To stay motivated and deal with cravings, Juge has a couple of great recommendations. First, schedule a cheat meal on every seventh day. "Many of my clients have their cheat meal on Sunday, so then they're ready for Monday and the week to come," he says. If you feel deprived during the week, concentrate on the cheat meal to come, knowing you can eat absolutely anything you want to—pizza, lasagna, doughnuts, beer, chips, you name it. Remember, though, it's just one cheat meal, not an entire day of cheating. Afterward, get right back on the wagon with your next scheduled meal.
As a result of all your planning and preparation, all you have to do is toss your meals together when you’re ready to eat! Do you know what else I absolutely love about this 30-day weight loss meal plan? All of the recipes are completely delicious! Every single day is packed full of flavor and you get to enjoy foods like pizza and creamy sauces in addition to an optional snack and dessert each day.
Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with some refined sugar, turn to berries and enjoy a slimmer waistline in no time without exercise. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and research from the University of Michigan reveals that rats given a cherry-rich diet shaved off a significant proportion of their belly fat when compared to a control group. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to reductions in belly fat and a reduced risk of dementia, to boot.
Based on my experience in nutrition counseling, most of us tend to snack on foods that aren’t nutrient-dense, but are high in calories. For example, skipping sugary beverages is often the easiest way to lose weight faster. You don’t feel full from drinks — even the ones that do contain calories — so swapping those out for sparkling water or unsweetened tea and coffee is the best place to start. Other major culprits often come in refined grains like cereals, chips, crackers, and cookies.
DO IT: Assume a pushup position with your hands below your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. This is the starting position. Lifting your right foot off of the floor, drive your right knee towards your chest. Tap the floor with your right foot and then return to the starting position. Alternate legs with each repetition.
You've got 28 days to get to your goal, so we've recruited Juge to help you every step of the way. He's adapted a traditional bodybuilding competitor's diet for a noncompetitor (that means you!) who wants to look his best, shedding as much fat as possible in a very short time. With just under a month, there's no time to fool around, so get started on your high-protein meal plan now to lose weight and build muscle while you're at it. Go to the grocery store and stock up tonight. Come breakfast time tomorrow, follow his plan as strictly as you can and get ready to show off those impressive muscles in a month.
When it comes to cravings, protein drinks and bars may also help cure your need for sugar, says Juge. He recommends mixing a flavored protein powder in a blender with as much ice as possible, so it'll taste more like a milkshake. Day Five's protein shake includes a cup of berries, which will also help with sugar cravings. Once or twice per week, Juge adds, you can have a low-sugar, high-protein bar. The newest varieties taste more like candy bars, with state-of-the-art sweetening techniques.
A big part of weight loss is simply being aware of the decisions you’re making. For example, when out at happy hour with friends, you may lose track of how much you're eating or drinking. But if you take a split second to step back and become aware of that fact, you’re more able to course correct. “The awareness and then planning for what else I can be doing, that might give me the same benefit of eating comfort foods,” says Gagliardi.
Cut back on calories. The most important part of losing weight is not working out until you collapse — it's your diet. If you burn 500 to 750 more calories than what you eat every day, you will lose 1–2 pounds every week (any more than that is considered unsafe weight loss). There are tons of little changes you can make to cut calories from your diet, from replacing high-calorie dressings with vinaigrette and asking for all dressings/sauces served on the side, eating at the table instead of in front of the tv, skipping cheese and other fatty additions to your salads and meals, using smaller plates, leave off the whipped cream on your coffee drink, and on and on.
I think the best way to follow a 30-day weight loss meal plan is to compile your grocery list for the week and do one big shop on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Once you have everything in hand, you can start prepping for the entire week. Because many of these recipes can be doubled to create leftovers, you can cut down the amount of work for each meal. Even the meals that are single servings (like the smoothies, energy bites, bowls, salads and casseroles) can be prepared in advance.
Integrate fish into your diet with a tilapia and rice pilaf dish. Heat up one teaspoon olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Season a three-ounce tilapia fillet with some salt and pepper. Place it in the pan for about two to three minutes per side. When the fish is done, it should flake easily with a fork. Prepare ½ cup rice pilaf (prepared from a box or made from scratch) and ½ cup steamed snap peas. Serve the tilapia with the rice pilaf and the snap peas. Finish the meal with a baked apple, topped with a pinch of cinnamon and one teaspoon honey, served with ⅓ cup low-fat vanilla ice cream.
Keep stocked in your refrigerator or freezer a box of veggie burgers (look for low-sodium varieties). Veggie burgers are a much better choice for your waistline and heart than ground meat. Veggie patties have only about half the calories of regular red meat patties, and zero heart-hurting saturated fat. Plus, they’re so easy to cook – just one or two minutes in the microwave. While toasting your whole-wheat bun, take from your pantry a jar of roasted red bell peppers and top your veggie patty with a couple of luscious slices. Smear your bun with a little low-sodium Dijon mustard.