mango, pineapple)
- 1 Tbs. Sugar-free jello or pudding mix
- Greek yogurt
- 1 cup fresh fruit or vegetables
Lunch and Dinner
- 1 Entree plus 2 cups of fruits/veggies (any low-calorie entree)
- Entrees (Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones)
- Mushroom Mezzaluna-LC
- Roasted Turkey Breast-LC
- Roasted Chicken and Garden Vegetables-LC
- Fiesta Grilled Chicken-LC
- Butternut Squash Ravioli-LC
- Tortilla Crusted Fish-LC
- Thai-Style Ginger Beef-LC
- Chicken Parmesan-SO
- Chipolte Lime Chicken-SO
- Roasted Chicken with Herb Gravy-SO
- Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables-SO
- Angel Hair Marinara-SO
- Santa Fe Rice and Beans-So
- Green Beans
- Chopped or Sliced Tomato
- Red Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoe
- Bell Peppers
- Almonds (100 calorie pack)
- 1 Small Apple & 1 Low Fat String Cheese
- 100 Calorie Yogurt
- Celery Sticks & 3 Tbs. Hummus
- 1 boiled egg & 1/2 Apple
- 1 cup Chopped Cantaloupe
Remember, plan the week. Make your grocery list before you go to the store. Stick to only buying what’s on the list. Fill your cart with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll need some frozen and canned ones too. Canned ones are higher in sodium so go for the low sodium varieties. I know that you’ll do great with this. You are going to get healthy and you’re going to feel so much better too. Let me know how it goes! Good luck!!