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Easy Meal Planning for Weight Loss with the Plate Method

August 26, 2021
Easy Meal Planning for Weight Loss with the Plate Method

In this article:

  • The Plate Method can help with weight loss and balanced eating. It is easy to use.
  • Most meals can include a good amount of vegetables. They also have protein and a high-fiber carbohydrate. You might add low-fat dairy, healthy fat, and fruit to the meal.
  • A breakfast bowl with eggs, Asian tuna salad, pan-seared salmon, and spaghetti with meat sauce are four examples of meals based on the Plate Method.
  • Lark can help you plan and log meals for easier weight loss.

It’s easy to make a meal for weight loss. And you can get a balanced meal without being a nutritionist. The only tool you need is a plate. How can you do this? The Plate Method can help. 

Don’t worry. The Plate Method is versatile. It can fit with many types of eating patterns and food preferences. And as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans point out, small changes can add up to long-lasting results.

Keep reading to learn the benefits of the Plate Method. You can find out how to use it. There is also a sample breakfast, lunch, and dinner based on the Plate Method.

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Benefits of the Plate Method


The Plate Method is a guide for getting a meal that can help you lose weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says using the Plate Method can prevent you from eating too much without realizing it. It can also help you with the following. 

  • Create a healthy meal without being a nutritionist.
  • Stick to your meal plan without burdensome weighing or measuring of foods.
  • Give you more fiber and protein so meals are more filling and you are not hungry soon afterwards.

Plus, the Plate Method can help you build a nutritious meal without being an expert. When you follow the guidelines, your meal will have smart amounts of protein, healthy fat, and high-fiber carbohydrates. 

Parts of the Plate


First, you need a plate. A standard dinner plate has a diameter of 10 to 12 inches, but Kaiser Permanente suggests using a plate with a 9-inch diameter. 

You do not need to buy a new set of dishes if your plates are larger. These are some options.

Now that you have your plate, here is what goes on it. The CDC says to fill…

  • Half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • One-quarter of your plate with lean protein.
  • One-quarter of your plate with healthy carbohydrates.

Water or another 0-calorie drink can go with your meal.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables should cover half of your plate. Eat them raw or prepare them simply. Roast, grill, steam, or microwave them instead of frying them to limit fat. Avoid large amounts of dressing, cooking fats such as butter or oil, and creamy sauces.

Non-starchy vegetables include these.

  • Salad and other greens, such as lettuces, spinach, collard greens, spring mix, kale, and mustard greens
  • Tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini
  • Cucumbers, mushrooms, carrots, celery
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy
  • Artichokes, asparagus, green beans, onions

Lean Protein

Divide the other half of your plate into halves to create quarters. Lean protein goes in one quarter. You might choose any of these.

  • Skinless chicken, lean ground turkey
  • Salmon, trout, tuna, shrimp, and other fish and shellfish
  • Egg substitute, egg, or egg whites
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tofu, beans, lentils, veggie burger

The trick is to look for less processed foods that are low in unhealthy fats. Bacon, processed meat, and fatty red meat are not lean proteins.

Healthy Carbohydrates

The final quarter of your plate has healthy carbohydrates. What are “healthy” carbohydrates? They are less processed. They are high in fiber and other nutrients. They are low in added sugars. They are linked to lower body weight.

They include the following.

  • Whole grains, such as barley, brown rice, or quinoa
  • Whole-wheat pasta or bread, such as sliced bread, pita, or English muffin
  • Whole-grain breakfast cereal or oats
  • Potatoes, acorn squash, sweet potato, corn, or peas

As with non-starchy vegetables, it is best to keep these low in sugar or unhealthy fat. For example, choose unsweetened cereals, and limit fatty or creamy dishes such as mashed potatoes, French fries, and fettuccine Alfredo.

Fruit and Dairy Products

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest using MyPlate.gov from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). These meals may also include:

  • A reduced-fat dairy product, such as skim milk, low-fat cheese or non-fat plain yogurt.
  • A serving of fresh fruit, such as a small apple, 2 tangerines, ½ cup of grapes, or 1 cup of strawberries.
  • Some healthy fat, such as avocado, nuts or nut butter, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil used in cooking or salad dressing.

Dairy products add calcium and protein. Fresh fruit has fiber and antioxidants. And healthy fats help reduce hunger and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Sample Plate Meals


What does a Plate Method or MyPlate.gov meal look like? Here are some examples.

Sample Plate Meal 1: Breakfast Bowl

This bowl has about 400 calories.

Item and Ingredients Food Group (s)
Hard-boiled or other cooked egg
Protein
Salad with ½ cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ chopped cucumber, 1 tablespoon of dicd onion, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, balsamic vinegar
Non-starchy vegetables
Fruit
Healthy fat
1.5 ounce of low-fat feta cheese
Reduced-fat dairy
½ cup of cooked sweet potatoes, cut in small cubes
High-fiber carbohydrate

Sample Plate Meal 2: Asian Tuna Salad 

This is an easy meal that is easy to pack in a lunch bag. You can make the tuna salad the night before and let the flavors mingle.

Item and Ingredients Food Group (s)
Asian tuna salad with 3 ounces of canned tuna, 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt, ¼ cup of diced apple, 2 tablespoons each of chopped celery, diced onion, and chopped cilantro, ¼ cup of chopped tomato, dash each of low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, black pepper, chili paste, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
Protein
Healthy fat
Fruit
Non-starchy vegetable
Low-fat dairy
Bed of greens such as arugula
Non-starchy vegetable
1 slice of whole-wheat bread
High-fiber carbohydrate
1 tangerine

Sample Plate Meal 3: Pan-Seared Salmon Dinner with Roasted Broccoli

This dinner has under 500 calories. You can swap any protein, such as chicken or tofu, for salmon.

Item and Ingredients Food Group (s)
3 ounces of salmon, pan-seared with cooking spray
Protein
Healthy fat
Roasted broccoli with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, topped with 1 ounce of low-fat blue or cheddar cheese
Non-starchy vegetables
Healthy fat
Reduced-fat dairy
⅓ cup of cooked brown rice
High-fiber carbohydrate
½ cup of blueberries
Fruit

Sample Plate Meal 4 – Spaghetti Dinner

Children and adults alike can love the Plate Method! Here is a balanced spaghetti dinner. You can add a lettuce-based side salad if you like.

Item and Ingredients Food Group (s)
½ cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti
High-fiber carbohydrate
Tomato sauce with ½ cup of tomato-based pasta sauce (look for a brand with no more than 3 grams of added sugar), 3 ounces of lean turkey with Italian seasoning, and ½ cup of cooked vegetables such as sliced mushrooms or chopped bell pepper
Protein
Non-starchy vegetables
1 ounce of reduced-fat parmesan cheese.
Reduced-fat dairy
1 cup of fresh cut fruit
½ ounce of almonds or other nuts
Fruit
Healthy fat

The Plate Method can give you a healthy meal. It can help you lose weight by taking smaller portions. It also helps reduce empty calories from sugars, starches, and unhealthy fats. And it is easy to use. You do not need to measure foods precisely.

Lark is an easy tool to help with weight loss. It is based on healthy eating strategies such as the Plate Method. Lark has healthy eating and weight loss tips. You can also log your food. That way, you can see how balanced and nutritious your meals are.

Losing weight can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and that’s not all. When you lose a few extra pounds, energy levels can increase, cholesterol and blood pressure can improve, and clothes fit better. Best of all is that Lark makes weight loss simple!

Lark doesn’t just know which choices can lead to weight loss. Lark coaches you on how to make good choices that can become habits. With small changes that fit right into your lifestyle, you can drop pounds and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Your personal coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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Written by Natalie Stein on August 26, 2021
Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health
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