A meal plan is simply a map of what you are going to eat. Planning your meals in advance allows you to take control of your personal nutrition. Need to lose weight? Your plan should focus on macronutrients and calories. Need to lower your blood pressure? Your plan should focus on low sodium food choices. Many people also read how to plan a diet that causes fat loss.
Meal planning gives you full control of your calorie intake.
You will learn more about nutrition and nutrients as well as portion control. You will begin to eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods as you eliminate those calorie-dense junk foods. Meal planning will also save time in shopping and food preparation in the kitchen.
To begin your personal meal plan, you need to first calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE, which is the number of calories you burn each day. Start by calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) using your age, your height, current body weight and your level of activity. Your BMR is the number of calories that you need daily to sustain your current body weight. To lose weight, simply subtract 200-500 calories from your BMR to create your new calorie target. As a general rule, women should not go below 1200 calories per day, and men not below 1800 calories per day. To make this easier, simply visit https://tdeecalculator.net/ and plug in the appropriate values.
Using your calorie target, begin creating your diet meal plan.
You can plan this on paper or there are websites and apps that you can use by simply inserting your choices of foods, for example Eat This Much is an excellent online meal planner. You should be selecting your foods by macronutrient: Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats and simply let the meal plan do all the calculations for you.
Your initial meal plan provides an outline and suggestions, now customize your plan with foods YOU like in servings that fit your calorie requirements. If you use any online meal planner, it will show your plan in total calories as well as macronutrient ratios. You can easily adjust your plan to increase your protein intake and decrease carbohydrates and fats. Adjustments in your diet provide quicker weight loss and add more lean muscle to your body!
Once you have created your first plan, it is easy to make adjustments and in no time you’ll be creating plans for every day of the year.
If you have made your initial calculations correctly and created a manageable calorie deficit (the calorie target BELOW your BMR) then following your meal plan WILL help you reach your weight loss goals.
Your healthy meal plan should include:
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Limited saturated fats, sodium and sugars, and NO trans fats.
- Controlled servings and portion sizes.
- Unlimited water with every meal and snack.
Check out: how to use portion control to lose weight.