If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Smash your clean eating goals by learning how to create the perfect meal plan using these tips from Ultimate Performance’s new book, Body Transformation Meal Plan Design.
Use the right tools Set daily nutrition targets and keep a detailed log of your meals with nutrition tracking applications like My Fitness Pal. To prevent portion distortion, keep your serving sizes in check with a food scale – digital for extra accuracy. After cooking, meat and ﬁsh tend to lose ﬂuids and weigh less, while starchy carbs like pasta absorb water, so it’s ideal to weigh your foods before tossing them onto the pan.
Schedule your meals regularly Work in four meals round the clock at threeto ﬁve-hour intervals. Have an early morning breakfast before work, lunch and dinner, and ﬁt in a mid-morning or mid-afternoon meal. Having a ﬁxed routine helps to stave off hunger and control your cravings, since you know when your next meal will be.
Time your pre-workout meals well Fuelling your bodies with the right food is as important as when exactly you should pop a snack. Avoid eating at least one hour before it starts to prevent a stomach upset. Training ﬁrst thing in the morning? Have a small 200kcal snack that is easy to digest, such as a piece of fruit.
Prioritise protein When planning your meals, make protein your main component, especially if your aim is to build muscle. Even if you can’t eat meat, ﬁsh, poultry, eggs or dairy, your alternative options are aplenty. Plant-based protein sources include soyabased products like tofu and legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
Don’t forget fats Fat is not the enemy – it helps to add texture and ﬂavour. However, be wary of trans fatty acids found in processed foods. Instead, incorporate good fats that help to lower your cholesterol levels and boost heart health, such as avocados, almonds, cashews, and omega-3-rich salmon and mackerel.
Be smart about carbs Optimise your carb intake by ﬁlling half your plate with non-starchy veggies like spinach, asparagus and peppers and add one or two servings of fruit every day. It is easy to overeat starchy vegetables and grains like potatoes and brown rice, so leave them only as ﬁllers to meet your carbohydrate target for the day.
Add drinks too Consuming enough ﬂuids isn’t just important for overall health; it can also help with fat loss. Good hydration habits to adopt include drinking one to two litres of water throughout the day – when you wake up, and with every meal. If quitting high-calorie sodas cold turkey is too tough for you, try switching to diet sodas ﬁrst, but be aware of its caffeine content.
Learn to adapt when dining out You don’t have to avoid all social occasions for fear of busting your diet. The secret is making wise decisions: choose restaurants with healthier options, skip dessert, replace fries with salad and ask for dressing and sauces to be served on the side. Besides making protein your base, remember to choose the leanest option to help control calorie count.
Body Transformation Meal Plan Design is available for purchase on Amazon, as well as from the Ultimate Performance personal training gym (8 Cross Street) at $30.
“A top tip to simplify the meal planning process is to create one or two regular meals for each meal time. For example, making it part of your routine to have eggs for breakfast and chicken salad for lunch.”
AUTHORS NICK MITCHELL AND JONATHAN TAYLOR