Weight loss is achieved when you find something that works for you. Regardless of your body type, genetics or lifestyle, you can lose weight, but you still have to eat. Your body needs fuel! Below is a sample menu for a full day to give you an idea of what types of foods you should be eating, what portions should look like and how to prepare for them. Your daily caloric intake needs might differ from one person to the next, but this is a great place to start. The outline looks like this: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Timing? That's up to you! You'll want to eat your breakfast within the first 30 to 60 minutes of waking up and don't skip dinner!
This model is based off the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control, which states "to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week, you'll need to reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day." The CDC also shows that the average woman eats approximately 1800 calories a day. In addition, you'll need to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes worth of exercise each week, at least. In one day, try to get 30 solid minutes of exercise, splitting them up if needed. (Take a look here at what one week of 300 minutes of exercise looks like.) Strength training will burn more because it requires more, but the intensity of exercise will vary per person and affect your weight loss. So, knowing that the average woman consumes 1800 calories and the fact that you need to cut that by at least 500, this menu is based on 1300 calories. As you exercise frequency or intensity increases, it's important to increase your caloric intake (with good stuff, obviously!). Here are some simple things to eat to lose weight:
Breakfast: Vanilla Cinnamon Protein Pancakes. Three pancakes for 311 calories, plus half of a diced apple for 31 calories. The protein-packed pancakes will jumpstart your day and help control your blood sugar levels from the get-go. Pairing the warm, toasty pancakes with a cold, crunchy apple provides your body with fiber, like pectin, which makes you feel fuller, longer.
Mid-morning snack: Try a six-ounce cup of Greek yogurt for 100 calories and 18 grams of protein. It will be tempting to snag the fruity kind because, let's be real, plain Greek yogurt is not the most delicious thing in the world. Consider adding your own fresh fruit or a sprinkling of sugar-free or less-sugar granola. If you add 10 blueberries, you're looking at 8 calories with less than 2 grams of sugar. As far as granola goes, get the good stuff and look at the sugar-fiber ratio, because fiber slows down sugar consumption and keeps blood sugar levels under control. When they spike, your body begins to store the sugar as fat.
>> Read more: Harmful Effects Sugar Has on Your Body
If you're not hungry when snack time rolls around, don't force yourself to eat! This mid-morning snack can be tricky because if you're mindless eating, eating when you're not hungry or eating breakfast at 9 a.m. and lunch at noon, you're going to undo your weight loss efforts. If your stomach is growling, though, respond with some fuel. (via Science Daily)
Lunch: Skinny Taco Chicken Chili for 219 calories per serving (1¼ cup).
At lunch time, you really don't want to weigh yourself down; you're only halfway through the day! Consider pairing this warm and hearty chili with some carrots and hummus. Make your own Green Goddess Hummus at 62 calories per 2 tablespoons and dip about dozen baby carrots at 42 calories.
Dinner: Chicken Fajita Quesadilla at 192 calories per serving (3 wedges or half of the quesadilla). Let's pair that with some black beans and steamed veggies. You'll add 60 calories for 1 cup of steamed broccoli from a frozen bag and ½ cup of black beans at 76 calories.
After dinner snack: At the end of the day, you have about 100 calories left to spend either between your lunch and dinner or after dinner. Depending on what type of powder you use, you could spend this extra change on an 8-ounce protein shake or 100-calorie protein bar. Not sure what to eat? Check out these 10 snacks approved for weight loss!