Step 5: Meal Plans & Restaurant Tracking
Meal plans require a little bit of initial work to set up.
But once you’ve got one, it’s done, and it’s like putting yourself on fat burning autopilot.
Consider it a better approach than having to consistently ask yourself “Okay... what am I going to eat today?” every few hours of every day.
Take the time to create a meal plan and liberate yourself from such decisions.
Take a look at this meal plan I created (there will be more meal plans in the course):
As you can see, I only eat three meals a day and skip breakfast.
This is an intermittent fasting example of meal planning, but a meal plan nonetheless.
The great thing about meal plans is that you can tailor them to your needs.
Whether that’s three, four, five, or six meals a day!
Your pick of foods is up for grabs as long as you hit your daily macros.
Be strategic on the foods you pick.
Make sure to include nutritiously dense foods in each of your meals to ensure satiety.
Although you can fit treats into your daily macro limit, you’ll most likely not feel full if they’re heavily spread throughout your meal plan.
I recommend having your daily treat alongside one of your meals.
An easy way to create a meal plan is to brainstorm the foods you like to eat and distribute them amongst the number of meals you’d like to eat every day.
You can use grocery items you already have at home and cross-check the nutritional values (macros).
Simply scan or search foods in MFP and create a meal plan that fits your macros.
Creating a meal plan takes time, so set aside some time to complete this task. I usually start this process by writing down my plan and then transferring the final meal plan into a nice spreadsheet.
Once that’s completed I transition the meal plans into MFP.
Restaurant/Fast Food Tracking
Just because you set a fitness goal to improve your health and lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to eliminate eating out. Such a tradeoff would be absurd. On days I know I’m going out to eat, I like to plan ahead.
MFP has an awesome feature called, "Create a New Food" on the main menu.
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This is an example description I put for a Chipotle Burrito Bowl I had.
You can take advantage of using this feature by doing some quick Google research on the place you’re going to be dining at.
The Create a New Food feature allows you to input the calories (and macros) you find from your Google research. This easy process involves Googling nutrition information and configuring what you find in your MFP diary.
Next time I eat out at Chipotle, I won’t have to redo the process above! You can use this process with any restaurant meal you enjoy.
Unfortunately, not every restaurant provides easy-to-use online nutrition calculators like Chipotle’s website. In most cases, they don’t need to. You usually know what you’re getting, and expecting, in most cases.
For example, In-N-Out Burger can easily be searched in MFP’s database (using the search method). I usually go with a “double-double burger”. I search MFP for: “double double in n out”.
Moderation is Key
Everything in moderation.
Will you never eat cookies or go out to a fast food joint again?
I doubt it; well, I know I couldn’t at least.
This is why I treat myself to these foods in moderation.
Moderation, in my experience, is having a maintenance day once a week (your maintenance calories were given in the calculator)
A day where I eat at equilibrium where I know, I’m not going to be losing or gaining weight.
The scale the next morning might rise, but I know it’s temporary water weight, glycogen, and most importantly I know it’s not weight from fat.
I usually have maintenance days on Fridays or Saturdays.
Eating at maintenance once a week will not hinder your weight loss efforts.
I believe they're psychologically necessary actually, they’re almost like reward days if you think about it.
Before I started IIFYM, I used to binge on fast foods.
The scenario went like this: full-->satisfied-->bloated-->uncomfortable-->wow why did I do that...
And on some occasions, I drank alcohol on the same nights!
This is a common combination that leads to fat gain.
It’s worth noting that 1 gram of alcohol is equivalent to 7 calories.