What is meal planning for weight loss, and how to do it?


“Excess weight is the potential cause of 75 per cent of our physical problems. Hence it is important that you always weigh between 10-15 per cent of your ideal body weight, for which you must take note of what and how you eat as it contributes to 70 per cent of your efforts aimed at losing excess fat,” said Anupama Menon, nutritionist, and food coach. As such, there are some important steps in this journey, and the one that takes the top spot is meal planning, she added.

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According to her, an understanding of what you need to eat, a little bit of prep, a thought-out grocery list — is what you need to start planning your meals. “Most of the time, we reach out to the wrong food when the right food isn’t available. This is a reason enough to plan your meals in advance,” said Menon.

diet food Here’s how you should eat your food for optimum benefits (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Step 1

The weekly grocery list is important (you may have planned a sustaining diet for yourself or may have invested in professional help or may be intrigued by a plan you saw someone benefit from. Either way, this step is extremely important).

Step 2

Cooking daily, especially if your day is packed with work, family, workout and what not, may not be practical. How you cook, how you cool down your food, how you store the cooked food goes a long way in minimising the bacterial load in the food and keeping it fresh. So, when you cook in larger quantities, cool the food allowing the heat to escape from under a partially covering lid. “Once the food is completely cooled down, use a dry spoon to divide the food into single serving portions to be stored in microwave safe containers. Label and store these small containers at the back of the refrigerator. When needed, use the single portions, and throw away any leftovers. You must never reheat batches thus stored,” Menon said.

Step 3

Onion sauce, ginger-garlic paste, and tomato-onion sauce, which is commonly used in Indian cooking, could be pre-prepared in larger batches to last for five days. “Coconut could be grated, garlic could be peeled, and greens could be sorted for quick use, as and when needed,” Menon advised.

Step 4

Prepare for quick snacks. We all feel hungry around 4-5 pm, and that’s what you need to be ready for. “Know yourself well enough to know what to pack or keep ready for that time of the day,” Menon said.

According to her, if you feel extremely hungry, a cheese sandwich, if all you need is to snack, fruit and nuts, and if the crunch is what you long for, makhana/bhel are your go-to options. “The risk of healthy food not being available is the most probable give-in to a fried samosa or a pastry or an unreasonable burst of love for a packet of chips,” she noted.

Step 5

Keep water in a steel or glass bottle, never plastic. “Meal prep, in the larger scheme of things, may not seem very important, but is actually the facilitator without which your well meaning attempts at achieving weight loss may not be possible. So, start planning your meals!”

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