20 Apr Prep Or Not To Prep
Should you use a meal plan?
Though I’m not a firm believer in rigid meal plans for most people, I admit that they can be very helpful in many situations. Some individuals are extremely busy and don’t have the energy to devote to planning meals. Others are at a loss when it comes to choosing their meals, oftentimes confused and overloaded by the huge amounts of nutrition information and fad diets that circulate the internet (many from unqualified individuals). There is also a relatively small group of people who make it their life to reach and maintain their goals and will do whatever it takes, even for years. This group contains people like elite athletes and top tier physique competitors. Having a more structured plan, even for just a short while, can help set people on the right path by allowing you to learn and try new things over time. Eventually, more flexibility can be introduced as clients get more familiar with how to fuel their lifestyle according to their goals.
What we’re sharing here is just an example of how meals can be structured. Every individual is different, whether that be physical characteristics, preferences, social environment, medical conditions, or goals.
This particular 1-day meal plan was made with the following information in mind:
- 160 lb male
- Physically active (60+ minutes per day)
- Experienced in resistance training with significant skeletal muscle mass
- Beginning to move towards goal of weight and fat loss, with a starting target of about 2500kcal
- Drinking adequate water without instruction based on needs and activity level
- No medical conditions, or history of medical conditions
- This data would be gathered through a nutrition assessment with a dietitian, where everything from medical history to goals and food preferences would be reviewed.
This sample meal plan was made for a healthy 31-year-old male who works a typical 9-5 and then exercises after work. It incorporates whole grains, protein-rich foods, vegetables, fruit, and dairy throughout the day.
The total energy in this proposed day is approximately 2400kcal with about 160g protein, 65g of fat, and 310g of carbohydrates along with 30g+ of fiber.
It also meets the RDA for almost all micronutrients by incorporating a variety of foods. This intake will help maintain health, fuel workouts, promote fat loss, and possibly build muscle as well depending on the experience of the individual.
Why not meet every single micronutrient RDA? For many people, it’s not feasible to do so in one day eating whole foods. That’s why variety is important in a diet rather than eating the same thing day in and day out. A situation like that can be where supplements can be useful as well to fill in the gaps.
“Bad”/Cheat meals and snacks
You might also notice that cookies and chocolate milk are on the meal plan! These foods aren’t “bad” or “cheat” foods, you just have to find a place to fit them in with your goals. In this situation, cookies are used as a source of carbohydrates and fat hours during lunch (and hours before a workout) while chocolate milk is used as a source of faster carbohydrates mixed in with protein closer to a workout. Another important point is morale: it’s important to incorporate enjoyable foods into your diet!
Can you do this meal plan forever?
Even if someone were to hypothetically follow this meal plan for an extended period of time, they would still eventually reach a plateau in weight/fat loss, and that’s normal. Nothing was done wrong. The body’s needs will adapt over time, and that is why adjustments need to be made as time goes on. This is where a professional can come in and help with recommendations regarding energy, macronutrients, micronutrients, meal timings, diet breaks, and more!