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7-Day No-Sugar, Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan for Weight Loss, Created by a Dietitian

Trying to lose weight? Reducing inflammation may help.

By Kaly JohnesPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
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If you have weight-loss goals, you may be surprised to hear that it’s a bit more complicated than simple math. While calories in/calories out has long been touted as the simple weight-loss solution, we know that factors like chronic inflammation, lack of sleep, genetics, stress and hormones can impact body weight maintenance.

Chronic inflammation is a low-grade inflammatory response caused partly by environmental irritants, exposure to foreign compounds, extra body weight and lifestyle factors, such as long-term stress, an unhealthy diet and poor sleep quality. Symptoms of chronic inflammation are vague and hard to pinpoint. Still, its presence increases the risk of several health conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Even more so, chronic inflammation can make losing weight more difficult. Excessive weight can increase chronic inflammation and lead to leptin and insulin resistance, two conditions that make losing weight more difficult. So, if you want to lose weight, aiming to decrease chronic inflammation is a great place to start. Reducing stress, improving diet quality, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, exercising regularly and prioritizing sleep quality are all great steps to take to tame inflammation.

Additionally, though calories are not the only factor influencing body weight, aiming to decrease calories while filling up on plenty of protein and fiber can help assist weight-loss efforts. We set this plan at 1,500 calories a day and included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day for those with different calorie needs. As with all meal plans, this serves as a framework for a nutritious, anti-inflammatory eating plan. Feel free to swap a recipe, choose a different snack or make any changes that better fit your routine.

Does Sugar Increase Inflammation?

In this plan, we skip added sugars, which are added during processing to sweeten foods. Research has shown that excess added sugar intake may increase chronic inflammation.1 Additionally, most Americans consume more added sugar than they realize, with an average daily consumption of 17 teaspoons (68 grams).2

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the Facts: Added Sugars.

To put this into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons (24 grams) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men.3

However, we kept foods with naturally occurring sugars, such as fruit, vegetables and unsweetened dairy, which provide other nutrients such as minerals, vitamins and fiber. Additionally, you’ll find a week of delicious meals and snacks that include anti-inflammatory ingredients like beets, nuts, fish, avocado, dark leafy greens and berries.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Focus On

Dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, collards, kale)

Orange vegetables, like sweet potato and winter squash

Beets

Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)

Berries

Avocado

Cherries

Citrus fruits

Plums

Pears

Apples

Olive oil and avocado oil

Nuts and seeds, including nut and seed butters with no added sugar

Fish

Legumes

Whole grains (oats, quinoa, bulgur, freekeh and more)

Unsweetened dairy (yogurt, kefir)

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals

Make Chicken & Spinach Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Prepare Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls to have as a snack throughout the week.

Day 1

Breakfast (382 calories)

1 serving Chickpea & Potato Hash

A.M. Snack (42 calories)

½ cup blueberries

Lunch (463 calories)

1 serving Anti-Inflammatory Beet & Avocado Wrap

P.M. Snack (55 calories)

½ cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (567 calories)

1 serving Lemony-Garlic Pan-Seared Salmon

1 serving Feta, Kale & Pear Salad

Daily Totals: 1,509 calories, 89g fat, 71g protein, 119g carbohydrate, 28g fiber, 1,977mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Change lunch to 1 serving Green Goddess Wrap and substitute 1 serving Massaged Kale Salad for Feta, Kale & Pear Salad at dinner.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving Spinach, Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie to breakfast and add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted pistachios to P.M. snack.

Day 2

Breakfast (330 calories)

1 serving Anti-Inflammatory Lemon-Blueberry Smoothie

A.M. Snack (173 calories)

¾ cup low-fat plain strained Greek-style yogurt

½ cup cherries, fresh or thawed from frozen

Lunch (378 calories)

1 serving Chicken & Spinach Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

1 large pear

Dinner (489 calories)

1 serving Spaghetti with Creamy Lemon-Spinach Sauce

Daily Totals: 1,501 calories, 64g fat, 71g protein, 177g carbohydrate, 32g fiber, 1,180mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to ½ cup sliced cucumber and change P.M. snack to ¼ cup blueberries.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts to A.M. snack, ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack and 1 serving Massaged Kale Salad to dinner.

Day 3

Breakfast (337 calories)

1 cup low-fat plain strained Greek-style yogurt

2 Tbsp. chopped pecans

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

½ cup sliced strawberries

A.M. Snack (306 calories)

3 servings Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

1 medium apple

Lunch (378 calories)

1 serving Chicken & Spinach Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

1 medium orange

Dinner (411 calories)

1 serving Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Grilled Chicken

Daily Totals: 1,494 calories, 71g fat, 93g protein, 128g carbohydrate, 28g fiber, 1,440mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Omit pecans at breakfast and omit Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls at A.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 slice sprouted-wheat toast with 1 Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast, 1 medium banana to lunch and ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 4

Breakfast (330 calories)

1 serving Anti-Inflammatory Lemon-Blueberry Smoothie

A.M. Snack (152 calories)

1 cup low-fat plain kefir

⅔ cup raspberries

Lunch (378 calories)

1 serving Chicken & Spinach Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

P.M. Snack (146 calories)

2 servings Peanut Butter-Oat Energy Balls

Dinner (514 calories)

1 serving Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

Daily Totals: 1,520 calories, 57g fat, 96g protein, 165g carbohydrate, 29g fiber, 1,524mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Omit kefir at A.M. snack and change dinner to 1 serving Sheet-Pan Baked Feta with Bell Peppers & Chickpeas.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 slice sprouted-wheat toast with 1 Tbsp. almond butter to breakfast, 1 medium banana to lunch and ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 5

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About the Creator

Kaly Johnes

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