Conflicting methods abound when it comes to weight loss. Although the idea of losing weight sounds simple in theory; however, it can feel a whole lot harder when you have to put theory into practice. We’ll attempt to answer the frequently asked question: how does weight loss work?
One thing’s for sure, if you’re looking to try a diet that seems extreme or promises quick, unrealistic results, it’s probably too good to be true. Treat your weight loss like a lifestyle shift — taking a gradual and measured approach trumps a one-off fix that’s rushed and unsustainable. The reason being is that if you manage to stick with a strict diet and reach your target weight, the moment you revert to your former eating patterns, there’s a very high probability that you’ll gain all the weight back again.
If you want to see real changes, then a weight loss meal plan can be a helpful tool, especially if you incorporate foods that you’ll enjoy eating more than once. You’ll find a few recipes below that you can use to kick-start and inspire your weight loss journey.
How does weight loss work?
Weight loss happens when your body begins to break down its energy reserves — fat. To do this, your body needs to use more calories than it takes in. If you want to know how much energy your body burns on any given day, some calculations like the Harris-Benedict or Mifflin-St Jeor equations can show you. However, you may want to take them with a grain of salt. Why? Because each person is different and several factors come into play such as your metabolism, hormones, genetics, and gut bacteria.
The specifics of calorie counting
At 8fit we’re not the biggest fans of calorie counting, but it can be useful to get an idea of how your body works. Start off by calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the necessary amount of energy (calories) your body burns while at rest. This is the number of calories you need for fundamental functions. i.e., your parasympathetic nervous system (breathing, heart pumping, etc.).
Depending on how active you are, you can then calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), this is the number of calories you ingest on an average day. If you consume more calories than your TDEE, your body will find itself in a caloric surplus. This great if you’re looking to gain weight. However, if fat loss is your goal, you’ll want to be in a caloric deficit. As it takes around 3500 calories to lose a pound, that would mean a deficit of 500 calories a day of your TDEE to lose one pound a week.
Fat, believe it or not, is mostly released as CO2 when you breathe out, but can also come out in your sweat and tears. Keep in mind that too high of a calorie deficit is not recommended — anywhere from 250 to 500 calories a day less than your BMR is ideal for healthy weight loss.
If your deficit is too high you run the risk of losing weight too quickly, which won’t allow your body the time it needs to adapt. It’s better to take it slow and make incremental changes that last a lifetime. Healthy weight loss takes patience, a balanced diet, and exercise. Following a weight loss meal plan is an excellent way to hold yourself accountable and keep going strong.
It’s all about balance
While it’s important to take a look at what you’re eating and adjust accordingly, obsessing over calories isn’t always a healthy approach. It’s not the case for everyone, but for some, counting calories can lead to disordered eating and even stress, so proceed with caution if you choose to go that route. At the end of the day, try not to focus too much on being exact.
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!
Nutrition plays an even more important role than working out does when it comes to weight loss. Exercise may help burn calories, but if you exercise without paying attention to your diet, you may end up eating more and not attaining the right calorie deficit. That’s why we always stress the importance of mindful nutrition alongside exercise.
At 8fit we prefer to avoid fixating on numbers and prefer a more rounded path. Our expert 8fit nutritionists develop meal plans that take everything your body needs into consideration — whatever your well-being goal may be. Our curated weight loss meal plans balance the right macro and micronutrients as well as calories your body requires every day for healthy weight loss.
How to do meal prep
On top of following a weight loss meal plan, solidifying healthy daily habits is crucial to your success. One habit you should definitely consider developing is regular meal prep. Planning and preparing your meals ahead of time will help you stay on course and eliminate any temptations or time issues that steer you off your weight loss course.
Imagine: you’re exhausted after a busy day at work or school. Once you’re back home, you realize you’re too zonked to prep and cook an entire meal. So instead of running the risk of ordering an unhealthy takeout, you reach for your already prepped and ready to heat up weight loss meal plan food waiting for you in the fridge.
Meal prep doesn’t have to be super complicated. It can be as easy as making a couple of extra portions of your usual dinner and saving it for lunches. And it doesn’t always have to be a full-on meal either — even just making a batch of rice or cutting some veggies is enough to get a head start on the week. Plus, it’s fun!
Here are five quick meal prep tips that can help you get organized:
- Pick a day or two during the week that you can commit to meal prep. Stick to your weight loss meal plan, and soon enough it will become part of your routine. Believe us, an hour of meal prep will save time the rest of the week.
- Prepare a big batch of grains or beans ahead of time and portion out into servings over the week. Our favorites include brown rice, lentils, and quinoa.
- Get roasting! We love roasting our favorite veggies in the oven. The best part? You can roast a large amount all at once.
- Why not whip up a healthy homemade dip, dressing, or sauce you can pair with your meals for the week. Store-bought options tend to be packed with preservatives, added sweeteners and sodium, so making your own will cut costs and calories at the same time.
- Cut up vegetable sticks from celery, carrots or bell peppers to dip to snack on and dip into your homemade dressing.
Recipes from 8fit’s Weight Loss Meal Plan
Need inspiration? Here are a few sample recipes from 8fit’s own weight loss meal plan:
Breakfast: Mini sweet potato and spinach frittatas
- ¼ cups milk (skim milk) (~2 oz)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp onion powder (~⅛ oz)
- a tiny bit of salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ sweet potato (yam) (~6 oz)
- 2 whole eggs (~3 ½ oz)
- 1 ½ oz cheddar cheese
- ¼ cups spinach leaves (raw) (~¼ oz)
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Handy tip:Make several portions at a time by multiplying ingredients by the number of servings desired. Keep the frittatas in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- In the meantime, add muffin liners to a muffin tin.
- Grate the sweet potato evenly into the muffin tins (they should fill about 1/4 of each muffin tin).
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove them from the oven.
- While the sweet potato is baking, whisk eggs, milk, and spices (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper).
- Add washed and chopped spinach and half of the cheese to egg mixture.
- Pour the egg mixture evenly on top of baked sweet potatoes.
- Top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until the eggs are set. Enjoy all mini frittatas for your meal.
Lunch: Zucchini grilled cheese sandwich
- 1 ½ tsp butter (preferably organic) (~¼ oz)
- 2 whole grain bread slice(s), 100% whole grain (~3 oz)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¾ oz parmesan (grated)
- ¾ oz cheddar cheese
- ½ zucchini (~3 ½ oz)
- Pre-heat a pan or grill-pan to medium heat.
- Wash and grate the zucchini.
- Use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible. Place the zucchini on paper towels to drain further.
- In a medium bowl, mix the zucchini with the grated cheeses (cheddar and parmesan) and pepper. After mixing the zucchini with the cheese, form the mixture into a patty using your hands.
- Put the patty on one slice of bread (if only using one slice, cut in half) and top with other bread.
- Add the butter to a pan and turn it to low-medium heat. Add sandwich(s).
- Heat until the bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Flip the sandwiches and cook until the other side is golden.
- Serve and enjoy! protip textarea=’If there’s too much filling for the bread, enjoy the rest as a side.’]Handy tip:[/protip]
Dinner: Avocado pasta with feta, chilli and lemon
- 1 ¾ oz spaghetti, whole-grain (dry)
- 1 ¾ cups broccoli (chopped) (~6 oz)
- ½ avocado (~3 ½ oz)
- 1 ½ Tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
- 1 oz feta cheese
- ½ garlic clove (~⅛ oz)
- ½ fresh chili pepper
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp poppy seeds (~⅛ oz)
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the spaghetti to the pot, and cook for around 9 minutes or until the desired tenderness is reached.
- Wash the broccoli. Dry it, remove the leaves and then cut into small pieces. Add them to the boiling pasta for the last few minutes. Once done, drain both and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut the avocado and mash the flesh with garlic and basil in a bowl.
- Add the avocado mixture to the spaghetti and top with broccoli. Add crumbled feta, chopped red chilli, poppy seeds and a squeeze of lemon to enjoy!
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