It is SO common for me to be asked, “can you just tell me what to eat all day?” And I will be completely honest with you, that that was ME for a long time, AND I still find myself falling into that same mentality. I am going to go over the pros and cons of following a “meal plan, diet, meal suggestion sheet, whatever” you want to call it and you can read my thoughts and experiences with it.
When first starting your fitness/health journey, following some sort of “guide” when it comes to nutrition is key. There is so much information out there..eat this, not that, keto, high carb, no carb, intermittent fasting, no fat, low fat, and the list goes on and on! If you do not have a guide to follow, it’s easy to get confused which can result in frustration and then probably quitting which I do not want to have happen to you or any of Evolve’s clients.
A meal plan, or whatever you want to call it, teaches you how to eat regularly throughout the day. It features balanced meals that include your macronutrients (proteins/fats/carbohydrates) and it will keep you organized throughout the transition to your new healthier lifestyle. It also helps when it comes to tracking your progress. If you are working out extremely hard but still not seeing results, we can look back to your nutrition. Changes or adjustments can be made to your meal plan to help with results.
A meal plan teaches someone new that ideally you want to have three major meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner) and 2-3 snacks throughout the day. It paints an easy picture for a “newbie” and it isn’t too overwhelming and allows clients to properly fuel his/her body for workouts and for each day.
As time goes on and you begin to feel more comfortable with this way of eating, it is nice to get away from a written plan. As someone that lived by a meal plan, it is nice for your body and your mind to get away from the rigidness for a while. I found myself bringing food with me everywhere, which can get to be annoying and stressful. If you normally have a piece of chicken, some rice and veggies for lunch, why can’t you get that when you are out to lunch with friends or family? You can! This is why the meal plan can become a bit much for some of us who are SUPER organized, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can still live your life and not live by your meal plan.
If you have a specific goal like a wedding, vacation, challenge etc. you might want to follow a meal plan more closely because like I mentioned above, it will be easier to make adjustments to your macros to see results faster. But when you are just living a healthy lifestyle and you don’t have a specific deadline in mind, just eat well balanced nutritious meals daily. I have found that it does make life a bit easier throughout the week to follow a nutrition plan or menu, but relax a bit on the weekend. You can still have results and not live by a meal plan!
So, is a meal plan for you? Possibly! It honestly depends on your goals, what your current nutrition looks like, and where your mind is. I truly think that a meal plan can definitely help many people especially when first starting the nutrition journey, someone who has a specific goal in mind, or someone that just wants to make sure that they are getting the proper nutrition to live a healthy lifestyle. The meal plan idea can take a turn for the worse when you become dependent on it. You should learn over the course of a meal plan how to properly fuel your body and how to make healthy choices when eating “off” the plan.