We've all seen them before. Those meal plans that tell you to eat 50 grams of this and 130 grams of that at 8am. Then something similar at 11:30am. Something similar again at 2:30pm, and so on. I know that many magazines and books will tell you to eat in this manner because the numbers add up. OKAY! GREAT! The numbers add up. You have a meal plan that only allows you to eat chicken breasts, broccoli, yams, and a handful of other foods in the quantities necessary to reach your fitness goals. There's only one problem. NO ONE IS GOING TO FOLLOW IT FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME!
The bottom line is that a meal plan is only worth anything if people will actually follow it! These unrealistic meal plans simply cannot be followed long term. Now I'm not talking about a detox meal plan which is followed only for a few weeks or so. That's for an entirely different purpose. The reason for that type of meal plan is to "kickstart " your body for fat loss and/or muscle growth. It is NOT intended to be followed long term. The meal plans I was mentioning earlier are written by people who tell you that it can be followed long term. I'm telling you flat out that virtually nobody is going to follow it for any length of time. I suppose if you're single with absolutely no social life or other interests, it may be possible. But for the rest of us, particularly those of us with families and kids, it simply isn't realistic.
6 SIMPLE RULES
So what you need are some simple rules that allow you to eat in a realistic manner and essentially create your own meal plans!
RULE #1: DRINK AT LEAST 8 CUPS OF WATER DAILY
Drinking water simply cannot be understated! It may sound a bit extreme, but I know a lady who lost somewhere around 30 lbs from walking 5000 steps a day and drinking between 12 and 16 cups of water a day (around a gallon or just under)! But start slowly and try to build to 8 cups (or more). If you really look at the fluids you drink in a day and replace most of it with water, it probably won't be too hard. And NO, beer and coffee doesn't count! One tip that helps is to simply bring a water container with you to work. Just having that container with you will prevent you from having other drinks and since you'll be sipping it throughout the day, you'll slowly get used to it and drill it into your subsconscious!
RULE #2: TAKE A MULTI-VITAMIN
This one's pretty simple! You don;t have to take 10 different pills a day. Just take a good Multi-Vitamin and Mineral supplement. There are many good products with high absorption. You don't need to take those old rock-hard "horse pills"!
RULE #3: 30 IN 30
This refers to 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. Of course you don't have to follow this exactly. You don't need to carefully measure 30 grams of protein and wait precisely 30 minutes to eat! It's more of a reminder to eat something substantial for breakfast! All too often, I have people tell me that they simply have an English muffin or a bagel for breakfast, and that's it! Sorry, but this just won't cut it if you're serious about your fitness goals! Some eggs and oatmeal is a nice healthy breakfast. Or a good cereal without added sugar along with a handful of nuts and raisins can work well. You have many options, but it MUST contain a decent amount of protein.
RULE #4: REPLACE GRAINS WITH GREENS FOR ONE MEAL A DAY
I'm not asking you to go on a low carb diet. I'm simply saying to replace your starchy carbohydrate with vegetables for one of your meals. Dinner is preferred, but if you choose to do it at lunch that's fine also. Every meal you have should contain some type of quality protein source as well as some type of complex carbohydrate. Most people associate complex carbohydrates with bread and pastas. While those are included, there are numerous other foods that fall under the category of complex carbohydrates. They include:
Specifically for the starchy complex carbohydrates, we have:
Whole Grain Bread
You can go ahead and include these foods in your diet, but just remember to not eat from the starchy group for ONE meal a day.
RULE #5: USE YOUR HAND TO MEASURE YOUR PORTIONS
Don't worry about calorie counting or weighing your food. Just use your hand and stop stressing!
Use your palm for your protein source (a hamburger patty, chicken leg or breast, or a couple of eggs for example).
Use your cupped hand to measure your starchy carbohydrates (a small serving of rice, potatoes, 2 slices of whole grain bread, a tortilla for example)
Use your fist to measure your fruits and vegetables (a good sized apple, orange, other fruit, nice sized serving of broccoli, beans, for example)
It still works if you go out to eat in a restaurant. Just because it's on your plate, that doesn't mean you have to finish it! Many restaurants will give you only a small serving of meat and a HUGE serving of potatoes, fries, bread, and salad. Just remember your portion sizes and you'll be fine. You don't need to make a big production out of it. Just quietly look at the food on your plate and separate the amount you intend to eat. It's as simple as that!
RULE #6: EAT A CHEAT MEAL ONCE A WEEK
This is an important one! I've seen many people going for weeks or months without ever once enjoying foods they crave and love only to snap one day sit down and eat a large pizza and a tub of ice cream! Trust me on this one! Give yourself a cheat meal once a week. You will NOT sabotage your efforts by doing so and it will keep your sanity. Personally I love cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes. I always have since I was a kid! I won't lie and I won't deprive myself of them, BUT I know that they're obviously not the healthiest foods out there. I have my occasional cheat meal and I'm good!
So there you have it! 6 simple and realistic rules that you can follow not for days or weeks, but for years and decades!
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