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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You

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How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be so successful in finding a diet that works for them? Meanwhile, you find it hard to stick to any one diet — Atkins, Paleo, Keto, vegan, vegetarian, high-carb, low carb, and, my goodness the list goes on and on…

If you can relate to that, then you are in the right place! I am here to show you not only which weight-loss meal plans work better, but also how to make those diets work for you!

I am going to take you through the steps that will guarantee you long-term success in finding a diet that is effective for you!

Step 1: Know Your Body

“I don’t get they lost all that weight with that diet? I’ve tried it and it didn’t work?”

Have you ever said a phrase similar to that? If so, you’re not alone. Each person is different, which also means that every person out there will have a slightly different plan for what works for them.

If you are going to find success in this endeavor, then you need to understand YOUR specific needs. Each person is different, and there are countless obstacles that could be making it hard for you to lose weight like blood sugar imbalance, food intolerance, etc.

The great news is that no one knows your body as well as you do! So, yes, you might hear about an amazing high fruit diet, but only you know whether that would harm you or help you in the long run.

Here are some cues that can help guide you along to which diet might help you best:

Do you Get super anxious or jittery after eating high carb meals? Do you crave sugar or starches? Do you have blood sugar imbalances?

For you, eating a low amount of starchy or sugary carbs might be the best options! You could try a diet like a Paleo or a Blood Sugar Balancing Plan to see if they work for you!

Do you find your stomach constantly in knots, have a high PH, and can’t tolerate meat well?

Consider going plant-based! The high amount of vegetables could balance your body and reduce inflammation!

Do you always crave processed foods? Do you find it hard to eat a balanced diet because of your cravings?

Your body might need to reset and get used to eating whole and nutritious foods! Maybe you could give the Whole 30 a shot!

Do you struggle with food sensitivities? Does your digestion make it hard for you to lose weight?

An elimination diet or the virgin diet could be just what you need to discover what sensitivities are your pitfalls.

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Whatever your unique conditions, you likely already know what really does or doesn’t work for you. Go with a diet that fits your needs.

Step 2: Power Up!

Now that you have some idea as far as the basic diet, there are some guidelines I’ll go over with you. No matter what diet you choose, there are some rules that you can follow to ensure your success!

Even the best diet can be foiled if you don’t know the nutrition basics necessary to turn your body into a fat torching machine!

Eat Clean

Have you ever fallen for the idea that filling your pantry with “diet” foods or “low fat” foods would make the difference necessary for weight loss? Trust me! You are not alone!

Today, most people have falsely believed the marketing lies that the “missing ingredient” for weight loss comes in a package. That is sadly far from the truth.

Keeping an eye on calorie intake or sticking by the rules of a diet plan is great! But even the best of diets can be sabotaged by junk food under the guise of being “healthy”.

These foods lead to people subbing their regular cokes for diet cokes and make diet cakes. They eat low-fat yogurt laden with sugar and chemicals. They chow down on processed protein bars. And all the while they wonder why they can’t stick to their diets or lose the weight. These poor people have merely fallen victim to all the diet marketing plaguing our states.

The problem is that what we really need is pure whole foods! Even though some foods might be low-calorie, if they are not whole and natural foods, then your body likely still won’t respond very well to them. Make a point of filling your plate with lean protein and piles of veggies!

Doing this will give your body the actual nutrients that your body is craving. This attacks the problem at the root source of weight gain by helping your body work well and shed extra weight on its own. Over time, your boosted metabolism will help do most of the work for you.

Eat Lots of Green Veggies

Thought that there are diets out there that will keep me from having to eat veggies? Hey, your mom told you to finish that spinach for a reason! Your body needs the rich amount of nutrients that veggies offer no matter what diet you are on!

Most successful diets out there have on thing in common:

They always encourage filling up on greens.

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Greens are low calorie and nutrient dense. They fill you up and help you feel like you ate a lot more than you actually did. They clean you out and balance your blood sugar.

I could really go on and on about them. But there’s also one aspect that many people overlook:

Greens have a very high alkalizing effect on the body.

If you have been eating diets high in fast food and fries, then your body is likely very acidic. This leads to less energy, more sickness, and more weight gain. Eating lots of greens could help rebalance your body and stop weight gain in its tracks!

If you grew up on fast food, eating greens is probably the last thing on your plate that you want to eat. That’s where you need to retrain your palate. Your brain has been convinced that sugar and saturated fat will bring you energy. When you realize that those foods are actually the source of exhaustion, you can then begin to convince your mind that the real source of energy lies in the power of vegetables.

Start by subbing veggies for some carbs or mixing greens into your meals. Follow this link for more great ideas to retrain your palate!

Don’t Fall for Fads

If you have been tracking so far, there is one thing I’ll mention that you probably saw coming:

Be on guard for fad diets.

The best diets work by getting your metabolism humming on its own, not by cutting extreme calories!

If any diets seem to offer miracle results, then be careful. The fact of the matter is, long-term weight loss is a very steady process. Consistency is key.

What can be a fad diet?

  • If it promises instant weight loss
  • If you can’t sustain it long-term
  • If you never stop being tired on it (the right diets might make you tired at first while your body is re-balancing, but long-term you will find your energy multiply).
  • If it completely ignores vital nutrients
  • If people who go on it seem to always fall off and gain more weight after they do

Step 3: Boost Your Metabolism

Now that you have pinned down the type of diet that you believe would make your body feel the best, it’s time to show you how to get your metabolism fired up!

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No matter what diet you choose, if you don’t know the basics of how to balance blood sugar and keep your fat burning machine fueled, then you will have a difficult time losing the weight.

We are about to go over how to tune up your machine and keep those fires burning.

Manage your Protein

Protein is a power tool because it optimizes fat burning and boost your metabolism. Another important aspect of protein is the fact that it is absorbed slowly giving your body a steady boost of nutrients.

No matter what diet you choose, it will be a bust if you are not ensuring proper protein intake (vegetarians can get protein through eggs, tofu, bean and rice, and quinoa).

The daily recommended intake for protein is 10-35% of your calories. Too little will make you lose muscle and will destroy your metabolism. Too high protein could result in kidney problems.

Of course, muscle is built out of amino acids, and they are found in protein. So the amount that you workout will definitely determine how much protein you will need!

Here are the basic guidelines to help you figure out your protein needs:

If you’re Sedentary:

  • Find 36% of your body weight; That’s how much protein in grams you will need!
  • Example: If I weighed 150 then I would need 54 grams of protein a day.

If you’re an endurance trainer:

  • Find 70% of your body weight; That’s how much protein in grams you will need!
  • Example: If I weighed 150 then I would need 105 grams of protein a day.

If you are a Heavy Lifter/Body Builder

  • Find 90-100% of your body weight. That’s how much protein in grams you will need!
  • Example: If I weighed 150 then I would need 135-150 grams of protein a day.
  • Make sure you are adding protein to every meal for the best results!

Time Your Meals

Did you know that skipping meals can actually make you gain weight? That means the very thing you do to try to lose weight might actually be doing the opposite for you!

The problem with skipping meals is that it can crash your metabolism and lead to bingeing later on. Why would you want to set yourself up for that hardship? No fun!

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The right diet should not be about depriving you from food. Rather, it should be about filling your body with the right nutrient dense foods.

Diets that are extremely low calorie long-term, that encourage drinking only liquids, or make you ravenously hungry are not the best options for a sustainable life-change.

If you really want to boost your fat-burning abilities then set certain time frames for eating and focusing on eating every 3-4 hours within that time frame. This method (a form of intermittent fasting) will keep you from going hungry when you shouldn’t eat, but will keep your metabolism humming during times when you need the extra energy.[1]

Know the Basics of Blood-Sugar Balance

What if I told you that Blood sugar balance could be what is sabotaging you from achieving your dream body?!

“What?” You ask, “That’s not true. I’m the one sabotaging it. I always crave sweets. I binge on food at night. I just feel so tired and cranky a few hours after eating and I just dive straight for the cookie bin.”

What if I told you that is not your fault? It’s very likely that it could actually be your body screaming that it’s off balance.

With our modern “SAD” diet (that stands for standard american diet in case you were wondering) people are finding that keeping their blood sugar stable is become more and more difficult. Insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar, can determine the difference between success or utter failure on your weight-loss endeavors. And our modern world has our insulin all out of whack!

Luckily, there are ways to take care of this — by combining your meals properly:[2]

The Bottom Line

Are you excited to start creating the body you’ve always dreamed of?

By working with your body, eating whole fresh foods, keeping portions in control, and managing your blood sugar to boost metabolism, you will be amazed to see your body seamlessly following your efforts!

Remember, weight loss is a journey. There will be times when you fail and that is okay! Like anything in life, from your family or your career, perseverance and consistency will get you where you want to be! Stay the course and be okay with steady progression.

If you know your body and what works for you, fill up on nutrients and whole foods, ensure you are balancing your blood sugar balance, and make sure that what you are doing is sustainable long-term then you will see some amazing results!

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You’ve got this! Be excited, I’m right here rooting for you and here to help!

Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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