Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me start off by saying I am not a certified nutritionist, personal trainer, or qualified in giving nutrition advice whatsoever. BUT, I wanted to give a little insight into how I built my meal plan in hopes that it’ll help out people who are like me (aka people with little knowledge on how to do it or where to even begin). Also, this could be a long post so stick with me!
One of the main reasons I’ve avoided making a meal plan is because it’s daunting and seems like a lot of work. I had no idea where to start and wasn’t motivated enough to learn. However, I’ve started going to the gym or have been active every day (it took me a while to find a fitness plan that I like and that I feel works for me, but right now I’ve settled on The Ultimate Full Body Guide) and figured that by not focusing on nutrition, I’m not getting the full benefits. So, here we are.
There are a few things I wanted to know before I started making my meal plan (keep in mind, this is different for everyone based on your weight, goals, etc.):
- How many calories should I be eating every day?
- What are these ‘macros’ I keep hearing everyone talking about?
- Why is protein important?
Protein is important because it helps build muscle and lose fat.
The first thing I did was figure out how many calories I should intake every day. There are a lot of places you can go online to do it, but I like Geoff’s Calorie Calculator (Geoff is the Personal Trainer behind The Ultimate Full Body Guide). Based on my goals, I learned I need to be taking in about 1284 – 1784 calories per day.
From here, I figured out what ‘macros’ are – which are macronutrients, which make up the caloric intake of food. I know how many calories I need to eat but that doesn’t mean I should head to McDonald’s and get a 20 pack of nuggets and a poutine to “get my calories in” – you need to think about the nutrients that make up the calories.
Macros are made up of protein, carbs, and fat.
1g of Protein = 4 calories
1g of Carbs = 4 calories
1g of Fat = 9 calories
Once I knew what made up the calories, I needed to figure out how much protein, carbs, and fat I should be taking in based off of those calories. There are lots of different ratios but I went with the 40/40/20 ratio for now (the most common and easiest). From there, you can play around with your ratios. If you’re always hungry, eat more protein. If you’re lacking energy, increase fats. You’ll have to find the balance that works for you, I’m just writing this to give you a starting point.
So, once I had my ratios of 40 (protein), 40 (carbs), and 20 (fat), I figured out what that equated to based on my total calories:
1284 calories * 0.40 = 514 calories of protein + carbs
1284 calories * 0.20 = 257 calories of fat
1784 calories * 0.40 = 714 calories of protein + carbs
1784 calories * 0.20 = 357 calories of fat
Now I had a range of calories I could intake from protein, carbs, and fat. The hard part was figuring out the meal plan.
I used the “My Fitness Pal” website to figure out the nutritional information for almost everything in my plan. You can find that on their website.
I put together a spreadsheet to plan out my meals and it calculates your macros for each meal. All you have to do is put together the meal and input the macros into the chart and it adds up the totals. You do have to play around with the food and numbers a bit (for example, I found a lot of my meals were exceeding my fat targets so I had to cut out in some areas. I also found I was struggling to get protein throughout the day, so had to up my protein powder scoops in my daily smoothies). I’ve put a template of my meal planner and you can download it here, here, here!
For now, that’s all I have! I can keep updating the blog with my process and if you have any questions or want help with what I did, leave a comment below.
I hope this helps!!