Eating healthy, getting lean and becoming a better athlete all start with the same thing. Nutrition. And there are few simple habits you can pick up that will help build your healthy lifestyle forever. In this article on how to make a healthy meal plan plus examples, we take you through the steps needed to make it your own. Everyone is completely different, with different jobs, training, taste preference, allergies and income, therefore, we all need different requirements in order to reach our goals.
It's common knowledge that eating healthy is good for us. We've always been told to eat our five a day and exercises when we are children. However, as we embrace the freedom of adulthood, habitats less favourable to the healthy lifestyle sneak in and become apart of who we are. For example, going down to the pub to have "just one". We know that this is never the case !
So, we want a healthy eating plan that is right for you and replaced junk food and processed food with nutritious meals. The only problem now is that you face difficulty incorporating your healthy eating plan into your daily lifestyle on a regular basis. You may feel intimidated or even discouraged at first, but with some instruction and lifestyle modifications, you can stick to nutritious eating for the long haul.
Make small, but consistent changes in your lifestyle. You are less likely to remain on a healthy eating plan if you try to make too many changes at once. Gradually make incremental changes in your daily life for the best chance at long-term success.
If you like it and it tastes nice, doesn't feel restrictive and it gives you the energy you need, you are more likely to keep going and get healthier as time goes on. Sorting your diet out is a marathon not a sprint.
For instance, if plain chicken isn't for you, adding 15ml of reduced sugar and salt ketchup will not hurt you compared to buying pre-made ready meals from the supermarket that is laden with addictives, preservatives, sugars and salt.
Questions you should be asking yourself?
What do I need to be able to drink more plain water?
Do you like herbal tea?
Do you like cordial (can you fade it out after a couple of months)?
Would you rather drink it with lemon juice?
These are just some of the ways you can incorporate more water into your diet. Your body is predominately made up of water and it's most preferred fluid is water ! Drinking plain not only helps make your body more efficient, it can also boost your metabolism !
What do I need to do to in order to eat more lean meats/fish and vegetables?
Do you like ketchup or homemade salad dressing?
Do you like homemade curry sauce?
Would you rather eat it with lots of spices/herbs and ground almonds?
Do I need to cook them in the microwave because its quick?
Do I need a health company to supply them to me pre-made?
These are just some of the ways you can incorporate more lean meats/fish and vegetables. Eating more of these low Gi, nutritious foods are great for helping you stay lean and pack in all the essential nutrients and minerals that affect our mood, hormones, energy, attitude and essentially every we do.
What do I need to do to in order to reduce the level of caffeine intake?
Start drinking decaff tea and coffee?
Only have one coffee in the morning?
Wait to see how long you can go without having your one cup of coffee a day?
Do you initially need to drink compressed fruit juice to go no caffeine?
Do I need to switch Matcha green tea powder?
These are just some of the ways you can reduce the level of caffeine intake. Designed2Eat has written on how caffeine could be affecting your fitness goals: https://designed2eat.myshopify.com/blogs/nutrition/how-caffeine-could-be-affecting-your-fitness-weight-loss-goals
What do I need to do to in order to get more sleep?
Start drinking decaff tea and coffee?
Start a bedtime routine?
Read a fiction book 15 minutes before you go to sleep?
Switch off all electronics 30 minutes before bed?
Remove as many electronics and lights from the bedroom?
These are just some of the ways you can do in order to get more zzzzZZZZZZ. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. As well as a reduce functioning in daily life, energy, performance recovery and increases your cravings for unhealthy food.
What do I need to do to in order to get more exercise into my day?
Do I need to get a dog so that it takes me on a walk?
Can I go for a walk at lunch?
Can I walk or cycle to work?
Are there stairs which I can always climb?
Is there a sport nearby that I would love to learn?
These are just some of the ways you can do in order to get more exercise into your day. Exercise is more important that you think. It really isn't just about calories in, calories out. Many studies have shown that this isn't the determining factor of your weight but the whole lifestyle you have. For example: you may think that if you just cut your calories and not exercise, you will lose weight. This might be true but you wouldn't be healthy as you would be missing out on the essential nutrients and minerals that affect your whole system. Therefore, overtime, imbalances in your body will form and it will be harder to reach your fitness and weight loss goals in the future.
From the above you may have a found the little steps that will help you build your healthy lifestyle. You may be doing many of the above already !
Why follow the Zone macros?
The Zone lifestyle of 40:30:30 ratio (40% of calories from carbohydrate, 30% from protein and 30% from fat) works on the theory that excess insulin, a hormone that helps control our blood sugar levels, makes us fat and keeps us fat. By closely regulating our blood sugar levels and therefore keeping our levels of insulin in a tight 'zone', the body burns fat more efficiently so that we lose weight.
Here are the actionable steps you can take to kick starting your fitness goals:
1. Work out how many calories you need on a non-training day.
We love Jen Heward's Macro Calculator as it's simple and easy to use.
2. Download MyFitness Pal and log you calories and macros in the app. You will find this in the settings section. Follow the Zone lifestyle by setting your target nutrition profile to the 40:30:30 ratio. 40% of calories from carbohydrate, 30% from protein and 30% from fat.
The Best Foods to Always have in the Kitchen to be Healthy and Lean:
- Red Meat
- Fish (Fatty and Lean)
- Sweet Potatoes/Root Vegetables
- Natural Nut Butter/ Whole Nuts
- Green Veggies
- Spices (Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cayenne, Herbs, Curry Mixture)
You may also like:
Here's an amazing spreadsheet that will help you build your own healthy meal plan per day! Make a copy and a way you go !
Meal Plan Example (3 block plan)
|Food||Macro Nutrient||Enter Amount (g)||Calculated Blocks||Enter Blocks||Calculated Amount (g)||1 Block (g)||2 Blocks (g)||3 Blocks (g)||4 Blocks (g)||5 Blocks (g)||6 Blocks (g)||7 Blocks (g)|
|Breakfast - 6am||C + P||0|
|Snack - 9am||C + P||0|
|Lunch - 12pm||C + P||0|
|Snack - 3pm||C + P||0|
|Dinner - 7:30pm||C + P||0|
To find out how many blocks you need; see below.
|Breakfast||Lunch||Snack||Dinner||Snack||Total Blocks||Body Type|
|4||4||1||4||1||14||Athletic, Well-Muscled Female|
|5||5||4||5||4||23||Large Hard Gainer|
|5||5||5||5||5||25||Athletic, Well-Muscled Male|
If you would like more recipe examples on how what you should be eating, comment below!
Finally, one last word. Enjoy it !
Enjoy your food, give a go at cooking something new and don't be too hard on yourself! You only live once !
Author: Charleh Dickinson
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not a professionally qualified Doctor, Dietician or Nutritionist. The information on our blogs are based only on my own experiences and the research we have found in academia.
If you are interested in changing your diet we would highly recommend doing so under the care of a qualified Health Professional. We firmly believe that there is a no diet that suits everybody. You have to go out there and discover it for yourself and enjoy the journey along the way.