Medically reviewed by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Looking for a whole-food meal plan that doesn't leave you hungry and hangry? Here's a meal plan template for weight loss that will help you a ton. It's all you'll need!
I've had a lot of you write in recently to ask for more resources on meal planning—in particular plant-based
recipe ideas, grocery list help, and ideas for households where eating styles are mixed. This is one of the most common questions about nutrition I get as a dietitian.
I always want to make you all happy, so I've been working hard over here to get you lots of resources! And I'm so excited to announce that the following resources (including the ultimate meal plan template for weight loss!) are now available.
I can't wait for you to download my new freebie and see if any other new resources are helpful to you.
Grab a Meal Template for Weight Loss!
Having a good weight-loss meal plan, even a loose one, helps you save time while grocery shopping and helps make sure that you're eating healthy, balanced meals that will help you meet your goals. Here's what's new at Amy Gorin Nutrition:
Hello, weight loss meal plan with grocery list! Download these free meal plans for weight loss, and you'll receive a three-day plant-based meal plan (with three different calorie ranges, so your whole family can eat together!), plus a grocery list of everything you need to whip up all the meals.
Get ideas for 15+ meals in this nutrition plan template, created by yours truly. Each meal is about 400 calories.
In this weight loss meal plan template, you get the same as above but for lunch and dinner!
I couldn't leave out snack time! You'll get 15+ ideas for snack time in this meal planning template for weight loss. Each snack is 150-200 calories.
I'm SO excited about this list because all the ideas allow you to add low-cal (almost no-cal) flavor to your food, all day long!
Learn many, many easy ways to shave 100 calories from your day.
I've put together ALL my fave products in one place, so feel free to check out the rest of my newly launched storefront!
Why Weight Loss Meal Plans are Helpful
I don't believe in providing my clients with a super stringent meal plan for weight loss. So what you will find are meal planning templates that will help you lose weight. Because my templates for meal planning are mix and match, the creative work is left up to you.
That means you have options for what to eat! If you find that it's helpful, you can outline your meals for the week in a weekly meal planner.
I'm always more than receptive to putting together resources for what you're looking for. So if there's something else you'd like me to create, whether it's a downloadable or a blog post, just let me know.
And yes, when it comes to eating healthy you should definitely eat real food! Check out more info about the benefits of an unprocessed food diet.
How a Balanced Diet Can Help You Lose Weight
I don't believe in providing my clients with a super stringent meal plan for weight loss. So what you will find are meal planning templates that will help you lose weight.
Because my templates for meal planning are mix and match, the creative work is left up to you. That means you have options for what to eat!
When it comes to meal planning for weight loss, there are a few important strategies to follow. They include:
1. Lean Protein for Weight Loss
Lean proteins include turkey breast, salmon, hard boiled eggs, low-fat plain Greek yogurt, black bean burgers, and more. I suggest eating these at every meal because they'll help keep you fuller for longer, which will help you eat less! So get this in your head: A meal that includes a lean protein is a good weight-loss meal!
One protein I especially love is pulses, which includes beans and legumes. Definitely include these foods in your weekly meal planning.
Pulses include beans, chickpeas, lentils, and dry peas. If you don’t already love pulses, now is the time to try them. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest swapping in legumes for some of the meat and poultry you may normally consume.
And a meta-analysis review study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating pulses may help weight loss along. The study authors looked at 21 studies, finding that people eating ¾ cup of pulses per day lost about three quarters of a pound over a six-week period, versus people not eating pulses daily. Subjects who lost weight were following either a weight-maintenance or weight-loss diet.
A possible reason for the weight loss is that the protein and fiber provided by pulses may help increase feelings of fullness and satiety. Although the weight loss shown in the study was small, the amount could add up to over 6 pounds over the course of a year!
I like to focus on simple swaps and nutrient-dense additions that you can make without too much effort. In fact, I bet there's at least one easy lifestyle change you can start with today! One of my favorite small changes: I use the runny yolk of a fried egg as my pancake "syrup," instead of using actual syrup or butter.
2. Fiber for Weight Loss
I also advise my clients to include a fruit or vegetable with every eating occasion and a whole grain at most meals. Whole grains include whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, and quinoa.
If you prefer starchy vegetables such as a sweet potato, that can serve as both a vegetable and a replacement for a whole grain. These foods contain fiber, which like protein helps to keep you satiated for longer.
Research shows why we should all aim to get more fiber: A study in Annals of Internal Medicine compared the effects of eating a high-fiber diet (30 or more grams per day), versus following the more complex American Heart Association (AHA) diet.
The AHA diet involves taking in the same amount of fiber; reducing calories by eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains; eating lean proteins; having less sugar and salt; drinking little to no alcohol; and eating less than 7% of estimated daily calories from saturated fat (so about 12 grams of saturated fat per a 1,500-calorie daily diet).
As you can see, the high-fiber recommendation is much simpler to follow than the AHA diet—and promotes a positive action (eating more fiber), rather than a discouraging one (eating/drinking less calories sugar, salt, alcohol, and saturated fat). The researchers had two groups of volunteers test the directives.
After a year, groups following both the fiber plan and the AHA diet lost weight. The high-fiber group lost about 4 ½ pounds, while the AHA group lost about 6 pounds. Both groups saw their blood pressure levels improve, as well as their insulin resistance—which may help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes, respectively.
Although the fiber group didn't get instructions on other food choices, researchers saw positive
dietary changes beyond increased fiber intake, such as decreased red-meat consumption. The study authors think this may be a side effect of substituting high-fiber foods for less healthy
The study’s findings show that both small and big changes can have a big impact on health. So don’t feel bad if you embrace one change at a time or get overwhelmed by thinking about doing more. That one change can have a big impact on your health!
Here are some easy ways to up your fiber intake and include fiber-rich foods in your meal planning:
Eat whole-wheat pasta.
Have a high-fiber fruit.
Add fiber crunch to your salad.
Make beans the center of your plate.
3. Healthy Fats for Weight Loss
The third piece of advice I give clients who are looking to lose weight is this: Incorporate sources of healthy fats into your diet plan. During each meal is ideal, and you should eat these fats every day of the week!
Mono- and polyunsaturated fats help to keep you fuller for longer, which may help you to eat less. So they're great to include in your menu plan!
And research in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology shows how healthy fats such as olive oil may be beneficial for weight loss. In the study, more than 7,000 older Spanish adults who had type 2 diabetes or high cardiovascular risk ate either a Mediterranean plus extra extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet plus extra nuts, or a reduced-fat diet.