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Nutrition

  • Does eating late at night cause weight gain?

    Many people have emailed me with the belief that eating late at night is causing them to gain weight. However, this is nothing more than a myth. This old wives' tale propagates that our metabolism slows down at night because we are inactive and there...
  • Best Vitamins and Supplements to Take For Mental Focus

    Written by guest author Brenan Quirante Peak nootropics Noopept Nootropic Supplements Some people search for supplements and vitamins to help them improve their memory, cognitive ability and focus. It's not easy focusing on tasks that don't seem i...
  • The Difference Between Water and Sports Beverages

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Working up a sweat can feel great, especially if you have trained really hard. However, it is also very important to keep hydrated before, during and after your workout. Dehydration during your workout can easi...
  • Ten Reasons to Eat More Avocado

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Smoothies, salads and dips… you can have it all with avocados. This green fruit's name is derived from the Nahuatl Indian language which ironically means "testicle". Avocado is considered a healthy fat which no...
  • Health Benefits of Salmon

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Delicious and nutritious Along with being incredibly tasty, salmon offers many health benefits you might not be aware of. Though salmon contains quite a lot of fat, you can indulge without feeling guilty as t...
  • Healthy Eating on a Budget

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Some readers have emailed the website saying that eating healthy is expensive and this makes it difficult for them to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Even though nutritious food can be very expensive, it is defini...
  • Leptin and How it Facilitates Fat Loss

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff There are countless diets available on the market. A current popular diet is the so called "leptin diet." In this article, I'll explain what leptin is and how you can make leptin work to your advantage. What i...
  • How Healthy is Sushi?

    Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff Sushi is known to be one of the healthiest meals. Sushi contains some great nutrients like omega 3 from the fatty fish, vitamins from vegetables and minerals from seaweed. Does this mean you can binge on sushi ...
  • 10 Reasons Why You Are Not Losing Weight

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff 1. Olive oil/healthy oils Olive oil is a healthy fat and fits perfectly into a healthy diet. However, although it is a healthy fat, it is also high in calories and can slow down your weight loss if you consu...
  • The Truth About Diet Soda

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff Regular sodas are loaded with sugar Regular sodas are known to contain a LOT of sugar. How much you may ask? Did you know that a can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of sugar? This is equivalent to 3 tables...
  • Glycemic Index Explained

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff I'm sure you've heard a buzz going around about the glycemic index. A lot of people are adjusting their food intake according to low Glycemic Index (GI) values. But what exactly is the glycemic index? Defin...
  • Natural Sugar Alternatives

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff Luckily I am not a sweet tooth, but I know many of you are! The main ingredient to provide sweetness in foods and drinks is of course sugar. There are countless reasons why it would be better to cut out, or a...
  • Is Coconut Oil The New and Improved Olive Oil?

    Written by guest author Nynke Burggraaff For years and years, the media and health gurus have educated us about the countless benefits of olive oil. Olive oil has become a staple in many households and for good reason; it is both healthy and tasty. ...
  • Guilt-free Healthy Snacks

    Snacks help to control our cravings, maintain our blood sugar levels and keep us energized throughout the day. It is recommended that people do not go more than four hours without eating and should always have snacks in-between meals. Many people go...
  • Habits of Successful Dieters

    When it comes to successful fat loss, your hard work will not end once you reach your goal. The next step is to successfully maintain your results with a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you maintain your weight and avoid relapsing. Lo...
  • How to Read Nutrition Labels

    Deciphering the information found on nutrition labels can be extremely confusing. Here is your quick and easy guide to understanding the basics Serving sizes The serving size always appears at the top of nutrition labels. Serving sizes can be misle...
  • How to suppress your appetite

    One of the hardest things about sticking to a diet is keeping a raging appetite under control. There is nothing more frustrating than being hungry and not being able to eat as much as you’d like. Here are some natural techniques to suppress your appe...
  • Top foods to eat daily

    Many people starting out with a body transformation program might not know the difference between clean food and the junk you should avoid, which means they risk eating food they believe to be healthy when in reality it is causing more harm. Familiar...
  • Low Calorie Diets

    One of the most frustrating aspects of starting a weight loss program is how long it takes to see actual results. Many infomercials try to sell you products and supplements promising fast results, but these are nothing but weight loss scams, or are b...
  • Healthy Fats Explained

    Many people view “fats” as unhealthy and best avoided. They link them to high levels of cholesterol, clogged arteries and major health problems. However, in reality healthy fats are essential for overall health and nutrition, provided you eat the rig...
  • Alcohol & Fat Loss

    One of the hardest things for people to give up during a fat loss program is alcohol. Some people find it impossible to go out and not enjoy a few drinks. The good news is drinking occasionally and in moderation will not likely affect your results; h...
  • How to dine out

    A healthy lifestyle means being healthy no matter where you go. Many people overeat, cheat on their diets or are not aware that they are making poor food choices in restaurants. Many people dine out regularly or eat out often for business meetings an...
  • Eat smarter

    Fat loss expert Tom Venuto proposed a fun and easy method for others to improve their food choices in a free special report he wrote. He suggested categorizing your food choices into grades. If you want to be healthier and leaner, you need to work on...
  • Calculate Calories

    What is a calorie? Calories can be defined as measures of heat energy stored in food. The higher the number of calories in a specific type of food, the more energy will be released to perform biological functions or sustain physical activity. When w...
  • The essentials about protein

    Protein is your body's preferred muscle building fuel and can help you reach super-human levels of leanness.  What is protein and what role does it play in your body? Protein is a combination of essential and nonessential amino acids in the body.  ...
  • Water & Liquid Calories

    Water in our bodies One of most important compounds in our body is water, which constitutes around 60 – 70% of our total bodyweight. Water excretes waste from our cells, aids in digestion and brain functions, transports nutrients around the body and...
  • Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are our preferred source of energy and are used most efficiently by the human body. The brain utilizes carbohydrates to perform normal bodily functions, requiring a minimum of 100 grams of carbohydrate per day. Following a severely low ...
  • Repair a Damaged Metabolism

    If you’re someone who has a history of unsuccessful dieting, you may fear that you’ve damaged your metabolism permanently. One example of something that could cause this kind of damage is going on a low-calorie diet for a prolonged period of time, ex...
  • Your basic guide to supplements

    Nowadays we are constantly bombarded by supplements and products purporting to be from the fitness industry and promising quick fat loss and muscle building results. Although many of these products do have some nutritional value it can be hard to tel...
  • Create Your Own Meal Plan

    There’s nothing better than being in control of your diet, customizing it with the foods you like and tailoring it to fit your goals. It only takes one afternoon It might all seem exhausting and confusing at first, but all it really takes is one a...

How to create your own meal plan

There’s nothing better than being in control of your diet, customizing it with the foods you like and tailoring it to fit your goals.

It only takes one afternoon

It might all seem exhausting and confusing at first, but all it really takes is one afternoon to create multiple meal plans for an entire week. Then all you need to do is follow them accordingly, eating whatever tickles your fancy on each day. As you adjust your calories and tweak your diet, creating your meal plan will get easier and over time it will become extremely simple.

The advantage of creating your own meal plans is that you’re in control of your own diet and can eat the food you like. You’ll also grow to understand your body better and have full control over how and what you eat. Once you master the basics of creating your own diet, you can achieve the body of your dreams no matter where you are in the world, without relying on anyone telling you what to do. 

If you haven’t already estimated your total caloric intake, click here to determine how much you should be eating on a daily basis. If this is complicated for you or you need some extra help, leave a comment or send me an email.

Limit dining out and prepare your meals in advance

When you are on a fat loss or muscle building program, it is essential to limit dining out to no more than twice a week. Quite often restaurants serve large-size portions of food and slather butter and oil over your dishes. This will make it tricky to know if your program is working or not and it will be hard to manipulate your diet and make changes if needed. Commit wholeheartedly for a period of two to three months and then you can enjoy dining out as much as you want when you switch to maintaining your weight. Focus on following your diet to the letter during the week and celebrate by having a cheat meal in a restaurant on the weekend. 

Always cook in bulk once a week and freeze your dishes, then measure out portions for your meals accordingly. Lean more about planning ahead here.

Calculate your macronutrients

Now that you’ve estimated your total caloric intake, the next step -  whatever your goals - is to follow a starting baseline of 50% carbs, 20% fat and 30% protein based on your total calories as recommended by Tom Venuto in his program Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle. Whether your goal is muscle building or fat loss, always start off with these macros and then adjust according to your results. 

To help with your calculations, remember that there are four grams in every calorie of carbs, four grams in every calorie of protein and nine grams in every calorie of fat. To determine your total gram intake, simply divide your calories by the number of grams in each.

Here’s an example: you have estimated your total number of calories to be 1600 for fat loss.

To calculate your carb intake: 1600 x 0.50 (50% of carbs) = 800 calories of carbs. To calculate the grams, divide by four (four calories in each gram) => 800/4= 200 grams..

To calculate your fat intake: 1600 x 0.20 (20% fat) = 320 calories of fats. To calculate the grams, divide by nine (nine calories in each gram) => 320/9= 35.5 grams

To calculate your protein intake: 1600 x 0.30 (30% protein) = 480 calories of protein. To calculate the number of grams, divide by four (four calories in each gram) => 480/4 = 120 grams of protein.

How many meals a day?

Determine how many times a day you would like to eat on a regular basis. When you’re on a fat loss program, it helps to eat up to five times a day, to keep hunger levels under control. Some fitness models eat up to six meals a day, whereas other people prefer a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a snack in between. Given that you’ll be the one creating your own meal, determine which method of eating will best suit your schedule.

The next step is to divide your total calories into meals and customize your meals accordingly. You can have several small, evenly spaced out meals or larger meals with snacks. For example, if you choose to eat five times a day, divide your total calories by five to have evenly spaced out meals, or settle for three larger meals, punctuated by smaller snacks. If you’d rather have breakfast, lunch and dinner with a snack then create three large meals and one lower calorie snack.

Arrange for whatever would suit your schedule best and whatever you’re most likely to stick to. Click here to learn more about which foods you should and shouldn’t eat. 

Here’s an example:

You are eating 1600 calories a day.

For five evenly-spaced meals: divide 1600 by 5 = 320 calories at each meal.

For three larger meals and two snacks, try the following: Meal 1 (400 calories), Meal 2 (200 calories), Meal 3 (400 calories), Meal 4 (200 calories), Meal 5 (400 calories).

For four larger meals and one snack, try: Meal 1 (500 calories), Meal 2 (500 calories), Meal 3 (100 calories), Meal 4 (500 calories).

The calories do not have to be evenly spread out, but this is just to give you a basic idea on how you can plan your meals throughout the day

Create meal templates

The final step is to include protein, carbs and fats in your meals. Have a protein, starchy carb (starches) and fibrous (veggies) or simple carb (fruit) at each meal, but don’t have more than one serving of fruit per day. Here are some example meal templates. Have a peak at the nutrition page to decide which foods you would like to include, and how you would like to distribute your meals.

Meal 1: starchy carb, protein, fruit

Meal 2: protein, fat, fibrous carb and starchy carb

Meal 3: protein, fat, fibrous carb and starchy carb

Snacks: protein, simple or fibrous carbs

Here are some more detailed examples:

Breakfast might be: oats, egg white omelet and an apple OR wholegrain toast, nonfat cheese or yoghurt and a banana OR wholegrain cereal - such as Shredded Wheat – a protein smoothie and strawberries OR egg white omelet, potatoes and grapefruit (includes a starchy carb, protein and a portion of fruit)

Another meal might be: brown rice, chicken, salad and olive oil OR fish, vegetables, lentils and avocado OR shrimps, potatoes, asparagus and olives, etc (includes a starchy carb, fibrous carbs, protein and fats)

Snacks: examples include: small servings of protein (chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites), raw veggies, protein shake, a portion of fruit (you can choose to eat this alone rather than including it in other meals), small handful of nuts, etc.

Once you have mapped out a basic outline, adjust your serving sizes to meet your macronutrients. Your macros don’t have to be perfect or total to reach exactly 100% - it’s fine to be within your target range. 

Weigh and measure your food to meet your required serving sizes

Once you created a meal template and know your target caloric intake, customize and calculate your portions to meet your goals. This might seem a bit mathematical at first, but it will only be difficult the first time round. Using an Excel spreadsheet will be very helpful with your conversions. Keep in mind, you can create several different menus for each day to add variety to your diet. Don't hesitate to ask if you need any help with your calculations.  

Serving sizes and sauces

If you don’t already have a food scale, buy one from your local supermarket or home ware store. Buy a scale to measure weights and make sure to include measuring cups, to measure volume.

Oatmeal and dried cereal are measured dry, whereas rice and pasta are typically measured cooked. Meat should be measured uncooked, as liquids always leak during cooking, making the measurement lighter.

You don’t have to eat your meals plain. You can be as creative and daring as you like when it comes to making fun sauces, or mix and match dishes. Sauces and flavorings you can use freely include: pepper, chili, sweeteners such as Stevia, thyme, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, herbs, dill, paprika, lemon juice, salsa, mustard, olive oil (take calories into consideration), parsley, tarragon, capers, etc.

How to adjust your macronutrients

For fat loss

Aim to lose no more than 0.5 – 1 kg a week (no more than two pounds) for gradual and progressive fat loss. Slow and steady fat loss is the only key to permanent fat loss. If you lose weight too quickly you’ll most likely relapse and gain everything back, as what you’ve burnt is most likely water and muscle, rather than fat.

Measure your fat loss progress

Scales are extremely unreliable - don’t rely on them as your measuring tool for fat loss. Instead, try on the same pair of jeans every week and see how loose they’ve become, and take progress photos every week or two weeks. You can also keep track of your progress by measuring the widest part of the circumference of your chest, waist, back, hips, upper thighs, butt and calves. Over time, if your fat loss is progressive, you’ll start feeling stronger and leaner and have more energy - not to mention the fabulous new muscle definition you’ll discover on a weekly basis.

If you’re seeing fat loss results, keep following a baseline of 50% carbs, 20% fat and 30% protein.

If for any reason your fat loss come to a halt or you feel like you’re not losing any fat to begin with, reduce your carb intake to 45% and increase your protein to 35%. This would make your macros 45% carbs, 35% protein and 20% fat. Make SURE you are exercising, lifting weights and doing a significant amount of cardio each week. It is always better to lose fat by creating a deficit through exercise than by decreasing your calories. Eating more always boosts your metabolism.

If you feel like you’re still stuck in a rut, decrease your total calorie intake by 100 and take your carbs down to 40%, put your protein up to 40% and keep fat at 20%. This would result in you eating 100 calories less in total, with macronutrients of 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fat. Individuals who are carb intolerant might find this works best for them. Most people will find that they don’t need to alter their macronutrients further than this and that they can achieve significant fat loss results. If you feel like you’re STILL not losing weight, decrease your total number of calories by a further 100 the next week, but take care not to drop them too low. A final adjustment would be to drop your carbs down to 35%, increase protein up to 45% and keep fat at 20%. You could also experiment by increasing your fat intake to 25% and keeping protein at 40%. Fitness models training for a fitness competition can reduce total carbs down to 30% and some bodybuilders eat up to 50% of their total calories in protein. If you’re really committed and focused, you’ll eventually discover your ideal macronutrients and what works best for your body type.

For muscle gaining programs

Make sure that you should be bulking to begin with. If you already have a significant amount of fat to lose, it pays to follow a fat loss program before focusing on gaining size.

If you’re making significant gains in muscle size, keep following a baseline of 50% carbs, 20% fat and 30% protein.

If you feel like you haven’t gained any size, increase your by calories by 100 each week and maintain the same macros until you start noticing a significant increase. As you start to fill out, increase your protein and decrease your carbs to minimize fat gains. As you increase your protein by 5%, decrease your carbs by 5% and keep fat at a constant total of 20%. For example, if you increase protein to 35%, decrease carbs down to 45% and keep fat at 20%. Only make changes if you feel like you’re not getting any results. Keep going until you hit a total of 45% or 50% of protein. This is quite an abundant intake of protein and you’ll never need to exceed these figures.

If you feel like you’ve gained fat, reduce your total calories by 100 and increase your protein by 5% until you start seeing positive changes. Never exceed more than 45% or 50% of your total calories in protein. Reduce your carbs as you increase your protein and keep fat intake at a constant 20%. For example, if you increase protein by 5%, decrease carbs by 5%. You might end up with a figure of 35% protein, 45% carbs and 20% fat.

Here are some general rules:

If you’re carb intolerant or training to get super lean, always increase protein and fats and decrease your carbs according to results.

Never drop fat intake below 15% or increase it above 30%

Never drop protein intake below 25% or increase it above 50%

Never drop carbs below 25% or increase above 60%

Only tweak your diet if you’re not seeing any results. Remember that changes in your body are meant to be slow and gradual and as long as your body is transforming, don’t change anything. Only adjust according to your progress and make sure to give yourself at least two to three weeks without seeing any changes before deciding that you’re not progressing. Make sure that you’re supporting your diet with regular exercise in the gym. 

 

 

Comments  

0
Mudar M Lokhandwala
2014-10-08 17:01
Hello ms maya
i want microbiotic complete weekly diet plans for me. i am age 42 and do heavyweight excersice and i am interested in microbiotic food plans from Monday to sunday with snack lunch and dinner and avaialble item in kuwait supermarket.. kindly make a good food plans for me ..
await
0
maya.h
2014-09-14 08:06
Hi
0
Ethan
2014-06-13 17:05
Incredible points. Sound arguments. Keep up the great work.
+2
Sara
2014-01-09 09:37
Very helpful explanation! Very detailed and well explained!
+2
Maya Nassar
2013-08-07 12:27
Hi Guree, thanks for your feedback! Yes, I would recommend Whey protein isolate. It is extremely low in carbs and is mainly pure protein. It also comes in many different flavors!
+1
Guree
2013-08-06 12:26
I love your site. So useful!! Great job Maya!!!
Are there any specific protein powders you would suggest for women? Im looking for a low carb one. Can you please help? :)
+1
Maya Nassar
2013-08-01 12:26
That is a good question! Fruit is extremely low in calories due to a high water and fiber content and can make excellent snacks.  However, fruit contains fructose (fruit sugar) which is digested very quickly into the bloodstream and triggers a rise in our blood sugar levels.
The body reacts to high blood sugar levels with a large insulin spike (the hormone which eliminates glucose out of our bloodstream to be used for energy) and this can cause hunger and cravings. Although this won’t cause weight gain, feeling hungry can make it hard to stick to a diet. As you will be in a negative energy balance and will be burning more than you are consuming, you will want to minimize hunger and cravings at all costs! Protein on the other hand promotes thermogenesis (the rate at which your body burns fat) and helps suppress your appetite. Snacking on protein instead of fruits will help you feel fuller for longer and can help reinforce compliance to a fat loss program. This diet includes an adequate intake of all types of carbohydrates to help fuel your body with energy and achieve your goals without feeling hungry. Finally, a popular method for getting super lean is to eat more protein and restrict carbohydrate intake. As fruits is a source of carbohydrates (known as simple carbs), it is better to minimize your intake and eat more protein to fire up the fat burning process. This does not mean that you shouldn’t enjoy fruits as a snack if you are just looking to maintain your weight. However, I believe it is always best to enjoy fruits in moderation and eat more sources of lean proteins. I hope this is clear! Just let me know if you have any more questions. You can learn more about protein and carbs in the nutrition section :)
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Yoka Nassar
2013-07-30 12:25
I love your meal plans. it makes it so much easier to follow it through if planned ahead. But why only 1 fruit a day? I thought fruit was the best to eat while trying to loose weight. they would make the perfect snack two/three times a day.

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