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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You

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!

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

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Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss for Beginners (A How-to Guide)

Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss for Beginners (A How-to Guide)

Intermittent fasting weight loss is a type of diet that’s rapidly growing in popularity and becoming the way to lose weight. Scientists and nutrition experts like it, too. New books and articles on the topic are being published daily. Intermittent fasting is also popular with followers of the Paleo diet since our ancestors appear to have eaten this way for thousands of years.

I’ve been following this type of diet myself for 2 years. Doing so helped me lose and keep off 70 pounds without ever having to count calories, limit carbohydrates, or eat 6 to 7 meals a day.

This article teaches you all about intermittent fasting weight loss and details why it is one of the best weight loss diet hacks around. Once you finish, you will be able to implement it into your diet and experience the benefits it offers almost immediately.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

As you may have figured from its name, intermittent fasting weight loss is a diet plan where you set fasting periods during the day. This is usually between 16-20 consecutive hours, but it can be as little as 12 hours or as much as 24 hours (or even 36 hours).

While fasting you can eat and drink low calorie or calorie-free foods. Think coffee, tea, water, and vegetables.

The more time you spend fasting every day, the better your results. You can do these fasts as often as you like. Again, the more often you do so, the better[1].

Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting

Following this diet plan is super simple. All you have to do is choose a period of time during the day that you will fast. This should be between 16-20 hours.

The longer you fast each day, the better. Don’t worry about calorie restriction or measuring carbohydrates. Just focus on going about your day until it’s time to eat.

It’s best to choose a set period of time to conduct your fast. I like to fast from 8 PM to 4 PM the following afternoon. I’ll then have my first meal of the day and a snack or two a few hours later. Once 8 o’clock rolls around, it’s back to fasting.

My experience with intermittent fasting is that it’s best to start with a 16 hour fast (i.e. 8 PM one evening to 12 PM the next day) for the first 1-2 weeks. Once you are comfortable with this schedule, you can increase the amount of time you spend fasting. Do this by adding 30 minutes to each fast until you get to where you are fasting for 20 hours at a time.

You don’t have to fast every day in the beginning either. You may be more comfortable breaking in slowly with 2 or 3 days per week, or trying alternate day fasting. Add additional days of intermittent fasting as you become more comfortable with this style of eating.

Intermittent Fasting Schedules

There are several different fasting schedules you can choose from when you start an intermittent fasting diet. Here are some of the most popular.

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The 16/8 Method

This method of fasting involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours and eating during an 8-10 hour window. Many people who are getting started with intermittent fasting will find this the easiest schedule to keep. You can eat your last meal around 8 PM and not eat again until noon the next day, for example. This sounds simple, as you’re really only skipping breakfast, but you’re actually fasting for 16 hours in this case![2]

16/8 Method of Intermittent Fasting

    The 5:2 Method

    This fasting method involves eating normally five days each week and restricting calorie intake to 500-600 calories for two (non-consecutive) days. On fasting days, women should eat around 500 calories, and men should eat around 600 calories.

    5:2 Diet for Intermittent Fasting

      Alternate-Day Fasting

      As its name suggests, this type of intermittent fasting involves fasting every other day. As with the 5:2 method, some people find it easier to eat 500-600 calories instead of going on a full fast each fasting day.

      Alternate Day Fasting
        The Warrior Diet

        This type of fasting is considered by many to be the most difficult and follows a 20/4 eating schedule. For most of the day, you limit your food intake to small amounts of fruits and vegetables (low-calorie foods). For four hours each day, you eat large-portioned meals to get in your day’s calories.

        Because of the intense nature of this method, it’s only recommended for those who have been on an intermittent fasting diet for a while and feel comfortable with it.

        The Warrior Diet

          Tips to Make Intermittent Fasting Easier

          1. Drink Plenty of Water

          Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice into your water to help get rid of any cravings you experience. You can also drink coffee, tea, or other calorie-free beverages. After a few weeks, you will find that intermittent fasting keeps you from craving sugar entirely.

          2. Take in Caffeine in the Morning and Early Afternoon

          The caffeine in coffee and tea may actually make intermittent fasting weight loss a little easier since it’s good for curbing your appetite. Be careful not to overindulge, as this may lead to you feeling a little too wired. I also recommend these natural energy boosting tips to keep you going during the day.

          3. Avoid Artificially Flavored Drinks

          One type of calorie-free drink that should be avoided are diet sodas and other beverages that use artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet & Low. Studies show that the can actually stimulate your appetite[3] like a drink that contains sugar and causes you to overeat.

          4. Don’t Gorge at Your First Meal

          The first meal after your fast should be the amount of food you typically eat. Binging will only make you feel awful and diminish the benefits you get from the fast.

          To avoid this, try creating meal plans, at least for the first few weeks. This will help you get into the rhythm of eating regularly portioned meals during your eating window.

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          5. Minimize Processed Carbohydrates and Sugars

          While intermittent fasting does make it possible to eat a little looser than normal, you should still eat as little bread, pasta, rice, etc. as possible.

          Focus instead on eating protein from beef, fish, or pork, carbohydrates from vegetables, fruit, and sweet potatoes, and healthy fats from foods like almonds, avocados, fish, and olive oil.

          You can find some carb sources that will aid your weight loss journey here.

          How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight

          Eating this way has many benefits with regard to weight loss. The first is that when you’re fasting, your body will be forced to use its stored body fat for energy. After several hours of not eating, your body will use up its sugar stores, which will cause it to start burning fat for energy, a process known as metabolic switching. 

          Mark Mattson, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins explains this effect in simple terms:

          “Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours…If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and they’re not exercising, then every time they eat, they’re running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.”[4]

          Burning calories this way, instead of from the food you’re eating throughout the day, will help you experience significant weight loss, but specifically lose weight from any excess body fat you’re carrying.

          This means that you won’t just be thinner, but you will also look better and be much healthier than if you lose weight the old-fashioned way[5].

          Intermittent fasting can help optimize the release of the key fat-burning hormones in your body. This is especially true for the two most important hormones: human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin.

          Human growth hormone plays a key role in turning on your body’s fat-burning furnace so that it gets the calories you need to work and play from stored body fat. Studies show that fasting can significantly increase the production of HGH[6].

          The influence intermittent fasting has on insulin is just as impressive and possibly more important. Keeping your insulin levels low and steady is key to losing excess fat and keeping it off.

          Diets that are rich in processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice) and simple sugars (candy, cookies, and soda) have the opposite effect. They cause your insulin levels to rapidly spike and then crash every time you eat one of these foods. The net result of this phenomenon is that your body will store more of what you eat as excess body fat instead of burning it off as energy.

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          Chronically elevating your insulin levels like this can also lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health problems. Intermittent fasting easily solves this problem.

          One study found that men who participated in intermittent fasting had “dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity”[7].

          This happens because you’re not giving your body food, so it will not produce insulin, allowing insulin levels to balance out until you eat again. This helps your body stay in a calorie and fat-burning state. You’ll also find that it gives you more energy throughout the day.

          Another great weight loss benefit of intermittent fasting is that hunger pangs and cravings that may normally plague you throughout the day will be reduced, if not altogether eliminated. This is probably due to its ability to balance your insulin and blood sugar levels and, in turn, help correct other hormonal imbalances.

          Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss FAQs

          Now that you know what intermittent fasting is and how to get started, it’s time to answer your other questions.

          Below are answers to the questions frequently asked about intermittent fasting. These answers should help you and make getting started a lot easier.

          How Much Weight Will I Lose?

          The amount of weight you lose with fasting is determined by how often and long your fasts are, what you eat afterward, and other factors.

          One study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that average weight loss on an intermittent fasting diet was around 9lbs after 12 months, and weight loss was most successful in those who strictly adhered to their chosen diet[8].

          Can I Work out While Fasting?

          Yes, you can. In fact, doing the right type of workout while fasting will help you lose weight faster and even build muscle.

          If you are a hardcore athlete who often exercises for an hour or more each day, intermittent fasting may not be the best choice for you as this amount of exercise requires fuel to keep you moving and build muscle. However, light to moderate intensity workouts 2 to 4 times a week should work with intermittent fasting.

          The best workouts to do while fasting for weight loss are strength training workouts. This means anything from standard strength training to kettlebell or body weight workouts. Combine these with lighter forms of exercise like walking, jogging, or yoga.

          You could also try this 30-Day Resistance Band Workout Challenge alongside your intermittent fasting diet. It will help you get into an exercise routine while easing into your new eating routine.

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          Focus on doing 3-4 total body exercises per workout with as little rest as possible between sets. Doing this will help you burn more calories during and after your workout. You’ll also build muscle, which will help you look and feel better as the weight comes off.

          Remember, exercising can increase hunger, so try working out in the hour or two right before you are scheduled to break your fast[9]. Your body will be primed for a meal, and your hunger won’t get the best of you.

          Won’t I Lose Muscle When I Fast?

          First of all, you aren’t fasting long enough for your body to start breaking down muscle for energy. You have, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of calories from your stored body fat to use before that will begin to happen.

          If you’re trying to build muscle while fasting, you’ll need to ensure you’re getting enough calories, especially through protein, at each meal between fasts.

          Is Fasting Safe?

          As long as you are healthy, not pregnant, and aren’t taking medications, fasting is safe. Like all diets, you should discuss it with your doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting diet.

          I also feel that it may not be smart to follow this type of diet when you’re especially stressed. Since this diet can be a little stress-inducing at first, doing so when you aren’t able to be relatively stress-free and rested probably isn’t a good idea.

          Are There Any Supplements I Can Take to Make Fasting Easier?

          As with any other weight loss plan, it’s a good idea to take a few nutritional supplements to make sure your daily requirements are met. This includes a once or twice daily multi-vitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D.I’ve also found taking 10 grams of branched-chain amino acids before and after my workouts really helps, too. They’re great for giving you more energy during your workout and decreasing post-workout muscle soreness.

          For supplements to specifically help with digestion, check out this article.

          The Bottom Line

          Now you know what intermittent fasting is and how it can help you lose weight quickly and safely. If you want to give it a try, find a fasting schedule that fits with your lifestyle, and give it a go.

          More About Intermittent Fasting

          Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

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