How do you set up the perfect day of eating?
This is one of the most common questions I get. What should I eat? How should my meals fit within my day? How many meals should I eat? How should I divide up my macros?
I don’t write meal plans. I don’t provide templates.
Why? Two reasons:
They simply don’t work long-term.
They don’t EDUCATE you on how to APPLY the perfect nutrition plan to YOUR life.
The problem with templates
Monday through Friday, templates do work because your day is the exact same. It’s a routine that you can follow. The weekdays aren’t the problem (as long as there is a routine). This is probably VERY apparent right now during COVID because now that your routine is thrown off, you’re likely struggling a bit more. Routine matters!! Templates thrive off of routine...but as you know, your routine is never fixed. You’re a human and life is a bit chaotic...again this is pretty apparent now with COVID. Sometimes, things are out of your control. It’s during the chaos where templates fall apart.
Do you keep your M-F routine on the weekends? No.
On a day off? No.
On a holiday? No.
On a day your schedule gets turned upside down? No.
On a day you decide to workout in the morning versus the evening? No! You sleep in 1 extra hour and your day has gone to shit. You say “F*** it”, throw away the template for the day, and eat like a moron.
Templates only work so long. What is 100x more effective than some template is educating yourself on...
How much food you should be eating
What meal frequency and timing works best for you and your schedule
How to navigate your specific cravings and hunger
How to navigate changes in routine
How your biofeedback relates to changes in your nutrition
...and then practicing it! Again and again until it’s second nature and integrated with any routine you throw at it.
So what does that look like? In today’s blog, I’m going to break down what a perfect day of eating looks like. Templates don’t work long term...but they are effective at providing a baseline for you to adapt and work off of. Sometimes nutrition can be so overwhelming that it’s hard to find a starting point to build from. Hopefully I will fix that for you today!
Before we get started, it’s important to remember this:
The science is in the compliance.
The science only works if it’s something you can adhere to. A templated meal plan works. Whole30 works. Paleo works. Keto works. The carnivore diet works. A high-carb diet works. There is no secret diet, just the diet that YOU can adhere to long-term to get results.
That being said, there is a daily meal structure that has been shown to work best for individuals. As you’ll see, it also leaves a ton of room for variation within each individual.
Using the model below, you will be able to set up THE perfect day of eating.
That’s right, I’m answering the “what should I eat?” question…something I never thought I’d do.
Before I get to the model, a few important pointers to take note of first on how to set up your perfect day of eating:
1. The number of meals matters far less than your daily intake. Remember the mantra: calories in = calories out.
2. You want to stay between 3-5 meals/day for a number of reasons:
More meals improves energy by consistently fueling throughout day
Prevents cravings because you’re not going hours between meals for you hunger signals to spiral out of control
SO much more feasible than eating 2x 1,000 calorie meals
Improves digestion. Our guts can only handle so much. Bogging it down with 2x 1,000 calorie meals has been shown to slow digestion and result in GI distress
Encourages a higher calorie intake. Majority of people are undereating and struggle to eat more. Increasing meal frequency (while achieving everything above) helps you eat MORE
3. Protein should be evenly spaced out
Allows for optimal conditions to build muscle
Muscle protein synthesis occurs best when provided a constant supply of protein. This approach creates the optimal “drip effect”.
How much? Take your body weight in protein. Divide by your number of meals. That’s how much protein (in oz) you’ll be eating at each meal.
Ex. Clare – 150lbs/5 meals = 30 oz protein/meal
4. Decide your workout (morning, mid-day, and afternoon/evening) and center meals around your training
Morning workout: more carbs, fewer fats pre-workout, which will be your dinner the night before and post-workout in morning after your morning workout
Lunch workout: more carbs, less fat mid-day
Afternoon workout: more carbs, less fat at the end of the day
The most common time to workout is afternoon/mid-day. This is also the recommended time to workout if all things in life were perfect. If you can only workout at 5:00am, then workout at 5:00am. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, studies have shown slight benefits to afternoon training. You’re more awake. Joints are more lubricated. You’ve eaten more and have more fuel. Exercising immediately post-fast (i.e. after sleeping) puts more stress on muscles and may make building muscle more difficult (although not impossible). Again, I’m describing THE perfect day of eating. This is if all things were perfect and we had total autonomy over our lives and our schedules.
Without further ado, the perfect day of eating would look something like this.
The Perfect Day of Eating
Now for some explanation…