Working out is only half the battle. To achieve your goals, you also need to follow a well-balanced meal plan. Calories are key! Too many and you will gain unwanted fat. Too few and you will lose muscle and your metabolism will drop. Combined with your weights and cardio, you will likely be in a calorie deficit. In other words, you will be hungry… and at times ravenous.
The following ten tips will help you stick with your meal plan and keep your calorie intake where it should be.
#1: Have Your Next Meal/Snack Ready
Plan ahead! You will find yourself reaching for unhealthy foods when your next meal/snack is not readily available. If your next planned meal/snack is right there, you will eat it first and it will be easier to avoid the unhealthy foods.
#2: Eat Every 3 to 4 Hours
This is related to #1. Plan to have your next meal/snack available every 3-4 hours. This will help you avoid getting so hungry that you don’t care what you eat.
#3: Eat Complex Carbs, Not Simple Sugars
Imagine a piece of bread in a bowl of water and a potato in another bowl. What will they each look like after ten minutes? That’s a basic analogy to how complex and simple carbs breakdown in your stomach. The longer it takes to breakdown a food, the longer it takes you to get hungry.
#4: Eat Balanced Meals
Carbs, proteins and fats are digested at different rates. Your body will first breakdown carbs, then proteins and finally fats. Having a balanced meal will give you a steady source of fuel for a more stable energy level.
#5: Plan a Cheat Day/Meal
Sometimes, to help you get through the darker days of dieting, it helps to have a light at the end of the tunnel. A no-guilt cheat Day/Meal will motivate you to stick to your diet. Also, the increase in calories often has the affect of boosting your metabolism so you actually burn more calories on the following days.
#6: Don’t Have Cheat Foods Available
This is pretty simple: you can’t cheat if you don’t have any cheat foods. This is really only viable if you live alone or with someone on the same diet. p.s. Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry!
#7: Count Calories
It’s very easy to go over your calories if you don’t know how many you are eating. Think of staying under the speed limit without a speedometer. Counting calories will help you pace your eating throughout the day and, most importantly, tell you when to stop.
#8: Change Your Routines
You may notice that you snack and/or over-eat at certain times of the day or while doing certain activities. The key is to do something during that time or instead of that activity that is incompatible with eating. For example, instead of visiting the break room, take a walk. Instead of munching chips, take up needlepoint.
#9: Chew Sugar Free Gum
Today’s sugar free gums are tasty enough to take the edge off that sweet tooth and get you to your next scheduled meal.
#10: Do Cardio in the Morning
You might find that it is harder to cheat when you have the memories of a hard morning of cardio fresh in your mind. “Wait… I’m going to throw away 45 minutes of cardio for this donut?”
At times, eating healthy and in moderation can be a struggle. However, the results are always worth it.