Source: Web exclusive, June 2011
It’s finally summer again, and you know what that means: it’s time to show some skin in shorts, tank tops and (gasp!) bathing suits. Whether you’ve added a few extra pounds over the winter or you’d like to achieve a healthier weight overall, this eight-week slim-down plan is a great place to start.
We asked Mary Bamford, a Toronto-based registered dietitian, to advise us in creating an eight-week meal plan to help you get in healthier shape for summer. By following this meal plan, engaging in regular exercise and making lifestyle adjustments that are right for you, Bamford says most people can expect to lose an average of half a pound to two pounds every week, depending on your starting size, how long you’ve been overweight and the amount of weight you hope to lose.
Check back each week for tips to help you stay on track and keep the weight coming off, as well as healthy meal ideas.
Before you start
Check with your doctor or nutrition expert to make sure this meal plan is right for you.
Week 1 ‘ Take the time to plan ahead
The first week is about developing good habits. Bamford suggests dedicating 30 minutes each day to your weight-loss plan. ‘If you don’t [take] 30 minutes a day to planning the menu, planning your exercise, planning your sleep and planning your quiet time, [you won’t see results],’ she says.
If you just can’t find that planning time every day, try taking a few hours each Sunday to structure a meal plan for the week ahead. You should know when and what you’re going to eat every day, the same way you always know when to expect work deadlines or doctor appointments. Your plan should include having the right groceries in the house, having nutritious snacks handy, as well as doing some prep work for your meals. By planning ahead, you’ll eliminate the opportunity to make excuses and fall off track. If you know you’re going to have an extremely busy week, you can be prepared by making your meals ahead of time.
What to eat every day
‘To encourage weight loss, it’s helpful to eat just three meals and two snacks each day, with only water in between,” Bamford advises.
Cutting out high-calorie drinks and multiple snacks will help you lower the amount of calories you consume each day. For most people, following this advice and making overall healthier food choices will produce visible results within the first few weeks.
Count your calories
Bamford recommends a daily intake of between 1,200 and 1,800 calories each day for women, and 1,500 to 2,200 calories per day for men, though how much your body needs will ultimately depend on your size, stature and how close you are to your body’s ideal weight. Most women will need approximately 1,400 calories to promote weight loss, while men will need a daily intake closer to 2,000 calories, says Bamford.
To determine what caloric intake is best for you, figure out how many calories you are currently consuming and decide how much weight you want to lose. Bamford suggests using a dietary reference intake calculator, such as the one offered by Dietitians of Canada to track your daily intake. To keep calories in check, Bamford recommends that women eat 400-calorie meals and two 100-calorie snacks each day. Most men will need meals with about 600 calories, with two to three light snacks throughout the day.
Eat this in Week 1:
Stuck for recipe ideas? Start with breakfast. Try Bamford’s recipe for a healthy omelette, as well as some of these yummy morning meal ideas. Then check back next week for more great recipes.
Veggie Omelette; Cook in a non-stick pan with no oil
2 eggs = 150 calories, 15 g protein
1 oz low fat cheese (20 percent m.f. cheddar) = 150 calories, 10 g protein
½ cup vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, green onion); Serve on a bed of arugula (1 cup)
On the side: 1 piece of whole grain toast (dry) = 100 calories
Coffee or tea (add milk or sugar = 20 calories)
Total = approximately 400 calories
Combine this meal plan with our Summer Slim-down workout plan!
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