Updated: August 26, 2011

To be successful at weight loss in the long run, you need to change your daily habits and use strategies that allow you to adapt to a variety of situations, as we outline in our January, 2007 story "3 Secrets to a Successful Diet." Still, when you're just starting out, some of you might find it helpful to have a day-by-day plan showing you exactly what to eat. We asked Connie Guttersen, Ph.D., R.D., author of the best-selling Sonoma Diet and Sonoma Diet Cookbook and a consultant to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa, California, to develop a seven-day diet of delicious and satisfying meals. Each day provides 1,500 to 1,700 calories. Recipes are supplied for some of the meals; click on the highlighted dishes for all the details. If you don't like a particular food, feel free to swap dishes around or to have a favorite meal more than once.

Day 1

Breakfast

cup steel-cut oatmeal and 1 cup nonfat or 1% milk

cup berries

Lunch

2 cups tomato soup

3 cups greens with 2 tablespoons olive oil-based dressing

cup lowfat cottage cheese

1 piece fruit

Dinner

Cilantro Chicken With Peanuts

cup red or wild rice

1 cup roasted red bell peppers with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Snacks

10 almonds

1 ounce cheese with 1 cup sliced raw veggies

Day 2

Breakfast

Omelet (combine two eggs and your favorite veggies)

1 slice of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter

Lunch

3 ounces herb-rubbed chicken, served with 2 cups baby salad greens, canned white beans, pine nuts, artichoke hearts, and 1 tablespoons dressing made with extra-virgin olive oil

whole-wheat pita

1 apple

Dinner

Marinated Flank Steak

1 cups sauteed broccoli, roasted peppers, and ounce goat cheese

cup wild rice

Snacks

cup fruit

1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese

Day 3

Breakfast

1 scrambled egg

1 slice Canadian bacon

1 piece whole-grain toast

Lunch

cup multi-grain penne pasta tossed with broccoli, garlic, and olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, Parmesan cheese, or both

2 cups salad greens tossed with 1 tablespoons of dressing made with olive oil

1 piece fruit

Dinner

Broiled Spice-Rubbed Salmon

cup quinoa

2 tomatoes roasted in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with parsley and ground pepper

Snacks

10 almonds

cup lowfat cottage cheese and cup berries

Day 4

Breakfast

1 cup whole-grain cereal

1 cup lowfat milk

cup berries

Lunch

Spinach Panini

Dinner

Indian-Style Curried Chicken

1 cup sauteed vegetables

cup brown rice or multi-grain pasta

Snack

cup hummus with 1 cup raw veggies

Day 5

Breakfast

Omelet (made with two eggs and your favorite veggies)

1 slice of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter

Lunch

1 whole-wheat wrap with greens, lowfat vanilla yogurt, and grilled chicken (you can use chicken left over from previous day)

1 piece fruit

Dinner

Grilled Beef With Chimichurri Sauce

1 cup roasted green beans

cup wild or red rice

Snacks

1 piece fruit

1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese

Day 6

Breakfast

Omelet (made with two eggs and your favorite veggies)

1 slice whole-grain toast

Lunch

Thai Roast Beef Lettuce Rolls

1 ounce peanuts

cup buckwheat noodles

1 piece fruit with a few tablespoons of plain yogurt for dipping

Dinner

Pork Chop With Black-Bean Salsa

3 cups spinach with 1 tablespoons olive oil-vinaigrette

Snacks

1 piece fruit

4 whole-wheat crackers spread with goat cheese

1 tablespoon hummus with raw veggies

Day 7

Breakfast

Wrap (2 scrambled eggs, your favorite veggies, and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla)

Lunch

2 cups minestrone soup

3 cups mixed greens with 1 tablespoon olive-oil dressing

1 piece fruit

Dinner

Broiled Halibut With Balsamic Glaze

1 cup roasted vegetables

cup quinoa

Snacks

cup soy nuts

1 piece fruit

6 ounces lowfat yogurt or 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese

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