Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss

28 Days to a Fitter, Healthier You: A Cookbook

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A 28-day program for eating clean, featuring more than 100 healthy recipes with time-saving advance-prep methods, from the author of The 5-Day Real Food Detox
“An effective guide to help you achieve a healthier life and stop dieting once and for all.”—Mark Hyman, M.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

Any successful goal starts with a plan. And diet and fitness guru Nikki Sharp knows all about planning. The former model, Instagram star, and author of The 5-Day Real Food Detox discovered that the best way to drop pounds and feel great is through meal prep: making portion-controlled dishes in advance that can be enjoyed all week. Now Sharp shares her secrets and shortcuts for creating a week’s worth of healthy, plant-based food designed to help you lose the weight and keep it off.
Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss breaks it down for you in three easy parts: First, you’ll learn the life-changing, health-altering meal-prep system. Second, you’ll discover “super meals” that infuse ultra-nutrition into every bite. Finally, you’ll receive Sharp’s 28-day guide to meal prepping your weekly breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks with ease.
As a meal prep master, you’ll enjoy
● steady, satisfying weight loss—up to five pounds each week
● automatic portion control without counting calories, fat grams, or carbohydrates
● an escape from emotional eating and bingeing
● tips and tricks for easy-to-freeze preps
● stress-free cooking, eating—and an overall healthly lifestyle
Loaded with full-color photos, grocery shopping lists, and such delicious recipes as Noodles and Cashew Cream, Summer Spring Rolls, Orange Dreamsicle Bliss Balls, and Paleo Bread, Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss will save you time and money—and help you eat clean and sustainably for the rest of your life!

“This book is a must-read for anyone trying to lose weight, get healthy, or change his or her life. Meal prepping is the key to sustainable habits, and Nikki breaks it down to help you succeed.”—David Zinczenko, #1 New York Times bestselling author and NBC News health and wellness contributor

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss

Chapter 1

Real “Fast Food” for Real Weight Loss

Imagine how you’d feel if you were at your dream weight—healthier, more energetic, and happier than you’ve ever been. Imagine if you could get there hassle-free, without spending countless hours in the kitchen or thinking obsessively about what you’re going to eat or how much of it you should eat. Picture a new way of eating that won’t have you spending your days at the gym. Doesn’t this sound like an ideal way to lose weight and get healthy? Now ask yourself, “What’s stopping me?”

When I coach my clients, I find that they want to lose weight but can’t find the time to cook. They detest boring, bland diet food. They hate obsessing over calories, carbs, and fat. Nor do they want to have to be on a mundane diet while all their friends eat whatever they want. They want to eat delicious food, spend minimal time preparing it, and watch those extra pounds fall off naturally.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, then you’re not alone. Not by a long shot. Getting in shape and staying healthy in today’s world can definitely be challenging. Trust me when I say, been there, done that!

It took me a long time to become a health and wellness expert, and I experienced a lot of ups and downs in the process. As I described earlier, I was very unhealthy while I was modeling. Eventually I left the fashion industry and its pressures, but I still swung back and forth: I’d starve myself and overexercise, then I’d eat everything in sight, gain weight, and feel so bad about myself that I didn’t want to exercise at all. Soon I couldn’t sleep, so I relied on sleeping pills for the next five years. I fell into a dark place and didn’t think there was any way out. It wasn’t until I let go of the intense pressure I put on myself to be “perfect” that I began to get better.

Still, as I began my road back to health, I had no idea which path I should take. And it’s no wonder: there are so many diets, fitness trends, and health products out there, and they all point in different—often opposite—directions. I was confused by all the information out there. Should I be paleo, vegan, or just raw before 4:00 pm? Should I go low-carb or high-carb? Or should I be focused on cleansing and fasting? Seriously, what was best? Should I treat breakfast as the most important meal of the day or skip it? Should I drink bulletproof-style coffee or swear off caffeine altogether?

I get questions like these all the time. Clients tell me they’re scared of not eating enough animal protein, and yet they can’t seem to understand why their digestion is terrible after eating meat at every meal. People are curious, and hungry for the right nutritional information—which is great. But with more information out there than ever before, there’s also more room for confusion.

In this book, I make nutrition, dieting, and health easy to understand and effective for you. It all boils down to three simple secrets that will change your body and your life right now.

Secret #1: Weekly Meal Prep

During the week, after a long day of health and nutrition coaching, the last thing I want to worry about is making food. If there isn’t something awaiting me in my fridge, ready to be heated and devoured, I know I’m in trouble. I might grab something less healthy or go out to eat or reach for something convenient that is just not good for my body.

I bet you’ve been in the same boat. In an online questionnaire administered by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada in 2011 and reported on, 41 percent of respondents said healthy meals are too much trouble to prepare. Too much trouble? Cha-ching! That’s music to the ears of every fast-food joint on the planet. They’ve convinced us that we have better things to do with our time than cook, when in reality, planning healthy meals and cooking for ourselves is probably the single best thing we can do for our weight and health, not to mention our bank account.

So just think . . . you open your fridge and there’s a full week of healthy, delicious food that’s prepped, neatly portioned, and ready to eat. Wouldn’t that make sticking to your diet and achieving fat loss a lot easier? It would also reduce a lot of the health issues you or those you know might be facing.

Behold: the power of meal prep. In essence, it involves cooking up several meals ahead of time and packaging them in individual, portion-sized containers so they’re ready to eat and enjoy.

Making all your food for the week in advance keeps you on track with healthy, convenient eating, week to week. The key to success is planning out all of your meals on the weekend—for most people, Sunday works well—then doing the shopping and the prep on the same day. You can also split your prep into two days, with Wednesday as your second meal prep day, so the prep isn’t quite as labor intensive. If you’re worried about food not being as fresh, then splitting your week into two is a great option.

Whatever day you choose to do your meal prep, the preparation itself will take only two to three hours. Compare that to spending one to two hours each day cooking—seven to fourteen hours a week! Meal prepping is a huge timesaver—and more than that, it will help you control your portion sizes, stop you from obsessing over what to eat, save you money on groceries, help you to achieve faster and easier weight loss, and other health goals. Meal prep is quite miraculous in everything it brings to the table—literally.

Secret #2: Plants!

So, what exactly are you going to be prepping? Mostly plant-based meals. I’m talking about vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. Yes, this is Secret #2 for keeping your weight down naturally and living a long and healthy life.

Here’s some powerful evidence: vegetarian and vegan diets (both are plant based) that skipped counting calories produced greater weight loss over two months and kept the weight off at six months compared to diets that included meat, according to a randomized, controlled study conducted at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

The study was the first to directly compare the effects of five diets: vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and omnivorous. All five diets focused on low-fat, low-glycemic-index foods (again, no calorie counting!). What’s more, all five stressed eating foods that were as unprocessed as possible.

After just two months, participants eating the plant-based diets had lost an average of 8 to 10 pounds, while those eating meat lost an average of 5 pounds. At six months, the vegans had shed about 7 percent of their weight, the semi-vegetarian group had dropped about 4 percent of their weight, the pesco-vegetarian group had lost about 3 percent, and the meat group was also down about 3 percent.

So all groups lost a significant amount of weight without having to count calories, but the weight loss was highest in the vegan group. There was also much less intake of saturated fat and cholesterol in the vegan group.

Once I started prepping and eating clean, organic, and largely plant foods, I felt better mentally and emotionally. I felt less stressed, anxious, and depressed. I even started sleeping better.

Okay, so it worked for me. But can it work for you? Yes, I believe so.

In 2015, a paper in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience observed that vegans experienced less stress, anxiety, and depression than people who ate a mostly meat-based diet. The researchers noted that the “reduction of animal food intake may have mood benefits.” Like me, you’re probably wondering why that is. No explanation or evaluation was given, but I think it has to do with a number of known factors that affect our brains. One factor is that plant-based diets are extremely high in brain-friendly vitamins, like folate and B6, and beneficial fats. Plant-based diets also steer you away from bad fats that tend to harm mood and mental performance while increasing your intake of essential fatty acids from good fats, such as flaxseeds, walnuts, and olive oil.

Another reason you’ll feel better on a plant-based diet is that you’re not ingesting the hormones found in most meat products. We take on the energy of the things we eat, and when animals are not raised in a loving environment, their stress hormones accumulate in their bodies—and those hormones wind up in our favorite steak. This is why it’s so important to purchase local and organic products as often as possible. Yes, organic can be more expensive (more later on combatting priciness by buying in bulk!), but it’s worth it. Not only will the food taste better, but you will feel better.

The food we eat is vitally important: it affects everything from our emotional health to our skin health, from our energy levels to our brain function. Not only is eating lots of fruits and vegetables an ideal way to feel great and shed pounds, but mounting research shows that plants are packed with powerful compounds called phytochemicals that boost your immunity, protect against disease, and fight fat.

To get these benefits, we must eat a wide variety of colorful foods. The more colorful a fruit or veggie, the more health-building nutrients it contains. Red foods, such as tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, red peppers, and red onions, for example, get their hues from lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that mops up cell-damaging free radicals and cuts the risk of certain cancers, including breast and cervical cancers. Orange foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and mangos are filled with alpha- and beta-carotene, which the liver converts to vitamin A and retinol, key nutrients needed for eye health, immune defenses, and healthy cell division. Green foods—think kale, spinach, and broccoli—are loaded with nutrients that detoxify the body and help you lose weight. Blue and purple foods such as blueberries, blackberries, and beets contain health-protective antioxidants.

When you eat a plateful of colorful foods, the nutrients act synergistically to combat disease. The phytochemicals in the red strawberries you ate for breakfast, for instance, may fight off illness more effectively when combined with the mashed avocado on your morning toast. If you can prep your meals with at least three colors each, you’re on your way to the healthiest, leanest, and most vibrant body ever.

I don’t want you thinking that I am trying to convert you into a vegan, though! The proof is in the science that eating plant-based is healthier for the planet, your body, and your waistline. My goal throughout this book is to provide incredibly delicious, real food recipes. These recipes are predominantly plant-based, but my goal is to get you to include more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins. There is no converting here and no judgment either way.

My 28-Day Meal Prep Weight-Loss Plan

All of this brings me to my 28-day plan that you’ll be following here. Here’s how you’ll do it:

•You’ll eat three main meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—in moderate but filling serving sizes.

•You’ll enjoy two optional snacks daily. You have the option of prepping some scrumptious snacks for the week, or keep it simple with fresh fruit and nuts.

•You have the option of eating one luscious but nutritious dessert each week; choose one day and make a plan to whip up the dessert you choose from the recipes provided.

•You’ll have plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and seeds. But you don’t have to stick with 100 percent plants. For those who want to take a stepwise approach to the plan, you can add in animal protein foods such as eggs, poultry, fish, or meat. There are a few recipes throughout the book that do include some of these items, and you can either follow those, swap out the animal products with vegan ones, or skip the recipe altogether and pick a different one you like.

•You’ll eat one mainly raw meal daily, such as one of my colorful salads with loads of extras on top that will leave you nourished and satisfied.

•You’ll be introduced to “souping,” a healthier alternative to juicing.

•You won’t eat dairy and you will consume minimal salt, but you’ll find that you won’t miss either, because you’ll be using delicious nut milks and you’ll discover how to season your foods so that they taste better spiced than salted.

•You’ll get your share of healthy, beneficial fats from nuts, seeds, and good-for-you oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.

•You’ll drink plenty of liquids—water (including my detox waters), smoothies, and herbal teas.

So that’s an overview of the plan. It’s divided into four weeks, and each week has a different theme, so you never get bored. Changing this up is also good for your body—by varying your meals and their flavor, you continue giving your body everything it needs for healthy weight loss.

Week One: Cleansing Soups and Healing Smoothies

Unlike juice cleanses, which are loaded with natural sugar from fruit and contain no fiber, soups contain little sugar, so you avoid blood sugar spikes that can leave you feeling moody, tired, and craving sugar. Vegetable “souping” lets you have a calorie-light day full of healthy ingredients while still getting fiber. A steaming bowl of soup not only warms you up but is a fast and efficient way to pack nutrients into your diet.

I’ve found soup to be a delicious weight-loss tool too. Soup is largely liquid and can satisfy your appetite. With water-rich foods like soup, you’ll feel full and be less likely to get overly hungry, slip up, or binge. In a 2005 study conducted at Pennsylvania State University for Obesity Research, researchers reported that overweight or obese women who consumed two daily servings of soup lost 50 percent more weight than dieters who did not eat soup but had two snacks instead.

You’ll also be adding smoothies into week one, using my favorite smoothie recipes. They taste amazing, and they’re high in fiber and healthy fats. Like soups, smoothies are a wonderful weight-loss tool because they keep you feeling full despite the fact that you’re consuming fewer calories.

Plus, a week of soups and smoothies gives your digestive system a break because the nutrients are absorbed and assimilated into your body much more easily than they would be from solid food. This means fewer hunger pains, more energy, and natural weight loss without ever looking at a label or counting calories.

That’s week one: the souping and smoothie phase. After these first seven days, expect to be pleasantly surprised when you step on the scale. Based on what I’ve observed with my clients, you’ll probably be lighter by about 5 pounds or more.

- About the author -

Nikki Sharp is the author of The 5-Day Real Food Detox. She is a model, health and fitness expert, and the founder of a website focused on wellness and living a healthier, cleaner, greener lifestyle.

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Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss

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Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss

— Published by Ballantine Books —