Choose a reduced-calorie plan that is appropriate for your individualized energy needs and weight-loss goals. Meal plans containing 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily are often effective weight-loss plans for adults, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. However, Harvard Health Publications suggests women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories during weight loss and men avoid dipping below 1,500 calories daily unless supervised by a medical professional. Aim to lose about 1 to 2 pounds weekly.
Eat 2.5 cups from the dairy group if you're following a 1,200-calorie meal plan, and consume 3 cups from the dairy foods group if you're eating 1,600 calories a day. A 1-cup equivalent from the dairy group equals 1.5 ounces of reduced-fat cheese. You may choose to fill your dairy-food group requirements with reduced-fat cheese or a combination of reduced-fat cheeses and low-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese or soy milk.
Consume 1 cup from the fruits food group when following a 1,200-calorie weight-loss meal plan, and 1.5 cups from the fruit group when eating 1,600 calories a day. One cup of apples is a 1-cup equivalent from the fruits group. You can combine, or replace, apples with other fresh fruits -- such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, bananas or melons -- as long you meet your daily fruit-group requirements. .
- Reduced-fat cheese
- Healthy reduced-calorie meal plan
Choose whole grains, protein foods, vegetables and oils -- in addition to dairy foods and fruit -- to complete your well-balanced, weight-loss meal plan. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest eating 1.5 cups of vegetables; 3 ounces of protein foods such as meat, eggs, poultry, seafood, soy products, nuts and seeds; 4 ounces of grains; and 4 teaspoons of oils when consuming 1,200 calories daily, and eating 2 cups of vegetables, 5 ounces of protein foods, 5 ounces of grains and 5 teaspoons oils daily when following a 1,600-calorie meal plan.
Avoid losing more than 2 pounds weekly unless supervised by a doctor.