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How to design your meal plan like an expert in few easy steps

January is here, yayy! Killing them squats and sit ups? How about your diet? Abs are made in the kitchen, right? How is your progress? Getting into the shape you want and feeling energetic?

If you had high hopes for 2021 and feel a bit stuck, you are not alone. Most people don’t know much about diet and after overeating in the festive season, it seems to be logical to work out much more then before and eat as little as possible. It must work…but the results are not coming and what keeps you going if not the sense of enjoyment and achievement?

A personal trainer that is also qualified in nutrition can help you to design a diet and exercise plan tailored for your needs but in this article, I will show you the steps to design your winning meal plan like an expert. If you have any medical concerns or pregnant, please talk to your GP or dietitian and do not follow this plan as it can be dangerous to your health.

The first step is to calculate your daily calorie needs based on your activity level. You can use the Calorie Calculator for this.

There is Anna`s example below calculated using metric units but you can change your details in imperial if you click to “US units”.

Anna is a 29 years old female; 164 cm (5 ft 4 inches); 64 kg (141 pounds). I have worked with the Mifflin St Jeor formula but if you have a good estimate of your body fat percentage, use the Katch-McArdle for more accurate results.

You can see that Anna`s BMR is 1359 kcal, that`s how much energy she needs while she is at rest. The chart also shows Anna`s daily calorie needs, based on her activity level. As the NHS suggests doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week AND full body strengthening activities at least twice a week, Anna listens, and she is super keen to smash her 2021 goals.

At the moment, she works from home and just started to work out with her new personal trainer twice a week (2x 60 minutes strength, cardio, stretches). She is also committed to go for a fast-paced walk for an hour, twice a week and most weeks she will do yoga.

As Anna is ready to work out 4 or 5 times a week, she needs roughly 2000 kcal to maintain her weight.

To lose weight safely, Anna aims to lose 0.5 kg (1 pound) a week so she must eat 500 calories less every day.

A healthy and balanced diet is not only about calories in and out and if you want to lose fat and tone up you need to track the macronutrients, too.

Using the Macro Calculator, you can calculate how many grams of macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats) you need. You can see that the range is quite wide for example, it shows 91 grams protein per day but the range is 64 – 127 grams. It is best to stick to the bold numbers to avoid overeating or undereating.

Now, we know how many calories and how many grams of protein, carbs and fat Anna needs a day to lose 1 pound a week.

Using an app called Myfitnesspal, you can track your food intake and create your diet plan tailored to your needs. In the free version of the app, you can track your calories and set the percentage of macros. Anna`s needs are 50% carbs - 188 g, 25% protein - 94 g and 25% fat - 42 g.

These articles will help you to understand macronutrients more and choose the right macros for you.

I believe in a varied, balanced diet and I would not suggest following a plan for weeks, eating the same food every single day. Although, in this article I focused on calories and macronutrients, the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and other components of food) are important too. It is the best to eat different sources of food, so you won`t eat too much from one type of food or won`t suffer from any deficiencies that can lead to illnesses.

Instead of creating a 1500 kcal meal for you, I`ve designed few meal options for roughly 400 calories. If you are like Anna, you will consume 3 meals and two healthy snacks under 150 calories, if your calorie needs are different, you can still eat these meals, just change the amounts in your Myfitnesspal app.

Just a little bit about protein, carbs and fats. Proteins are building blocks of the body and you need them to develop and repair cells. They can also be fuel to the body. Carbs and fats serve as fuel to the body. Protein can serve as fuel too but fats and carbs can not be building blocks. You need to eat protein with every meal (little and often) and some fats or carbs with it. Some people do well on a high carb or high fat diet, it depends on many factors which diet will work for you.

As Anna needs 90 gr protein per day, all her meals have around 20- 30 g protein and all the meals have varied amount of fats and carbs.

Meals for 400 kcal

Meal 1

- 2 large eggs

- 25 g Eatlean cheese

- 2 slice of whole grain bread (Hovis or similar)

- 32 g protein; 39 g carbs; 12 g fat; 401 calories

Meal 2

- 1 pot of SKYR Light & Free Yoghurt

- 20 g Linwoods Organic Flaxseed

- 40 g oat

- 200 milk unsweetened Alpro Almond milk (or unsweetened coconut/soya)

- 20 g protein; 34 g carbs; 14 g fat; 380 calories

Meal 3

- Warburton Protein Bagel 1

- 20 gr peanut butter

- 1 portion of Optimum Nutrition Casein (33 g)

- 38 g protein; 30 g carbs; 14 g fat; 399 calories

Meal 4

- Ryvita Protein (4 slices)

- Eatlean Chicken Spreaders (1/2 pot)

- 31 g protein; 28 g carbs; 8 g fat; 323 calories

Meal 5

- 112 gr chicken breast

- 125 g Cooked Brown Rice (Sun Rice) = 50 g uncooked rice

- 39 g protein; 36 g carbs; 9 g fat; 396 calories

Meal 6

- Smoked salmon (Ocado)

- 1/2 pack Quinoa ready to Eat (Alice and Oscar`s)

- 25 g protein; 31 g carbs; 25 g fat; 461 calories

Meal Plan 7

- Medium Jacket Potato (200 g)

- ½ tin baked beans (Heinz Low Sugar)

- 30 g Eatlean cheese

- 26 g Protein; 69 g carbs; 2 g fat; 402 calories

Meal 8

- 3 oz Wholegrain Pasta

- 1 tin John West Tuna in Spring water (185 g)

- 38 g protein; 52 g carbs; 3 g fat; 330 calories; 402 calories

Meal Plan 9

- Medium Sweet potato (250 g)

- 112 g Lean Beef

- 27 g protein; 54 g carbs; 8 g fat; 405 calories

Healthy Snacks Under 150 calories (always check calories)

- 1 piece of fruit

- 25 g Nuts

- Sugar yoghurt (no added sugar)

- Low Calorie Ice cream (1/3 portion)

- 30 g Eatlean cheese

- 30 g dark chocolate

- Low Calorie Soups

- Graze snacks

You can find more snacks in here:

Hope you enjoyed learning about your food. If you liked the article and you think your friend would benefit from it, please share.

If you follow the meal plan, let me know how do you get on and feel free to email me if you would like to learn more.


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