Lately you’ve learned a lot about nutrition, including some of the best sources of essential fatty acids, carbohydrates and proteins. But maybe you’re scratching your head a bit and wondering what, exactly, you should eat. If so, this lesson and the next are for you. That’s because you’ll not only get some good nutrition tips, but you’ll also get actual meal plans and ideas. Read on…
Now, because I don’t know you, I can’t tell you exactly what to eat. I’ll tell you what kinds of foods to incorporate into your meals, but you need to figure out how much to eat of each food. That depends on a couple factors, including:
How many calories you need. If you want to maintain your weight, then eat the same number of calories as you’re currently eating. If you want to lose about one pound per week, then you’ll need to take in 500 fewer calories than you use up each day. You can do this through a combination of diet and exercise, meaning you don’t have to actually slice 500 calories from your meals.
TIP: Refer back to the previous lessons to get the calorie formula and instructions for deciding how much to eat. Or, if you’re looking to lose weight, then eat enough calories to equal 12 to 13 times your body weight. So if you weigh 200 pounds, start with 2600 calories daily (2000 pounds X 13)… and adjust if needed with your meal planning ideas.
Once you know how many calories you need to eat each day, then divide that up into six equal meals. Using the example above, that would be 2600 calories divided by 6 meals = 433 calories per meal.
Don’t make one meal 700 calories and another meal just a 100 calorie snack. You want to make sure all meals are roughly equal, so that you get a steady flow of food to fuel your activities. Plus, this steady flow means you get a modest insulin spike (which is a good) and mini metabolic boosts throughout the day.
Your macronutrient goals. Next, you need to figure out how many carbs, proteins and essential fats to eat. Earlier I suggested one popular ration: 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fats.
Remember this: Protein and carbs have about four calories per gram of foods. Fats are more dense, and they weigh in at about nine calories per gram. So you may be eating less fats, but still packing on the calories.
So how do you start figuring this out? First, it helps if you create a food journal. That way, you know exactly what you’re eating every day. Secondly, you can keep track of your calories and macronutrient levels by getting a free account at FitDay.com.
Now, if you’re just starting out with meal planning, then keeping detailed logs may seem overwhelming. As mentioned before, you don’t need to make every single change immediately. So instead you can do this: clean up your diet, eat roughly the same amounts of carbs and protein… and then get the rest of your calories from good essential fatty acid sources.
Just doing that will get you results. When you stall, you can take a closer look at your macronutrient levels by actually tracking them on FitDay.com.
Now stay tuned, because next time you’ll get those meal plans!