Discipline. This is what weight management takes, regardless of how you choose to go about it.

Whether you want to lose weight, manage an illness or add a few pounds, the discipline behind structured meal plans will benefit you.

That said, these plans do not always work. Find out more about them before deciding to use them as a diet alternative.

Draw from examples of a few of these plans, and compare them to meal replacement shakes, another popular diet alternative.

Why people use structured diet plans

measuring tape

The overwhelming rigors of weight management make diet plans necessary. You may have specific reasons for following one.

The strongest motive behind following a diet plan is weight loss. Evidence points to the necessity of such plans. A US study separated weight watchers into two groups. Researchers found that the group which followed planned, weight loss diets lost an average of 11.8 kg, while those who did not go on any particular diet only lost 8 kg.

The reverse happens as well. You may want to follow a formulated diet to add pounds to your underweight frame. Many nutrition experts suggest that paying attention to macronutrients, such as glycogen
(carbohydrates that affect energy), affects muscle-building. They share that you have to take in more carbohydrates than you burn so that you can build muscle.

You may suffer from an illness that increases your nutritional needs. Following a diet regime helps you to overcome a variety of health conditions. T Jonsson and his fellow researchers separated diabetic study subjects into two groups. The group that followed a Paeolithic diet lowered cardiovascular risk factors, compared with those who followed a regular diet.

Diets are also proven to help cancer patients. Meal plans high in dark, leafy greens combat cancer cells. They restrict estrogen, the hormone which triggers cancer growth. Spices, too, fight cancer. According to Dr. Gary G Meadows, who studied plants that suppress metastasis, spices work the best to keep cancer cells in check. Diet plans high in fiber keep blood sugar low. This restricts insulin, which may spur cancer growth when in excess.

Why structured meal plans are feasible

A well-planned diet has its advantages. Many weight watchers complain of hunger pangs between meals. Tasteless food disappoints them. To add, dieting means that they cannot eat what they want.

An organized meal saves you the trouble of thinking about what to eat. You can place your energy on more important matters.

Planned diets do not leave you feeling deprived. Weight watchers often feel that they cannot enjoy meals like everyone else, because they have to note what they eat. This is not necessary with diet plans. You decide what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there is no sense of loss.

Well-regulated meals improve food quality in the kitchen. Your family members will benefit from your diet plan. They may start eating healthier food, because you do. Balanced meals have fewer calories and align with your weight management goals.

Vegetable Soup

These plans lower the risk of obesity-related diseases. Alabama-based pediatrician Laura Sewaya Cortez shared a personal story of how
she was unaware of how her cholesterol levels had shot through the roof. Following a diet plan that included lots of soy protein, fruits and vegetables helped to bring those levels down.

Planning your diet helps you to keep an eye on your calorie intake. It helps you to stick to your limits. Food high in calories would tempt you otherwise.

It also allows you to have a wider range of food. Thinking about what you want to eat in advance makes it easier to include different, whole foods in your diet.

They also raise your energy levels. Experts recommend diets packed with low-fat, high energy foods like oatmeal, blueberries and green tea. Filled with antioxidants, they relieve oxidative stress.

Food routines are a boon if you find it hard to control the amount you eat. Eating too much is a top cause of obesity. Plans entail eating specific amounts of food. They remove the fear of eating too much.

Keeping to a meal plan will help you to deal with difficult barriers. Finding suitable food to eat at work is difficult, as it is either too high in fat or carbohydrates.

Why structured plans do not always work : the obstacles

ObstacleNo weight loss regime is foolproof. Diet plans are only successful if you bear considerations in mind.

The first is the need to read food labels. Additives, such as sodium or sugar, are apt to make a person gain weight. If you have decided to lose weight by following a diet based on real foods, you must read labels to find out if producers packed them with preservatives.

Healthier food choices are more expensive. Perfect examples are whole grains, which are organically grown via methods like crop rotation(the seasonal rotation of crops). These grains are considerably more expensive than conventional foods. Being healthy does cost.

You may feel shortchanged during social occasions, when there is a lot of rich food. With calories occupying your mind, these foods are difficult to enjoy. You will miss comfort foods like hot dogs and steaks.

Some diets may change your body’s natural metabolism. Your body tells you when to eat and when not to. Imposing a structured meal plan can affect it negatively.

If you do not plan them well, structured diets may lack essential nutrients. You may exclude protein from your diet, for fear of taking in fat. The protein lack may cause hair and muscle loss.

Examples of meal plans

1. Meal plans for weight loss

a. Weight Loss Tips

Weight loss entails getting rid of the pounds and keeping them off. Before you start putting a weight loss diet plan together, consider these suggestions.

Losing weight quickly is about limiting your food intake, but weighing your food will not do so by much. Try reducing the number of appetizers you eat. Take in fewer slices of bread for dinner if you had pasta for lunch.

Effective meal plans include fruits. Store fruits, as these help with food cravings while you are at the office. Nutritionists recommend cutting out drinks with calories, including wine and root beer.

Weave spices into your diet. Many studies prove that capsaicin, the compound that gives chili stirring heat, decrease weight drastically. Researchers at Laval University in Canada found that it encourages thermogenisis (heat production) and fat burning.

Remember to set limits. An interesting tip is to use Bento boxes to put your lunch in. You avoid over eating this way.

Add water to your meal plan. To encourage you to keep drinking water, add cucumber or lemon slices. They turn it into a treat.

b. A sample weight loss meal plan

Weight loss does not have to compromise taste. Here is a meal plan that combines satisfaction with nutrition.

i) Breakfast

Start with a spicy breakfast. Have a tortilla with scrambled eggs and green beans. Adding salsa will spice it up.

To complete the meal, have an orange, or a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice without added sugar. You could add a cup of fat-free milk as well.

ii) Lunch

A sandwich will satisfy weight watchers on the go. Have a whole grain sandwich with sliced chicken breast or tuna. The carbohydrates from whole grains will give you energy. If you use canned tuna, you can add chili slices. Throw in lettuce and low-fat cheese. Add baked potato wedges if you wish.

iii) Dinner

salmon dishTreat yourself to a 5 ounce salmon for dinner. Salmon supplies healthy Omega-3 fats, Stuff it with cucumbers or celery. Include baked almond nuts, which have healthy fats as well. Add half a cup of steamed broccoli. For added goodness, cook the salmon in coconut oil.


c. Raw food diet

Some food enthusiasts believe a raw diet consisting mostly of raw fruits and vegetables is the best way of losing pounds fast whilst maintaining a healthy level of nutrition. Going to these extremes can take a while to adjust but with discipline, it can be achieved. Check the video below for more details

2. Meal plans for weight gain

a. Muscle-building tips

Alternatively, you may have a smaller-sized frame that you need to add some bulk to.

Consider smart growth. You will need a diet plan that adds lean muscle, and not fat. Remember that if you do not control your food intake, you will take in unnecessary calories and fat. Experts recommend 40 to 60 grams of protein and 40-80 grams of carbohydrates, per pound of fat-free mass, for energy. Keep dietary fat low, at about 5-10 grams per meal.

Timing is key when it comes to eating for building muscle.

When, and what you eat adds to mass gain and controls body fat. Muscle cells lack nourishment during the night and after exercise, when they suffer the most damage. Eat more at breakfast and after workout sessions, because these are the times when muscle cells need replenishing.

Take in fewer carbohydrates on non-training days, when you need less energy. Many muscle-builders make the mistake of taking in too many carbohydrates on the days when they do not exercise. This leaves them with more than their bodies can burn. Eat more carbohydrates at breakfast and fewer at later meals. Make your later meals mostly protein, as this will cancel out the carbohydrates taken in earlier in the day.

b. A sample muscle-building meal plan

i) Breakfast

Have 10 egg whites for breakfast. Egg whites are high in albumin, which has the essential amino acid, leucine, for muscle-building. Albumin transfers these amino acids to muscle cells that did not receive nutrients during the night.

Add 11/4 cup of oatmeal for your fiber needs. Fiber decreases oxidative stress on the body. This prevents hormone suppression and increases muscle growth. Fruits or freshly squeezed fruit juices will supply vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

ii) Lunch

Make sure that you skew your protein to carbohydrate ratio in favor of protein during lunch. Have an 8-ounce chicken breast with a small baked potato. Adjust the weight of the chicken breast according to your body mass.

iii) Dinner

Treat yourself to a delectable, yet healthy dinner after a long day. Have an 8-ounce turkey breast. To satisfy your carbohydrate needs, have 2 cups of brown rice.

You can supplement the above meal plans with training sessions and whey replacement shakes. Ideal Shakes, by Ideal Shape, have 11g of whey protein that aids muscle-building.

Diet plans for cancer patients

1. Nutrition tips for cancer patients

The Big C is a perennial bully. Cancer is never easy to deal with, emotionally or physically.

This explains why proper nutrition for cancer patients is essential. According to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, It helps to prepare them for the rigors of surgery or chemotherapy.

Whole grain breads and cereals will give your body fiber. They protect the body by adding bulk to the digestive system, shortening the time waste remains in it and eliminating carcinogens from the waste.

Fruits and vegetables will give your body the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals it needs. Do not eat processed meats, as these have nitrates, preservatives with cancer links.


This does not mean excluding meat altogether. Nutrition experts divide protein into complete, and incomplete groups. Complete proteins have all the essential amino acids a cancer patient needs to repair damaged muscles. Lean meat belongs to this category. Include lean meats or fish in your diet, as these are protein-filled. Fish are high in High Density Lipoprotein, or good fat, which makes up lean muscle.

Limit foods with sugar, as these interfere with insulin production. Insulin is a known cancer-causing compound. To add, sugar has many calories but little nutrition.

2. Sample meal plan for cancer patients

Here is an example of a meal plan for a cancer patient.

i) Breakfast

Have half a cup of cooked, whole grain cereal for breakfast. It augments fiber. When fiber breaks down in the intestines, it produces burate, which inhibits tumors.

Researchers have found that fiber reduces adeoma (benign cancer growths) by 35%.

Drink 1/2 a cup of milk. H Davoodi et al, in several studies, found that milk prevents colorectal cancer.

ii) Lunch

Have a whole grain sandwich for lunch. Two slices of whole grain bread, with a 4-ounce lean chicken breast in between, make a satisfying meal. Add lettuce, cucumber or tomato slices.

iii) Dinner

Take in four ounces of lean pork, chicken breast or fish for dinner. Have a cup of steamed vegetables, and draw your carbohydrates from 1/2 a cup of brown rice. Have a cup of milk as well.

Structured diet plans with meal replacement shakes: Which are better for you?

Meal replacement shakes outweigh diet plans in terms of convenience. If you do not have the time to prepare meals, shakes make a meal substitute that are almost ideal, because they have the nutrients the body needs. Ideal Shake has 22 essential vitamins and minerals. Pack the powder and take it with you.

This said, remember that shakes are not a sustainable solution. They can replace one or two meals, but not all. Whole foods, unlike shakes, give complete nutrition.

It is easier to add variety to a diet plan, bearing restrictions in mind. You can exercise your creativity avoid the boredom of eating the same food daily. If eating a different meal every day matters to you, choose weight loss plans instead of nutrition shakes.

If you tend to feel a little hungry between meals, a shake would satisfy your needs better. They are an ideal meal supplement for those who have decreased appetites because of illness. They also make healthy post-workout drinks.

All considered, planned meals, and the discipline surrounding them, hasten weight loss, add bulk and ease the discomfort of illnesses.

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