Easy meal planning
“Just tell me what to eat”
This is a request we get all the time from frustrated dieters. I typically prefer to give advice on the general types of foods to eat so people can choose foods they actually like, but often times step-by-step meal plans really do help jumpstart results. That’s why we created our popular meal plan series. We wanted to lay out specific examples of what healthy meals really look like to show people two important facts:
- Healthy meals can still be delicious.
- They’re surprisingly easy to make.
Too many people have the mistaken belief that “if the food I like made me fat, then I’ll have to eat food I hate in order to get thin.” I’ve seen this kind of thinking derail people frequently. Food is one of life’s joys and removing all pleasure from your meals will just bring a quick end to your healthy new eating plan.
I’ve also noticed a lot of people believe that healthy eating will be too complicated, too expensive, and/or too time-consuming to bother with, so they just continue their old habits. They think a busy schedule means they can only rely on easy-access fast food and processed meals day after day. I have a busy schedule as well, but I’ve often found it’s much faster and easier to whip up a healthy meal at home than it is to decide where to go, drive there, figure out what you want, and then wait for it to be prepared. You’ll waste far more time going for the “fast solution” than you will making something in your own home.
You know who else has a busy schedule? Our Registered Dietician Melanie Douglass. She designed all our meal plans with her hectic schedule in mind. Many of the options can be prepared in minutes, and you’ll find that the more complicated recipes really don’t take as much of your time to prepare and stick in the oven as you’d imagine. What makes those take-out or restaurant meals so fattening is the tons of sugar mixed into them to extend their shelf-life (even if they don’t taste sweet). Sugar is an excellent preservative and it happens to improve the taste so it’s a win-win, except for the slight side-effects of causing obesity, diabetes, and a bunch of other health problems. It’s the secret to why you can still eat many of your favorite foods and still eat healthy. When you have control of the ingredients, you can limit the ones that wreak havoc in your body and on your waistline.
Pick a plan
I want to briefly go over the different meal plans and show some sample recipes so you can see that healthy eating might look a little different than you thought.
Clean Protein Weight Loss Formula 1 and 2
The first Clean Protein Meal Plan and it’s follow up are two of our most popular meal plans, and for good reason. Protein improves fat loss, reduces appetite, and protects you against muscle loss during your diet.
Protein takes a lot of effort for your body to digest, which is great for you in many ways. Not only does the slow digestion process mean that you will feel full longer (an important factor in any diet), but a portion of the energy you consume is actually burnt up in the digestion process. Protein also increases your sensitivity to the appetite-reducing hormone leptin. This means you’ll not only feel more satisfied after your meal, but the protein intake will help keep your appetite under control for hours afterwards. Cutting calories can be unpleasant if you cut the wrong calories. A properly balanced diet, however, will make it easy to consume less calories without even trying. Getting your body’s chemistry working for you, instead of against you, is the key to success.
When you diet to lose fat, your body will also try to reduce the amount of muscle you’re carrying around. Muscle is metabolically expensive, which is why we want it in the first place. Having a lot of muscle will mean that you’ll burn more calories just sitting around. Plus having good muscle tone makes you look better. Your body however, does not care about vanity, it cares about your survival.
Your body sees losing weight as a sign that you’re starving to death. To “protect” you, it will try to shed that expensive muscle tissue by digesting it for fuel. One way to signal your body not to do this is with weight training. If your body needs to use those muscles routinely, it will turn to fat as a source of stored fuel rather than protein. Another way to signal your body to avoid burning muscle tissue is to increase your protein intake. As I mentioned in the Fueling Weight Loss article, the presence of dietary protein will limit the amount of muscle that your body will try to breakdown for necessary amino acids. Your body is a very efficient machine and it will not waste it’s effort manufacturing amino acids as long as you provide them.
What scares most people off of a high protein diet is the thought of having to eat boring plate of meat after boring plate of meat with a side of cheese if they’re lucky. A real protein-rich diet should contain a large portion of vegetables and fruits and our meal plans are no exception. The idea is to have 20+ percent protein with every meal, not 100 percent. We’ve kept the meals interesting with simple to prepare recipes of real foods like spaghetti, Swedish meatballs, chicken and pasta, and even German pancakes and pumpkin waffles. It’s all carefully measured to make sure you consume enough protein to metabolically aid your weight loss. Just look at some of the simple (yet delicious) meals you can make.
3 Day Cleanse
Cleanse, Detox, Flush - these are all common buzzwords for a similar idea. The concept is to use natural foods or juices to take all the toxic substances from processed foods that accumulate in your body and flush them out of your system to sort of “reboot” your body. People will tell you it’s a great way to quickly lose weight or to jump start a new diet, but most importantly, they claim that it will help you feel so much better because you’re purging all of those poisons from your body. Quite frankly, most of those detox plans are garbage that do more harm than good. We wanted to design a safe and effective plan that shows you how to incorporate the right kinds of fruits and vegetables into your diet to strengthen your body and your mood, and to jumpstart your results.
There is a medical concept known as detoxing, but it isn’t something that can be done by simply eating better. Typically, you detox by taking harsh drugs to neutralize and safely remove other harsh narcotics from your system, or you use dialysis to remove toxins from your blood because your kidneys have failed. These are some real medical cases of detox, where you can name what the toxins are and you can measure if they have been removed.
If cleanses aren’t actually flushing toxins, then why do people feel better after they do them? As I’ve mentioned before, the crazy amounts of added sugar and salt in processed foods really messes up your body’s chemistry which can make you feel lousy. Even small amounts of added sugar can cause harmful inflammation throughout your system. Your body is constantly flushing these damaging substances out of your body all the time. The reason a cleanse makes you feel better is not because these foods magically remove harmful compounds, but because you’ve finally stopped shoveling them back into your system. Even a short cleanse can give your body the time it needs to finally clean everything out completely and normalize your blood chemistry.
I typically tell people to avoid all the Cleanse and Detox programs out there because they do it wrong and set you up for misery and failure. Most of these plans do not understand the mechanisms of hunger and satiety (the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after eating). Juice cleanses are especially guilty of this. Your body is not particularly good at recognizing liquid calories. Solid food stretches your stomach and sends signals to your brain that reduce your hunger while liquid calories tend to stream right through and bypass this mechanism. Even worse, once all the fiber has been removed from most of these fruit sources, the left over sugar in these juice cleanses floods into your system and causes your insulin to spike and your appetite to soar. So not only is your hunger never satisfied, it’s actually intensified.
Why our 3 Day Cleanse is different:
1. Real Food. Juices or weird mixtures of liquids and syrups will only leave you satisfied for a few minutes at best. The 3 Day Cleanse gives you actual fruits and vegetables to eat. All of that fiber is incredibly filling and will satisfy your appetite much longer than any drink ever could. The dietary fiber also slows the release of any sugar into your blood stream so your energy will be sustained over longer periods of time.
2. Balanced Nutrition. Most cleanse plans are nutrient poor. The limited amount of calories and lack of vitamins and nutrients exacerbate the feelings of exhaustion and lethargy and can actually be harmful if they are done for too long. Even though this plan only uses plant sources of food, it contains a proper mixture of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and other nutrients to keep your body working optimally.
3. Low Sugar. Liquid cleanse plans are actually quite high in sugar which really defeats the whole point of a cleanse in the first place. While this plan does contain some fruit, it only uses fruit that is low in sugar and high in dietary fiber. This will keep the release of sugar into your system slow and steady to give you extended levels of energy as you shed pounds.
4. Realistic Calorie Levels. Some of the cleanse and detox plans out there have a dangerously low amount of daily calories. Your body can only release so much stored fat each day. If you run too extreme a calorie deficit, your body will start digesting your muscles and organs to make up the difference. The 3 Day Cleanse plan works out to about 1200 calories a day. This is also a tough deficit, but at least it’s not a dangerous one.
5. Full of healthy prebiotics. As I mentioned in the article about your microbiome, the trillions of good bacteria that live in your large intestines serve as a secret organ that improves your digestion, strengthens your immune system, boosts your metabolism, and can even fight off depression and anxiety and improve your mood. But you need to feed those microbes the right types of foods to keep them healthy and diverse or they will actually lead to dysfunctions like type 1 diabetes, muscular dystrophy, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, food allergies, and celiac disease. An imbalanced microbiome (called dysbiosis) has also been shown to contribute to certain types of cancer, obesity, autism, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Foods rich in particular kinds of fiber like what’s found in the asparagus, blueberries, lentils, onions, bananas, and other ingredients found in the 3 Day Cleanse will improve the composition of your microbiome and give you an edge in your diet as you transition to your healthy new eating plan.
6. Variety. Many detox plans require you to choke down the same awful liquid for every meal day after day. Not only is it unnecessary to punish yourself with a horrible tasting mix, there is nothing wrong with having some simple variety in your meals. Healthy food can be just as much a joy to eat, and the 3 Day Cleanse will show you that you can eat healthy and still enjoy it.
Check out some of the simple recipes found in the 3 Day Cleanse to see why it’s so different.
28 Day No-Nonsense Meal Plan
I am not a fan of counting calories. I think it’s an out-of-date practice that causes more problems than it solves. It was intended to be a tool to help people understand which foods are packed with fat and sugar and which ones can fill you up without packing on the pounds, but it just led to more confusion. The food industry capitalized on this confusion to pedal products that made us all fat while simultaneously convincing everyone that it was actually their own personal weakness that made them obese rather than the metabolic effects from their processed foods. We designed a new tracking app called GO to give people a faster and more effective way to track their meals (and more importantly, their habits) and we paired it with the 28 Day No-Nonsense Meal Plan to show just how easy healthy eating can be.
We do include plenty of delicious recipes like sweet potato soufflé, buffalo burgers, and homemade spaghetti and meatballs, but the focus of this meal plan is speed and convenience. It’s a simple step-by-step guide to eating healthy no matter how hectic your schedule is. We do live in a busy society, and learning just how easy it is to make healthy choices on the go will have you rethinking that trip to the drive through. The meal plan also factors in the realities of living with people that aren’t ready to change their habits yet. By planning some reasonable cheat meals into the equation, you’ll learn that you don’t need to have an “all-or-nothing” mindset to see results. All-or-nothing thinking just leads to binges, frustration, and surrender because you weren’t perfect. When not being perfect is already part of the plan, you’ll see that minor bumps in the track won’t derail you and you can get right back to your healthy eating plan with ease.
Check out some of the recipes offered in the 28 Day No-Nonsense Meal Plan.
Buy 3, Got 1 Free in the Meal Plan Pack
You can get any of the meal plans in the lolo shop or you can buy them all together in the Meal Plan Pack and basically get one for free. Summer will be here before you know it. You don’t need to suffer in order to lose weight. Learn how to do it right, so you can see just how easy healthy eating can be.
I love the idea of this! Especially for my whole family. Although I don’t need to loose weight, I do believe nutrition can always be tweaked to do better. However, I don’t eat any meat except for fish. Is there a way to make your meal plan work for a person like myself?
Some meals may compliment certain kinds of meat better than others, but you can experiment with meat substitutes like tempeh which is a soy based probiotic. I’m a big fan of fish but just as a warning, you really can’t eat it all the time. The benefits of omega-3 can outweigh mercury contamination to a point, but even people that recommend it can’t recommend it daily.
As always, such well researched and logical advice. You need a national column in a highly subscribed to paper or journal. Thanks and please keep it coming.