Are you looking to lose body fat, or just eat healthier in general, but have no idea where to start?
Have you tried multiple diets in the past, but never saw the results you wanted? Or the diet was just too restrictive?
Maybe you are just looking for the perfect meal plan to follow for you?
If this is you, don’t worry. All of this is very common and with the abundance of information (most of it very poor) on losing body fat/eating healthier its no wonder people don’t have any idea where to start or are on the endless search for the next best “diet plan.”
One of the most commonly asked questions when someone is checking into my coaching services, is “do you write meal plans?”
First, let me state that in most states writing out meal plans for someone is actually against the law unless you are a registered dietician.
I also think its important to go over what exactly a meal plan is, because it could have different meanings depending on who you talk to. My definition of a meal plan is:
A written out plan that tells you exactly what to eat. All the way down to how many meals you eat per deal, and the exact portions to eat.
You can also argue that a meal plan is a specific diet protocol. Think keto, low-carb, carnivore, etc.
So back to my most commonly asked nutrition question “do you write meal plans?”
The answer is no. Because they don’t work.
A few reasons why they don’t work:
1. No Flexibility
Imagine you are following a meal plan and it’s going great. Maybe you are a bit tired of it, but overall it’s good. Friday rolls around and at work, there is a party, people are bringing in all kinds of tasty treats.
Naturally, you eat them, they are around you and you can only flex your discipline muscle so much. Ok, so you went off a bit, no big deal.
Later that night you go out to dinner with friends, what you have on your meal plan is not on the menu so you think to yourself “I already went off the plan today so I might as well just get whatever.” So one “off meal” turns into pretty a much a free for all day.
Days like this will surely happen, you have multiple parties or you have to eat out multiple times a day. A meal plan normally will not take these curveballs or life events into consideration. Leading to the inevitable “F it” days.
2. Doesn’t take your strengths/weaknesses into account
Another big downside to meal plans, is most of them don’t take someone’s strengths and weaknesses into account. What if a meal plan tells you to practice fasting early in the day, but breakfast is your favorite meal and it keeps you feeling fuller throughout the day and by keeping you fuller throughout the day you dont snack as much during work?
Now that you are fasting in the morning, snacking becomes more of a thing later in the day at work because you are ready to eat anything in sight.
What if you already make good carb choices like fruits, vegetables, and mostly whole grains like oats, rice, potatoes and now you are told to cut these out completely?
While it may not feel like it, you already have some strengths to build off of when it comes to nutrition.
3. Doesn’t take your eating preferences/lifestyle into account
Another major downside with meal plans is that they do NOT take your eating preferences and lifestyles into account.
What if you have parties with friends and family multiple times per month? What if you go on weekly dinner dates with your significant other? What if you enjoy certain foods like pizza, pasta, desserts, etc.? What if you hate fasting? What if you work all day and cant have full meals while at work?
Most meal plans don’t factor these things in. It reinforces the all or nothing approach to dieting that fails so many.
What sucks the most is that you can enjoy literally whatever you want, when you want, as long as you take EVERYTHING into account. Maybe the day where you have a party you move more earlier in the day, or you just eat more lean protein and veggies and skip the cookies at work OR maybe you eat a little less earlier in the week. The options are endless.
People ask me all the time “you eat that? I thought you can only eat (insert whatever food you think is “healthy”) to be lean?”
Instead a much better approach and one I use with all my clients is nutrition coaching.
Nutrition coaching takes your strengths/weaknesses into account. You already do a great job eating veggies? Well, then we are going to keep that up, but put our focus elsewhere.
Maybe you have a few weddings and parties coming up, so you not only want to look good for these events, but you also want to enjoy some food and drinks and not stress about every little thing there. With nutrition coaching, you are given the tools to be able to enjoy those events, but still stay on track with your goals
You absolutely love carbs and every time you have tried low carb you felt miserable and sick, well then you better believe with nutrition coaching you are going to be able to keep your carbs in so you are feeling your best while reaching your goals.
Here are two examples of clients who have seen great results from nutrition coaching.
When we started, Ryan had some strengths but he also had glaring weaknesses when it came to his nutrition. Rather than just sending him a meal plan, we started with simple goals (more water, make more meals from home) based on his responses to his nutrition form.
In his 2.5 years of coaching, we have counted calories for a grand total of 4 weeks (this was to get him ready for the beach). But we have also done phases where he focused on gaining weight and maintaining weight.
This client had run multiple diets in the past before coming to me. One of them actually included an extremely restrictive “meal plan” as she was prepping for a bodybuilding competition. This meal plan was your classic low calorie, no flexibility, and an extremely restrictive plan that had her lose a ton of weight in a short period of time.
She was mentally and physically drained during this time, she got hurt and couldn’t finish the prep. The worst part is that the effects of this diet effected her for months after. She gained that weight back and more, and her motivation for training was very low.
In our time together we never counted calories or put her on any plan. Just worked on eating things guilt-free but focused on increasing protein intake and more whole foods. Paired this with consistent weight training and here are her results:
As she puts it:
“Before we started working out together I had zero balance in my life and weighed around 190. I was either all in or completely off the rails with my nutrition/ workouts. Now I am sitting at 156lbs, but it’s not just my weight I feel SO much better. After training with you I have found a healthy balance. I can enjoy myself and I am living a healthy lifestyle in the process.”
Both of these clients didn’t do meal plans, but instead found ways to fit nutrition into their lifestyle, based on their preferences and strengths/weaknesses.
Now they both are in control of their nutrition and don’t have to stress about every little thing they eat. They can enjoy life and be fit. That’s all we want right?
Check out other amazing transformations here: Results
If you feel like you need more structure or just need some help getting into a routine, then join my FREE 5 -Day Challenge: Foundations of Getting Lean.
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1 thought on “Meal Plans Suck, But What is Better?”
Fair points here, you don’t want to trap people inside rigid meal plans, doesn’t work out most of the time