Meal Prep for Weight LossMonica
By now, you’re probably aware of the many benefits that meal prep can bring to your life. You can save time, money, and energy each week by preparing meals in advance or by using the services of a meal prep company. If you’re interested in learning more about the general benefits of meal prep, and missed our last blog post on the topic, you can check it out here.
In this post, I wanted to zoom in on the advantages of pre-prepared meals for weight loss in particular. Since losing weight can be hard enough on its own, why spend your precious time tracking calories each day, and worrying about what to cook? You can easily take the guesswork out of eating for weight loss by following a few simple principles, or by enlisting the help of an expert, like our nutritionists at Fit Kitchen.
Principles of Eating for Weight Loss
Understand the Basics
Weight loss ultimately comes down to consuming less calories than those you’re expending. Energy in needs to be less than energy out. Energy in comes from the food and beverages you consume during the day, and energy out comes from moving your body, doing everyday tasks, exercising, and from your body maintaining itself. The calories in food and drinks come from carbohydrates, proteins, fats and also alcohol. There is no one-way to reduce your calorie intake. It can be done by eating smaller portions, replacing meals with lower-calorie options, eating more whole foods and less ultra-processed foods, and many other ways.
Choose More Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains and Lean Proteins
Why should you choose these food groups? Fruit, vegetables and whole grains are high in many nutrients, including fibre. Fibre is an indigestible form of carbohydrate that helps our digestion and also keeps us full for longer. Eating more of these high fibre foods can increase your satiation and thereby keep your hunger down between meals.
Lean proteins like white fish, tofu, legumes, or skinless, white poultry are lower in fat and calories than other proteins like beef, pork or lamb. For example, a 3 oz serving of tofu has 78 calories and 4 g of fat while a 3 oz serving of lean ground beef has 218 calories and 13 g of fat. Try replacing the meat in a few meals each week with a lean protein, and replacing a few high calorie snacks like chips or crackers with some raw vegetables or fruit. This can go a long way to reducing overall calorie intake and helping you to lose weight in a healthy way.
Rethink Your Cooking Methods
How we cook and eat food has a lot to do with the calories we take in. Cooking habits like deep frying or pan frying in high amounts of butter or oil can add a large amount of fat and calories to foods. Instead of frying food, you can bake, boil or steam it instead. If you do want to fry, try using a non stick pan or just a small amount of non stick cooking spray.
Some other habits that can quickly increase your calorie consumption include adding lots of cheese on top of food, and using high fat dips and salad dressings. If you’re missing the extra flavour that cheese or dips give your food, try garnishing with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of hot sauce. Dips and dressings can also be modified by using low fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or using a vinaigrette with olive oil instead of a mayo based dressing.
How Can Meal Prep Help?
Knowing how to eat healthy in order to lose weight is only a small part of the challenge. Now it’s time to put your plan into action and to cut down your calories… but where do you start? This is a tough question, but meal prep and meal planning can be a great starting point. It can be hard to avoid processed or fast food if you’re always in a rush when cooking or eating. Taking the time to plan and prepare nutrient-dense, lean recipes once, or a few times a week, will mean you have a ready-to-eat meal when you need it most. This can help curb cravings, binging and snacking because you already have a plan for what your next meal will be.
A meal prep service like Fit Kitchen can also be a huge help when you’re eating for weight loss. We can take the effort out of choosing recipes, counting calories, and portion control with our customized weight loss meal plans. If you aren’t convinced of the benefits, take a look at the evidence below.
What Does the Science Say?
In 2016, a group of researchers studied whether a meal plan with pre-packaged and portion controlled meals could impact weight loss compared to a diet chosen and cooked each day by the individual (1). After a 12 week trial, they found that those participants who received the portion controlled meals lost significantly more weight than the other group. Although the participants in this study also received weight loss counseling, it is possible that the pre-packaged meals on their own could also be beneficial since they reduce the work required at home to eat a healthy diet.
A study from 2020 on the effectiveness of a workplace weight loss program (2) found that when participants planned their meals in advance more often, they were able to lose more weight overall. The authors also noted that meal prep is “an important long-term goal rather than an effective short-term goal”. This means that the longer you implement meal planning in your life, or if you can make it a consistent habit, you will be able to see greater results in the long run and more weight loss.
In a French study from 2017, over 40,000 adults were surveyed about their eating and meal planning habits (3). The authors identified that people who planned their meals tended to have more variety in their diet and adhered better to the national nutrition guidelines. It was also found that frequent meal preppers were less likely to be overweight or obese. Although the study couldn’t identify if it was meal prep that had caused these individuals to lose weight or maintain a lower weight, it could certainly be a contributing factor.
Give It a Try!
If you want to meet your weight loss goals, increase the variety in your diet, cut out fast food or just save time cooking, then you have to give meal prep a try. There are lots of resources online to find healthy, low calorie recipes that are quick and easy to make. Look for recipes that are high in vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Think about salads, grain bowls, stir fries and soups, for example. Investing your time once or twice a week to prepare these meals in advance will free up the rest of your days and your mind.
If you’re short on time, let Fit Kitchen help you out! If you’re interested in trying out a weight loss meal plan, we offer 3-day meal plans so you can try it out. Our lean meals are designed to be lower in calories so they’re perfect for those who might be trying to lose weight. Don’t worry, they still taste great and you won’t get tired of them! Below are some examples of our lean meals that are 300 calories or less when you choose the small option.
- Ain’t No Yolk Omelette
- Champion’s Scramble
- Cajun Fit Chicken
- Killer Veggie Enchiladas
- Caribbean Coconut Prawns