Weight Loss Meal Plans are perfect for people who don’t want to bother with counting every calorie they eat. In the long run one is far better served by going through the effort of learning to count the calories. In no time you’ll gain a real instinct for calories and it won’t be so hard, and then after that it’s an instinct that stays with you for life.
BUT, if you don’t want to go through all the time and effort now, there is a whole industry that can really simplify the process for you by providing weight loss meal plans.
You’ve almost surely heard of some of the larger ones. The details vary from company to company, but the services are generally similar. They ship you the meals, with the right proportions already selected to meet your weight loss calorie target. All you do is thaw, heat, and eat.
Some ship the ingredients for meals with instructions for you to do the final preparation.
In some cases the meals ARE the plan, in other cases the meals themselves are extra.
There’s something out there in this arena that meets every budget and preference.
Here I’ll review some of the options for this kind of service. Click on the links for the more complete description and review of each program:
Nutrisystem is probably the largest, most well-known operation of this sort. They advertise on national TV and have highly recognizable celebrities plugging their service.
You specify your current weight, target weight, and how soon you would like to reach your target weight. With those numbers, Nutrisystem calculates your daily calorie target. You then pick from their available weight loss meal plans designed to get you to your target weight on time.
Compared to most others, Nutrisystem is probably the least expensive. The reason for their low prices is the high volume, but also the more “bulk processing oriented” approach they take. They prepare MANY meals and freeze them and store them until they ship. Companies that charge more prepare their meals a little more frequently, often weekly, so presumably the food is fresher.
Perhaps there is something “cheap” about the quality of Nutrisystem foods. But it can’t be purely the “freshness” factor since frozen items preserve extremely well. Indigenous peoples living in the arctic circle still find and eat frozen prehistoric Mammoth elephants.
Another complaint I’ve read about Nutrisystem is that their food is prepared with preservatives. They do use some common (and safe) preservatives, but many of their meals are prepared with no preservatives at all.
There may be higher quality options, but Nutrisystem’s food is good, convenient, economical, and CALORIE CONTROLLED. And it is far cheaper even than cooking for yourself or eating out.
Diet-to-Go operates much like Nutrisystem in that their service is calorie-controlled meals shipped directly to you so that you can just defrost, heat, and eat.
The biggest differences between Diet-to-Go and Nutrisystem are probably price and quality. Diet-to-Go is up to 50% more expensive than Nutrisystem, but the foods are fresher and of a higher quality.
All their food is prepared and shipped weekly, so it is always fresh.
It’s a little more like having your own personal chef, and they receive rave reviews.
But as with every other program like this, the key is in the calorie control and portion sizes.
Jenny Craig is another service that is widely known due to an aggressive national advertising campaign. Their corner of this market seems to focus more on the areas of education, consultation, and encouragement. They provide prepared, calorie-controlled foods as do the competing services, but the food isn’t included in their plans.
As I understand, their plans involve regular meetings (in person or by phone) with a dietitian to review your progress and plan your diet plan for the upcoming week. The diet plan may include meals from Jenny Craig, but I don’t think that’s required.
This more “hands on” consultation/education/coaching/encouragement approach may be exactly what some people really need. But personally I’m a much bigger fan of the DIY culture (“Do It Yourself”). Weight loss is at least 90% about calorie control. And most people can accomplish that without much coaching beyond what they can find free on the internet.
Over time I will be researching and reviewing other companies that provide weight loss meal plans, so please check back.
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