Written on April 19, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Meal planning and prepping is an effective strategy for weight management.[1,2] Whether you meal prep for weight loss or weight gain, meal prepping offers many benefits. This article discusses the benefits of meal planning and prepping for successful weight loss and tips to help you get started.
Having meals planned and prepared in advance can help you save time when you have a busy week. A meal plan outlines what you'll eat for each meal during the day. Meal planning and batch cooking on one day when you have extra time can ensure you have healthy meals throughout the week.
Batch cooking is also called advance quantity meal preparation, or “AQMP.” You can save time by avoiding multiple grocery and restaurant trips with AQMP. If you lack cooking skills, participating in healthy cooking classes, either live or virtually, can help you gain the confidence to batch cook effectively. Once you have cooking skills, having the right kitchen tools can make batch cooking easier and help you save time.
You can simplify batch cooking by following these tips :
Meal planning and prepping can help alleviate stress by minimizing the number of decisions you must make, making choosing healthy food options easier. Decision fatigue can impact one's ability to select nutritious food options. Meal planning and prepping can help you avoid decision fatigue, which is more common during stressful times.
Stress can negatively impact parents' health behaviors, adversely affecting their children's health. As a parent, planning and preparing healthy meals for your children can help reduce some of your stress. You can help your children avoid ultra-processed food by keeping clean, cut fruits and vegetables in your home.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025, only 59% of Americans aged 31-59 adhere to healthy dietary patterns.
In a study of 40,554 participating French citizens, researchers found individuals who plan meals are less likely to be obese. Although the study does not prove meal planning reduces obesity, it suggests meal planning might help to improve eating habits.
According to the study, people who plan meals improve their eating habits by consuming higher-quality food, adhering to dietary guidelines, and enjoying a wider variety of foods. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) describes a healthy diet as plant-based and minimally processed.
As recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020–2025, a healthy meal plan should include the following :
You can also control your portions by meal planning and prepping. It is common for restaurants to serve large portions of calorically dense food. You have greater control over each ingredient when you cook at home, and you can ensure the meal is nutritious and within your daily calorie limit.
For weight management, a food scale is helpful for meal planning and batch cooking. Using a scale, you can ensure you stay within the recommended serving size. When preparing meals for the on-the-go, pack a container with the appropriate serving sizes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following service sizes for a 9-inch dinner plate :
Whether you want to lose or gain weight, meal planning and prepping can help you achieve your health goals. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease, meal planning and prepping can help you follow your condition's dietary guidelines. One study found eating home-cooked meals often increased adherence to DASH and Mediterranean diets and improved fruit and vegetable intake.
Having a meal plan and prepping your meals can help you spend less money eating out. Once you have a menu planned, stick to your grocery list and avoid unnecessary purchases. Planning your meals and prepping them will also help you reduce food waste, which will save you money in the long run. By not eating out, you not only save money but may also stay healthier. According to one recent study of 35,084 adults, eating out may increase your mortality risk.
Meal planning and prepping can help you on your weight loss journey. Some studies have found an association between home cooking and weight loss. According to one recent study of 11,396 people, individuals who cooked their meals at home had a greater chance of having a normal body mass index (BMI). People who ate home-cooked meals were 28% less likely to have an overweight BMI.
If you are struggling with successful weight management, Everlywell's weight management program (Weight Care+) can help. Through this program, you can speak with a healthcare provider virtually about your weight management goals.
Managing weight is not a one-size-fits-all process. The best weight loss and maintenance strategies are individualized. Our weight management program is customized based on your unique goals and needs.
At your first visit, your provider will review your medical history and order any necessary lab tests to determine whether you are a good candidate for weight loss medication. Your provider will evaluate your test results, discuss your health goals and analyze your test results to design a personalized care plan.
The care plan may include prescription weight loss medications and lifestyle recommendations. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications based on their clinical judgment. Making your initial appointment is easy with our online weight loss scheduler.