There is a big difference between the latest fad, or the opinion of the newest blogger, and a real strategy based on scientific research and proven methods to get results. This is true in many fields, including nutrition and meal planning. 

As I work with my clients, I get asked a lot of questions about nutrition. Sometimes I have a client or someone at the gym tell me some theory they’ve developed on their own, found on the Internet, or heard on late night TV. The truth about actual nutrition, however, is that it’s fairly simple. 

You only need to focus on 5 things to get your nutrition right

  1. Balance – You’re getting the right amount of the right things and limiting the things that can have a negative effect on your health. 
  2. Calorie Control – This isn’t about just reducing calories; it’s about making sure you have the right amount of calories throughout the day to keep your system working effectively. 
  3. Moderation – You don’t take in an excess amount of those things that can have a negative impact on your health. 
  4. Variety – Ensure proper nutrition but also eliminate the monotony of a diet.  Variety is the spice of life! 
  5. Adequacy – Make sure you’re getting all of the essential nutrients you need to maintain health and replace what is lost on a daily or weekly basis. 

The meal plans that I use from Evolution Nutrition follow these five guidelines – and it’s a rock-solid foundation. Even if you stray now and then, just by using this plan as a guide, you will be learning to eat better, and creating the behavioral changes needed to develop and maintain the health changes you want over the long haul. So no matter what questions you are asking about your diet, just come back to these basics.  

Even the best plan will fail if it’s not executed properly. Just remember that the meal plan has been designed to be a road map, not a rulebook

Give me your best 80% every day, and you can pick a day to cheat (probably a weekend day) to give you some liberties. With a little flexibility, you’re more likely to follow your plan on the other days, and, more often than not, will start doing better on those “cheat” days over time too. 

Used throughout a three to four week period, even though it’s a seven-day plan. 

Human nature says we like patterns, so you’ll find that you can use the plan as a guide day-to-day and week-to-week for a while. It’s typical for two things to happen around week four: you will begin to want something new; and the results you’re getting in your weight/body composition and activity level will produce new calculations that will require a new meal plan.   So this is where it is helpful to have someone guide you through the process and help you stay on track.  That is where a good coach or trainer can help you. 

The five key factors about what we’re putting in our bodies: 

The Macronutrients

1. Carbohydrates 

The main purpose of carbohydrates is to give us the energy we need to fuel our activities. This energy comes from the break down of starches and sugars to their simplest forms, which your cells can then easily convert to usable power. Although protein and fat can also supply you with energy, your cells prefer the calories from carbohydrates. Remember: carbs can come from fruits, vegetables, grains — not just the doughnut everyone’s afraid of. In fact, some organs — your brain and kidneys, for example — have a specific need for a carbohydrate fuel source. 

2.  Protein 

Found in meats, milk, eggs, soy, legumes and whole grains, protein supplies your body with a pool of amino acids, which are the building blocks of all your cells. As part of muscle, bone and skin tissue, protein supports your body’s structure. It also repairs cells if they become damaged and provides antibodies to cope with inflammation and infection. Your dietary protein helps keep your cellular machinery running smoothly. 

3.  Fat 

Fat supplies more than twice the calories per gram as protein or carbo-hydrates and is a highly concentrated source of energy that your body can store for later. It provides structure to cell membranes and cushions your internal organs to help prevent damage to tissues. Fat serves as a vehicle for delivering vitamins, and it can store these nutrients as insurance against a deficiency. Dietary fats can come from both animal and plant sources, with plant-based foods, nuts and fish offering a healthier version. 

4.  Vitamins and Minerals 

These are small-molecule food components that support your health. Vitamins are involved in energy production, healing wounds, eye and skin health, bone formation and immunity. Minerals provide structure to your skeleton, maintain your cardiovascular health, and help maintain your nervous system.  Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables helps ensure you have plenty of these nutrients in your body. 

5.  Water and Fluid 

Of all the nutrients in foods, the most important is water or fluid. It assists with maintaining normal body temperature, lubricates and cushions your joints, protects your spinal cord and removes wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. You need water to replace what your body loses through normal everyday functions. 

All of my meal plans balance that I offer through my nutrition partner Evolution Nutrition these five factors to make sure you get a complete balanced diet. 

Now For a Deeper Dive Into the Science Behind Every Meal Plan

All of my meal plans that I give clients fall within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) outlined by The Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, as referenced in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). This is a fancy way of saying they have the right things in them, in the right amounts. They also subscribe to the accepted approach of No Bad Foods. 

“Remember there are no bad foods just healthier ones to eat regularly. Weight-loss requires a commitment to change your lifestyle. Keep up the exercise as it increases your metabolic rate and helps maintain your muscles, which burn more calories than body fat does. “ 

Jaime Ackerman Foster, MPH, RD LD 
Extension Nutrition Associate, Ohio State University 

This is the big one. You, shouldn’t be worried about the occasional treat, or, barring real health issues, even carbs, gluten, soy, or whatever the latest blog has told us to fear. The real impact of food comes from regular patterns and behaviors. A slice of cake now and then is a great thing to enjoy, but cake for breakfast everyday wouldn’t be the way to go. 

Nutrition, like exercise, takes effort if you’re going to get results. Stay committed and make the right choices more often and you will get the results you want. 

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