As it is the beginning of the year I have observed a lot of people following an online fitness and nutrition plan, usually a downloadable ebook or an app. I think this is great! For the cost of one personal training session you can buy an entire 12 weeks worth of workouts. I have personally over the years enjoyed trying programs by Kayla Itsines, Ashy Bines, Jamie Eason and Emily Skye. Even though I’m a trainer I always love trying a different trainer’s style of exercise programming and training philosophy. I also love trying some new healthy recipes. However I think there is a problem with the meal plans.
The problem is that every single person is told to eat the exact some amount of calories. The meal plan for a day may be something like this: an egg white omelette, 2 rice cakes with nut butter, chicken salad, 1 pear and 10 almonds and a beef stir-fry. This is only about 1200 – 1500 calories! That is a tiny amount. Even when I was dieting for my bikini competition I never needed to go lower than 1900 calories (I talk about my experience competing in this post here). There is only so long you can be constantly starving for. Eating such low calories is not sustainable. By sheer will-power you may be able to stick to the low calorie meal plan for a few days but eventually you will be so hungry you will need to start eating more food. Then you will feel like a failure for not being able to stick to the meal plan.
Instead you might want to try my approach to fat-loss nutrition. It is basically a combination of the ‘follow a meal plan’ style of eating and the ‘flexible dieting/IIFYM’ style of eating. I follow these steps at the start of the week:
- Choose the recipes/foods I would like to eat that week and jot them in to a notepad or my phone.
- Put them into My Fitness Pal and then adjust the quantities of foods so I am reaching my calorie target (300 calories less than what I need to eat to maintain my weight).
- Write my meal plan onto a meal plan template with the exact quantities of foods and stick it on the fridge. Personally I like to eat the same breakfast, snacks and lunch every day and just change what I have for dinner each night.
- Write my shopping list, buy all the foods and then prepare anything that needs to be made from scratch e.g homemade protein bars, granola etc.
I hope this helps some of you that are feeling frustrated by not being able to stick to general meal plans. A person’s caloric requirements depend on so many factors: age, weight, dieting history e.g metabolism damage, gender, muscle mass, breastfeeding, activity level. Therefore it is ridiculous to expect everyone to eat the same meal plan. A meal plan needs to be individualised.