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16-Week Meal Plan for Losing Weight

by
author image Jill Corleone
Based in Hawaii, Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 10 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
16-Week Meal Plan for Losing Weight
Losing weight slowly helps you lose the fat. Photo Credit altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Diets are often viewed as a temporary solution to your weight problem -- which is why most diets fail. Instead of looking for a quick fix, you may have more success at losing weight and keeping it off if you take your time doing it. You can lose up to 32 pounds by following a healthy 16-week weight-loss diet plan. Consult your doctor before starting any diet plan.

Calories Count

To lose weight, you need to reduce your current calorie intake. In general, women need about 1,400 calories or less to lose weight, and men 1,900 calories or less.

For some, restricting caloric intake to this amount may be too much, and this might make the diet difficult to follow. Instead, track your current caloric intake and reduce your calories by 250 calories to lose 1/2 pound a week. Continue to reduce your calories by 50 to 100 calories each week as needed so that you continue to lose over the 16-week diet plan, but don't eat less than 1,000 calories a day unless under the advisement and supervision of a doctor. You need to consume enough calories so that you're losing at a healthy rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week.

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Regular Meals and Snacks

Over the 16-week period, it's important to create good eating habits that you can continue to follow after the diet is over. Eating regular meals and snacks, three meals and one snack a day, is recommended to help control hunger and maintain energy levels. It's especially important that you eat breakfast. The majority of the members of the National Weight Control Registry, a list of people who have lost weight and kept it off for more than a year, eat breakfast.

Make eating regularly, especially breakfast, a priority during the first few weeks of the diet so that it becomes part of your regular routine as you continue to form healthy habits throughout the next four months.

Nutrient-Rich, Low-Calorie

To keep calories and hunger under control during your 16-week weight-loss diet, make low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods the basis of your meals. Filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables is a good place to start, leaving one-quarter of your plate for whole grains and the other quarter for lean proteins.

After a few weeks of eating regularly and making healthier food choices, start to focus on fiber. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that an easy way to lose weight is to simply focus on eating more fiber. High-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, are low in calories and filling. Add more fiber-rich foods slowly to your diet each week -- at a rate of about 3 to 5 grams per week -- so that by 16 weeks you're comfortably consuming the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.

Also, be sure to drink plenty of water when upping your fiber intake. Drinking water before meals also helps fill you up so you eat less and makes a healthy habit to incorporate into your weight-loss plan.

Sample Meal Plan

Start your day right with a healthy breakfast, such as 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened whole-grain cereal with 1 cup of nonfat milk or a milk alternative, a small banana and one container of nonfat sugar-free yogurt. This meal contains 320 to 400 calories.

A healthy lunch on your weight-loss plan might include 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 1/2 to 1 cup of garbanzo beans, 1/4 cup of raisins, six to 12 almonds chopped and 2 tablespoons of low-fat dressing with five to 10 whole-grain crackers and a small orange. This meal has 455 to 695 calories.

For dinner, try 3 to 4 ounces of grilled chicken with 1/2 to 1 cup of sweet potato and 2 cups of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots sauteed in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with 1 cup of mixed greens topped with 2 tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing. This meal has 490 to 605 calories.

Healthy Snacks

Healthy snacking is key to weight loss. Although you don't want to snack away your calories, it can keep you from getting overly hungry and binge-eating. A healthy snack might include one container of nonfat, sugar-free yogurt with 3/4 cup of fresh blueberries, 1 ounce of low-fat cheese with five whole-grain crackers, 30 peanuts with 1 cup of carrot sticks or 1 cup of vegetable soup with 2 cups of fresh strawberries. Each snack has between 150 and 200 calories.

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GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
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References

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