The simple act of putting together a meal doesn’t sound like it should be complex, but in reality you probably feel like it's not easy...almost like it's rocket science, right? There are so many different fad diets and eating plans in existence that things have become a tad confusing; and it’s difficult to know where to start. Some people demonize certain food groups - often the same food groups that others love. As a result of all this confusion, it can be tough to know exactly how to put together a genuinely beneficial meal.
If you are trying to improve your physique, implement a healthier lifestyle or shed a few excess pounds, then my free downloadable guide on "How to Create the Perfect Meal" inspired by Precision Nutrition's infographic will help you create the perfect meal. Below, we’ll delve into a little more detail and expand on their ideas, providing you the help you need to take the confusion out of meal planning and preparation.
Here are 5 easy steps to your perfect meal.
Step 1. Choose your ingredients
If you are used to cooking from a recipe (or not cooking at all), picking your ingredients yourself could feel overwhelming at first. Worry no more, they are categorized by macronutrient and the idea is that you pick one item from each of the four categories:
The building block of our muscles and other tissues in the body. Ideally, you want to take in enough for better recovery and for all the vitamins and minerals they contain. Examples:
We need to distinguish between starchy and fibrous vegetables. This group is based around the latter, includes all kinds of green and other colored vegetables (examples below), and doesn't include those that have also have high carbohydrate content (potato, sweet potato, squash, etc.). Examples:
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and comlex. Here we focus on the latter, however your body will occasionally need simple carbs to refuel quickly, so well timed fruits are not off the table. Examples:
Fat is not the evil, however not all fats are created equal. You need a good balance of saturated and unsaturated fats to help your body absorb fat soluble vitamins and also for women they are important for hormonal balance. Examples:
Step 2. Portion out your ingredients
Right, we know that no matter how healthy you eat, if you overeat, you will gain weight, if you are in a calorie deficit, you'll lose weight. This is why portion sizes matter more than what you actually are eating. Many people however don't want to go down the calorie counting route, so how do you stay in control of your portions then? There is an easy way, using your hands as a portion measuring tool. You always have it on you so you have no excuse to eat more even when you're at a restaurant.
Bear in mind this is a vague estimate and how much food you need will depend on your training and other non-training related activity, so keep an open mind. If you feel a little hungry leading up to a meal, that's fine. However if you are starving all day, you can increase either the portion sizes or add in an extra snack.
3. Choose your seasonings
This is the part where your likes and dislikes come into play. If you would like to achieve something sustainable, you need to be able to enjoy it. So feel free to experiment with spices and herbs and figure out what makes your tastebuds go "aaaaaaw". Here are a few examples:
4. Choose your cooking style
Now that you have your food ready, it’s time to cook. Here are a few tips to help you get the best results:
Avoid deep fries and cooking procedures that include an excessive amount of fat of any type to keep your calorie intake low and in line with your fat loss goals.
5. Plate it up
Once the food is cooked, all you need to do is to organize it all on the plates keeping the portion recommendations in mind. Feel free to cook a few extra portions and store them in the fridge or freezer for later use.
Or if you're like me #noncook...
Putting together the perfect meal doesn’t need to be difficult. Stick with the general layout as described above, and your plate will always be full of all the right things, in the perfect quantities.
If you can apply the above rules to at least 80% of your meals, you will surely be on the best path to achieve your fitness goals. Your eating habits might just be the showstopper of your success. Try this method for a few weeks and see what happens.
Feel free to message me or comment below after you tried.
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.