Meal delivery services that bring recipes and ingredients to your door are a growing trend for those who want to cook more. If your goal is weight loss, your priorities may be different than the average consumer. Below are a few things to investigate as you choose a meal delivery service that is right for you.
Are there options that meet your weight loss needs?
Many of these services provide healthier options, but that doesn’t always mean they will fit your calorie and nutrient needs for weight loss. Some recipes can look deceivingly healthy, only to have upwards of 900 calories and over 1,000 milligrams of sodium in a serving. It’s important that the nutrition information for the recipes be available to you before you make the commitment to sign up for the service.
Do the meals contain enough vegetables?
The goal of these services is to make cooking easier, which means many recipes turn to simple ingredients like pasta and rice. Others may contain only a piece of fish and a starch like mashed potatoes. Be sure the recipes offered use plenty of vegetables for balanced nutrition. If you find yourself constantly adding your own salad to every meal, the delivery service may not be a good investment.
Does the amount of prep fit your needs?
New recipes can help prevent boredom and help you discover new foods you enjoy. It’s important to be realistic about how adventurous you want to be in the the kitchen. If the recipes you order are filled with unfamiliar ingredients and require more skill than you expect, at the end of the week you might find your shipment still sitting in the refrigerator with other untouched ingredients. If you are new to cooking, choose a service that provides simple, healthy foods and plenty of instruction to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Is there a local service available?
Many delivery services operate nationally and regionally, but more and more local services are popping up in larger cities. While either can be a good option, local services are worth exploring. Recipe kits shipped from far away may contain ingredients that have wilted or spoiled during transit. If a local company is sourcing from farms and stores nearby, your ingredients may be fresher than what national companies can provide.
Once you commit to your weight loss goals, you may want see changes fast. It can be discouraging to learn you should lose weight at a slow and steady pace, but stick with it. There is good reason for this approach to fitness.
A safe rate of weight loss
Health experts recommend a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. This rate requires a deficit of 500 to 1000 calories per day that can be achieved by eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity.
Benefits of a slow and steady loss
Permanent weight loss requires incorporating healthier habits you can live with. This involves satisfying hunger and cravings in a healthy way by eating more fruits and vegetables, smart snacking and reduced portion sizes. It also means finding an exercise routine you enjoy. The result is a gradual pace of weight loss that you can stick with to reach your goals. It takes time to create these habits. But once they become a part of your lifestyle, losing weight and maintaining that loss becomes easier.
With a slower rate of weight loss, your body metabolizes fat to provide energy and offset your calorie deficit. You will maintain lean muscle mass and you will feel more toned and fit. By eating a healthy diet and maintaining a balanced exercise program, you avoid the risk of feeling fatigued, irritable and unable to concentrate.
Dangers of rapid weight loss
When first starting a weight loss program, you may see a rapid drop of up to 10 pounds in the first couple of weeks. This can be due to changes in your eating habits and water weight loss. After that, weight loss should slow. By continuing to lose weight rapidly, you risk losing muscle, something that can lower your metabolic rate over time.
Rapid weight loss can also require unhealthy habits that are difficult to maintain long term, such as eating too few calories and exercising at intensity levels higher than what is appropriate for your fitness level. Unhealthy pills, supplements and food restriction can also be a part of a rapid weight loss program.
These practices can put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies and overuse injuries. Once the diet ends, the chances are greater that you will return to old habits and gain back any weight you lost. Avoid these dangers, aim for gradual weight loss, and keep healthy, permanent change the goal of your fitness program.
You may have increased your activity level with the expectation of blasting calories and dropping pounds, but the scale hasn’t budged. Exercise is important for health, but many factors play a role in permanent weight loss. There are a few reasons you may not be losing weight with exercise.
You’re not tracking all of your food intake
Exercise can reduce appetite, especially right after an intense session, but exercise often increases appetite. This stems from a need to replenish the extra calories you burned. The extra calories consumed are easily overlooked. Your portions increase, you might talk yourself into a second helping, or add a snack in the late afternoon. Even minor changes in your eating patterns can increase calories enough to offset the calories you burned during exercise, which prevents weight loss. To control your calorie intake, track your food carefully as your exercise increases, and make notes about how exercise is influencing your hunger and cravings.
You’re getting less sleep
Beyond simply helping you feel rested and energized, sleep plays an important role in weight loss. A lack of sleep can upset the balance of hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. These changes can quickly lead to increased calorie intake and weight gain. If you are skimping on sleep to squeeze in more exercise, explore options for finding a better balance between the two. This might mean giving up habits like watching late-night television or increasing exercise intensity so you get the results you want with shorter sessions.
While exercise helps reduce stress, sometimes activity can’t fully control your level of stress. During times of excess stress, your cortisol levels can remain elevated. This hormone has been found to increase hunger and elevate calorie intake. These extra calories can undo your hard work and cancel out the calories burned during exercise. If you continue to feel stressed despite staying active, explore additional ways to control the source of the stress and your response to it. A balanced eating plan, meditation, time off from work, limiting screen time and adequate sleep can all help control stress.
Integrating small changes into your daily routine can make a big collective impact. Standing a few extra times per day or integrating some small office circuit workouts are great ways to increase your physical activity levels, while swapping a healthy snack for your more calorie-dense go-to can lead to improved weight control. Unexpected meetings, personal commitments, and travel can all impact your schedule, but seemingly small healthy choices each day can help keep your health a priority.
Make the time
Scheduling time each week on your calendar will help you allot time for visits to the gym, meal preparation, and self care. You might find it helpful to prep meals for the whole week in one cooking session. Making larger batches of a favorite healthy meal can provide options for lunch and dinner throughout the week. Wake up earlier to workout, or skip lunch with colleagues and hit the gym. Involve the whole family in exercise and food prep so you don’t have to sacrifice time together to get healthy.
Stop being critical
Self-criticism can put you in a downward spiral of negative thinking that can ruin your efforts to eat well and exercise. Pay attention to negative self-talk, and correct it with positive affirmations . Making a conscious effort to accept and love yourself will make a big difference in your attitude and motivation.
Healthy lifestyles are not one size fits all. The weight loss method that is best for someone else, may not be a good fit for you. Some people love to exercise, while others may care more about learning to cook healthy foods. Eating six times a day may be the key for you to control hunger, or maybe three meals is better for your schedule. Don’t be afraid to fail or admit that you don’t like something. Keep trying until you find what works for you.
Focus on how you feel
Weight loss success involves more than cutting calories and exercising. Stress, emotions, and self-esteem levels influence your motivation and ability to make healthy choices. Track how you feel as often as you track food intake and exercise. This will help you identify emotions that trigger cravings so that you can make permanent changes to keep the weight off for good and be a healthier you.
Metabolism is a group of chemical reactions that converts the fuel in food into energy, which can be used for processes such as breathing, blood circulation, and movement. Your metabolism determines the number of calories you need each day.
The number of calories needed by the body to operate at rest is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is heavily influenced by muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more energy you need. As a result, men tend to have higher BMR’s than women, and our metabolism typically declines as we age and lose muscle mass.
According to Mayo Clinic, BMR makes up 70 percent of the calories used each day. The remaining 30 percent comes from digesting food (thermogenesis) and from exercise. Despite the common belief that we can alter our metabolism, our BMR remains fairly consistent throughout adulthood. There are medical conditions that slow metabolism, but they are rare.
Instead of falling for miracle products that claim to speed up metabolism, turn your focus to the element you can control: exercise. Incorporating more activity into your day is the proven way to burn more calories. When you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.