It’s no secret that many people struggle with their weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than one-third of American adults are obese. And while many factors contribute to obesity, poor diet is the biggest contributor.
To avoid becoming part of this statistic, it’s important to be mindful of the foods you’re eating and ensure you get the nutrients your body needs. One way to do this is by following a meal plan. A meal plan is a road map that tells you what to eat and when to eat it. It takes the guesswork out of decision-making and can help you stick to healthy eating habits. But even the best meal plan won’t work if you don’t follow it.
If you find yourself falling off the wagon, here are some ideas for ways to improve your meal plan:
1. Practice Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It’s a way to reduce your overall calorie intake without having to make drastic changes to the foods you eat. Dr. Berg has also indicated on their site that intermittent fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity, boost brain function, and even promote weight loss. With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that intermittent fasting is gaining popularity.
If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, there are a few different ways to do it. The most popular method is the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat all your meals within an 8-hour window. Another option is the 5:2 method, where you normally eat for 5 days and restrict your calories to 500-600 for the other 2 days.
2. Add More Vegetables to Your Diet
Vegetables are an important part of any diet, but they’re often overlooked in favor of more “fun” foods. But vegetables offer various benefits, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also low in calories, so you can eat many of them without packing on the pounds.
If you’re not eating enough vegetables, try adding them to your meals differently. For example, add them to soups or stews, put them on top of pizzas or pasta dishes, or include them as sides with your main course. You can also snack on raw veggies like carrots or celery sticks throughout the day.
3. Get Enough Protein
Protein is an important nutrient that helps your body build and repair tissues. It’s also necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones. And unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body can’t store protein for later use. This means you need to eat protein every day to meet your needs.
Good protein sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and seeds. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can get protein from tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, and quinoa. Aim to include protein at every meal to help keep your energy levels up and prevent muscle loss.
4. Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Calories
Many people think that to lose weight, they need to eat less. But this isn’t always the case. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will go into starvation mode and hold onto fat stores. This can lead to weight gain, not weight loss.
To find out how many calories you should be eating, you can use an online calculator like this one from the USDA. Once you know how many calories you need, ensure you include a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet to get the energy you need without overdoing it.
5. Cut Back on Added Sugar
Added sugar is a type of sugar that’s added to food during processing or preparation. It’s often found in processed foods like candy, cookies, cakes, and soda. And while a little sugar here and there is fine, too much can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar daily. For men, the recommendation is 9 teaspoons (38 grams) per day. To help reduce sugar intake, check food labels for added sugars and limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
6. Avoid Crash Diets
A crash diet is a type of diet that involves severe calorie restriction in an attempt to lose weight quickly. While you may see some initial weight loss on a crash diet, it’s often not sustainable, and you’re likely to regain the weight once you go back to eating normally.
Crash diets can also be dangerous because they often lack important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This can lead to health problems like fatigue, headaches, constipation, and irritability. If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s better to do it gradually by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle.
So, what can you do to improve your meal plan? Try some of the ideas we’ve shared, like adding more vegetables to your diet, getting enough protein, practicing intermittent fasting, and cutting back on added sugar. These tips will help you eat a healthier diet that meets your needs and supports your goals.