Advantages and disadvantages of pre-made meal plans and hand portions
Are you currently following a meal plan template you bought online?
Do you follow portion size suggestions like this one?
*image credit to Precision Nutrition
You know I'll always give it to you straight...this is a great STARTING point when it comes to developing a healthier eating routine. But, just like with any other method, it's incredibly flawed.
takes a lot of mental work out of it
it gets you started with healthier habits
usually more cost-effective than hiring a coach or nutritionist
typically more generic meals
isn't individualized to your specific health needs
very difficult to achieve necessary calories and/or macronutrients
As helpful as pre-made meal plans and portion size charts can be to get the very beginner started, the biggest problem I've seen with clients that come to us from previously trying these methods are that they are rarely eating ENOUGH calories, thus causing a metabolic adaptation to occur.
Metabolic Adaptation: the body forfeiting physiological functions to self-preserve.
In English terms...metabolic adaptation means your body has adapted to surviving off of the average calories you consume each day and since it isn't receiving enough calories to perform basic bodily functions (energy, muscle recovery, digesting food, creating hormones, etc.) it downregulates these functions to put the necessary calories it does have to essential use (keeping your heart pumping, brain active, etc.)
If we follow the popular portion size chart above and eat 3-4 meals per day (which this company suggests), most women will consume between 1200-1300 calories a day and if the portions are slightly increased (suggested for men), they would consume between 2100-2400 calories per day.
As I've stated in previous content, 1200-1700 calories IS NOT ENOUGH calories to provide optimal health. Period, end of conversation. And I can confidently say that after coaching people for over 12 years and seeing people of all shapes and sizes.
If that isn't enough, even medical professionals from Nemour's Children's Health state openly that toddlers require at least 1000-1400 calories daily for optimal health, let alone a fully grown adult man or woman.
So we know for a fact that these guides are not helpful to the majority of women. Now, what about the men?
The average sedentary male typically needs at least 2100 calories just to survive. Now, if you add in 3-4 days per week of exercise (moderate, not intense), now we are looking at needing around 2600 calories to aid with recovery.
The male population could possible get away with eating this way for a while but eventually a metabolic adaptation will occur, ultimately needing to reduce calories even more to continue to lose weight while sacrificing physiological health.
So, what's the best approach then? Well, you have 2 options...
1. Hire a coach or...
2. Begin educating yourself on what YOUR specific body needs
This begins with tracking your current caloric and macronutrient intake and seeing what and how much you eat on the average day.
The next step is to find your maintenance calories with a TDEE calculator (this is free online.)
Then, either slowly work back up to maintenance (following a reverse diet protocol), go into a further caloric deficit, or improve food quality if you're noticing your health could progress with some smaller but beneficial changes.
If you're still struggling or aren't confident about doing this on your own, feel free to send us a message anytime!
I hope this helped you in some way. Remember, there is no one size fits all approach to dieting or living a healthy lifestyle. Find the plan that works best for your unique situation and try it out.
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is the owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.