The Complete Guide To Easy & Effective Meal Planning
Meal Planning; The Basics
Having a plan when it comes to your fitness goal is crucial. You need to know what you’re doing. Your diet probably contributes towards 70% of the progress you make when either trying to lose or gain weight. So we want to try and get that hammered down. The easiest way to do this is to PLAN. Plan the week ahead, know what you’re eating. That means you can only buy that food, limiting temptations of other food in the house. It will also save masses of time that would be spent umming and ahhing over what to make for dinner. Once something is written down, you’d be surprised how hard it is to stray away from it.
Having a rough idea of what you’re doing, means that things can be tweaked based on your week’s happenings. We also want you to move away from the idea that meal planning is boring! With Flamin’ Fitness’ recipes, you can ensure every day is a mouthwatering one.
So read on for some Meal Planning basics that will help you stay on track and get Flamin’ fit.
First off, every meal that we’re planning to create should follow this structure roughly. This is to ensure that we’re receiving all the right nutrients in the right balances.
Protein should be the base of every meal you’re consuming. Protein is needed for the repair and building of muscle fibres. When undergoing a training routine, you’ll need extra protein to build up the tissue that is broken down during exercise. There are a whole host of proteins sources available. Aim for protein sources to be fairly lean.
The next step is to add in veggies or fruit. When trying to lose weight, vegetable are your best green pal! These nutrient-dense, low-calorie wonders can fill you up for ages whilst not taking up too much of your daily calorie allowance. They are also jam-packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Not only that, but green, leafy vegetables are also an excellent source of protein. There are many ways that vegetables can be prepared to make them slightly more palatable. One of our favourites at Flamin’ Fitness is roasted parsnip chips and using courgette as a pasta alternative.
After you’ve chosen your lean protein source and serving of vegetables, add in your carbs and fat. Carbohydrate sources should be in the form of low gI foods with slow releasing properties. Try rice, whole grain pasta, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Processed food such as bagels will spike your blood sugar levels and make them drop suddenly as well. Aim for slow-releasing foods to keep you fuller for longer. Try to make your fat choices ‘healthy fats’ such as avocado, nuts and seeds. It is also great if you can get protein sources that contain fatty acids such as oily fish. Don’t go overboard on the carb and fat servings. Fatty foods are very calorie-dense, meaning even a small portion carries a lot of calories.
Examples of Lunches & Dinners:
- Chicken & Veg Pasta - The chicken breast is our main base of protein. The green veg used also ticks 3/5 a day. Our carbohydrate source comes from the pasta. The fat serving is from the cheese on top. A very balanced meal that is easy to cook (and eat).
- Tuna Jacket Potato - Tuna is being used as our source of lean protein. The carb source is the potatoes. To top on veggies, serve with a salad. The fat serving could be mayo mixed in with the tuna.
- Tofu Stir Fry - The tofu is our main source of protein here. The vegetables that you chuck in will add a load of nutrients. The carb source will come from the noodles and the fat source will be from the oil used to cook in.
- Spicy Prawn Quinoa - The prawns are the base of protein. The veg is used to make a tomato sauce. The quinoa is our slow-releasing grain. And the fat could come from cheese or oil used to cook.
The most important meal of the day, well for some. It is a good idea to kick off your day with a balanced, nutrient-packed meal.
With breakfasts, as you’re most likely in a fasted state due to sleeping, carbs can be the main base of this meal. To allow for blood sugar levels to return to normal and give you that added boost of energy. It is still crucial to get some amount of protein.
The protein sources in typical breakfast meals tend to vary from lunch and dinners. Eggs are a bog-standard breakfast item, as well as yoghurt, bacon, protein powder, tofu (egg replacement) or vegan protein powder.
When planning a feisty breakfast, a bigger portion of carbs can be had to give you energy for the day ahead. Oats are a perfect source of carbohydrates in the morning, as their slow releasing properties means you’ll be kept full right until lunch. There are plenty of ways to make porridge exciting, check out our recipes!
With breakfasts, we encourage heaving something that you REALLY enjoy. It’s the first thing you’re eating in the day, and if your tastebuds are being fulfilled, they’re less likely to spiral off course. We’re also big on starting your day right. The morning is a crucial time period to lay the foundations for a fantastic day ahead. Get it right. Have that banging breakfast.
A good tip for breakfast is maybe trying to plan something that can be made the night before. We know that mornings for most, are chaotic. Especially in families, everyone needs to be somewhere different at different times, you’re all trying to squeeze into one bathroom, the last thing needed is a six-course meal being cooked in the kitchen. A good example is overnight oats.
- Overnight Oats - The oats are acting as our slow-releasing carbohydrates. Protein could be added by mixing protein powder into the oats. The fat is coming from the toppings such as peanut butter. Add fruit for the extra nutrients.
- Scrambled Egg On Toast - The wholemeal bread is being used as the carb source here. The eggs are a good source of protein, containing lots of amino acids. They are also a brilliant source of unsaturated fats. Add spinach for some veggies.
- Yoghurt & Granola- The granola is acting as our carb source. The low-fat yoghurt, our protein source and any toppings can be our fat serving.
‘Take Away’ Meals
No, we’re not talking about Chinese, Indian in or kebab. We’re talking about meals that you’re eating away from home. To be as healthy and cost-effective as possible, it is probably best to cook at home and bring something tasty with you.
If you are making meals to take to work or on days out, cook in bulk. A Sunday evening’s meal prep is one of the finer things in life. Cooking 6 portions of chilli is guaranteed to get that belly rumbling. You also feel like a genuine adult. When cooking in bulk, on busy workdays, all that needs to happen is for a portion to be grabbed and heated up and BOSH. A delicious, home-cooked meal at work! There are plenty of dishes that can be cooked in bulk and chilled or frozen for weeks ahead.
If cooking isn’t your strong suit, try taking foods that can be easily prepared when you’re not at home. Microwave is a saviour! If you’re also not too fussed about having a traditional ‘meal’ bring in a long an array of snacks bits is perfectly fine. Just make sure that the meals are following the basic breakdown.
Examples of meals you can take away are:
- Chilli Con Carne - The mince acts as the protein source. The sauce is made out of vegetables. The carbs source can be rice and the kidney beans. The fat comes from the oil and cheese.
- Chicken Salad with Pitta Sticks - Chicken breast acting as the main protein source. The veggies obviously making up the salad. The fat can come from dressings and the carbs from the pitta bread sticks.
There are plenty of snacks that you can plan in your day to tide over those periods of hunger between meals.
For weight loss, it may be best to focus on low-calorie snacks to maintain that calorie deficit.
Fruit & Veg are fantastic snacks to munch on throughout the day. Low-fat yoghurts and cheese are also fantastic as they contain protein to keep you fuller for longer. There are a huge variety of low-calorie snacks on the market, check out our favourites on our Instagram.
For those aiming to gain muscle or improve performance, snacks may need to be used to up daily calorie consumption or enhance workouts. Examples of good fuelling snacks are peanut butter rice cakes, protein bars, protein shakes and cereal.
Snacking around workouts may also be beneficial. If a meal cannot be consumed within 30 mins to 1 hour after a workout, it may be useful to grab a quick protein-filled snack. A bog-standard post-workout snack is obviously the infamous protein shake. Investing in a good protein powder is very efficient in getting your protein up in a tasty and fast manner. For pre-workout snacks, focus on carb sources that will boost your energy, like a handful of cereal.
We hope that a common theme is becoming clear in all our blogs. That planning is the easiest way to stay on track with your fitness goals. Use this guide to plan your weekly meals, you’d be surprised when you’ve written something down how hard it is to NOT do that.
Focus on balancing the meals correctly but most of all, finding them enjoyable.
Your mouth should be loving every mouthful of what you eat, there is no need to eat something that repulses you. Check out our recipes for dozens of delish dishes.
Make life easier for yourself, meal plan.