What your will learn: The pros & cons of meal plans and how to use them to your advantage for successful fat loss.
Prefer to listen? Here is the podcast episode
Meal plans get a lot of stick and rightly so.
People often assume that to lose weight they just need to be told what to eat.
This is rarely effective simply because eating is something you are always going to have to do. You need to LEARN to eat in a way you enjoy while also reaching your health, fitness and body composition goals.
‘Oh but can’t I just use a strict meal plan to lose weight for a few weeks’
Yes, Amanda, you can. But the issue comes after that period of time – if you do manage to stick to the meal plan you may get results but you have not learnt how to eat in a way that maintains your results so you’ll likely revert back to the previous body composition you were unhappy with in the first place.
Here are 5 reasons I dislike meal plans:
1) There is no optimal diet plan which means that a large part of the best diet for you is down to preference.
How is your personal trainer/ coach going to know what you want for lunch on Wednesday? I don’t even know what I want for dinner today and its 6pm.
2) Meal plans set you up to fail.
No-one can stick to a strict meal plan long term- its not about willpower.
Its that life isnt perfect. They can also create food fear around foods that aren’t ‘on plan’ – pushes you into an all or nothing mentality.
3) meal plans don’t allow for spontaneity or a social life. You do not have to sacrifice this for fat loss.
in fact I just wrote a post on why you should eat with your family when losing weight click here to have a read.
Side note here I have noticed an awesome new goal many of my clients have which is to be a good role model to their kids – if anything is going to motivate you- it’s that!
4) Meal plans reduce enjoyment of, and relationship with, food.
Your mum makes you your fav meal? NOT ON PLAN SORRY.
Your partner wants to take you out for a meal? NOPE.
Birthday cake? IT’S NOT ON THE PLAN.
5)You crave foods that are ‘off plan’ even though you could easily fit them into your diet without impacting your results.
You are making dieting harder than it needs to be & as such, unsustainable.
I totally get why people want meal plans.. it’s like when your parents tried to teach you how to tie your laces.
The likelihood is you didn’t want to learn, you just wanted the outcome.
But when you realise that outcome gives you freedom & means you don’t have to rely on someone else… you can do it yourself.
Then you see the benefit.
Much like someone else tying your laces – a meal plan will teach you nothing & you probably won’t like the way they tie the bow.. or the specific foods on your plan.
You are making dieting harder than it needs to be & as such, unsustainable, unenjoyable and not something you are going to continue long term.
The above is one side of the argument.
But there are 2 sides and because I preach the middle ground and getting the best of both worlds I am giving you both sides and how to implement meal plans to get the pros and not the cons.
Here are 5 reasons you should stick to a meal plan:
1)They save brain energy.
We make about 200 decisions about food a day. These tend to get less favourable as the day goes on and decision fatigue kicks in. Having a plan to stick to reduces poor decisions you make when you are tired/ fatigued/ stressed.
Sticking to a plan is pretty easy. You don’t have to overthink it. You don’t need to track calories or worry about macros etc.
3) A good option if you don’t want to track.
Can’t be bothered to track calories/ spend even more time on your phone? Sticking to a meal plan you know hits your targets and will fuel you well means you don’t need to track.
Being in a routine means actions require less effort. This makes fat loss easier.
5) Saves money.
You can plan ahead, buy in bulk and prep your food so you eat out less which will save you a tonne of money!
Finally, the important part:
How you get all the benefits of meal plans without the negatives (over restriction, all or nothing mentality, anxiety around being ‘off plan’ etc):
Make your own meal plan based around your preferences & your goals & in variety, change it up from time to time and be flexible with it.
If you understand why it’s working pssst – it’s helping you stick to a deficit and realise there is nothing magic about that and you can eat ‘off plan’ for a few meals if you’re sensible and try to match calories without impacting fat loss progress.
Need some help to make dieting less miserable and more enjoyable?