Topping foods with heavy sauces or condiments could add extra calories and often little nutritional value. For example, ketchup often has a high amount of sugar. According to Monica Auslander, a registered dietitian and founder of Essence Nutrition, one teaspoon of ketchup is equal to eating a sugar packet. “It’s deceiving because it has no fat, so people think they can enjoy freely,” she says. “Unfortunately, we now know that sugar is far more insidious than fat.” Fortunately, there are healthier lower-calorie options such as pesto, hummus, and DIY recipes. These are the condiments that are bad for your health.
Ah, quinoa. This healthy, rich-tasting whole grain/seed has so many nutritional riches that it puts refined grains like white rice to shame. Tofu is the perfect sidekick because it’s both waistline-friendly (per bite, tofu tends to have about one-third the calories of meat and poultry) and heart-friendly (tofu has no artery-damaging saturated fat or cholesterol).
So as tedious as this one step might seem,  it is an important step for both weight loss and maintenance later on and it holds everything together. Having a meal plan helps you manage plateaus while keeping you motivated. In the long run you’ve studied for your new healthy lifestyle and for your new figure. It makes it easier to maintain your weight loss diet when you have done the studying. So don’t skip this step, you’re studying for the most important test of your life… your health.
Created in 2003 by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, this low-carb diet features three phases. The first phase is the most restrictive, limiting carbs such as potatoes and rice. Each subsequent phase becomes more lenient, and the diet emphasizes lean protein, unsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbs such as nonstarchy vegetables. South Beach promotes lasting lifestyle changes, according to the Mayo Clinic. (21)
Food containers come in all shapes, sizes and equally important – materials. Depending on your lifestyle, you can pick the ones that fit into your lifestyle (and your bag!) best. If you’ll be taking a lot of your meals with you on the go, the slimmer and lighter the container is, the better. Also, make sure the container is suitable for keeping in the freezer and/or microwave use, depending on what you’ll be using it most – that’s why I love these glass meal prep containers. There are plenty of options and after you’ve done your planning, it will be much easier for you to determine what kind of container is the best option.

Coffee add-ins could be adding in unnecessary extra calories to your diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, common calorie culprits include sugar, half-and-half, whipping cream, and even fat-free milk. Meanwhile, black coffee has only five calories. Registered dietitian Andy Bellatti adds that another good swap is unsweetened plant milk instead of the sweetened ones for your beverages.
Prep foods in advance. To make sure you stick to your diet plan, organize your meals in advance. You can do this after dinner in the evening. Lay out the foods you'll eat for breakfast so they are ready to go when you wake up. Then pack your lunch and snacks for the next day. Finally, do any meal prep for the next night's healthy dinner so that it's easy to throw together when you come home from work.
Portion control is another key element of weight loss. Part of the process is understanding an actual serving size. Measuring high-calorie ingredients will help you learn to eyeball portions. Even calories from healthy foods add up. “One of the foods people love are healthy fats, which are great,” Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian, and founder of Eat Chic Chicago says. Your definition of a handful of nuts might be four times bigger than an actual serving size, she warns.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.

Before you start the meal plan, make a pot of the Veggie Soup. Make 2 servings of Overnight Oats, so they can soak in the fridge. It’s also super helpful to prep your veggie snacks—make 4 bags filled with baby carrots and sugar snap peas, and 3 bags filled with broccoli and cauliflower, for alternate days. And if you really want to get ahead, you could also grill the chicken breasts and cook the quinoa and brown rice in advance.
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