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The Truth About Meal Plans for Weight Loss: What Stanford University Scientists Found

"Just tell me what to eat!"

Have you ever said this? For some people, “done-for-you” meals, precise eating plans, and healthy recipes seem like an obvious solution to weight loss struggles.

But look at what happened in a recent 12-week diet study conducted by Stanford University scientists.

For the first four weeks, participants were given all of their meals and snacks - no cooking, food prep, or wondering ‘What should I eat?’ required.

For the next eight weeks, participants were on their own to plan, shop for, and cook meals that worked with the diet they were following.

So what happened in the end? A few things:

  • The participants preferred making their own meals over eating the meals that were given to them by a nutrition scientist (In the second 8 weeks, all 42 participants actually declined the option of having their meals made for them).

  • They said they wanted expert-created shopping lists, meal ideas, and recipes, but didn’t use them (how wonderful human nature is, isn't it?).

  • Even with all these resources, they made only small adjustments to their normal diet.

The takeaway: Diets don’t usually solve the most pressing problems people have with eating better.

What do people need help with the most? Building sustainable SKILLS that help them manage portion sizes, regulate their emotions (without food), and choose nutritious foods they truly enjoy.

Because most of us have a pretty good idea of WHAT to eat. But doing it consistently?

That’s the real challenge!



Landry MJ, Crimarco A, Perelman D, Durand LR, Petlura C, Aronica L, et al. Adherence to Ketogenic and Mediterranean Study Diets in a Crossover Trial: The Keto–Med Randomized Trial. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 17;13(3):967. PMID: 33802709


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