Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? Gradually transform your body? Welcome to the club. Millions of people start diets or meal plans every day, some spending hundreds in the process. We believe that all the knowledge is out there for you to be able to create your own meal plan, though it can be quite daunting as there is so much information available on the internet these days! We’re going to help you out a little by discussing some common mistakes people make when creating meal plans and how you can avoid doing the same thing, along with some top tips for helping you get started on your meal plan journey.
No Need To Spend
First thing’s first, when it comes to dieting or meal plan advice, you don’t need to be sucked in by the big companies or adverts selling meal plans online. Most provide info that you can find yourself first or get for free elsewhere, and these alternatives are just as good as the expensive tools available. We’re not saying they don’t work, as they surely do for a lot of people. We are simply advising that you try to dig out the information yourself and give it a go for free. Have a search online for different meal plans, free tools, and expert advice. Compile it all and give yourself a great shot at building your meal plan.
Don’t Miscount Calories
When we say don’t miscount calories, we mean two things! Firstly, many dieters will tell you there’s absolutely no need to count calories, just “cut out carbs” or “give up sugar” to lose weight magically. If only it were that simple! You need to understand and respect calorie intake to understand weight loss or gain. Unfortunately, if you cut out 500 calories of chocolate a day and replace that with 500 calories of mixed nuts, you’re still going to be taking in the same overall amount, so that you will see no change!
Secondly, when you do count calories, make sure you count them right if you choose to. It sounds simple, but many people guesstimate calories and end up making big mistakes. We recommend counting your calories for a while until you can accurately understand calories, then when you are comfortable, move away from doing so. There are plenty of free tools out there for calorie counting, many of which allow you to scan in recognized brands and store accurate calorie readings.
Not Factoring In Your Activity Level
Writing out a healthy meal plan is one step towards your goals, as is counting your calories. However, many forget to factor in their exercise or activity levels into these equations. Again, many tools online can assist you with this. If you write out a 1500 calorie per day meal plan, but you are burning 1200 extra calories a day at spin class, you’re not doing it right! You need to work out your base metabolic rate (BMR) and then your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Once you have those numbers, you can build a healthy meal plan around them.
Forgetting The Protein
A big mistake many people make when building meal plans is the composition of those meals. If you didn’t know, protein provides four calories per gram, as do carbs. However, protein has been proven to satiate you for longer, meaning protein helps you feel fuller for much longer than carbs do. If your meals and snacks are protein focused instead of carb-focused, you will certainly find yourself feeling full all day long and loving your new meal plan.
Being Scared Of The Scales
Many of us are afraid to step on the scales and find out how much we weigh, but you can use the scales to your advantage! Some choose to step on the scales first thing every morning and record their weight. This is one sure-fire way of tracking your progress towards your goals.
Remember, though, your weight fluctuates daily based on water retention, amongst other things. If you learn to accept these fluctuations and look at your daily readings over a week or so, you will see your actual natural progress. Don’t be afraid of the scales, but instead make them a key tool in understanding how your new meal plan is working for you.
Have you made some of these mistakes before? We know we have! But don’t worry, as now you can take this arsenal of knowledge with you and start to develop your own long-term meal plan. Whatever your body goals are, we wish you the very best of luck on your journey.