The Internet is certainly a wonderful thing. A decade or so ago you would have to head to the library or buy a book if you wished to follow a new diet plan. Today you just need to search Google. However, while Google can certainly list many free diet plans, it cannot provide you with an assessment or review for each – that is where we come in. This article aims to explore and review the best free diet plans which are currently (Summer 2013) available online. If you do not wish to buy a plan and do not have time to trawl through the hundreds of options then this guide is for you.
In selecting our list of diet plans we have used the following criteria, which each plan must meet in part or full:
- The plan must be free and provide at least 7 days of meal plans
- The plan must detail calories and ideally other nutrition information
- The plan must be from a respected source
- If the plan has specific sports goals
Here is our list of the best free diet plans online at the moment.
General Weight Loss Diet Plans
Lose 20 Pounds Fast — Seven-Day Meal Plan
A 7 day plan from Good Housekeeping which provides basic meal details. Simple and easy to follow. However, it does not provide complete details of portion sizes, for example, one lunch meal consists of “cucumber spears” and a dinner dessert is a “low-fat frozen fudge bar” – it does not say how many spears or what size bar. The aim of the diet plan is to “lose 20 pounds fast”, but it does not say how long you should expect to lose the weight. It is easy to be misled into thinking that you can do it in 7 days – this is not possible.
Tesco Health and Wellbeing
Tesco provide a free site which you need to register for. Tesco is a UK company, but anybody can use their diet plan. You input your weight, height and gender and then they provide you with diet plans to match your weight loss requirements. You can either add your food and the diet plan will calculate calories, or you can select the “Surprise Me” button and a meal will be suggested. The main downside of this plan is that it is hard to prepare well in advance. The best thing is that it provides a very user-friendly way to manage your food intake.
Rosemary Conley’s FAB Diet Plan
Woman and Home provide a good meal plan although not all meals have calorie information. The plan is split across several pages on the website with large images on each page, which makes it harder to refer to specific parts of the plan. On each page you also have to click the “Read full caption” link to view the meals. One bonus is that each day has a Daily Fitness Challenge too, which provides a simple yet effective way to prompt you to do some exercise.
Eating Well 28 Day Diet Meal Plan
The Eating Well website provides 28 days of meal plans. What is really great is that for each meal plan you can select a total daily calorie target of 1200, 1500 or 1800 Calories. Each day there are 4 meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner. Meals consist of healthy foods such as oats, lentils, fish, stir-fry, brown rice, eggs, chicken and a wide variety of fruits and dairy produce.
As well as the 28 day plan they also provide a 7 day meal plan which provides a diet plan for 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800 and 2000 Calories per day. Here is the day 4 of the 1600 Calories 7 day plan:
- 1 Cup Skim Milk
- 1 Kiwi
- 1 Cup Whole Grain Flakes Cereal
- 1/2 Ounce Walnuts
- 1 Ounce Dried Fruit
- 1 Cup Tossed Salad Mix
- 1 Tablespoon Low Calorie Caesar Salad Dressing
- Fragrant Fish Soup
- 1 Whole-Wheat Roll
- 1 Cup Honeydew Melon
- 1 Cup Blackberries
- 1 Cup Skim Milk
- 2/3 Cup Cooked Brown Rice
- Wok-Seared Chicken Tenders with Asparagus & Pistachios
- Oven-Fried Zucchini Sticks
- 1/2 Cup Mango
1,500-Calorie Summer Diet Plan
Fitness Magazine share a 1,500-Calorie Summer Diet Plan – although the diet can of course be followed all year round if you wish! The plan is designed to help you to lose 5 pounds of fat a month. It consists of many mix-and-match meals so that you can essentially create the plan yourself.
The diet allows 350 Calories for breakfast, 400 Calories for lunch, 450 Calories for dinner and 150 Calories for snacks (2 snacks a day allowed). Here are some examples of their meals:
Breakfast (350 Calories):
Florentine Egg Scramble on an English Muffin
1/2 cup cooked fresh spinach
1 whole-grain English muffin, toasted
1 cup cut cantaloupe
Lunch (400 Calories):
Tuna, Red Grapes & Walnuts on Greens
2 cups spring greens
3 ounces chunk light tuna
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
3/4 cup red grapes, cut in half
2 tablespoons low-fat
Dinner (450 Calories):
Spicy Peanut Chicken Wraps
2/3 cup precooked chicken strips
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons peanuts
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 cup shredded cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix
2 whole wheat tortillas
5 Snack options (150 Calories each):
- 14 almonds and a small apple, peeled
- 1/2 cup raspberry sorbet
- 12-ounce Caramel Frappuccino Light (without whipped cream)
- 1 ounce chocolate-covered almonds
- 18 soy crisps
The Fitness Magazine diet plan gives a lot of meal options. It was originally published in 2007, but it is still a relevant and useful diet plan to follow.
Bodybuilding Diet Plans
Bodybuilders have different nutritional needs to those looking to lose weight. The main difference is that weight gain is the goal, with an emphasis on good quality protein to aid muscle growth, protein timing to ensure that the body is receiving protein / amino acids at the optimum time, and enough carbohydrate to provide energy for work without resulting in fat gain.
“Gain Muscle and Lose Fat – Free Diet Plan for Bodybuilders“
This free Bodybuilding.com diet plan was created by Dane Fletcher and is featured on his own blog on the Bodybuilding website. Dane Fletcher is a personal trainer who has been lifting since he was at school. This diet plan aims to provide you with a basic framework which you can then modify to meet your own needs. Here is an example day from the plan:
- Breakfast: One cup of water, four cooked egg whites, and two pieces of whole grain toast.
- Late Morning Meal: One cup of water, one banana, one pound of lean turkey bacon.
- Lunch: One cup of water, large green salad with vinegar dressing, and one boneless, skinless chicken breast.
- Mid-Afternoon Meal: One cup of water, one turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, and a small green salad.
- Evening Post-Workout Meal: 20 to 40 grams of whey protein mixed with ice-cold water.
- Dinner: One cup of water, a large green salad, lean steak or chicken, and a dry baked potato.
- Before Bed Protein Meal: 20 to 40 grams of whey protein mixed with skim milk.
How to Create a Bodybuilding Diet
Muscle and Strength provide a good guide to creating a bodybuilding diet. This plan provides you with the tools to create a perfectly balanced diet plan to aid maximum muscle growth without compromising fat control. It works on a basis of 6 meals a day to provide all the protein that your body should need. For example:
- Total meals required per day 6.
- Protein: 217.5g / 6 = 36g of protein per meal x 6
- Carbohydrates: 362.5g / 6 = 60g of carbohydrates per meal x 6
- Fat: 64.4g / 5* = 13g of fat per meal x 5*
An example evening meal is provided (you could eat more or less the same every evening if you wished!):
|Beef (sirloin grilled) 3oz||27.9||0.0||8.4|
|Brown rice (cooked)6oz||4.2||38.4||1.2|
|Carrot (2 large)||2.0||14||1.2|
|Green beans (2oz)||1.0||4.0||0.0|
This is obviously far more complex than the basic meal plans that are provided by weight loss magazines, but the key is to educate yourself in how to prepare and plan your meals by yourself to help you to meet your fitness and weight loss goals.
Runners Diet Plan
Runners World provide a “Healthy Runner’s Diet” which sets 6 simple rules for optimal eating for regular runners. Here are the rules (you can see the full reason for each rule on their website):
- Rule #1: Eat seeds or foods made from seeds
- Rule #2: Eat five different color fruits and vegetables daily
- Rule #3: Eat plant foods with their skins intact
- Rule #4: Drink milk and eat milk products
Rule #5: Eat foods that come from cold water
- Rule #6: Eat meat, poultry, or eggs from free-range or grass-fed animals
Each of the rules is followed by a suggested meal (they call them courses). So, this is not a complete diet plan as such, but these rules are important for runners. The key message here is to not rely on energy snacks and processed sports nutrition, but to eat real food that is freshly prepared.
Choosing Your Free Diet Plan
The key is to first determine your goals. If you plan to do a lot of cardio then you need to also ensure that you are providing your body with adequate nutrition. Likewise, if you wish to tone and build muscle, more protein is required, so in these cases follow a running or bodybuilding diet plan.
If simple weight loss with moderate activity and exercise is your goal then follow one of the more general diets. It is a good idea to become very familiar with what is eaten and how much at each meal. One of the main reasons why so many people are overweight is simply down to eating too much food at each meal. We seem to have forgotten what a normal portion size is.
While healthy food is vital for good health, to lose weight the first key goal should be to reduce the amount of food that you habitually put in your mouth. The easiest way to do this is to record everything you eat and log all exercise too. Then you can quickly review your progress once a week (never more than often this) and adjust the diet or exercise regime accordingly.
The greater you empower yourself to take charge of your new diet the more likely you are to succeed.