Are you ready to slim down for good? Pair that powerful motivation with our calorie-controlled meal plans and you can lose up to eight pounds this month. High in fiber and packed with protein, the tasty recipes in each meal plan are designed to keep you feeling full and satisfied while you shed pounds. You'll also be eating more healthy, whole foods while cutting back on refined, processed foods and added sugars. That's important: when it comes to weight loss, recent research shows food quality is key.
So what are you waiting for? Get started with the weight-loss tips below. In just four weeks, you'll be a new, lighter you!
Use this simple equation to figure your total daily calories:
Multiply your weight (in pounds) by 12. This gives you the number of daily calories you need to maintain your weight.
To lose 1 pound a week, subtract 500 calories a day.
To lose 2 pounds a week, subtract 1,000 calories a day.
Then pick the meal plan that's closest to the calorie level you calculated. (Note: If you calculate a number that's less than 1,200 calories, follow the 1,200-calorie weight-loss plan. Eating less than that makes it hard to meet your daily nutritional requirements.)
Research shows that keeping a food diary can help you reach your weight-loss goals. In one large study, participants who tracked their food lost up to twice as much weight as those who didn't bother. Whether you're someone who follows a meal plan to a T or you use it more as inspiration, it's a good idea to write down everything you eat. Use a food journal or an app like MyFitnessPal or Lose It. Get tracking using this 7-day meal plan to lose weight as a guide.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains (think: oats, barley and quinoa) can help jump-start weight loss. Why? They deliver fiber, which helps you feel full on fewer calories. In a two-year study in the Journal of Nutrition, boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories resulted in losing about 4 1/2 pounds. In another study, people lost weight simply by eating more fiber, even without changing anything else in their diets. Get the benefits by eating more of these fiber-rich foods that do the weight-loss work for you.
Research suggests that, gram for gram, protein tends to be more satisfying than carbs or fat. Including a little in every meal or snack will help you feel full longer. If you're having just a salad for lunch, top it off with a protein-rich food—try grilled chicken or salmon, baked tofu or beans. Stack your snacks with protein, too. Have some peanut butter on your apple or a little cottage cheese with your fruit. Scoop up some yummy hummus with your crudités, or go for a low-fat yogurt or skinny latte: dairy is a magically satisfying combo of carbs and protein.
No one wants to feel deprived, much less hungry, while trying to lose weight. It's smart to spread your calories throughout the day to stave off hunger. Including a healthy snack or two will keep you satisfied between meals. For ideas, check out these satisfying 100-calorie snack recipes. If you're into sweets, go ahead and have a small treat—just make sure it fits with your overall calorie count.