Lack of time and a busy schedule should not be an excuse for being overweight and unhealthy. You can adopt a healthier, lower-calorie plan without complex number crunching and measuring of food. Start with modest goals, as losing even 5 percent of your weight can help improve your health, and aim for a steady, safe rate of weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs. per week. Specific strategies and convenience foods will be an asset for your on-the-go diet plans.
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Losing weight requires you to reduce the number of calories you consume below the number of calories you burn. While there is no absolute magic weight-loss calorie intake, a diet consisting of 1,300 to 1,800 calories will yield results for most people. Instead of eating tiny portions of fast food that leave you unsatisfied and nutritionally deficient, fill up your calorie needs with easy-to-prepare and pack convenience foods.
Packing a cooler or bag with your meals for the day helps you stay on track and avoid the drive-thru and vending machines. For breakfast, grab low-fat string cheese, a single-serving packet of almonds and a container of nonfat yogurt. This breakfast provides protein to help you stay full all morning, unsaturated fats to support heart health and about 400 calories. Your brown bag lunch could include a simple sandwich on whole-wheat bread with 2 oz. of turkey, spicy mustard and a few leaves of dark green romaine lettuce. Toss in a bag of baby carrots along with an apple and a box of raisins. This meal provides about 450 calories, along with fiber, two servings of vegetables and two servings of whole grains. If you are still on the road for dinner, pack a single-serving container of hummus along with a whole-grain bagel. Include a peach or, if you have time when packing, a red pepper cut into strips. This meal stands up well to packing, is convenient and contains 450 calories. Remember to include two 150- to 200-calorie snacks to quell a grumbling stomach. Options include fresh fruit, a 200-calorie energy bar or 1 oz. of cashews.
Advanced preparation can help you diet during a busy week. Choose a “cooking” day and begin by hard-boiling several eggs, and grab two each morning to have with a serving of whole-wheat crackers and 1 cup of grapes for a 320-calorie breakfast. On that day, you could also cook up a large amount of brown rice and refrigerate or freeze it in single serving containers. Pull out 1 cup for lunch and have with a cup of low-sodium, commercially-prepared tomato soup, a few stalks of celery and a cup of nonfat yogurt topped with 1/2 cup blueberries for about 480 calories. During your cooking day, roast several boneless skinless chicken breasts. Pull one out for dinner and have over a salad made with bagged, pre-washed greens, black olives, 1 oz. feta cheese and halved grape tomatoes. Dress the salad with a mixture of lemon juice and 2 tsp. olive oil and have with a whole-grain roll for about 500 calories. Your 150- to 200-calorie snacks might include cottage cheese with 2 tbsp. raisins and a serving of whole-grain cereal with skim milk.
If you prefer not to cook or pack food, you can still diet on the go. For breakfast, stop at the coffee shop and order a nonfat, no-sugar latte with a serving of oatmeal topped with nuts and dried fruit for about 400 calories with tummy-filling fiber. At lunch, you can still hit the burrito restaurant, but order your burrito in a bowl and skip the cheese, sour cream and meat -- stick to just lettuce, beans, rice, salsa and a modest amount of guacamole for healthy fats to consume about 400 calories. You can still order pizza for dinner, but go for thin, whole-wheat crust topped with vegetables and half the cheese for about 150 calories per slice. Have a large green salad on the side. If the vending machine is your only option for snacks, look for nuts -- but be sure to eat only 1 oz. -- whole-grain crackers or granola bars.