How Do I Create Meal Plans and Stick to Them?
“How do I create meal plans and stick to them?” is a question many people ask as they attempt to get on track and improve their eating habits. While trendy diets plague the Internet, the truth is most people can’t stick to a restrictive diet for the long haul and end up reverting back to their old ways. This can be frustrating and derail them from a healthy eating pattern.
However, when it comes to creating meal plans, people often feel lost regarding where to start. Four or six meals per day? Carbs or no carbs? The questions go on and on! But not to fear, you can succeed at creating meal plans that you can stick to long term. Here’s how!
Know Your Needs
Before you can create a meal plan, you need to know your caloric and macronutrient needs, as this will determine what goes into your meals and snacks. Using the STYR Labs app, you can input your height, weight, age, gender, activity level and goal to calculate your caloric, carbohydrate, protein and fat needs.
Create an Eating Schedule
Look at your daily schedule and see where meals and snacks can fit into your day. This is where many get lost. They don’t schedule in meals and thus end up missing eating opportunities, which sets them up to overeat later.
Most people should be consuming four meals or more per day. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner are musts, but depending on how long you are awake and how many times per day you exercise, you might require more snacks. For example, if you eat breakfast at 6 a.m., you likely need an additional snack mid-morning. Or if you exercise after work and don’t eat dinner until later, you might require a pre- and post-workout snack in the afternoon.
Distribute Calories and Macronutrients
Nutrition is really a game of math. Once you know your calorie and macronutrient needs, you then need to divide them up over the course of the day into your meals and snacks. Ideally, you want to distribute them pretty evenly so that you never get really hungry. When you eat frequent, balanced meals, your blood sugar and energy levels stay more stable. Here are a few examples:
Next, you need to distribute your carbohydrates, proteins and fats. There are a lot of ways to do this, but initially divide them up evenly. Meals typically have more than snacks, so start there and then put the rest in snacks. Each should contain carbohydrates and protein because together, they help stabilize blood sugar. Then you can sprinkle in fats. This combination will help you feel more satisfied over the course of the day, leaving you less likely to graze on less-optimal choices.
Turn Your Numbers into Food
Now that you have your calorie and macronutrient numbers set, you can start plugging in foods. There are no magic foods; it’s all about the nutrient composition of the food. You can look at the Nutrition Facts Panel of a food label or use different calorie counter apps, like the STYR Labs app, to see what is in the food you eat.
Plugging foods into a meal or food tracker is helpful for this stage. It can help you see which foods have carbs, proteins and fats and what you might need to add or subtract to a meal or snack to make it fit your needs.
Stick to the Meal Plan
Sticking to a plan is essential to meet your goals but can also be one of the hardest things. Three things can really help! First, put your meals and snacks on your phone or computer calendar so they alert you to eat. If you are too busy at the moment, hit snooze and come back to it in a few minutes. This will help create a schedule of eating. Second, track your food to make sure you are hitting your numbers. The STYR app can help you stick to the plan without having to spend extra time calculating calories with its voice-activated food-logging system. Third, get an accountability partner. Having someone encourage you to reach your goals can help you be successful for the long haul!
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If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.