You could pay someone to make a meal plan for you or you could come up with one yourself. It’s really not difficult at all, it’ll take you 10 minutes or less to figure out. The great thing about personalizing your meal plan is that you can eat what you like. My philosophy is that no diet is worth your time if you’re not willing to eat that way for the rest of your life. Creating your very own meal plan will allow you to learn what works best for you and you’ll internalize exactly what it takes to reach your goals. Learn how to meal plan for specific fitness goals yourself!
Determine your goal
Think about your overall goal then extrapolate from there. Is it to lose weight? Gain weight? Maintain weight? For weight loss I recommend anywhere between a 250 (0.5 lbs a week) to 500 calorie deficit (1 lb a week). If you want to gain weight (usually for building muscle mass) I’d recommend a 500 calorie surplus per day to gain about 4 lbs a month, but you must be working out hard or else you’ll just be getting fat..
Determine your caloric needs
Your caloric needs depend on your age, height, gender, and activity level. The more active you are the more food you’ll need, hence the less active you are the less food you’ll need. Being a little more active in the day would essentially allow you to eat one or more extra meal(s), making it much easier to be in a caloric deficit. I mentioned in a previous post that some days I’d exercise just to fit in a pizza!
If you’re curious now, you can find out your caloric needs by punching your data in my calorie calculator. I recommend that you download a free fitness app like Lose it (the one I use) or My Fitness Pal, it’ll tell you how many calories you need depending on the factors that I mentioned above. These fitness apps also allow you to log your exercises and meals, letting you know how many calories you have left to eat for the day. It takes all the guess work out of knowing how many calories you should be eating.
Log in the foods you like
Here are some guidelines though:
- Low sodium
- Avoid using sugar, use sweeteners instead.
- Avoid oil, use cooking spray instead.
- Don’t drink your calories. No juice, soda or alcohol. Zero calorie beverages are fine.
- Bake instead of fry.
You want to make good choices most of the time, make sure you cover your bases. Your carbohydrate sources should mainly consist of complex carbs like leafy greens, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, and whole grains. Get your protein from lean meat, beans, eggs, fish and dairy. Don’t forget your healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil* and coconut oil*. Nutrient dense foods are not only healthier but more satiating as well.
Though olive oil and coconut oil are good sources of fat, oil is very calorie dense. One tablespoon of oil is about 120 calories, that’s the equivalent of 4 ounces of lean chicken breast. Use sparingly.
Sample meal plan
This is a sample meal plan of what I ate on an average day to burn fat and build muscle.
- 2 slices of soft white bread- 120 calories
- 2 ounces of ham- 61
- Slice of fat free American cheese- 25
- Medium baked potato- 110
- Tablespoon of ketchup- 15
- 2 large eggs- 140
- ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese part skim- 80
- 4 ounces of chicken breast cooked- 124
- Cup of whole wheat spaghetti pasta- 174
- ¼ cup of pasta sauce- 45
- Cup of brown rice- 180
- 3 ounces of beef- 256
- 2 cups of broccoli- 62
- Medium banana- 105
- Ounce of almonds- 160
- Cup of sugar free almond milk- 40
- Scoop of whey protein powder– 120
Total Calories- 1816
Protein- 135 grams
Fat- 60 grams
Carbohydrates- 193 grams
Fiber- 25 grams
You’ll need a food scale to weigh your food.
This meal plan example is for a day without exercise. On the days that I exercised I would have burned anywhere between 500-700 calories extra, that would’ve allowed to me to fit in foods like pizza and donuts. 80 percent of my meals were generally healthy, and that’s how it’s something that anyone can do.
Set it up ahead of time
Meal plans are planned ahead of time. I would calculate my target calories and nutrients in the Lose it app the night before and prep my breakfast, lunch and snacks in the morning before work or school. If I instead planned to buy lunch I’d try to keep it aligned with my goals as much as possible. Generally my day was planned ahead of time and it was easy to stick to because it was food that I enjoyed.
A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Luckily body maintenance isn’t as complicated as car maintenance. Over time as you learn a little more about nutrition you can make good choices for yourself and you can shape your body the way you want. The days of eating dry chicken salads and paying someone to make a meal plan for you is over. There’s no better way to learn than by doing!
Did this make you feel confident to make your own meal plans? Let me know what I should write about next!
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I am not a healthcare professional. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or exercise program. This is for educational purposes only, I am speaking from my own experience and from what I have learned through my own research.
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