April 20, 2024

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The Guide to Weight Loss Meal Plans

While certain diets can be followed for a myriad of reasons, most often people choose to diet for a certain reason more than any other: for the purpose of weight loss. Now, this post will not dive into the morality of diet culture and all of the surrounding stigma that comes with living in differently sized bodies. That is a much bigger conversation. But I’m going to assume that you are on this page because you are at least somewhat interested in losing weight. So, in this article, we will cover the basics of weight loss meal plans. 

That being said, we recommend working closely with your personal healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for yourself and your health status. If you have decided that you want to lose weight, keep reading as we dive into meal planning and how that practice can benefit the goal. 

Weight loss meal plans 

In the simplest terms, weight loss occurs when your body burns more calories than it takes in on a daily basis. No matter what the diet industry tries to get you to believe, there is no magic pill, slimming tea, or waist trainer device that can do this for you in a snap. It takes some work, but as long as your calories in are less than your calories burned, weight loss will occur. 

That being said, not all diets are created equal. If you just ate ice cream every day, but you burned more calories than you ate in ice cream, then technically you would still lose weight. But, it doesn’t take a dietitian to tell you that your nutrient status on the ice cream diet would be nowhere near what it would be if you ate a diet composed of whole foods. What calories you choose to eat do matter to a degree. 

But, conduct a quick Google search on “weight loss diet” and it will return about a million results. With so much information out there, and with most of it being conflicting information, it is no wonder that this topic can be so overwhelming to approach. That’s why we recommend a few ways to filter through the diet information overload to find what works best for you. 

First things first, we recommend choosing a diet that actually encourages eating. We all need to eat to sustain life, so if a diet is automatically recommending a 1,200 calorie diet to start – we suggest you avoid that one and move on to another approach. A 1,200 calorie diet is sustainable for no adult. Secondly, choose a diet that works with your lifestyle. For example, intermittent fasting may not work for you if you work a non-conventional schedule and only have certain windows of time in which you can consume food during your workday that don’t align with the IF suggested timing. Set yourself up for success from the get go by choosing a diet that fits most easily into your life. 

It’s good to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and weight loss. You will have to do some investigating to figure out what works best for you. Some people may feel great following a paleo diet, for example, while others don’t. Nutrition is a big science experiment and may take some time to iron out what is best for you. 

Here are some popular diet guides where you can start your research: 

Paleo diet guide 

Keto diet guide 

Gluten free diet guide 

Banting diet guide 

Foods for weight loss on your meal plan

I’ll admit that the title for this section is a little “clickbait-y.” There really are not specific foods just for weight loss. But there are foods that are more conducive to the goal of weight loss than others. For example, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and high-quality protein sources are normally less calorically dense than other foods like chips, cookies, and ice cream. 

Taking that into account, it stands to reason that if you eat more whole foods and less of those sugar-filled foods that come in packages it might help you lose weight. But before we start to attach morality to food, which is something that we shouldn’t do to begin with, I want to acknowledge that eating only whole foods does not make you a better person than someone that eats mostly processed foods. We’re all just doing our best, right? Let’s leave it at that. 

Since this is a paleo based site, I will include the food list that we suggest for that diet below. But again, you have to do your research and find out what combination of food works best for your and your goals. 

Building your diet around these foods can benefit your health overall and help lead to weight loss: 

  • Grass-fed meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

What is meal planning? 

Any diet you follow requires some forethought to follow it appropriately. Meal planning will be incredibly beneficial to your success on this diet.  Meal planning is quite simply the act of planning out your meals for the week – or at least the next few days. This also requires making a list of the foods needed, shopping for the ingredients at the store, and could even include prepping some meals or ingredients.People practice the act of meal planning for many reasons. 

One reason is to make the decision of what to eat easier in busy or hectic times. Another reason for a meal plan is that it can help budget and save money on food. We all know how tempting it can be to grab take out when days go awry or get busy. Meal planning helps avoid this and saves money by doing so. That is most definitely a win-win for everyone. 

How to meal plan for weight loss

The most effective way to find success while following a weight loss diet is to make a plan and then stick to it as closely as possible. First things first, pencil in this task on your calendar on a day when you have some free time. Sundays usually work well for myself, but this will be dependent upon your schedule and lifestyle. 

Next, decide what meals you want to make for the upcoming week. Consult your favorite recipe blog, your cookbook collection, or Google for ideas. I use my Notes app to keep a list of what meals work for me for the next week of my life. In general, I have a couple of staple meals that I make week-to-week for ease. Then, I throw in a couple of new recipes for some variety and to fight off the repetitive meal boredom that can sometimes arise. 

Once you have your collection of recipes, make a shopping list for your trip to the grocery store. I like to do a once-over of my current stash of groceries so I know what I need to buy at the store and what I already have at home. To make this task even easier, I like to order my groceries online and then pick them up at the store later that day. 

The last thing that falls into the meal planning category is to do any additional prepping that makes cooking easier throughout the week. This may include pre-cutting vegetables like carrots, broccoli off of the head, or trimming Brussels sprouts. If any of your meals hold up in the refrigerator over a couple of days, you could prep them too. I personally like to prepare a couple of breakfast items like chia seed pudding or egg muffins so I can grab and go in the morning. Once this is done, you are on your way to having a successful, and hopefully much easier, week. 

Of course, this is just a general outline of how the meal planning process can go. Take what strategies work for you and your life and toss the rest. The ultimate key to making any lifestyle change is finding what habits are most sustainable and doable for you and your life. If you have any meal planning tips and tricks you live by, I’d love to read about it in a comment below. 

A sample 5 day weight loss meal plan 

Day 1: 

Breakfast: Egg muffin cups 

Lunch: Lettuce turkey wrap 

Dinner: Tuna cakes with slaw 

Day 2: 

Breakfast: Chia seed pudding 

Lunch: Leftover tuna cakes 

Dinner: Flank steak with chimichurri 

Day 3: 

Breakfast: Egg muffin cups 

Lunch: Leftover steak with chimichurri 

Dinner: Pesto shrimp salad

Day 4: 

Breakfast: Chia seed pudding 

Lunch: Pesto egg salad

Dinner: Pumpkin spiced chicken thighs

Day 5: 

Breakfast: Turkey sausage patties with lemon spinach

Lunch: Leftover pumpkin spiced chicken thighs 

Dinner: Cream of zucchini soup

Ultimate Weight Loss Meal Plans 

Sometimes, you just do not have the bandwidth to meal plan for yourself. Everyone goes through moments of overwhelm, and it is within these moments that caring for yourself becomes even more important. If you want to take the task of meal planning off of your metaphorical plate, outsource it to a company. We recommend Ultimate Meal Plans. 

Ultimate Meal Plans is a subscription-based meal planning service that delivers a week’s worth of meal plans to your inbox every week. Ultimate Meal Plans gives you a fully customizable meal plan to help you achieve your weight loss. You can choose the number of people you are cooking for, exclude ingredients to suit taste or dietary requirements, and you will get a fully customized set of recipes and shopping list to match.

Weight Loss Meal Plans from UMP

One of the things we love about Ultimate Meal Plans is the ease of their recipes. They utilize the 15/5 rule which makes their meals simple to whip up but still delicious. The 15/5 rule means that none of their recipes take over 15 minutes to make or require more than 5 ingredients. This is especially helpful for those times in life where things are crazy and busy. The last thing you need when life is wild is for a recipe to take hours to cook and it leaves your kitchen a mess. 

Are you ready to start your weight loss plan? 

If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change, give meal planning a try. This method will help you lose weight in a sustainable way and get you on the way to feeling much better in your body.

Other meal planning resources

We’ve built out a ton of meal plan resources on all sorts of diets. Check them out below

Download Your FREE Paleo Starter Kit Today!


  • 3-Day Paleo Diet Meal Plan
  • Comprehensive Paleo Diet Shopping List
  • 5 of Our Favorite Paleo Diet Recipes

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