Meal planning should be an important part of your weight loss plan. Getting the right amount of calories your body needs in order to lose weight as well as getting the right nutrients is very important to this process.
Today we will go over why this is so important as well as break down the steps on how to make a meal plan.
Determine Your Caloric Needs
First off you are going to need to determine how many calories you should be eating per day in order to reach your goals. As a simple rule, using more calories during the day than you take in will result in weight loss. So the first thing you are going to need to do is find out how many calories you should be consuming per day.
There are a number of ways to calculate how many calories you should be consuming per day but one of the easiest and most user friendly ways is by using My Fitness Pal. All you have to do is enter in some basic information such as your current body weight and your goal body weight and it will provide you with the recommended amount of calories you should be consuming per day.
The next step to creating your meal plan is to calculate the amount of each macronutrient your diet should consist of. You can also do this using My Fitness Pal but we prefer the 40:30:30 ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fats. This means that 40% of your calories will come from carbohydrates, 30% from fats and 30% from proteins.
Before we give an example of what your diet should look like in relation to carbohydrates, protein and fats, it is important to note the calories that are contained in one gram of each of these macronutrients. Here is the breakdown.
1 gram Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
1 gram Protein = 4 Calories
1 gram Fat = 9 Calories
Now for an example. If your daily amount of calories comes out to be 1,800 per day, you should be getting 720 of those calories from carbohydrates, 540 from protein and 540 from fats.
Next you would divide these amounts by their respective calorie content per gram. Here is what it should look like.
Carbohydrates: 720 calories/4 = 180 grams of carbohydrates
Protein: 540 calories/4 = 135 grams of protein
Fats: 540 calories/9 = 60 grams of fat
So if your daily calorie allotment is 1,800 per day you should be consuming 180 grams of carbohydrates, 135 grams of protein and 60 grams of fat. Keep in mind that these foods should be from healthy sources.
Spread It Throughout the Day
Now that you know how many calories you should be eating per day and the amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins you should be consuming, all you need to do is spread them throughout the day. In order to keep your weight loss on track we recommend eating five small meals a day and spreading your calories out through each of these meals.
Going back to our example, if your caloric needs came in at 1,800 calories per day, you could simply divide 1,800 by 5 and end up with 360 calories per meal. If you are exercising as part of your weight loss program one of these meals should be about one hour before or after your workout. This will ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs to perform and recover.
Following these tips on how to make a meal plan is one of the first steps toward reaching your weight loss and fitness goals. If you have never followed a meal plan now is the time to start.
By Wes Young