Written by Invictus Nutrition Coach Jenn Ryan
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to when we eat, how we eat, or what we eat – in fact – it’s all based off of personal preference, sustainability, manageability, goals, and YOUR body’s needs. You can take the food sources you enjoy and create your own personal daily meal plan. This can take some time at first when you’re learning how to fit your daily needs of macro- and micronutrients, but it’s just like anything else in that if you do it long enough, it becomes second nature.
How to Get Started
Start by deciding how many meals you would like to eat per day, and also how many you have time for. Having a coach tell you to eat 6 meals a day, every 3 hours may not work if you can only do 4 meals a day due to your schedule or personal eating preference. This works well even for those with irregular schedules. You may be able to put 3 days a week into one eating schedule, and then 4 days into another. Now you have a better idea as to how to space your meals. Perhaps you are someone that will do better waiting until later in the morning to eat your first meal – perfectly fine, if it fits your schedule.
Creating Your Plate
Now that you’ve decided how many meals you can fit into your day and what times work well for you, divide your total macronutrients for the day into meals. You can start by dividing them evenly across your meals, and then begin to tweak them according to nutrient timing and around workouts.
Getting started by dividing your macronutrients evenly amongst your meals will help you assess how to make any changes if you find you’re going over or under on a particular macronutrient. Remember, the foundation is built on total calories and the macronutrients that those calories consist of, so nutrient timing doesn’t do much for you if you’re not getting that part right first.
Here’s what your day might look like if you’re dividing up your macronutrients evenly amongst 5 meals:
Example: 225 grams Carbs + 160 grams Protein + 60 grams Fat = 45 C + 32 P + 12 F (per meal)
Here’s how you might breakdown your meals around your daily schedule and workout. You’ll notice a higher percentage of carbohydrate is placed around the workout time frame.
Example: (if you workout in the afternoon/evening)
Breakfast: 20% protein, 10% carbs, 30% fat
Lunch: 20% protein, 15% carbs, 25% fat
Snack: 20% protein, 25% carbs, 15% fat
Post-Workout: 20% protein, 30% carbs, 5% fat
Dinner: 20% protein, 20% carbs, 5% fat
Log Your Meals the Night Before
I know, I know…this is just adding more things to do for the day, however, logging in most of the meals/snacks you have planned going into your day may help you stay on track. For instance, if you know you’ll be having the same breakfast you typically do, go ahead and log that in the night before so it’s one less thing to do the next day. Know your pre- and post- workout meal routines? Maybe pos- workout you always have your favorite protein shake and rice cakes – GREAT! Get those logged in so that you know where you’re at for each day.
Getting Stuck Just ‘Winging it?’
If you have a day or two that you get stuck ‘winging it,’ I suggest just starting with the creating your plate starting with your protein source. Do you have lean protein sources or some that are higher in fat such as salmon, pork, chicken thighs (as opposed to chicken breast), fattier cuts of beef? This will give you more direction when it comes to knowing how many other fat sources you’ll need for the meal or the day. Then get your veggies – if you’re at a restaurant, check to see if they come with butter or oil (note – if it says sautéed, grilled, etc., you can bet there was some oil or butter used). Next, choose your starchy carbohydrate if you need it, such as rice, potato, oats, quinoa. Lastly, add in the fats, as these will vary depending on your other food sources. No need to just throw in the towel when there’s a great way to go about still choosing what to include as far as micronutrients.
Need more help with your nutritional goals? We’ve got a program – and two awesome coaches – for that! Invictus Nutrition will not only give you your macronutrient prescription but also your very own coach, a support network of others participating in the program and all the tips and tricks you need to be successful in reaching your goals!