Macro meal planning is essential to reaching your fitness goals, whether they involve building muscle, dropping body fat or seeking balance. Macro’s are made up of three main building blocks of food: Protein, Carbs and Fats.
Step one is to ascertain your estimated daily energy requirements; this can be accomplished using either an online calorie calculator or by visual inspection of food products.
Protein is essential to building and repairing cells, tissues, muscles and blood; as well as helping keep you feeling satiated. A diet high in protein may help you lose weight more efficiently while meeting fitness goals more easily. When planning meals include protein-rich foods like meat, fish, beans nuts legumes eggs dairy or fortified soy products in your meal plans while balancing them out with fruits vegetables whole grains and healthy fats for maximum effect.
Plan to prepare two to three recipes each week that you can use for lunches, dinners and snacks throughout the week. Choose simple yet filling dishes that make plenty of food to bring leftovers for snacks throughout the week. When making your list of ingredients needed for each recipe, check your pantry and refrigerator first – this can both reduce grocery bills while saving time in the kitchen!
Create a meal plan that features at least one lean protein such as salmon, chicken breast, fish, eggs or turkey; at least one vegetable or fruit such as berries or sweet potatoes; two quick healthy sides like beans, quinoa salad greens or low fat cream soup bases and an serving of healthy fat such as avocado or olive oil for a complete meal plan.
Focus on planning ahead when it comes to meal preparation in order to have healthy options available at all times, especially during times of busyness. Cook proteins and starches in large batches that can be divided up on your prep day to serve multiple meals at the same time.
Packed your freezer with protein sources such as marinated poultry or beef, grilled chicken, sliced steak and frozen fish fillets that can quickly be thawed out and heated back up for dinners during the week, such as marinated poultry or beef marinades, grilled chicken skewers or frozen fillets, plus canned tuna salmon and chicken options for emergencies, your freezer can serve as an emergency backup plan when time or groceries run short.
Make time each week to plan meals, shop efficiently and prepare food efficiently – this way you’ll have a plan in place and can stay on track with your nutrition goals!
At its core, managing carb intake to maintain target blood glucose levels is the goal. Carbs can be found in foods like starches, fruits, milk and desserts – they should all be included when creating your meal plan to ensure consistent types, amounts and timings of carb-rich food consumption to prevent high and low blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian (RD) can assist with meal planning by teaching patients basic counting systems for carbs as well as typical serving sizes of different food items.
RDs often advise patients to make smart swaps that reduce the number of carbohydrate grams without completely eliminating them from their diet, for instance by cutting back to 30 grams for meals that would typically contain 90.
Implementing whole grains, limiting sweetened beverages and opting for low-calorie snacks are among the many strategies used to lower carbohydrate consumption. Registered Dietitians (RDs) can recommend portion distortion tools and the Healthy Plate method as ways to help patients plan balanced meals more easily.
Carbs raise blood sugar quickly, so pairing them with protein or fat sources such as nuts can help slow how quickly sugar is absorbed by the body. For example, having orange juice with some nuts could slow how fast sugar absorption occurs.
Consume carbohydrates throughout the day rather than saving them only for dinner, to prevent blood sugar spikes and drops from becoming frequent occurrences. Skipping meals or consuming different amounts of carb-containing foods at different times of the day will cause irregular blood sugar levels and more frequently fluctuating fluctuations than necessary.
To keep carb levels stable, the Healthy Plate method provides an effective meal planning approach. Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, one quarter with lean proteins like chicken or turkey breast and the final quarter with starches like rice, beans potatoes or pasta for a balanced diet. Add fruit and milk as necessary for an complete meal! If you want to experiment with new recipes this week or save time money and food waste by creating extra food to freeze later.
Meal macros differ from traditional caloric counting in that, instead of setting total-calorie goals, you concentrate on hitting certain grams targets for protein, carbohydrates and fats – an approach which may help people manage weight, build muscle mass or maintain it. To meet those targets you must choose foods rich in these three nutrients – proponents of macro counting argue it offers greater flexibility than counting calories which often puts restrictions on what types of foods can be eaten.
Macro calculations may seem complicated at first, and taking time to find your ideal ratios of carbs, protein and fat may take even longer. A meal planning tool like MFP makes macro counting simple: just drag-and-drop meals onto your plan page then use MFP’s calculators to compute total calories, net carbs, protein and fat values of each to compare with your own macros – plus adjust these numbers at any point during planning to see what changes may happen when switching up perspective on your plan!
While macro diets are most frequently utilized by bodybuilders, any individual can employ it to manage their weight, improve performance, or lower risk for chronic diseases. Simply set specific target ranges for each nutrient you ingest and track what you consume to determine any necessary adjustments.
Your macros should include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, beans and legumes, dairy products and fortified soy products – as well as snacks to help you stay on track throughout the day. It is advisable to plan snacks as part of this strategy to stay on track.
Assembling healthy snacks is key for making better eating choices when you’re hungry. Aim to stockpile high-protein, low-carb, nutritious snacks so you have fast, convenient meals or snacks on hand; for instance whole wheat biscuits like Weetabix combined with honey and raisins make an easy breakfast solution. Also keep some tupperware or an empty ziplock bag in your car so you have healthy snacks when out and about.
Make sure to set aside time each week to meal plan for your week ahead. A calendar or app that allows users to create meal plans and track food intake can be especially helpful; this gives you the opportunity to see all seven days at once and select meals best tailored for your schedule, preferences and macronutrient intake needs.
As part of your meal planning for the week, it may also be beneficial to identify how much protein, carbs, and fat your body requires. Break up meals into smaller portions for easier reaching of goals; and include snacks throughout the day as necessary. In addition, think about which foods contain each macronutrient so as to incorporate these sources of nourishment into your weekly menu plan.
Once you understand how to meal plan with macros, it’s essential that you remain flexible. Planning to consume exactly the same thing every day could leave you frustrated and eating less healthy choices just to meet your macro requirements. Instead, aim for being within a few grams of your target macros each day without becoming overly concerned if your daily consumption fluctuates slightly from planned.
Consider how best to organize your meals around your work and lifestyle schedule, dietary restrictions and food allergies. For instance, if you suffer from celiac disease and cannot consume gluten, plan meals that include rice, beans and legumes as well as whole grains and lean proteins for inclusion. Furthermore, plan extra meals during weekends while eating out a few times each week is also an option depending on work and lifestyle obligations.
No single approach exists when it comes to eating macros; however, with practice you can learn how to meal plan with macros and make healthy decisions tailored specifically to you. Start by downloading one of our many meal plan templates from one of our partners and use that plan as the foundation of a personalized weekly menu plan; once complete you can begin shopping and meal prepping.