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Nutrition » Diets » Clean Eating Meal Plan: Can Eating Whole Foods Benefit Your Health and Weight Loss?

Clean Eating Meal Plan: Can Eating Whole Foods Benefit Your Health and Weight Loss?

clean eating meal plan

Whole Foods Eating Meal Plan

Did you know that a clean eating meal plan could be the answer to your weight loss goals? Many people believe that working out alone will help them get the body shape of their dreams, but this is not true. Working out alone, without a clean eating meal plan for weight loss, cannot give you your desired goals.

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It should also be noted that a clean eating meal plan does not just aid weight loss alone. It can help with healthy weight gain, and the nutrients and minerals in healthy foods can prevent you from acquiring diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses, among others.

What is a Clean Eating Meal Plan?

The fundamentals of a clean eating meal plan are quite simple. This is not a diet, but rather a way of eating that encourages people to consume whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. It also highly discourages the consumption of highly processed snack foods, sweets, and other pre-packaged foods.

How to Make a Clean Eating Meal Plan?

Here are some simple things that you can do to ensure that your clean eating weekly meal plan is as healthy as possible:

  • Stop buying and eating refined carbs

Refined carbohydrates such as white rice, bread, and pasta are too processed to have any vitamins, minerals, fat, protein, and fiber that your body needs to function. These foods will not only cause weight gain, but they have also been linked to an increased risk of developing health issues like obesity and diabetes.

  • Buy more complex carbohydrates

Examples include whole grains, such as whole-wheat flour, quinoa, brown rice, barley, corn, and oats, among others. Unlike refined carbs, complex carbohydrates are higher in fiber and digest slowly, making them more filling. This reduces your calorie intake for the day, thus helping you shed those stubborn pounds (11).

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  • Eat more green vegetables

Green vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates but packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium. These vegetables also offer numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental decline (7).

  • Try meal prepping

Meal prepping is the practice of making whole meals ahead of time. It is usually done to save time, but it can also come in handy when making a clean eating meal plan. When you meal prep, you ensure that you always have fresh, healthy meals every day, keeping you from making poor food choices when you are too exhausted to cook.

  • Cut out sugar

A clean eating meal plan requires you to cut added sugar from your diet. This is because added sugar in foods and drinks has been linked to multiple illnesses such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other elements of the metabolic syndrome (6).

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Useful Tips on How to Make a Clean Eating Meal Plan on a Budget

A clean eating meal plan can be quite expensive. It becomes significantly harder for students or anyone working on a budget. However, this should not discourage you from trying to eat healthily. A clean eating meal plan does not have to mean an expensive meal plan. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your clean eating meal plan for weight loss works for you and is within a reasonable budget:

  • Plan your meals ahead of time

Planning your meals ahead of time is a fantastic way to avoid food waste. When you already have a clear view of all the foods you would like to eat during the week, you are less likely to buy foods that you do not need at the grocery store. Pick a specific day of the week, i.e. Saturday, and note down your clean eating weekly meal plan. Research and include all the recipes and ingredients that you require. Doing this allows you to note down all the specific things you need, preventing you from wasting food during the week or money at the grocery store.

  • Do not shop while hungry

Doing this leads to you buying things on impulse. Not only does this lead you to spend more money, but you are also more likely to buy unhealthy foods that are high in sugars and unrefined carbs; two things that will mess up your clean eating meal plan.

  • Always shop with a grocery list

I am sure that we can all name a time or two where we went to the store only to come back home and realize that we either bought extra ingredients that we already had or bought everything but what we actually needed.

This leads to you wasting money as you have to go back to the store to get the ingredients needed. To avoid this, always make sure that you go through your fridge and cupboards before you head to the store and note down everything that needs buying. Remember to always stick to the list.

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  • Cook at home

While foods at restaurants are convenient and may look healthy, more often than not, they are made with too much sugar or oils, which will mess up your healthy eating plan. Ordering from restaurants also messes up your budget as cooking at home is often cheaper than ordering out. If you do not know how to cook, make use of all the available information online. There are numerous blogs and YouTube videos that give you a step-by-step play of home to make easy and healthy meals.

  • Cook more than one serving at a time

This might take more effort, but it will save you more time and money in the long run. Larger meals give you leftovers which can be turned into other meals in the course of the week. Since the foods are cooked, you do not have to buy any new ingredients for a fresh meal, thus saving you money.

  • Do not buy name brands

It is very easy for you to be drawn to purchasing foods from known brands. After all, the same thing happens with clothing; many would choose a known expensive brand and disregard lesser-known but cheaper clothing lines. While at the grocery store, opt for generic brands instead of bigger brands. They are more affordable and give you the same nutrients that you would get from a big label.

  • Buy in bulk

If you can, always try bulk buying foods with a longer shelf life. While it might look expensive at the time, it is usually cheaper in the long run. Not going to the store as much saves time and money, and bulk buying also reduces packaging waste, especially plastic, and even food waste.

It would be even better if you choose to do your bulk shopping during a sale as it cuts down your costs even more. However, remember to always check the expiry dates on any foods that are sold on offer. Buying foods that are close to expiring is not only harmful but also a waste of money as you might not eat them before they go bad.

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  • Buy foods that are in season

Purchasing mangoes when they are in season is often cheaper than buying them when they are not. If your clean eating meal plan calls for recipes with ingredients that are not locally available, substitute said ingredients with others that are readily available. If they are hard to find, switch out the recipe for something else that is not as hard to put together. Not only is this easier on you, but it is also much easier on your budget.

  • Buy dry goods

A 500 g can of beans costs more than 500 g of dry beans. A can of tomatoes costs way less than what you would pay for whole raw tomatoes. While canned options might be convenient, they can put a dent in your budget. Thus, buying dry and whole foods is a better option for anyone trying to make a clean eating meal plan on a budget.

  • Look for plant-based protein

Protein is essential on a weight loss plan. Protein-rich foods help with weight loss by boosting your metabolism and reducing your appetite by decreasing the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. In contrast, it boosts the appetite-reducing hormone- leptin (9). While meat is an excellent source of protein, it can also be quite expensive. You replace meat with plant-based options such as tofu, beans, chickpeas, lentils, seitan, and soy (13).

  • Look for inexpensive cuts of meat

For anyone who is not willing to adopt a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle for a clean eating meal plan, you can always ask your butcher for cheaper cuts of meat. Not only are they good for your budget, but they also give you the protein you require for your weight loss diet. Eggs are also an inexpensive way to replace beef in your diet and get protein and healthy fats.

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Sample of a Clean Eating 7-day Meal Plan

If you are wondering about a meal plan or what to eat when switching to clean eating, here is a sample of meals that you can easily make at home.  This is a one-week easy clean eating meal plan to get you started on a healthy diet.

Please note that the meals below come to about 1200 calories a day. You can add on to the servings or ingredients to ensure that you eat the right number of calories recommended for you.

  • Day One

Meal 1 – Tofu Scramble with Sweet Potatoes

1 small cubed sweet potato, 1 tbsp canola oil, 1/2 small yellow onion, 396 g extra firm tofu, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 2 cups baby kale, and salt and pepper to taste

Calories: 264. Fats: 15.8 g, Proteins: 18.8 g, Carbs: 16.6 g

Meal 2 – Cottage Cheese and Pineapples

1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1 cup pineapple chunks

Calories: 160. Fats: 2 g, Proteins: 13 g, Carbs: 24 g

Meal 3 – Curried Pork Bulgur Salad (4)

50 g bulgur wheat, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp vegetable bouillon, 2 dates, 3 spring onions, 4 tsp chopped mint leaves, handful chopped coriander, 1/4 cucumber, 2 tomatoes, 120 g leftover cooked pork, and 1/2 lemon

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Calories for one serving: 287. Fats: 5 g, Proteins: 22 g, Carbs: 34 g

Meal 4 – Butternut Squash Buddha Bowl (3)

For the squash – 1/2 large butternut squash, 1.5 tbsp avocado oil, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste

For the chickpeas – 1/2 tbsp avocado oil, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, and salt to taste

For the rice – 1 cup brown rice and 2 cups of water

Vegetables – 4 cups arugula, 1 cup microgreens, 2 large avocados, and 1/4 cup harissa sauce

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Calories for one serving: 540. Fats: 27 g, Proteins: 11 g, Carbs: 80 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1251. Fats: 49.8 g, Proteins: 64.8 g, Carbs: 154.6 g

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  • Day Two

Meal 1 – Scrambled Egg Toast

2 large eggs, 30 g baby spinach, olive oil spray, and 2 slices protein bread

Calories: 384. Fats: 13 g, Proteins: 28 g, Carbs: 40 g

Meal 2 – Banana and Peanut Butter

1 medium-sized banana and 1.5 tbsp peanut butter

Calories: 240. Fats: 12 g, Proteins: 6 g, Carbs: 33 g

Meal 3 – Vegetable Soup (15)

2 tbsp olive oil, 2 large carrots, 3 celery stalks, 1/2 cup yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup quick-cooking pearl barley, 227 g mushrooms, 2 liters vegetable broth, 1 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning, 1 bay leaf, 28 ounces can diced tomatoes, 1 cup fresh peas, 2 cups kale, and salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Calories for one serving: 171. Fats: 5.4 g, Proteins: 5.2 g, Carbs: 27.9 g

Meal 4 – Bean and Quinoa Chili (12)

1/2 tbsp olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 28 oz can tomatoes, 425 g pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, 3/4 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp chili, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and 453 g boneless chicken thighs

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Calories for one serving: 320. Fats: 7.6 g, Proteins: 31.5 g, Carbs: 41.8 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1115. Fats: 38 g, Proteins: 70.7 g, Carbs: 142.7 g

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  • Day Three

Meal 1 – Avocado Toast

1 slice sourdough bread, 1/2 avocado, and 1 large egg

Calories: 292. Fats: 17 g, Proteins: 11 g, Carbs: 27 g

Meal 2 – Snack

1 apple and 1 tbsp almond butter

Calories: 185. Fats: 8 g, Proteins: 4 g, Carbs: 28 g

Meal 3 – Caesar Salad (10)

For the chicken – 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, and 2 skinless chicken breasts

For the dressing – 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste

For the salad – 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 a large Romaine lettuce, 1 medium-sized avocado, 17 g Parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp chives

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Calories for one serving: 644. Fats: 36 g, Proteins: 66 g, Carbs: 15 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1121. Fats: 61 g, Proteins: 81 g, Carbs: 70 g

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  • Day Four

Meal 1 – Yogurt and Berries

1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries, and 1 tbsp honey

Calories: 205. Fats: 1 g, Proteins: 10 g, Carbs: 44 g

Meal 2 – Chia-Flax Seed Pudding

1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 2 tbsp chia seeds, and 1 tbsp ground flax seeds

Calories: 201. Fats: 14 g, Proteins: 7 g, Carbs: 15 g

Meal 3 – Beef Stir-fry

1/2 kg sirloin steak, 2 tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup water, 4 cups chopped broccoli florets, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, and 1/4 cup soy sauce

Calories: 398. Fats: 16 g, Proteins: 40 g, Carbs: 26 g

Meal 4 – White Chicken Chili (16)

1 small yellow onion, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 411 g low-sodium chicken broth, 189 g diced green chilies, 1 and a half tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 226 g light cream cheese, 1 and 1/4 cup fresh corn, 425 g white kidney beans, 2 and a half cups shredded cooked chicken, 1 tbsp lime juice, and 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

This recipe makes six servings.

Calories for one serving: 398. Fats: 16 g, Proteins: 40 g, Carbs: 26 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1187. Fats: 45 g, Proteins: 90 g, Carbs: 120 g

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  • Day Five

Meal 1 – Oat Banana Pancakes

1 medium-sized banana, 1 large egg, 40 g rolled oats, and 1/4 baking powder

Calories: 250. Fats: 7 g, Proteins: 10 g, Carbs: 40 g

Meal 2 – Snack

2 medium-sized hard-boiled eggs

Calories: 136. Fats: 9 g, Proteins: 11 g, Carbs: 1 g

Meal 3 – Fish Ceviche (5)

For the fish – 226.8 g sea bass fillet, 1/2 serrano pepper, 1 garlic clove, 8 g cilantro, 1/4 grapefruit, 1/2 orange, a handful of cilantro, and salt to taste

For the ceviche – 1/2 bell pepper, juice of 2 and a half limes, 3.7 g olive oil, small handful cilantro, 1/2 onion, and salt to taste

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Calories for one serving: 227. Fats: 4 g, Proteins: 25 g, Carbs: 30 g

Meal 4 – Chicken Quinoa Bowl (2)

1/2 cup quinoa, 1/4 kg chicken breasts, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 whole broccoli floret, 1 whole carrot, 2 garlic cloves, and 1/2 tbsp minced ginger

For the dressing – 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp tamari, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 inch grated ginger, 2 tbsp hot water, and 1 tbsp lime juice

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Calories for one serving: 555. Fats: 31 g, Proteins: 34 g, Carbs: 33 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1168. Fats: 51 g, Proteins: 80 g, Carbs: 104 g

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  • Day Six

Meal 1 – Smoothie Bowl

1 cup mixed berries, 1 small banana, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop chocolate flavored whey protein powder, 1 tbsp chia seeds, and 20 g shredded coconut

Calories: 493. Fats: 21 g, Proteins: 29 g, Carbs: 53 g

Meal 2 – Berry Protein Shake

1 cup strawberries, 30 g whey protein, and 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Calories: 197. Fats: 5 g, Proteins: 26 g, Carbs: 14 g

Meal 3 – Poke Bowl

100 g salmon, 140 g tuna, 50 g edamame, 30 g fresh ginger, 4 cups mixed salad greens, 2 tbsp hot sauce, and 2 tbsp light mayo

Calories: 442. Fats: 17 g, Proteins: 50 g, Carbs: 31 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1132. Fats: 43g, Proteins: 105 g, Carbs: 98 g

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  • Day Seven

Meal 1 – Green Smoothie (8)

3/4 cups spinach, 2 tbsp chopped celery, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 cup water, 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 inch ginger, 1 and a 1/2 cups mango, and 1/2 peeled and seeded lemon

Calories: 193. Fats: 1.5 g, Proteins: 3.8 g, Carbs: 49.1 g

Meal 2 – Vegan Yogurt (14)

1 cup cashews, 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, juice of 1 large lemon, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, a pinch sea salt, and 1 cup granola

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Calories for one serving: 387. Fats: 1.5 g, Proteins: 3.8 g, Carbs: 49.1 g

Meal 3 – Spicy Peanut Butter Tempeh & Rice (1)

643 g cubed tempeh, 184 g brown rice, Coconut oil spray

For the Sauce – 4 tbsp peanut butter, 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, 4 tsp coconut sugar, 2 tbsp red chili sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, and 6 tbsp water

For the cabbage – 142 g finely sliced purple cabbage, the juice from 1 lime, 2 tsp agave, and 3 tsp sesame oil

Calories: 608. Fats: 24 g, Proteins: 43 g, Carbs: 56 g

Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1188. Fats: 56.5 g, Proteins: 57.7 g, Carbs: 127 g

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The Bottom Line

A clean eating meal plan will not only aid in weight loss and weight maintenance, but it also has multiple health benefits to help you live a longer and healthier life. Unlike other meal plans, this is not a diet that promises quick results in the shortest time possible. Instead, it is a way of eating that can be followed for life and by anyone, irrespective of their weight, age, or level of fitness. If you are unsure about how to make a clean eating plan to suit your specific needs, please speak to a doctor or dietitian for more personalized advice.

Do you know that your body needs some exercise in addition to a proper diet? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 4-Day High Protein Vegan Meal Plan (n.d, fitmencook.com)
  2. ASIAN CHICKEN QUINOA BOWL WITH BROCCOLI, CARROTS AND ALMOND BUTTER SAUCE {GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE} (2019, avocadopesto.com)
  3. Butternut Squash Buddha Bowls (2019, fitfoodiefinds.com)
  4. Curried pork bulgur salad (2017, bbcgoodfood.com)
  5. Fish Ceviche Recipe (How to Make Ceviche) (2019, theforkedspoon.com)
  6. Health and economic benefits of reducing sugar intake in the USA, including effects via non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a microsimulation model (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Health Benefits of Dark Green Vegetables (2020, verywellfit.com)
  8. Healthy Immune System Booster (2020, simplegreensmoothies.com)
  9. How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight Naturally (2017, healthline.com)
  10. LOW CARB CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD (2020, healthyfitnessmeals.com)
  11. Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates (2020, healthline.com)
  12. Slow Cooker Black Bean Quinoa Pumpkin Chicken Chili (n.d, ambitiouskitchen.com)
  13. The 17 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians (2016, healthline.com)
  14. The Best Vegan Yogurt (2020, simplegreensmoothies.com)
  15. Vegetable Barley Soup (2020, simplegreensmoothies.com)
  16. White Chicken Chili (2013, cookingclassy.com)
Clare Kamau

Clare Kamau

Clare is an excellent and experienced writer who has a great interest in nutrition, weight loss, and working out. She believes that everyone should take an interest in health and fitness, as not only do they improve your way of life, but they can also have a significant impact on your health.
As a writer, her goal is to educate her readers about the ways they can reprogram themselves to enjoy exercise, as well as break free from bad eating habits. In her articles, Clare tries to give advice which is backed by scientific research and is also easy to follow on a day-to-day basis. She believes that everyone, no matter their age, gender, or fitness level, can always learn something new that can benefit their health.

Kristen Fleming

Kristen Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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