There are many different meal plans for weight loss. Most of the plans fall into at least one of three categories: calorie restricted, food restricted, and food required. Using a meal plan can make it easier to lose pounds by taking much of the guesswork out of deciding what to eat. Each category of meal plan has both advantages and disadvantages.
Calorie restricted meal plans limit how many calories can be eaten daily. They use a formula to determine the maximum number of calories a dieter can eat per day and still lose weight. The most basic type of this meal plan causes weight loss by cutting a small amount of calories every day through ingredient or food substitution.
Common approaches in calorie restricted meal plans include drinking water instead of sugared drinks and eliminating high-calorie salad dressing. Since a pound is 3,500 calories, a dieter who managed to eat 50 fewer calories per day would lose around five pounds a year. If the dieter ate 100 calories fewer, he or she would double the weight loss.
Food restricted meal plans for weight loss limit the types and amounts of foods that can be eaten. Some plans entirely forbid certain classes of foods, such as all foods made with sugar. This approach may be best for dieters who find they cannot control their consumption of these foods. Others permit forbidden foods to be eaten once a week or after the dieter has gone through a transition period of eating only approved foods.
Food required meal plans for weight loss often force the dieter to eat certain foods every day. Many such plans are based on the premise that certain foods can cause weight loss. For example, one plan requires a certain amount of grapefruit pulp or juice before each meal. The grapefruit is believed to stabilize insulin levels, which affects fat storage and retention.
This type of meal plan generally works best when the user is given a variety of required foods to consume. This helps prevent boredom. Many food required plans have the dieter eat large amounts of protein or fresh produce, which can be very expensive.
The sheer number of meal plans for weight loss can make choosing one difficult. Many people also find it difficult to adhere to a single eating style over the long term. Adherence is also extremely difficult if the plan is expensive, highly restrictive, monotonous, or very low calorie. The ideal meal plan for weight loss will depend on the preferences and needs of the person using the plan.