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Meal Plans to Lose 10 Lbs.

By Mike Samuels

Whether you're at the start of your diet and want to lose an initial 10 pounds to get you going or nearing the end of your journey and just have a last 10 pounds to lose, a nutritious, balanced diet is crucial. The key to losing 10 pounds in a healthy way is to avoid fad or extreme diets and ensure that you're eating an appropriate number of calories.

What to Expect

A healthy rate of weight loss is around 1 to 2 pounds per week, meaning that your 10-pound loss should take between five and 10 weeks. It takes a calorie deficit of 3,500 to lose 1 pound. If you're currently maintaining your weight, you'll need to eat 500 calories less each day to lose 1 pound per week, or 1,000 calories less each day to lose 2 pounds per week. Calories are critical and the most important factor in your meal plan, so make sure you're counting them.

Fitting Your Schedule

One of the main aspects of making a meal plan is to consider how many meals per day you're going to eat. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there's no one particular best meal frequency -- you should eat an appropriate number of meals to help you feel full. This could mean three meals per day, six meals per day or just a couple of big meals and a couple of snacks. A good starting point is to go with three meals and two snacks. Eat around 25 percent of your daily calorie intake at each main meal and split the other 25 percent between your snacks.

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The Right Foods

Your meal plan should include a variety of foods, including proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Ensure that every meal is composed of one-third to one-half fruits and vegetables and the rest a mix of lean protein and starchy carbs such as grains. No foods are vital for losing 10 pounds; likewise, no foods need to be avoided completely, though you should look to limit your intake of processed foods and those high in sugars and trans fats.

Sample Plan

On any given day, you could start off with an omelet made with bell peppers and low-fat cheese on a whole-wheat pita bread with a side of melon. At lunch, go for a large green salad with a small serving of quinoa and a can of tuna, then eat a dinner comprising grilled turkey steaks and mashed potatoes, with broccoli, sprouts and spring greens cooked in a little olive oil. Try one snack of low-sugar Greek yogurt with blueberries and whole-grain cereal midmorning and a midafternoon snack of whole-grain rice cakes with sliced turkey and pickles with an apple.

Monitoring and Adjusting

Your portion sizes must be tweaked to suit your own individual calorie needs. As you lose weight, you may find that you have to reduce portion sizes slightly or reduce your servings of grains and starches and replace these with lower-calorie fruits and vegetables instead, or opt for leaner protein sources. This is because as your weight drops, you burn fewer calories, so weight loss can slow. Always consult a medical professional before starting a diet and again should you feel unwell at any point.

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