I don’t give out specific, tailored food plans to clients.
1: I’m not qualified to
2: YOU DON’T NEED ONE!
The problem with specific meal plans is that people can lose their minds if they go off-piste and feel like they have failed their plan. They feel there’s no flexibility there, and it’s an all or nothing scenario. This can result in a whole day being thrown away because of one mistake.
For example, let’s say your plan tells you to have an apple for your snack at 11am but instead you have some chocolate. If you are too adamant in your approach you will feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake. You then get annoyed at yourself and feel like the day is a waste, so you demolish a full tub of ice-cream that night. That's crazy. It’s like breaking one egg, then throwing the whole carton in the bin.
Here’s the issue; that apple may have had a pretty similar caloric total as the chocolate bar.
1 apple = 95kcal
20 M&Ms = 100kcal
There is a negligible difference in calories between the two, but if you have a rigid mind-set, you may feel you’ve ruined the day and go on a binge.
I understand the reasons why you may feel you want or need a food plan:
- They’re easy to follow and you don’t have to learn about macronutrients or any “science stuff”
- It’s nice just being told what to do (I like this also to be fair!)
- You see a lot of zealots on social media telling you that you need one to get results (they just want your money)
However, there’s no longevity with this approach. What do you do if you’re out for a nice meal? What do you do when you go on a holiday?
If your meal plan isn’t flexible, it can become a nightmare for your social life, as you may tend to avoid going out for meals with friends because you’re worried about going off the plan. If you do have a strict meal plan, it should at least provide some options at each meal and tell you the macros/calories.
It’s easy to lose weight, and most people are great at it.
The problem is keeping that weight off.
(Check out the Biggest Loser study)
Your meal plan should teach you about nutrition so you can implement intelligent and informed choices into your daily life. It must be a long term solution. Educating yourself about nutrition is vital if you want longevity with your results.
I do, however, feel that meal plans can be used as a learning tool to help give you an idea what the daily eating structure of a healthy, macro-friendly diet looks like. For this, I like to use the website EatThisMuch.com.
This can be a great tool to give you a few different examples of what your day should look like, and you can play around with it to come up with some different variations. This will help you make more informed choices so you can still stick to your targets.
Think of your meal plan like using the bumper lanes at the bowling alley; it’s fine at the start but you shouldn’t always rely on them! The long term goal should always be about educating yourself so that your nutrition can suit your lifestyle forever, not just for 12 weeks.
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If you want to take control of your nutrition long term, I recommend you read The Muscle & Strength Pyramid Books by Eric Helms