5 TOP TIPS FOR MEAL PLANNING
- Work out your Macros – think of these as the GPS to your diet. Without them, you’re driving blind. Results will be hit and miss, and they definitely won’t be optimal. At a minimum you need to work out how many grams of protein you need per day. Rule of thumb is 2.2g per kg lean bodyweight. If you want big size gains, go up to 2.7g/kg lean bodyweight. For an 80kg person, that’s 176 – 216g protein per day!
Create a structure around your meals – Choose an eating style that suits your lifestyle and your preferences. If you're a person who likes to constantly snack and graze, then there's no reason why you can't do that. You would just need to work out your total days food and then limit your self to that as your graze and this will give you the ultimate flexibility.
However, it is better to have a bit more structure and plan 5-6 meals, and plan if one or more of those is larger than the others, or if all are fairly equal in calorie contribution to the daily intake. For the 80kg person having 6 meals per day, that’s an average of 29 – 36g protein at each meal
- Learn which foods can meet your macro goal – turning the numbers into a real meal. Take each macro and check which foods provide it and how much. This may require a bit of research. Many foods are obvious, like chicken, beef, fish, dairy products, eggs all provide protein, but they all provide different amounts. Same with Fat and Carbs. Protein powders are super simple. For example, one serve of International Protein’s Synergy contains nearly 33g Protein, which is the perfect amount for many people.
- Choose your foods – once you know what foods to eat to meet your macros, start to combine them into meals that make sense to you. You can virtually eat what you want once you know how much the right amount is to have. Knowing your preference for sweet or savoury, if you have time to cook or how far in advance you like to prepare food will help you decide what suits. You might want a quick easy shake for breakfast, adding yoghurt (protein/carbs/fats), fruit (carbs) and Synergy (protein) in the blender, or you might prefer a cooked breakfast like eggs benedict - egg (protein/fat), ham (protein/fat), toast (carbs). How you do it is completely up to you and easy once you know your foods!
- Write it down – put your meal plan down on ‘paper’. It’s easier to follow and shop for if you can see it written down. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time or know what you have coming up at your next meal so there is less reason to reach for random snacks or let cravings take over. If possible, plan a week at a time, but do make sure you have emergency protein on hand in case you don’t feel like cooking.
Available from STN Nutrition, Synergy from International Protein is a great all protein to use with meals during the day. It’s special blend of six types of protein give you a great variety of amino acids to get you through your day, plus it digests over a longer period of time than a whey protein, so you won’t feel hungry 5 minutes later!