How many people reading this blog have done a meal plan before? I’m pretty sure that most of you would put your hands up and say yes you have done. You may even be following one right now. To give you a bit of background. When I first lost a fair bit of weight in my 20s, I was working in a supplement store in Cardiff and I got a meal plan from the owner of the store, who was used to prepping bodybuilders basically.
So this meal plan was a six meal, meal plan. I remember it vividly. The first meal being four eggs with vegetables and that was it. The next meal was 40 grams of protein in a shake with 3 rice cakes and some peanut butter and 1/2 an avocado. The next meal was 200 grams of chicken with 40 grams of basmati rice and some veggies. The fourth meal was 200 grams of chicken with 200 grams of sweet potato and veggies. The fifth meal was 200 grams of salmon and veggies. And then the last meal of the day was quark and protein. And that was it.
So, as you can imagine, very very high protein, quite low carb, really, and very heavy on the vegetables. A pretty standard way to lose bodyweight. But the thing is is that although this meal plan did bring me results. I had no idea what to do afterwards. I had no idea what to do when I couldn’t eat those meals, so I was prepping meals and putting them in Tupperware and carrying them around. I remember I had this bag that would carry all of my Tupperware in it and it wasn’t even that good a cool bag. I specifically remember having a competition that I went to and prepping my food for it and then it being one of the hottest days of the year, and all of my food just going really soggy, minging and smelly. And I couldn’t really eat it, but I had to then think of other things to do.
I’m sure you guys can relate to that. What do you do when you work around a meal plan or what do you do when you’re done with the meal plan? If they don’t come with any education on how to adjust, or what the calories you’re eating at what point are and why and what the overall calories are and how you can adjust this based on your own plans, then they’re not going to get you very far. You know, do you have a cheat day or do you have free meals Do you just throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want, when you can’t follow the plan? This is kind of the bad part of it is it’s like a diet, you’re either eating on the plan or you’re off the plan and you’re eating whatever you want.
What do you then do about this? I personally prefer using meal templates with my clients where I will say, based on your current goals and your body size, you should be eating this many calories a day roughly, this much protein, and within a day, that could look like this. I will then give examples of this meal: have this much protein, this much carbohydrate, this much fat and layout a day like so. Of course, I give them examples then of what these different foods look like as this then gives you the flexibility of knowing how much to eat and when in terms of macronutrients and in terms of food groups. It also gives you the flexibility to know that if you’re not prepping all of your food or you’re eating out you can do your best to abide by those principles that are laid out within the template.
Then you can find out your own route of getting there. You can then also decide on certain strategies that if you’re eating out, do you skip a meal or a snack, in order to double up the calories. If you’re drinking alcohol do you sub out the snacks etc. This is what I would massively recommend for all of you reading this blog. Have a think about how you can create a base diet, where you’re eating similar meals at similar times, so that you can build a good routine, but then you have strategies in place for when you eat out and or when you drink alcohol.
So when you drink alcohol, it could be a case of lowering the carbohydrates and fats within your meals and snacks in order to save calories, or if you’re eating out, it could be a case of consolidating two meals together. So you’re only eating two meals that day rather than three in order to have more calories. There are a few ways that you can play with this.
Understand that meal plans don’t work long term without education. The last thing you need is a meal plan, you actually need to be building a meal template, but as I talked about in my previous blog, you need to be building habits that you can stick to and maintain that will actually then bring you long-lasting change.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email.