Wondering what makes up the perfect weight loss meal plan? If you are looking to lose weight, chances are you are reading about every diet out there and trying to figure out which one will deliver you the best results possible.
It can be challenging going through it all as every diet claims to be one that will help you reach your goals. But when you understand some key fundamentals about dieting and weight loss, it becomes easier to figure out your perfect weight loss meal plan.
To help get you started, let’s go over some of the key requirements that any meal plan you’re looking at should contain.
Some people get caught up in the trap of thinking that lower calorie is always better. If you can eat 2000 calories per day and lose weight, 1500 calories must be an even better number, right?
Wrong. The body can only handle so much of a calorie deficit and beyond that, the metabolism will start to slow, muscle mass loss will be more likely, and you’ll be ravenously hungry all the time.
The perfect weight loss meal plan provides the right amount of calories so that you are able to see optimal fat loss results while still keeping the key hormones – testosterone and leptin optimized.
Every individual will have a slightly different optimal calorie intake, so take note that this is not the same for everyone. What works best for one person may not be the best for another so a good plan does factor individuality into things.
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Another important thing that the perfect weight loss meal plan needs to have in place is the right amount of protein. While the number of calories you consume is the single most important thing as it will dictate whether or not you gain or lose weight on the plan, your protein intake is what will determine whether you are losing muscle mass or body fat.
If you aren’t eating enough protein, there is a high probability that you will start utilizing protein as a fuel source, thus leaving less protein left over to ensure optimal muscle maintenance.
Your protein needs go up when on a fat loss diet plan (1), so a good weight loss meal plan should take that into account. Most people will need around 1.2-1.5 grams/lb. of body weight of protein each day.
A Carb And Fat Balance
While you might think that it’s best to cut carbs way back when on a fat loss diet plan. It seems like everyone is doing very low carb diets right now and it must be best.
But, the research actually proves otherwise. Very low carb diets cause leptin levels to drop faster than when on a higher carb approach (2) and it’s leptin levels that regulate metabolic rate.
So in actuality, while a low carb diet may cause you to burn more energy from fat while you are on it, it’s also causing you to burn less energy all day long period. This slows down the rate of weight progress.
Furthermore, your workout intensity will suffer when you are doing a low carb diet plan. If you can’t push as much weight in the gym, you also won’t be sending the signal to the body to maintain your lean muscle mass, which can further prompt lean muscle mass loss.
Your weight loss plan should have a mix of both carbs and fats, with neither macro being taken too low. Balance is key. The body responds best when all three macronutrients in place as each is going to play a role in optimal functioning and performance.
You don’t need to go to a very high carb diet plan, but you do need some carbohydrates in the picture. Placing the bulk of them immediately after your workout session is the smartest move as this is when the body is most likely to use them to help promote better recovery from the workout session and least likely to store them as body fat.
Scheduling and Planning Meals
Another important factor that a good weight loss meal plan should account for is some sort of planning and scheduling. It’s important that a meal plan doesn’t just give you a macro target to hit and then turn you lose.
It should give some individual on how to plan out your day to day food intake and structure your meals. Most people don’t understand how to do this properly on their own, so if not given, they will not carry the diet out.
It’s great to gain information on how to eat healthy meals, but if an actual plan is not put into place, it becomes hard to follow and usually, that’s where the effort stops.
This said, it’s also important at the same time to recognize that life does happen and you may not always be able to eat exactly as laid out, so some degree of flexibly is needed as well.
Good Food Choices
Finally, a good weight loss meal plan will also have you focusing on wholesome food choices as well. You shouldn’t be eating processed foods or foods that contain very little nutrients even if they do fit your macros.
While the ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ plan is very popular right now for example, if you take this too idea too far and just fill your diet full of junk foods to reach your target calorie intake, you won’t be feeling so well and your health will reflect this.
I always recommend that you take an 80/20% approach. Meaning you should eat 80% of your foods from healthy, natural sources that provide high nutritional quality to your diet plan. The other 20% of the foods you eat can be in the form of ‘fun’ foods – cheat foods that you are enjoying and eating more for psychological benefit.
A good weight loss meal plan will take into account the fact that cravings do happen and you shouldn’t be banned from eating all the foods you enjoy, but at the same time, moderation does need to be practiced.
So there you have the key things to remember about finding yourself a perfect weight loss meal plan. When you are on a plan that works for you, you’ll know. You’ll feel good, your hunger will be controlled, your food cravings will be down and most importantly, you’ll be seeing good results.
- Demling, Robert H., and Leslie DeSanti. “Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers.” Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 44.1 (2000): 21-29.
- Jenkins, A. B., et al. “Carbohydrate intake and short-term regulation of leptin in humans.” Diabetologia 40.3 (1997): 348-351.
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