Meal planning can be a little daunting for those just starting their own fitness lifestyle. There is an incredible amount of information available online and different professionals will give you mixed opinions on ratios, macros, supplements and nutritional choices. This is why it is important to understand what works best for one individual may not be as appropriate for another.

The further along in your fitness journey you get, the more in tune you will become with your body and specific needs. But until then, everyone needs a good starting point so I am going to list what has worked for myself in the past. There are general guidelines that work for most everyone, but you have to be willing to clean up your diet and start moving if you want to see positive change!

Each phase of my workout plan focuses on different aspects of training and my diet reflects the needed calories for each phase. I try to follow a general rule of 40g Protein/40g Carb/20g Fat each day when it comes to my meal planning, but the main thing is this first month is making sure I am taking in enough proper calories for muscle growth. You can download the amazing MyFitnessPal app to track your daily consumption and it will break down the macros for you. I love using that app because I can save repeated recipes in there, and it keeps me on check with my diet and ratios for the day. MyFitnessPal is completely customizable when you enter in your weight, height, age, current daily fitness level and long term weight management goals.

Breakfast is by far my FAVORITE and most delicious meal of the day. Oatmeal and farm fresh eggs are my main go to menu choices. From there I try to come up with new decides or creative ways to use those ingredients.

I also try to start every day with a green smoothie (I use extra filtered water because I enjoy it more like a refreshing juice). It is packed with spinach, kale and other important greens to jumpstart my day with much needed nutrition. You do not need to be scared of putting greens in your smoothie either, fresh squeezed lemon cuts the “green” taste and a little frozen mango or pineapple makes it a yummy tropical treat! I will try to create another post soon with various recipes I have tried and love.

Other than pre- and post- workout snacks, my meals are almost always the same basic format: 4-6 oz lean meat (or protein substitute), 3/4 cup clean carbs, plate of veggies or salad. You will learn to get creative with your ingredients once the meals start to get boring. I like to batch cook my meals and reheat leftovers during the day and for lunch, but for evenings/dinner I enjoy cooking fresh for my family.

I usually cut all my carbs out of the diet by mid day because I workout in the morning, but if you happen to workout in the evening you will want to make sure you take in some carbs post workout to refuel your muscles. Remember these are clean carbs so I am talking sweet potato, oats, wild rice or occasional whole grain products. Generally speaking you will want to avoid bread and heavy starches like white rice and potatoes if at all possible.

Try to aim for 5-6 small meals adapt to ensure you never get hungry and your metabolism is in full force. Here is a SAMPLE MEAL PLAN.

Meal 1/Breakfast: 7am (at least one hour before workout)

Protein pancake (contains protein powder, oat flour, egg white)
ALT: Oatmeal with blackberries
ALT: Egg White Omelet with spinach and red peppers

Pre-Workout Snack: 8 am

1/2 Grapefruit
ALT: Green Smoothie
Full bottle water with pre-workout supplement
WORKOUT 8:30 am

Meal 2/Post Workout: 10 am

Protein Shake or bar (within first 30 minutes after workout)
1/2 Banana or Apple

Meal 3/Lunch: 11 am

4-6 oz Lean Meat (your choice)
Plate of Veggies (as much as you would like)
1/2 cup – 1 cup of baked sweet potato fries

Meal 4/Snack: 2 pm

Rice cake with almond butter
3 Hard Boiled Egg Whites

Meal 5/Dinner: 5 pm

4-6 Oz Chicken Breast (or other lean meat)
1 cup broccoli/stir fry

Meal 6/Evening Snack: 7pm or earlier

Protein Shake or smoothie made with water or half almond milk, half avocado
I usually cut all my carbs out of the diet by mid day because I workout in the morning, but if you happen to workout in the evening you will want to make sure you take in some carbs post workout as part of your personal meal planning to refuel your muscles.
Remember, abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym! Now go get ’em tiger.

By: Brittnay Therese

Fitness, Nutrition, and Health expert