Hey Everyone! I have had a couple of people in the group approach me about meal plans, so I wanted to write a blog post for everyone in case anyone else had the same issues with nutrition. I am going to do you one better than simply give you a meal plan. I am going to do for you what my coach did for me when I started getting into fitness – show you how to use myfitnesspal. This is an AMAZING tool because it takes all of guesswork out of counting calories and macronutrients (carb/protein/fat). I strongly advise each of you to create an account at www.myfitnesspal.com because it will be super helpful for you to keep track of your nutrition and make sure you’re on track. After I explain a bit about myfitnesspal and how to use the features, I will then discuss macronutrients and the levels you should be focused on depending on your goals, and then I will get into some healthy meals and snacks that you can use on your plans. Honestly, this method works SO much better than anyone simply providing you with a basic meal plan to follow day after day. Anyone can give you a meal plan, but you are GOING to get sick of the foods on the plan and you are most likely going to give up. With MFP, YOU are in charge of what you are eating and are able to change it up from day to day as long as you stay within the calorie and macro limits. You’ll fluctuate a bit in macros from day to day as you change things up, and that’s okay, as long as you are around the numbers you are supposed to be using.
Okay so how do you get started? Like I said above just go to the link, and create an account by either signing up through facebook or email. I believe it will ask you some information about your current weight and stuff like that just to help determine a calorie level. Once you’re logged in, you’ll see the “My Home” page automatically. This is where you can track your progress and see how many calories have yet to be consumed each day. Honestly though, I recommend filling out your meal plan for the day the night before. This way you can shift things around a bit to make the macros match up, that way you get them closer to the goal than if you were doing it as you ate your meals. Under the Home tab you can also visit Goals, which is where you update your calorie limit if you want it changed as well as how many workouts you do and your macro targets. If you want to change anything you just hit change goals, and then go to the Custom option to set your own fitness goals. If you have lost some weight or seen a decrease in measurements, you can track that under the Check In tab. The rest of the subtabs for home are all self-explanatory, so I’ll move on to the Food tab. This is where you do all the work! You just click the day you want to prepare, and it automatically has 3 meals and 3 snacks set out for you to update with foods. You just click “add food” and it brings up a database where you enter the food you want, click the right food and the proper amount, and click “add checked” to add it to that meal option. Once you’ve been using it for a bit there will be a bunch of foods listed under the tabs “recent and frequent” to make it easier for you to use. You can also save meals if you plan to be eating the same kinds of meals more frequently to make it easier, instead of having to repeatedly search for those ingredients or items every time you make it. If you’re making something completely original, you can visit the Recipes tab to log in all of the ingredients. This works AWESOME if you are making soups or chili or anything like that with multiple servings because all you do is put in the ingredients used and the amount of servings it makes, and MFP calculates how many calories and macros are in each serving!! Lastly, the only other thing you really need to know about MFP is the Exercise tab. This is completely optional, and I honestly don’t care if you use it or not! It is totally up to you, but if you are running or walking or doing some kind of physical activity and you want recognition for it – by all means, log it in!
Now that you know how to use MFP, let’s focus on calories and macros. This is going to differ depending on weight and size, and if you are doing workouts on a regular basis. However, as a ballpark number for those of you not doing fitness programs, I would say somewhere between 1300-1500 calories. You DO NOT want to go below 1200 calories a day. If you do, your body can enter what is called “starvation mode” and it will be completely counter-productive. A lot of people seem to believe that if you just don’t eat that much you will lose weight, but in reality your body will start storing the foods you do eat as fat because it will think it isn’t being fed enough to function properly. If you’re working out on a regular basis you will want to add 400-500 calories to that calorie range to create a deficit for the calories burned off in your workouts. Again, this will depend on your size and weight. As for macro nutrients, if you want to be on a fat burner diet I would aim for 25% carbs 25% fat and 50% protein. Everybody is different though, so if you are finding that you are sluggish and totally grouchy on that plan, you may need to modify. If that happens to you it is just because your body needs more carbs, so just bump it up in increments. So start the next day at 30% carbs and 20% fat with protein staying at 50%. If that still isn’t working for you, and it may not be when you’re just starting out, modify it again to 40% carb 40% protein and 20% fat. Once you’ve been doing your plan for a few weeks I would suggest bumping it back down and seeing how you fare. It could be that the first method was too drastic of a change starting out, but once you’re used to eating better it may be easier for you to manage the other level.
Okay so now that you know how to use myfitnesspal and you know what kind of a range you should be focused on macro- and calorie-wise, I am going to give you a list of meals and snacks that I like to have on my own plan to help you figure out some healthy foods you can be eating yourself. Keep in mind that you will want to measure everything out with measuring cups or count the chips or whatever you have to do to make sure you’re getting the amount you’re putting in to MFP – otherwise, the calculations will be off.
-Homemade soups: You can throw in just about any vegetable you want with spices and bouillon cubes for flavor. Just try to pick something with a lower sodium content. Add some chicken if you want for a better protein source.
-Homemade chili: Throw in tomato paste and diced tomatoes with lean ground hamburger, kidney beans, chili powder and any spice you want for flavor, and whatever else you like in your chili.
-Omelet: cook a couple eggs with some egg whites (you can buy little cartons with egg white so you don’t have to waste your eggs getting the whites) and throw on chopped veggies when it is cooked.
-For meats I prefer lean ground beef and boneless skinless chicken breast. Lean ground turkey is also an option, as well as haddock and some other fish. You can add your choice of vegetable to this with white rice, sweet potato, or regular potato. Good veggie options include carrots, celery (really good for a snack if you have the munchies – people into fitness comps eat a lot of this when trying to lean down), asparagus, cucumber, peppers (any color really), and broccoli.
-Greek yogurt with fruit mixed in. I prefer to chop up strawberries, but you’re welcome to add whatever you like. Plain yogurt is better, but I can’t stand the taste so I use vanilla and just measure it to make sure the calories are the same. If you want to use plain yogurt and don’t like the taste, you can skip the fruit and add a serving of peanut butter or Nutella for flavor.
-Cheerios with almond milk.
-Shakeology with almond milk. I personally like the chocolate shakeology with vanilla flavored almond milk. I also mix in some frozen strawberries for flavor, and if I am using vanilla shakeology I mix in a teaspoon of Nutella.
-Ezekiel bread with a serving of peanut butter or Nutella.
-Stir fry: Dice up some boneless skinless chicken breasts and throw the pieces in the frying pan. You can add whatever veggies you want, some rice, and seasoning or soya sauce for flavor.
Some meals I like to have ONCE a week as a cheat meal:
-Nachos: Organic nachos (Kirkland brand, comes in a big brown paper bag at Costco), salsa, and tex mex cheese.
-Homemade pizza: You can find healthier pizza crusts at the grocery stores so you just have to go searching for one. I add pizza sauce to mine (measured out), pepperoni, pineapple, and tex mex cheese.
-Fruit: apple, banana, strawberries, blueberries, grapes. Try to limit yourself to 1-2 servings of fruit because they are high in natural sugars. I personally just have an apple a day and then have the strawberries in my shakeology.
-Greek yogurt as a bedtime snack.
-Plain rice cake with a serving of peanut butter or Nutella.
-Protein shake: I prefer Gold Standard chocolate whey protein from GNC. You can get cheaper stuff at Costco and other places though I am sure.
-GoGo Quinoa chocolate chip cookies: These are vegan and gluten-free, and you can purchase them at Costco.
-Skinny pop popcorn: You can find this at Costco and it is a great alternative to chips. I would recommend just having this on weekends if you are craving junk food. Measure out the proper amount. It is only 39 calories a cup, but you still want to measure so you know how much you’re eating. Trust me lol I know from experience that it is easy to eat way more than you’re supposed to with this stuff if you don’t measure :P
-Almond and unsalted roasted cashews are good in moderation, but you don’t want to have too many.
There you go! Now with the snacks I would recommend having 2-3 snacks a day that are between 100-200 calories and then your meals in between. To make it easier on yourself for on the go snacks, you can get little Ziploc baggies and measure out those amounts in whatever snack item you want and put them in a basket on the counter so that you can easily grab and go on the fly! There are tons of other healthy foods out there as well, but this is just a template to get you started from my own personal diet. I hope you find this useful. Please feel free to comment on this thread with any questions that you may have or if you need clarification on anything. I stopped using MFP for a while because when you’re eating the same foods all the time you kind of get used to the macros lol, but I will be starting up again soon. You’re welcome to add me as a friend on there if you want (handle is jsajm) to review my food journals in the days to come once I start using it again. If you’re not sure you’re on track, you can also just tell me to visit your page and check out your food diary.
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