When people think about weight loss, very often the predominant thought is about how to reduce caloric intake. While this is an important factor, it is only one part of the equation. There is also the danger of getting seduced by some type of fad diet and missing out on important nutrients that your body requires. The truth is most people can take full control over their weight loss goals, and one of the best ways to do this is through meal planning.
So, what is meal planning exactly? Meal planning is figuring out in advance what you will eat for every meal of the day for at least one cycle of weight loss (which could be anywhere between 1-4 weeks). It's simple to do and can benefit your weight loss efforts in multiple ways.
Creating a Caloric Deficit
Because weight loss is all about creating a caloric deficit, this is of course an important part of the weight-loss equation. One of the most effective ways to do this is by planning your food intake ahead of time. If you are already at a healthy weight, it could be as little as 500-1000 calories per day less than your daily needs. If you have quite a bit of weight that you would like to lose, you will likely need to make larger reductions in your food intake each day. However, this doesn't have to be done with a significantly reduced number of calories all at once. You can implement this by planning smaller calorie cuts over time, such as 200-500 fewer calories per meal than what you would normally eat.
Meal Planning Provides Nutritious, Nutrient-Dense Foods
Another benefit of planning your meals is that it gives you the opportunity to make sure you are getting all the nutrients required for good health. Of course, this means taking the time to figure out what you will need and when. However, once you have done this, you'll be able to optimize the weight loss process by providing your body with the good food and optimum nutrients that it needs. The best weight loss plans include all the major nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat as well as other important items such as fiber, and vitamins, and minerals.
Meal Planning Teaches You About Portion Control
You've likely heard before that it is important to maintain portion control when weight loss is the goal. While this may seem like common sense, knowing how much you should be eating at any given meal can be difficult for many people. This is where weight loss meal planning can help because you must plan for the right number of calories to make sure you are eating the correct amount of food at each meal. Portion control provides you with a guide for how much you should be eating at each meal while leaving room for some flexibility in your intake to account for activity levels and metabolic rate.
Meal Planning Saves Time
Another benefit of meal planning is that it helps save time when weight loss is the goal. Many people get off-track on their weight-loss journey because they feel that preparing healthy, delicious meals takes a lot of time, and as a result, they simply reach for what's easiest, such as a frozen pizza or burger. As stated previously, weight loss requires a caloric deficit, and meal planning can make it easier to accomplish calorie-cutting because it requires less time spent thinking about what and how much you should be eating each day.
Even though weight loss typically happens over a number of weeks or even months, meal planning can help you set the stage for success. This means that no matter how long it takes to achieve your weight loss goals, meal planning is going to be a valuable tool in achieving them. Ultimately this makes the weight-loss process easier. Meal planning is simple to do, and once you have created a plan for what you will eat including snacks, it becomes easier to follow. And it may just become something you enjoy doing as well!