When many people think of fitness, they only think of hitting the gym, but working out is only a portion of leading a healthy lifestyle.
To achieve real results, you’ll need to change your diet to properly fuel your body and prevent yourself from erasing what progress you make from your workouts. Here are some of the best ways to create a meal plan to meet your fitness goals.
The Basic Principles
When creating a meal plan, some basic principles will help guide your way. In particular, you’ll want to know what you’re eating, what you should be eating, and how much you should be eating.
To elaborate, let’s begin with ‘what.’ When creating your meal plan, you’ll want to ensure that the foods and ingredients you buy will benefit you the most. To that end, it’s best to look for foods grown and raised ethically. For example, when shopping for meat, you should look for meat from grass-fed animals. Grass-fed meat contains a lower total fat count and more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef, which contains a lot of empty nutritional value. Make sure you know how your food got raised and where it came from to ensure it will provide you with the nutritional value you need.
As for what you should be eating, don’t think you’ll have to go vegan just to eat healthily. While a majority plant-based diet is good, you can still eat and enjoy meat – it just matters what form that meat takes. Steak can be very healthy and nutritious, whereas a hamburger will not. Ultimately, what you should eat will depend on your fitness goals, but we’ll cover that later.
Lastly, we’ll talk about portions and how much you should be eating. This will also depend on your goal, but you’ll also factor in your body type and what you’re eating.
Consider Your Typical Energy Expenditure
The best way to start creating a meal plan to meet your fitness goals is by considering how much energy you typically expend each day. Are you currently working out? Do you work at a desk all day, or does your job include physical activity? What do you often do in your free time? Combining these considerations with your body type’s recommended caloric intake will be important for determining how much you need to eat. To better estimate how many calories you burn in a day, there are four factors to consider.
Your basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories your body needs to function while at rest and will be the source of more than half of the energy you expend over the day.
Next, you’ll consider your “non-exercise” activity. This refers to all activities you do that aren’t eating, sleeping, or exercising. Examples include climbing stairs, walking to and from school, or even just typing up an e-mail – basic everyday tasks.
Third is your exercise activity, which is self-explanatory. Whether it be hitting the gym or participating in sports, this is the part you have the most control over, so you can alter your meal plan the most based on your exercise.
Lastly, consider the process of digesting your food. Different foods and nutrients take different amounts of energy to digest – with proteins taking the most energy and fats taking the least. This is important to consider because protein-rich foods will help you feel full and satisfied without having to eat as much as foods high in fats, which can drastically affect how many calories you intake.
Your Daily Caloric Intake
Now, considering what we’ve learned thus far, let’s consider your fitness goals. We promise this is the last consideration for determining your daily caloric intake. While there are recommended caloric intakes depending on body weight and type, these are very general and don’t consider your potential goals.
You’ll need to ask yourself if your goal is losing weight or building muscle. If your goal is weight loss, you’ll want to eat at a caloric deficit, which means you’re eating fewer calories than you burn in a day. If you want to build muscle, you’ll want to eat an excess of calories so that your body can repair and build upon your muscles after your workout breaks them down.
With this in mind, you can build a meal plan that keeps your caloric intake lower without sacrificing vitamins and nutrients or a higher meal plan that provides you with essential building blocks like proteins to help you bulk up. Weight loss, in particular, benefits from meal plans because it’s much easier to avoid eating calories than it is to burn off the excess.
Building Your Meal Plan
We’ve talked a lot about energy and how many calories you potentially burn, but with these things taken into consideration, you can begin thinking about your meal plan finally. In the beginning, you may feel at a loss as you’re not sure what foods are best for you nor what meals you should be making – if you’re even aware of the recipes at all. One of the best ways to start yourself off right is with a healthy meal delivery service like Eat Clean. Providing meal prep delivery to Orlando, FL, and many other locations, we can help you put together and execute an effective meal plan – all you have to do is tell us what your diet should look like and pick out what meals look good to you.
Meal prep delivery also helps you avoid the temptation of snacking. With perfect portioning, our meals will always provide exactly the amount you need for a complete and satisfying meal, but it also allows you to have less food in the house. By simply removing the temptation from your pantries, you’ll have an easier time avoiding excessive snacking until your meal gets dropped off at your door. Sign up today to start making a meaningful change to your diet and lifestyle.