Meal planning

How To Plan Your Weight-Loss Meals

25 min read


31 Aug 2023

Things you’ll learn here:

  • Choosing foods for your weight-loss diet plan
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Micronutrients
  • Alcohol
  • Supplements
  • Eating to burn fat and lose weight

  • If you’re looking to lose weight, the first place you should be turning to isn’t the gym​​—it’s the kitchen.

    While regular activity that gets your heart rate up, and your blood pumping plays a crucial part in burning fat, what you eat can have an even bigger impact on how much weight you lose. Eating well can also help you lose weight faster.

    Some people even swear by the idea that a healthy diet can account for up to 80% of your weight loss results (no, your eyes don’t deceive you). 

    This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but when you consider how much easier it is to cut 200 calories from your daily meals than it is to burn 200 calories through running, it makes complete sense that your diet can have such a big effect.

    By no means are we suggesting that you skip your workout sessions (in fact, your best results will come through a combination of diet and exercise, so we’ll cover some great fat-burning options in our next guide). But, getting your nutrition in order is so important that it’s going to be our first port of call in helping you design a new health and fitness routine.

    You’ve already done the hard work by calculating your optimal daily calories, working out your macro ratio, and figuring out your somatotype. Now you can put all that knowledge and information to use as we get to the fun stuff: planning what you eat.

    Choosing foods for your weight loss diet plan

    It’s not just the amount of calories you consume that are important for your health, it’s the types of food you eat. That’s why we worked out a macro ratio to suit your body type in our last guide.

    If you were underwhelmed by how many calories were recommended based on your personal stats, don’t sweat it. You’d actually be surprised at how far 1500 calories can go. You just need to eat the right foods.

    Healthy food

    We’re all so used to seeing large calorie counts in takeout meals and junk foods—dishes that are crammed full of fattening additives. We’ll look at some much more nutritious examples of what you can eat that have far fewer calories but still taste amazing.

    Something else to bear in mind is that the goal here isn’t to slash your calories down to stomach-rumbling levels. While taking drastic measures like eating 800 calories a day will lead to weight loss, it’s neither healthy nor sustainable. It’s almost impossible to stick to a target like this, which is why people end up giving in so soon and eventually piling the pounds back on. But not you. Not anymore.

    The plan we have for you is far easier to weave into your lifestyle. There’ll be no need for yo-yo dieting once you start building meals around your own food preferences. 

    Once you’ve followed your plan for a couple of weeks, it'll become second nature. Plus, you’ll have a more intuitive grasp of what you should and shouldn’t be eating to lose weight and feel healthy.

    So, let’s get back to those macros that we looked at before to see exactly what each of them brings to your diet, along with some tasty yet healthy examples that you can include in your meal plan. Yum.



    Carbs are amazing. There’s pasta, bread—a whole host of things you can make with potatoes…it’s enough to get your belly rumbling and your mouth drooling just thinking about all the tasty carb-based foods out there.

    But carbs are the enemy, right?

    Wrong. We’ve been lied to.

    For years and years, carbs have been blamed for any weight that we might put on. But the truth is we need carbs. In fact, they’re our main source of dietary energy.

    Carbs are your body’s preferred source because they break down into glucose, keeping you powered up as you go about your day. If you aren’t eating enough carbs then your body has to resort to using the protein and fats that you consume as energy sources instead—which isn’t ideal. Why? Well, because these other macronutrients have their own jobs within your body (as you’ll see shortly).

    Calories are not created equal, neither are all carbs. And, there are a couple of different kinds for us to consider.

    You might have heard the terms simple carbs and complex carbs before. Well, the difference between the two is how many sugar molecules they contain.

    Simple carbs are the unhealthy kind. Some are essentially just sugar with a different name. A few simple carbs, like milk or fruits, are fine in moderation. But, you should avoid most of them if you want to lose weight. We’re talking about things like:

    • Cookies
    • Pastries
    • Sodas
    • Candy 

    Oh, and pretty much any foodstuffs that are processed or packed with refined sugars.

    Then we have complex carbs. These are the healthy kinds that you should include in your meal plan. 

    Complex carbs got their name because they are harder to break down and slower to digest in the body. They’re also higher in fiber and will gradually release glucose into your bloodstream, giving you energy throughout the day, rather than the short, sharp blood sugar spikes that simple carbs offer (which then lead to an inevitable energy crash. And, we know you don’t have time for that).

    So, as much as we’d all like to be able to chow down on pizza and cake every night, this just won’t lead to the fat-loss results you need to succeed. We need to take a smart approach to healthy carb consumption and use them for what they are best at: powering us through the day.

    The good news is that healthy does not equal boring. There are countless ways to incorporate carbs into your plan without sacrificing flavor or taste.

    For most of us, carbs are the food source that we tend to build a meal around. Some of the best complex carbohydrates to use as the base for your weight-loss meals include:

    • Sweet potatoes: You can still include all of your potato-based favorites in your diet, just substitute your usual white potatoes for sweet potatoes. You can make mash, fries, baked potatoes, pretty much any style you like. And, they’ll be much healthier due to the high vitamin C content and slow-release sugars in sweet potatoes.

    • Rice: Like potatoes, rice-based dishes are still absolutely on the menu; just switch out white rice for whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. These help to regulate your blood sugar levels and are much more fibrous than processed rice. You could also try buckwheat, barley, spelt, and bulgar wheat to mix things up a bit.

    • Pasta: Good news: pasta is still on the cards, too! Just swap processed pasta for wholewheat alternatives, as you did for rice. Whole grain pasta retains high levels of fiber and all its key nutrients instead of having the healthy bran stripped away during the refining process that white pasta goes through. Bread works in a similar way: if you’re going to eat it, try whole grain options.

    • Oats: One of the absolute best ways to start the day is with a healthy breakfast of steel-cut or rolled oats. These have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber, making them a far better option than instant oats (which are usually heavily processed) or manufactured cereals. Our top tip is to add fruits like bananas, strawberries, or blueberries to your oats. It tastes incredible without any added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

    • Fruit: Speaking of fruits, high-fiber ones like apples, berries, and bananas all make great snacks. Alternatively, you can blend some up as part of a nutritious smoothie. Don’t get fruits in a can though, they may seem healthy, but they are often mixed in with lots of sugary syrup, which is not good for you. Fresh fruit all the way.

    • Vegetables: Unsurprisingly, you can really load up your plate with veggies— especially leafy greens like cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, kale, and spinach. Not only are they full of healthy vitamins and minerals, they’re high in fiber and low in calories. They don’t have to be bland side dishes either, you can bake them, saute them, make tasty salads, blend them into smoothies, or prepare them in any number of other ways. There’s absolutely no reason to skip your veggies.

    As you can see, you can weave all of your favorite carbs into your plan. You just have to be smart with the types you eat.

    Your priority with carbohydrates is to make sure you are eating natural whole foods like potatoes, rice, and oats that haven’t been processed or jammed full of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Lots of fruits and vegetables are also key to weight loss, so feel free to load up on low-calorie options like fibrous greens.

    That’s your carbs sorted. Now, let’s see what protein sources you should fill up your plate with next.



    Protein is usually associated with bodybuilders and athletes who are looking to increase their muscle mass. But, it’s actually something that we all need to consume a certain amount of to remain healthy and even to lose weight.

    Yes, protein is crucial for muscle building, too. It contains all nine essential amino acids that the body can’t naturally produce by itself, which are then used to repair damaged muscle tissue during a workout. But, it also has other functions, including the regulation of weight loss hormones, reducing your appetite, and giving your metabolism a good old boost.

    Swapping out some of your diet's carbohydrate and fat content for some extra protein will help convince your brain that you’re full. This means you’ll end up eating less calories. 

    Another benefit to increasing your protein intake is that protein has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF) out of all three macronutrients. This means that more of the protein’s calories are used up by the body through the digestive and metabolic processes. Around 20-30% of protein is burned off in this way, whereas only 5-10% of carbs and 0-3% of fat is used up in this way. The rest is usually stored as extra body mass.

    So what are the best sources of metabolism-boosting, hunger-busting protein? These are our favorites to include in healthy meals.

    • Eggs: Highly versatile sources of protein that are full of essential amino acids. It’s hard to get bored of eggs as they can be prepared in so many tasty ways: scrambled, poached, boiled, made into a healthy omelet with lots of vegetables…you name it. Lots of choices to switch things up and make your meals interesting.

    • Fish: If you like seafood, you’re in luck. Many types of fish are packed full of protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Tuna and salmon are fantastic options, as are prawns, cod, and sardines. So there’s lots of choice here, too.

    • Chicken: Another versatile source of protein. Lean cuts of chicken or turkey provide high levels of healthy amino acids but remain low in fat. Try grilling a chicken breast and adding it to your meal of choice, whether that be pasta, a salad, in a wrap, or whatever else takes your fancy on a given day.

    • Beef: Much like chicken, as long as you stick to leaner cuts that have a lower fat content, you can prepare it in any number of ways and still make a healthy meal. You could have a lean steak with salad, make mince for pasta, cut it into strips for a stir-fry or a sandwich—there are plenty of taste bud-tingling options.

    • Dairy: The best dietary sources of dairy protein are milk, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. You’ll also get a nice dose of calcium, which is vital for the strength and health of your bones. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with dairy, though—there’s generally a pretty high fat content to take into account.

    • Tofu: Just because lots of protein comes from animal products doesn’t mean vegetarians and vegans have to miss out. Tofu and tempeh are both excellent alternatives as they are made from soybeans yet are complete protein sources. These tasty foods can also be used in the same way as any type of meat: add them to dishes like curries, pasta, stir-frys, or salads, and you’ll hardly notice the difference.

    • Beans: An often underrated and underappreciated option for rounding out the protein content of your meals. Beans also provide the body with fiber and lots of healthy vitamins and minerals. You’ve got lots of options here too. Black beans, kidney beans, edamame, lima, pinto…take your pick.

    • Grains, nuts, and seeds: It might sound like squirrel food at first, but these are great ways to fill you up and get extra protein into your meals without needing to overeat. Peanuts, cashews, almonds, quinoa, lentils, pumpkin seeds. You can eat all of these foods as healthy snacks or use them to round out meals (or mix into smoothies. Yum). Speaking of which…

    • Protein powders: A simple way to boost your protein intake is to add protein powder to your smoothies (alternatively, you can just mix it with some water or milk for a lower calorie shake). There are a wide variety of flavors to choose from, too. You can also add protein powders to porridge or for baking sweet but healthy treats. Whey is the most popular type of protein powder, but there are also soy, pea, and various other plant-based versions available to supplement a vegetarian or vegan diet.

    Now we’ve covered carbs and protein, let’s take a look at the final macronutrient component of your diet.



    Hang on…fat?

    We’re trying to burn fat, aren’t we? So, why on earth should we be consuming fat?

    Well, just like we saw with carbs, fat is often misunderstood. It has a bad rep, but it needn’t be so demonized—just as long as you’re eating the right kinds of fat.

    One of the reasons that fat gets some of the blame when we put on weight is that it is so calorie dense. Protein and carbs only contain four calories per gram, but fat contains more than double that amount with a whopping nine calories per gram.

    This is why fat tends to be the macro with the lowest percentage in our diets. We need less of it, so we take that into account when calculating our optimal ratio.

    Fat also shares another similarity with carbs in that there is a clear division between the types that are healthy and the ones that you should avoid like the plague (or the latest fad diet). Here are the distinctions to look out for:

    • Unsaturated fats: These are what you should include in your diet. Unsaturated fats are the ones we know as ‘good fats’ as they can help lower the risk of heart disease and increase blood flow throughout the body. This type of fat can be broken down further into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both of which should make up the majority of your fat-based macros.

    • Saturated fats: These are commonly found in animal products like meat and cheese. Lard, butter, ghee, and some oils (e.g., coconut or palm) also contain saturated fats. They’re not the worst type but not the best either, so you should consume these sparingly, if at all.

    • Trans fats: The bad kind. You may also know them as trans-fatty acids. These are the kinds used in foods that are highly processed. For example, fried food, baked goods, and fast food. Trans fats are fats that give all other fats a bad name. They increase your cholesterol levels and can lead to all sorts of health issues, including heart disease. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

    Your fat macros should come from a balanced mixture of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and a small amount of saturated fats if necessary.

    Incorporating a range of healthy fats into your meals can benefit your weight loss by regulating blood sugar and hormone levels, filling you up, and being used as an energy source. Good fats also support joint health and can have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being.

    The benefits don’t end there, either. Eating healthy kinds of fat can slow down the rate of carb absorption, lower your glycemic index, and help the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K (which are known as fat-soluble vitamins).

    Now that you’ve seen what fat can do for your health, hopefully, you won’t feel guilty about including any of these tasty foods in your diet.

    • Fatty fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel are somewhat of a double whammy. They’re full of protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids that improve heart and brain health.

    • Eggs: Another two-in-one health hack, protein-rich eggs provide your body with healthy fats that raise your good cholesterol (i.e., high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol) and lower your triglyceride levels, which leads to a reduced risk of heart disease.

    • Avocados: Their high fiber and monounsaturated fat content makes them a great choice for keeping your cholesterol healthy. Simply add half an avocado to a sandwich or salad to reap the benefits. Excitingly, you can even use them as a substitute for eggs or butter while baking.

    • Greek yogurt: If you want to get your dietary fat from dairy, pick a full-fat option (just make sure it fits into your macro and calorie count). You might be tempted to go for a fat-free or reduced-fat version, but their lack of fat is accounted for by extra sugar and artificial additives—which isn’t good for your waistline.

    • Olives: Along with being a source of healthy monounsaturated fat, olives also contain oleuropein, a compound that has been shown to play a role in longevity and in lowering the risk of diabetes.

    • Nuts: Brazil nuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts all provide healthy fats and nutrients for your body. Just make sure they’re the unsalted kind. Nut butter also counts, as long as they are made from 100% peanuts (or whichever nut you prefer). Avoid the nut butter that contains any additives like sugar, salt, or palm oil.

    • Seeds: You can add a handful of seeds to oats and smoothies or enjoy them as a nutritious snack. Despite being tiny, things like flax, chia, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are quality sources of fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants, and various minerals.

    • Vegetable oil: If you’re going to cook with oil or drizzle it over a salad, you have to pick one that contains healthy fats. Canola oil and olive oil are both solid choices, as are those made from corn, soybean, or walnuts. Steer well clear of any sort of palm oil or hydrogenated oil, as these are terrible for your health as well as the environment.

    You’ve probably noticed with all three macronutrients that the best sources are natural, whole foods – and there’s a good reason for this.

    Humans have evolved over time to digest and use the foods available to our ancestors. As a result, these are still the very things that your body needs today to function in the best way possible.

    Our muscles, organs, and digestive systems just haven’t had the time to learn how to deal with all of these new and unhealthy processed or manufactured foods efficiently. Really, that’s why we need to keep things like cheesecakes and Big Macs to a minimum (although the odd treat from time to time is fine—you deserve it).

    While complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats will make up most of your meals, there are still a few extra things to consider to make sure you are getting the full range of nutrients that your body needs to succeed.



    We’ve covered the big three macronutrients, but lots of little micronutrients will also play a significant role in keeping you healthy and on the road to weight loss.

    You can find many of the following nutrients in some of the foods we’ve already covered. But it’s useful to note which additional vitamins and minerals you should look for on nutritional information and food labels.

    • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are your best sources here, as are bell peppers and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid, as it’s sometimes known) plays a key role in healing wounds and injuries, protecting your cells, and maintaining good skin health.

    • Vitamin A, D, E, and K: These are the fat-soluble vitamins mentioned in the previous section. They are so-named because they don’t dissolve in water and should be consumed alongside a source of healthy fat. Upon consumption, they’re stored in fatty tissue and in your liver to boost the health of your muscles and bones, aid visual health, and strengthen your immune system.

    • B vitamins: The B complex contains eight different vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and B12. They all provide numerous benefits to your overall well-being, including improvements to brain health, energy levels, and immune function. You can find high levels of B vitamins in eggs, dairy, meat, and leafy green vegetables.

    • Potassium: Famously found in bananas, potassium helps balance your electrolytes so that you stay hydrated and recover well after a session of exercise. Apricots are also a good source of potassium, as are various seeds, beans, and pulses.

    • Calcium: Generally found in dairy (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt), calcium’s central role is to help you maintain strong bones and healthy teeth.

    • Iron: Vegans should pay particularly close attention to their iron intake, as most dietary sources of iron come from meat and fish. You will find smaller quantities of iron in beans and nuts, though. Iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the Western world and can lead to anemia if left unchecked. Why? Well because iron helps create hemoglobin for red blood cells and carries oxygen to the muscles.

    • Magnesium: This mineral has a hand in many different bodily processes, especially ones related to energy production and metabolism. Once again, leafy green vegetables are a good source, with cashews, almonds, and other nuts also providing hefty doses of magnesium.



    Wait… a section on alcohol? In an article on healthy diets?

    Yes, but we’re only including it to tell you to avoid it (or at least reduce it). Sorry about that.

    If you like the odd glass of wine or a gin and tonic on the weekend, you would be better off giving it a miss for a while if you want to see serious weight loss results.

    Despite alcohol technically being the fourth macronutrient, it’s just too many empty calories with no real benefits. Add to this the fact that many alcoholic drinks contain additional sugar, and you’re not realistically going to be able to fit it into your daily or weekly calorie count.

    Some argue that you can track alcohol as part of your carbohydrate sources, but if you keep alcohol out of your plans, you’ll burn fat much more easily.

    For some low-calorie alcohol swaps you can make if you want to include it in your diet check out this article. 

    There’s one final component to a fat-burning meal plan that we haven’t discussed yet—and it can take your results to another level. *Drum roll, please.*  

    Introducing…supplements into your diet.



    While you should include protein powders in your macro and calorie counts, most other supplements don’t need tracking in the same way. They’re simply additional diet components that can provide various and specific benefits.

    There are many different supplements out there—some of which work and can be great additions to your plan—others not so much. They take a variety of forms too, from pills and capsules, to powders and drinks.

    We aren’t here to overwhelm you with choice though—we just want to highlight a couple of the most common supplements and why they can be the difference between average and astounding results.

    Whether you’re trying to lose weight for the first time, have been dieting for decades, or anything in between, these are our favorite kinds of supplements that can help you lose weight faster or more efficiently:

    • Fat burners: Most fat burners are pills or capsules, but the ingredients they contain can vary somewhat. The most effective ones tend to contain ingredients like caffeine and capsicum (also known as red pepper extract or Capsimax). Plenty of scientific research has been conducted on these ingredients, showing how they can raise your body’s metabolic rate and increase thermogenesis, ultimately aiding weight loss.

    • Appetite suppressants: These don’t directly burn fat, instead they help you consume fewer calories by curbing your appetite, making you feel full, and reducing food cravings. The nopal cactus (prickly pear) found in PhenQ not only helps satisfy hunger, it also reduces calorie absorption by binding to the fats you eat, so they’re passed as waste instead of adding to your body weight. Chromium picolinate is another ingredient to look for, as it drives down your cravings for sugary and carb-heavy foods.

    • Meal replacement shakes: As the name suggests, these are powdered supplements that you mix with water or milk to create a shake that you drink in place of a meal of solid food. These can be great options to keep your calorie intake low for a particular meal whilst still filling you up. The best shakes will contain protein, as well as lots of additional vitamins and minerals that you’d otherwise miss out on if you skipped a meal completely. Make sure there’s a complex carb like oat flour in the formula too, as this will regulate your blood sugar, aid digestion, and stop you feeling hungry.

    • Vitamins and minerals: There are too many to list here, but there are many supplements that can provide you with any vitamins or minerals you might be deficient in or are just struggling to consume through diet alone. Zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, and omega-3s (fish oil) are some of the most common and useful ones. If you’re unsure about any dietary deficiencies, contact your doctor and see if you require a blood test that could reveal the key nutrients you need to monitor.

    While all of these supplements can improve various aspects of your health or help you burn fat and lose weight, just remember they are exactly that: supplementary to your diet

    Remember: Supplements should complement a healthy and well-balanced meal plan of whole foods, not replace it entirely.

    Eating to burn fat and lose weight

    It sounds completely counterintuitive doesn’t it—that we need to eat to lose weight? But it’s true. Completely starving yourself of calories is not only unsustainable, it’s downright unhealthy.

    The safe and sensible route to weight loss is through determining the amount of calories your body needs each day to function properly and still burn fat, then eating natural and healthy foods that support your goals.

    It’s that simple.

    You don’t need to follow an impossible fad diet that makes you miserable and want to quit. No, you just need to take small measures and make minor alterations to your current regime so that it becomes part and parcel of your lifestyle.

    Use what we’ve covered so far and apply it to your life. Make it a part of who you are so it’s not a diet that you’re trying—it’s just what you naturally do.

    You know your somatotype. You’ve worked out your calories. You know your macro ratios. All you have to do now is plan your meals and use them to fuel your weight loss.

    Should you ever need a quick reminder of what we’ve covered here (the essentials), here’s a useful little cheat sheet that you can look back on to keep you on track:

    • Plan your meals and snacks to fit in with your macros and calorie count. As you can see from the suggestions above, what you eat doesn’t have to be boring to help you lose weight. You’ve got lots of choices, just keep mixing it up, and you’ll never get bored with the food you consume.

    • Use fresh, whole foods and mainly natural ingredients. Avoid anything manufactured, artificial, or processed—it’s mostly rubbish!

    • If the suggested macro guidelines for your somatotype don’t appear to be working, then tweak it. Do you need less carbs? More protein? Fewer overall calories? Listen to your body and respond to how you’re feeling.

    • These changes should fit easily into your life.  It’s not about making wholesale changes that are hard to stick with. You should feel better, happier, and more confident for doing this. If you’re doing it right, it won’t feel like any ‘diet’ you’ve done before.

    • Pay attention to micronutrients as well as macronutrients: your macros should cover most of the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health but keep a keen eye on what you could be missing out on, anyway.

    • Feel free to complement your diet plan with supplements that can help you safely lose weight or boost your progress.

    • Stay hydrated! Water is calorie-free and is far, far healthier than sodas or juices that are typically full of sugar. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when you’re at your most active.

    BONUS TIP: Plan and make your meals in advance. You’ll save time and make sure you stay on track with your macros. You’ll also be less tempted to grab an unhealthy snack or meal if you don’t feel like cooking or if you’re in a rush. Yes, your healthy pre-prepped food will already be there waiting for you when you need it most.

    This might all seem like a lot to take in at first. But, stick with it, and it will all become a matter of course for you. Oh, and the payoff will be so worth it.

    Your diet is only one side of the coin though. Next, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about building the best exercise regime to suit your goals and that goes hand in hand with the meals you’ve planned. See you soon.

    Meal Shake