How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

If there’s a breakfast burrito and chips and guac included, you know it’s going to be good.

Just in case you need to hear this: You don’t need to lose weight. Not to be happy. Not to fall in love. Not to get the job of your dreams. If you want to lose weight to get healthier? Great. Just know that body size isn’t the end-all, be-all of determining your health. Feeling good and taking care of your body is the goal—and that can look like a lot of different things.

But if you want to make some healthy changes to your diet or if you want to lose some fat, committing to a diet plan can really help.

To help you get started, The Biggest Loser nutritionist Cheryl Forberg, R.D., designed this seven-day diet plan for weight loss, which is just like the one that helps the competitors slim down. With this easy-to-follow plan, you’re sure to feel refreshed and lose weight (if you want to!) in no time. (Want a longer plan? Try the 30-Day Clean-ish Eating Challenge.)

7-Day Diet Plan for Weight Loss

This is no deprivation diet: You’ll eat three meals and two snacks daily, plus each dish packs a filling balance of 45 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 25 percent healthy fats. (More on that here: Everything to Know About Counting Your Macros) When it comes to drinks, Forberg recommends sticking to no- and low-cal picks like coffee, tea, and water.

And to accelerate weight loss and build a healthy and strong body, The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper suggests doing 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise four times a week. (Also read this: How to Build Your Own Workout Routine for Weight Loss)

A series of meal plans forms the basis for any calorie-controlled diet. These examples will help you to get a handle on what your daily energy intake will look like.

Current government calorie recommendations are as follows:

  • Women (aged 19-30) – 2000
  • Women (aged 31-50) – 1800
  • Men (aged 19-30) – 2400
  • Men (aged 31-50) – 2200

These amounts are for weight maintenance (neither losing or gaining weight), and assume little or no physical activity. As we age, our basal metabolism lowers, as does our muscle mass.

By Number of Calories

  • 1000 Calorie Diet
  • 1050-1000 Calorie Diet
  • 1100 Calorie Diet Low fat.
  • 1200 Calorie Diet
    Meal plans for 2 days.
  • 1200 Calorie Diet
    Based on whole foods.
  • 1200 Calorie Diet
    from the Mayo Clinic Plan
  • 1350 Calorie Diet
    Low fat.
  • 1400 Calorie Diet
    Meal plans for 2 days.
  • 1450 Calorie Diet (Higher Protein)
    Detailed Meal plans for 4 days with calorie levels per meal.
  • 1500 Calorie Diet
    A moderate carb, lower fat meal plan for weight loss.
  • 1500 Calorie Diet
    High protein.
  • 1600 Calorie Diet
    Meal plans for 2 days.
  • 1600 Calorie Diet
    A sample from the NHLBI.
  • 1800 Calorie Diet

As a very basic guide, daily calories under 1600 will suit a smaller-framed woman looking to lose weight. 1600 Calories and above will suit men.

Sample Meal Plans from Popular Diets

These meal plans are a selection of extracts from a number of popular diets. To obtain further plans you will need to purchase the book.

  • South Beach Diet meal plan
    Full days menu for each of the three phases.
  • Jillian Michaels Diet Plan
    Offers visitors a free weight loss plan and the first 7 days of her program are free.
  • Personality Type Diet
    Meal plan for a day
  • Perricone’s 3 Day Nutritional Facelift
    3 Days of meal plans
  • Meal Plan for Kids and Teens
    Sample meal plan from the SlimKids program.
  • Slim Fast
    What does a day on the Slim Fast program look like?
  • Eating For Life / Body For Life
    A sample 1700 calorie plan from this successful program.
  • Sonoma Diet
    A sample of possible meal combinations.
  • Mayo Clinic Plan
    A 1200 Calorie plan based on the Mayo Clinic food pyramid.
  • Low Fat Diet Plan
    A full day’s menu for a low fat diet.
  • Cabbage Soup Diet
    The 7 day meal plans for the cabbage soup diet (not recommended).
  • 3 Day Diet

Calorie controlled diets do not suit everyone. If you are someone that is prone to obsessing over food, then measuring calories may ultimately cause more harm than good.

A series of meal plans forms the basis for any calorie-controlled diet. These examples will help you to get a handle on what your daily energy intake will look like.

Current government calorie recommendations are as follows:

  • Women (aged 19-30) – 2000
  • Women (aged 31-50) – 1800
  • Men (aged 19-30) – 2400
  • Men (aged 31-50) – 2200

These amounts are for weight maintenance (neither losing or gaining weight), and assume little or no physical activity. As we age, our basal metabolism lowers, as does our muscle mass.

By Number of Calories

  • 1000 Calorie Diet
  • 1050-1000 Calorie Diet
  • 1100 Calorie Diet Low fat.
  • 1200 Calorie Diet
    Meal plans for 2 days.
  • 1200 Calorie Diet
    Based on whole foods.
  • 1200 Calorie Diet
    from the Mayo Clinic Plan
  • 1350 Calorie Diet
    Low fat.
  • 1400 Calorie Diet
    Meal plans for 2 days.
  • 1450 Calorie Diet (Higher Protein)
    Detailed Meal plans for 4 days with calorie levels per meal.
  • 1500 Calorie Diet
    A moderate carb, lower fat meal plan for weight loss.
  • 1500 Calorie Diet
    High protein.
  • 1600 Calorie Diet
    Meal plans for 2 days.
  • 1600 Calorie Diet
    A sample from the NHLBI.
  • 1800 Calorie Diet

As a very basic guide, daily calories under 1600 will suit a smaller-framed woman looking to lose weight. 1600 Calories and above will suit men.

Sample Meal Plans from Popular Diets

These meal plans are a selection of extracts from a number of popular diets. To obtain further plans you will need to purchase the book.

  • South Beach Diet meal plan
    Full days menu for each of the three phases.
  • Jillian Michaels Diet Plan
    Offers visitors a free weight loss plan and the first 7 days of her program are free.
  • Personality Type Diet
    Meal plan for a day
  • Perricone’s 3 Day Nutritional Facelift
    3 Days of meal plans
  • Meal Plan for Kids and Teens
    Sample meal plan from the SlimKids program.
  • Slim Fast
    What does a day on the Slim Fast program look like?
  • Eating For Life / Body For Life
    A sample 1700 calorie plan from this successful program.
  • Sonoma Diet
    A sample of possible meal combinations.
  • Mayo Clinic Plan
    A 1200 Calorie plan based on the Mayo Clinic food pyramid.
  • Low Fat Diet Plan
    A full day’s menu for a low fat diet.
  • Cabbage Soup Diet
    The 7 day meal plans for the cabbage soup diet (not recommended).
  • 3 Day Diet

Calorie controlled diets do not suit everyone. If you are someone that is prone to obsessing over food, then measuring calories may ultimately cause more harm than good.

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

About 95% of Americans think about managing their weight at any given time, according to a recent report from a California-based market research firm, and over a quarter of adults rate it as a top personal priority. If you’re considering a weight-loss program to support your goals, here are some factors to consider and pointers to increase your chances of success.

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

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The best diet programs for weight loss:

  • WW (Weight Watchers): According to U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Diets, WW (Weight Watchers) is the best “commercial” diet plan for weight loss. Specialists in nutrition, diabetes and heart disease think the plan is the easiest way to lose weight, and they rate WW’s eating principles as healthy and sound. Experts also say it’s among the most effective weight-loss plans for short-term and long-term results.
  • Noom: An app-based, weight-loss program, Noom, earns praise for helping users modify their behaviors. However, experts worry that the amount of tracking the program requires could get exhausting.
  • Jenny Craig: This could work if you want help in the form of pre-packaged meals delivered to your home. These meals are supplemented with fruits, veggies and dairy foods (or their equivalents), so the diet gets high marks for healthfulness. However, once you ween off their packaged meals, experts think weight regain is a serious possibility.
  • Flexitarian diet: Notably, the best diet for weight loss, according to U.S. News, isn’t a commercial program, it’s the flexitarian diet, based on the book by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. The flexitarian diet’s emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains and plant-based proteins makes this a nutritional standout. And these foods happen to be among the best for weight loss since they’re higher in fiber and lower in calories per bite, so you can eat filling portions while lowering your overall calorie intake.

Related

Top diets What’s the best diet of 2021? Mediterranean, flexitarian and DASH top list

Should you follow a weight-loss program?

There’s no single best way to lose weight, but what all weight-loss plans have in common is that they produce a calorie deficit, meaning you’ll either eat fewer calories than you previously ate, or boost the number of calories you burn through exercise, or a combination of the two.

Rather than focusing on the macronutrient breakdown of a plan (say, high protein or low fat), it’s better to consider a plan that matches your needs since adherence is the main driver of weight-loss success. For instance, if you dine out or travel frequently, a weight-loss program, like Jenny Craig, that emphasizes pre-packaged meals and largely limits these activities isn’t going to be the best fit. Here are 10 additional questions to ask yourself to narrow down the best diet plan for your needs:

  1. How much cooking are you willing to do, and does the required cooking suit your skill level?
  2. Does the diet eliminate any food groups, and if so, is that an eating pattern you can sustain? Think beyond the first few months and imagine living and eating this way for the next few years.
  3. Are you looking for a weight-loss meal plan that guides you through breakfast, lunch and dinner or one that offers general advice?
  4. What’s the cost involved? Consider the cost of the weight-loss program itself, as well as any requirements for specific foods. For instance, a weight-loss plan that emphasizes plant foods will be less expensive than one centered around meats.
  5. What’s the time commitment outside of cooking or planning meals? Do you have to attend weekly meetings or track your food? Is the amount of time required realistic for you?
  6. What type of support is built into the plan, and does the support match your personal needs? For instance, if all the support is text-based and you don’t want to be tied to your phone, this may not be the right fit for you.
  7. Does the plan teach you how to change your behaviors? Unless a weight-loss plan addresses behavioral change, it’ll be hard to sustain any results.
  8. Does the diet plan address your health problems? Say you have type 2 diabetes: Will you learn proper eating strategies to manage your condition?
  9. Can the plan accommodate your dietary restrictions? If you’re a vegetarian or following a gluten-free diet, for instance, can you find enough variety among what’s offered, or will that be an additional challenge?
  10. How does the weight-loss plan address exercise, and are the activity recommendations doable for you?

In addition to these questions, it’s also worth considering what (if anything) worked for you in the past and when and why it stopped working. Maybe you had successfully lost weight on a program but changed jobs or went through a breakup that interfered with your ability to lose weight at that time. Were there elements that you liked about the program? If so, you may want to re-enroll or find another weight-loss plan that will help you re-engage with those strategies.

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

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Researching diet plans is a lot like surfing Netflix: You’re bombarded with thousands upon thousands of choices, none of which seem to be exactly what you want. So you spend way too much time sorting through the options until you pick something that seems okay—until you get bored and wander into the kitchen for a snack halfway through.

There are a lot of reasons why diet plans fail, but the number one reason you can’t stick with your plan—or your plan isn’t working—is that it’s simply not the right plan for you. After all, you wouldn’t expect the Olsen twins and the Williams sisters to eat the same meal plan; why should you try to squeeze into a program just because it worked for someone whose life is completely different from yours? (If you do like take a cue from the Hollywood crowd, though, check out these quick weight loss tips celebs swear by!)

Of course, you could always hire someone to tailor a nutrition plan just for you, but that costs big bucks. We’ve got a better solution: We’ve picked some of our favorite diet plans, tested and proven by hundreds of people on our test panels. But rather than dictate which plan you should pursue, we’ve developed a fun little interactive quiz that help you decide. Got a sweet tooth? We’ve got a plan for that. Too busy for breakfast in the morning? We’ve got you covered. Simply plug your answers into our mini decoder, and let the weight loss begin!

Before we begin this post, we want to draw your attention to our ​COVID-19 article, which provides answers to the most important health-related coronavirus questions.

When it comes to dieting, few things are more important than discipline.

The strength of your discipline is often the difference between you reaching for that candy bar or throwing it in the trash. It’s a powerful weapon in your weight loss armory.

But what if your discipline has the analogical strength of a pea shooter? How are you expected to succeed in your dieting plans if you can’t go more than a few days without succumbing to temptation? The answer lies not in trying to force discipline upon yourself, but in exercising your discipline and increasing its strength over time.

The Mistake Most People Make

We’re all attracted to the notion of quick weight loss. That’s why the dieting industry is so enormous – marketers and entrepreneurs are getting rich off of people who are in desperate search of a quick fix.

The attraction of quick weight loss is twofold:

  1. We need to quickly see the benefits of our efforts – not only for aesthetic reward, but also to provide us with greater discipline in order to continue.
  2. We want the diet, which is invariably onerous, to be over and done with as quickly as possible.

Even when people initially succeed using a diet plan, they’ll often slip back into old habits and put the weight they lost back on over time. Then the cycle repeats, and the dieting industry keeps growing.

Why does this happen? Simple: dieters call upon their willpower to engage in a course of action, but once their willpower is exhausted, their discipline is not strong enough to maintain the original course of action.

The Difference Between Willpower and Discipline

The words willpower and discipline are often used interchangeably, but for the purposes of dieting, they have distinct meanings.

Willpower: the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.

Discipline: to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.

Willpower is what gets the engine turning over; discipline is what keeps it running once it’s fired up.

If you’ve ever started a healthy eating regime and fallen off the wagon after a matter of days or weeks, you have experienced an unsuccessful transition from willpower to discipline.

So a lack of discipline is often the cause of dieting failure. I’m not disclosing any revelations here; you’re almost certainly aware that your discipline is lacking. So the question is, what can you do to strengthen your discipline?

On Setting Impossible Goals

If I told you that you had to run a three hour marathon or bench press 300lbs tomorrow, how would you react?

You’d probably tell me that it was impossible (unless you happen to be an avid runner or weightlifter). Despite that, many of us impose similarly absurd goals when it comes to dieting.

We decide to cut out all fast food, soda, candy and ‘unhealthy’ foods in one fell swoop. We replace them with lean meats and fresh fruit and vegetables, all cooked from scratch (despite the fact that you’re used to eating out or cooking your food in the microwave). In short, we impose an exhaustive overhaul of our eating habits overnight.

Is it any wonder that we fail? It’s the equivalent of transitioning from doing no exercise to running ten miles a day in the space of a week.

There is no shame in failing to adopt an entirely different eating regime overnight. You’re being unreasonable on yourself in expecting such a quick change. You’re asking your discipline to perform impossible feats of strength.

Of course, those feats don’t have to be impossible. If you work on strengthening your discipline over time, you will eventually be able to stick to a diet that results in long term weight loss and weight management.

Cumulative Dieting

The key to strengthening your discipline is to do it gradually.

On day one, if you allow yourself to eat as you please, you will require no discipline. On day two, you might choose to replace one snack with something healthier or reduce your dinner portion by 10%, which would require a modicum of discipline.

The key is to maintain that small change until your discipline is strong enough to handle a greater load. When you feel ready to move on, make another small change to your diet and repeat the process.

If you move too soon and find yourself struggling to maintain a change, don’t let the whole diet fall to pieces. Instead, take one step back into your comfort zone, and attempt to make another (perhaps alternative) change when you feel ready again.

Dieting shouldn’t be a race. Unless you are suffering from a pressing health concern and need to lose weight now, you have the rest of your life to get in decent shape.

All other things being equal (and roughly speaking), a daily deficit of just 100–200 calories will result in 15lbs of weight loss over the course of a year. The notion that you should be losing weight at a rate of 3lbs per week is absurd (and unsustainable). If you focus on cumulative dieting – making positive changes to your diet at a rate that your discipline will permit – not only will you reach your weight loss targets, you’ll keep the weight off in the long-term.

If you’re looking for some ways to kick-start your cumulative diet, why not start by adding one or more of my healthy (yet tasty) recipes into your week? You may also want to check out these articles from the archives:

An Easy Approach to Dieting

Perhaps the greatest thing about this approach to dieting is that it’s easy.

You’re never pushing yourself – you exist in a constant state of moderate and manageable discipline. Take as long as you need to get to where you want to be and never push yourself beyond your discipline’s ability, and success is all but assured.

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share via e-mail
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share via e-mail

Researching diet plans is a lot like surfing Netflix: You’re bombarded with thousands upon thousands of choices, none of which seem to be exactly what you want. So you spend way too much time sorting through the options until you pick something that seems okay—until you get bored and wander into the kitchen for a snack halfway through.

There are a lot of reasons why diet plans fail, but the number one reason you can’t stick with your plan—or your plan isn’t working—is that it’s simply not the right plan for you. After all, you wouldn’t expect the Olsen twins and the Williams sisters to eat the same meal plan; why should you try to squeeze into a program just because it worked for someone whose life is completely different from yours? (If you do like take a cue from the Hollywood crowd, though, check out these quick weight loss tips celebs swear by!)

Of course, you could always hire someone to tailor a nutrition plan just for you, but that costs big bucks. We’ve got a better solution: We’ve picked some of our favorite diet plans, tested and proven by hundreds of people on our test panels. But rather than dictate which plan you should pursue, we’ve developed a fun little interactive quiz that help you decide. Got a sweet tooth? We’ve got a plan for that. Too busy for breakfast in the morning? We’ve got you covered. Simply plug your answers into our mini decoder, and let the weight loss begin!

Eat well, and lose weight, with these easy meal plans.

MyPyramid lets you create your own personalized weight loss plan without worrying about falling short on nutrition. And unlike most diet plans, it also allows you to factor in physical activity level.

By filling your plate with foods loaded with nutrients but low in calories, you’ll get all the fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals you need. You may also find yourself feeling satisfied on fewer calories. Here’s a taste of what a 2,000-calorie-a-day meal plan includes:

Day One

Spicy breakfast burrito (tortilla, scrambled egg, black beans and salsa)

1 cup orange juice

1 cup fat-free milk

A “deli special” roast beef or chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread (with lettuce, sauteed mushrooms, part-skim mozzarella, and yellow mustard)

3/4 cup baked potato wedges

5-ounce broiled salmon (stuffed with bread crumbs, celery, and onions) served with rice and slivered almonds

1/2 cup steamed broccoli

1 cup fat-free milk

1 cup cantaloupe

Day Two

Cold cereal with raisins and fat-free milk

Slice of whole-wheat toast with margarine and jelly

Smoked turkey sandwich on whole-wheat pita bread (with romaine lettuce, tomato slices, salad dressing and mustard)

1/2 cup apple slices

1 cup tomato juice

5-ounce grilled top loin steak

3/4 cup mashed potatoes

1/2 cup steamed carrots with honey

Whole-wheat dinner roll

1 cup fat-free milk

1 cup low-fat yogurt with fruit

Day Three

Cooked oatmeal with raisins and margarine

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1 cup orange juice

“South-of-the-border” taco salad (tortilla chips, ground turkey, black beans, iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, low-fat cheddar, salsa, avocado and lime juice)

1 unsweetened drink

Spinach lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella cheese

Whole-wheat dinner roll

One cup fat-free milk

1/2-ounce dry-roasted almonds

1/4 cup pineapple

2 tablespoons raisins

Day Four

3 buckwheat pancakes with margarine and maple syrup

1/2 cup strawberries

3/4 cup honeydew melon

1/2 cup fat-free milk

Manhattan clam chowder

10 whole-wheat crackers

1 medium orange

1 cup fat-free milk

Asian veggie stir fry (with tofu, bok choy, bell peppers)

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

Looking for the best weight loss meal delivery diets? When it comes to your weight loss, cheaper isn’t necessarily better, but, there are times when saving a few dollars won’t sacrifice the quality of the program or your results.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a list of the cheapest and best weight loss food delivery programs, so you will have a go-to guide for finding the best pre-packaged diet meals.

There are several great options when it comes to diet meal delivery services, but it can sometimes be hard deciding which one is right for you, especially when you’re trying to stay on budget.

I have tried several programs, including Nutrisystem and Medifast, and had success.

Both of these options tend to be on the more affordable end of the spectrum when it comes to prepared meals for weight loss but keep in mind that most of their food options are closer the Lean Cuisine end of things and wouldn’t be considered gourmet meals.

That said, I found both the Medifast and Nutrisystem meals to be enjoyable, and if you’re looking for the most affordable diet plans, you’re going to have to expect to eat some pre-packaged, microwaveable foods.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to find a more gourmet style of diet meal delivery foods, then BistroMD and Diet-to-Go or two options that you should consider.

While their foods are also packaged ahead of time, the food is going to be fresher, and overall the quality will be better.

Of course, both of these services will cost you more money each month, though, so you’ll have to weigh the results you’re looking to achieve, with your budget and food preference.

Now that we have a pretty good idea of the Top 4 Meal Delivery Diets, let’s take a closer look at each one, so you can decide which one is going to help you meet your goals and stay on budget.

Top-5 Meal Delivery Diets for Weight Loss

1. Nutrisystem

How to find weight loss meal plans that work for you

I have had a lot of success with Nutrisystem over the years, and in fact, lost more than 30 pounds using this system several years ago.

I still use Nutrisystem when I need to lose 10 pounds or more, or when I just need a “reset” with my diet.

Nutrisystem offers a wide range of plans and foods for men and women to choose from and has a long track record of success.

Plans For:

  • Men
  • Women
  • Diabetics
  • Vegetarians

Plans to Choose From:

  • Basic: Starts at $9.82 per Day
  • Core: Starts at $10.54 per Day
  • Uniquely Yours: Starts at $11.96 per Day

All of the Nutrisystem plans include 28 days worth food. Their system is designed for you to eat four or five small meals per day.

All of their food is calorie and portion-controlled to help you lose the most weight possible. You will also be eating fresh fruits and vegetables alongside the meals and snacks they send you, so you will want to budget for that as well.

When followed correctly, you can expect to safely lose 1 to 2 pounds per week on the Nutrisystem diet plan.

Of course, people have lost more weight than that as well, it just depends on how committed you are to the program, how much exercise you get, and how well your body responds to the program.

They also provide diet counselors, so if you’re ever having problems, or aren’t getting the results you were expecting, you can work with them to get on track.