Did shorts weather peek its sunny face too soon? Summer always spurs thoughts of how to improve your eating habits and build a better body – inside and out. No sweat. It’s not too late to make improvements. All you need is a little guidance and this seven-day meal plan created by a registered dietitian. Follow along, and you’ll be right on track to enjoy some fun under the sun.
Say Sayonara to Added Sugars
Added sugar can be found in more than just candy. Check the labels and look for it in yogurt, granola, cereal and even pasta sauces. You may recognize added sugar under the guise of agave syrup, corn syrup, molasses and/or fruit juice concentrate. These are all pseudonyms for sugar. While you’re scouring the labels, keep in mind that 1 gram of sugar equals 4 calories; and 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. So if the label says 20 grams of sugar, you’re consuming 5 teaspoons of sugar and 80 calories. One daily habit you can drop to make quick gains is probably the last one you want to give up. However, when trying to lose weight, ditching sweetened coffee drinks cold, hard and fast will make a big difference. What’s a better breakfast brew? Iced coffee with unsweetened almond milk.
Set Your Sights on the Water
It’s summer. You crave the waves of the ocean now more than ever. But what about the water you need to drink? If you aren’t sure how much water you should be drinking, do this simple math. Convert your weight into kilograms (divide by 2.2), and then multiply that number by 30. This is about how many milliliters of water you need each day. To help you keep up with that healthy water consumption, treat yourself to a new, easy-to-carry bottle. Try using a water bottle with measurement markings for a more accurate tally of your hydration habits. Also, don’t forget to rehydrate after working out. Track your sweat loss by weighing yourself before and after you exercise. When you’re done, drink 16-24 ounce (about 475-700 mL) of fluid for every pound lost through sweat.
Size Up Your Snacks
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Leave simple-carbohydrate snacks in the rearview. These would be your white bread, crackers and pretzels, which are short on nourishment and can leave you feeling hungry again in no time. When you’re having a snack attack, fight back by pairing a complex carbohydrate (carbs with a higher proportion of calories from protein and fiber) with a lean protein. This dream team offers a more robust set of nutrients, which will help you feel satisfied much longer. Fruit with nuts or seeds is the perfect example of a power snack.
Leave the Skipping for Rocks
Avoid skipping meals. It may be tempting to miss meals in an attempt to speed up weight loss, but this practice usually has the opposite effect. Enduring long periods of time without fueling your body causes a decrease in blood sugar. Cue the hanger. And face it, being hangry is not being your best self. Better yet, extreme hunger and low blood sugar can lead to poor food choices and have a negative effect on metabolism, causing you to overeat later in the day. Skipping meals is not in your best interest.
Here’s what is in your favor: a full week’s worth of healthy eating, already plotted out by meal and by day. Ready to get started? Print the calendar below, pin it to your fridge or tape it in your planner. Do whatever you need to do to remind yourself how easy it is to stay on track. The mystery of what to eat has been solved. All you have to do is execute the plan!
Your Slim-Down Summer Meal Plan
*Bonus: meatless & vegan
|Breakfast||1 piece of whole-grain toast, topped with smashed avocado, cherry tomato slices & black beans||Blueberry-spinach smoothie with Greek yogurt & chia seeds||Cottage cheese with peaches, diced walnuts & cinnamon||Hard-boiled egg slices, topped with fresh cilantro salsa||1 whole-grain waffle with Greek yogurt & fresh berries||Overnight oats with vanilla, shredded coconut, cinnamon & grated carrots||Spinach-zucchini frittata, topped with nutritional yeast|
|Mid-morning snack||Pureed, chilled watermelon & 1/4 cup almonds||Bell pepper slices & 2 Tbsp. guacamole||1/4 cup dried edamame||2 Tbsp. nut butter & banana slices||1/4 cup cashews & fresh raspberries||Tuna-and-tomato-stuffed celery sticks||Whole-grain crackers & nut butter|
|Lunch||Garlic quinoa & kale salad with edamame||Chicken, cranberry & celery on whole-grain wrap||Cucumber, hummus & tuna roll-ups with olives & feta cheese||Turkey tacos with mango, cabbage & avocado||Sunflower seed chickpea salad with green onions, Dijon mustard, radishes & garlic||Lemon garlic zoodles & chicken with roasted red peppers||Shrimp spring rolls with carrots, cilantro, mint & peanut sauce|
|Dinner||Curry-roasted lentils & veggies||Grilled lemon-basil salmon with asparagus & spinach side salad||Eggplant lasagna with cashew Ricotta & roasted peppers & onions||Pad Thai spaghetti squash with shrimp||Savory turkey & couscous stuffed pepper||Lemon-basil bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas, tomatoes & yellow squash||Chipotle cauliflower rice with chicken & roasted sweet potato|
|Evening snack||Baked carrot “fries”||Celery sticks & garlic white bean hummus||Freeze-dried strawberries & 1 string cheese||Baked apple chips with cinnamon||1/2 cup cottage cheese with basil & tomato||Jicama sticks & 2 Tbsp. guacamole||1/2 cup Greek yogurt topped with oats & fresh blackberries|