If you’re here because you’ve already read my post Nutrition 101: Macronutrients, please read on, if you haven’t click here to check out the first lesson in Nutrition before returning to continue your learning.

So we know about macronutrients and you’re probably thinking holy sh*t, this must be really time-consuming and difficult to maintain. This is the point at which you decide how strict you want to go! If you’re looking to get into contest shape or planning to be a fitness model, you’ll want to have a plan of action with your macros and track each one so you can monitor progress and adjust based on how you look. That’s a different story, and I will be writing an article about specifics in another post shortly and linking it here. This post caters to the beginners, who haven’t followed anything specific and don’t know where to start. I’ll break this up really easily for you.

The good news is that there are many ways to achieve your nutrition goals. Some prefer to cook their meals for the day everyday, but in this day and age, it is much more practical, convenient, and efficient to prep are your meals once every 3 days. For me, Sunday and Wednesday nights work. I grill all of my proteins and prepare my carbs as well, all this alongside some salads and vegetables.

So what do I recommend? A visit to your local dollarstore, walmart, target, etc, to buy some Tupperware containers. Why? Because this will make your life SO much easier. Grab a small cooler as well, this will give you a place to store and carry around all your food so you can eat on a dime and you’re never left unprepared. This may seem like a weird order of events but bear with me. It just makes more sense to get the elephant out of the room right now. You’re going to have to be prepared, and failing to plan will lead to failure to execute.

Before you continue reading, please understand that I myself don’t count calories because I’m just maintaining my current physique. I’ve been eating like this for so long I can tell portions without weighing them and I know the nutritional profiles of what I usually eat, and if you’re a beginner you most likely wont, so make sure you track what you eat. This will help you greatly in making necessary adjustments based on your progress.

So we now know about macronutrients and why they are important, but what role do they play in our plan? You’ll see, but for now it a good idea to find your Daily Caloric needs, which can be calculated by clicking here. This will give you the amount of calories that you need to maintain your current weight. Now for the plan, if you’re trying to gain weight/build muscle you’ll be adding anywhere between 250-500 calories/day to that amount. If you’re trying to lose weight you’ll be dropping about 250-500 calories/day. You should be dropping about a pound or gaining about a pound for every week. That’s what’s considered normal. Remember that these numbers aren’t exact! Everybody is different, take a week or two eating at a caloric increase/deficit and see how you weigh, if you’re not gaining or losing you’ve gotta adjust accordingly until you find out what works for your body. Just remember, if you’re focused on losing weight, during the first week, the healthy eating and exercise will shock your body and you may lose anywhere between 3-10 lbs. This is water weight, aside from the first week, you should be losing about a pound a week.

Almost done promise! Now that you’ve got your set amount of required calories, you’ll have to figure out how many meals you will have. I usually have anywhere between 5-7 meals a day, consisting of 3 larger meals and 2-4 snack meals, depending on whether I’m training that day or not.  So what you’ll want to do is divide the total calories by how many meals you plan to have. It’s generally recommended to eat in 2-3 hours intervals in order to keep the metabolism revved. Some live by this others are against it. Like I said earlier, it works for me and that’s what matters. Find what eating regime works for you and stick with it, just make sure you’re getting in all of your required calories!!

Ok so we’ve got our caloric requirements and we’ve determined how many meals we will eat each day, what’s next? Cooking your food and preparing the meals with the right macro’s. The general rule of thumb is to take in about 1-1.5 grams protein per lb. of bodyweight, 1-2 grams of carbs/ lb. of bodyweight and 0.5 grams of fat/lb. of bodyweight.

For example, at the time of this writing I weigh 186 pounds.  To fill my caloric requirements, I need to eat anywhere between 186 grams- 279 grams of protein, 186-375 grams of carbs and approx. 95 grams of fats. I know from personal experience that I need about 3000 calories to maintain my current size.  To get my required calories and macros, I would need to eat about 240 grams of protein (240×4=960 cals), 300 grams of carbs (300×4=1200) and around 95 grams of fats (95×9=855 cals), which adds up to 3015 calories. Knowing this, you can divide your macronutrients by the amount of meals you’ll be having and set goals for each meal (e.g. If I eat 6 meals in a day, for each meal I should aim for about 40 grams protein(240/6), 50 grams of carbs (300/6) and 16 grams of fats (95/6). Be sure to check out my post on macro meals breakdowns and meal timing, by clicking here, to see how to manipulate the macro’s in each meal to optimize nutrient absorption and recovery.

Here’s a quick guideline to recap our meal prep for dummies:

  1. Find your daily caloric needs and adjust them based on your goal.
  2. Divide these calories up by the amount of meals you’ll have and your macro requirements .
  3. Prepare your proteins, carbs, fats and veggies/greens on the same day, and have your Tupperware containers ready.
  4. Once finished making all the food, mix and match your protein, carb and fat sources into each of the containers and you’re set!

What’s worked for me is using my fist size to judge portion sizes. This makes it so easy to prepare meals and takes the hassle out of the meal planning. One fist size for me is about 5-6 oz of protein, 1 cup of carbs, 1 cup of veggies/greens and a tablespoon or two of fats. Using this method, when I prepare my foods, I toss in a chicken breast, 1 yam and a cup of broccoli into one Tupperware case and in the other I’ll change my protein source and throw in a fist size portion of extra lean ground beef with a cup of brown rice and a cup of mixed greens. Sounds easy right? It is.  Use this method to ease into the habits of healthy eating. If you’re just looking to lose weight or build mass this helps. If you’re not losing weight, switch one carb serving for an extra serving of veggies/greens. On the mass building plan, if you’re not gaining, increase your carbs to a fist and a half for a meal or two and see how that goes. It’s all played by ear, if it works keep it going, if not make simple changes, experiment and adjust based on the results. I’ll make some specific nutrition plans for weight loss and muscle gain in time, but for now remember to keep it simple and make small changes where necessary.

Remember I’m here for you during this journey, if you still find something confusing, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back with an answer as soon as I can!

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