Top to Bottom Simple Meal Plan – Guest post by Mathews McGarry
In an ideal world, everyone would have a nutritionist who we could contact 24/7 to ask everything we may want to know. Unfortunately, conditions are seldom ideal and we usually end up having to fend for ourselves. However, if you do some research, you might be able to make your own meal plan, which would on its own be enough to put you ahead of the curb in your athletic endeavors. First of all, you need to learn a thing or two about your body and its cravings. Then you need to learn how to turn this knowledge into your greatest ally.
Finding a balance
Making a good meal plan is all about finding the perfect balance. For instance, your lifestyle (how active you are) and weight will determine the number of calories that you are allowed to eat. Within this number of calories, you need to fit in all nutrients that your body needs. Most experts agree that the optimal proportion is 30% protein 40% carbohydrates and 30% fats. This is also called a macro plan, since it roughly determines the basic rules of your nutrition, but doesn’t really tell you much about its specifics. Even though some of you may be confused by the high amount of fats and carbohydrates, they serve as a fuel which your body operates on, and they are therefore essential to your efforts.
The first thing you need to do is to set your calorie target. You might want to lose weight or to bulk up and both of these things have different requirements. After you have this, you need to know how to transfer calories to grams. So, 1 gram of fat is 9 calories, while 1 gram of protein or carbohydrates is 4 calories. What most people forget is that 1 gram of alcohol is 7 calories, which is why excessive drinking further complicates things. Finally, you need to remember that vitamins, minerals and fibers also have their caloric values and count this in as well. When it comes to fibers, you will need at least 40 grams a day and their best sources are vegetables, beans and grains.
Let’s see how this works in real life. Take for instance a 200lb (approximately 91kg) male in his late 20s with 3-5 hours of light workout a week. An optimal daily calorie count for such a person would be 2720 calories a day in order to maintain his body-weight ratio. This means that an optimal protein count for such a person would be 204g, the optimal intake of carbohydrates would be 272g, while when it comes to fat it would be no more than 91g every day. All that is left for you now is to do some research on how much of these nutrients (in grams or calories) some foods possess and plan your meals accordingly.
Discarding myths and urban legends
Before you start putting your new plan to good use, you must be aware of some of the greatest myths and misconceptions about diets. The first one is that fats and carbs are bad for you and should therefore be excluded. This is not only inaccurate but extremely harmful for your organism as a whole. Another myth claims that you shouldn’t dine after 7PM or 8PM, which is simply absurd. What matters is the calorie count and your daily activity and not a schedule for your meals.
Furthermore, there are some myths about “the perfect diet”. As we have said before, there are factors like your daily activity and your bodyweight that determine how much you should eat, so there is no such thing as the perfect diet, only an optimal meal plan. It would be ridiculous to claim that you could improve your athletic performance by adopting a diet created for sedentary middle aged women. The final, but probably the greatest myth of all is that supplements are bad for you. First of all, there are different kinds of nutrition supplements with different uses and properties. The best way to learn something about them would be to see their reviews and ratings on sites such as Highya and make your own judgment.
As you can see, although at times this may seem scary, planning your meal is not rocket science. This being said, we have outlined some of the basic principles which you need to adjust to both your lifestyle and your long term needs and plans. Still, seeing how without an optimal meal plan you won’t be able to get the look of your dreams even with the most strenuous training regimens, this step is an absolute must.
Author: Mathews McGarry
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.