Meal Plan Guide
This guide will give you the information you need to self-regulate and make the proper adjustments to your meal plan to meet your goals more effectively. Meal plans that are based off macronutrient values (which are ultimately estimated using formulas) is a great starting point, but it’s just a starting point.
If it doesn’t match your ever-changing total daily energy expenditure, from changes in activity level or body composition with your specific goals in mind, then it’s going to be a big waste of your time and effort.
This guide will effectively teach you how to coach yourself and give you the ability to make the correct adjustments on your own.
If you are not necessarily concerned about the why, skip to the ‘TL;DR’ at the end to find out what you need to do with your meal plan.
Caloric needs can be calculated using different formulas that use metrics about a person, I tend to go to the widely used Mifflin St Jeor formula. This only requires someone’s weight, height and age to generate a value that is called the Basal Metabolic Rate, this is the energy value at which a person would maintain weight at rest.
This number is then multiplied by the persons physical activity level which is usually quantified by the range of values from 1.4 to 2.4, this is based off the clients perceived daily activity level with 1.4 signifying an extremely inactive level of activity and 2.4 signifying an extremely active level of activity. This will then give you a new energy value that is called Total Daily Energy Expenditure, this is an estimate of the energy value that will maintain weight with the client’s current perceived activity level.
As you can see this method, be it the best one we have currently, isn’t the most effective way to predict someone’s energy requirements to any degree of accuracy, it’s only an estimate. Someone’s actual daily energy expenditure is very much a moving target from day to day, this is where the issue lies when prescribing a meal plan that has no ability to change. So being able to change intake of calories based off a multitude data that can be collected is the goal, further down I am going to deal with how you change that.
I am going to leave protein and fat aside here as they both stay relatively static when adjusting calories for body composition. Protein and fat will already be set in your plan based off recommendations in the current literature that reflect optimum requirements for general health and performance (note that protein and fat can change depending on body composition goals, but I want to keep things simple for now). Carbohydrates is therefore what will change in relation to your goals.
Data collection is very important when being able to make the proper adjustments to your diet to be successful in your body composition goals. The more data you can collect the better off you will be, it will give you a clearer picture of what is going on with your body and you will be able see progress in different areas, keeping you motivated. Although, collecting and recording all the different metrics isn’t essential to being able to be self-regulatory with the meal plan.
Below I will illustrate all the metrics you can collect about yourself, grade them on their essentiality and explain what they are and how you can measure them.