Why Make a Meal Plan
The most common reason people start Googling a healthy meal plan is to lose weight and tone their bodies. Weight loss always comes at the expense of a caloric deficit. A person can only create a calorie deficit if one spends more daily calories than one consumes.
To make a proper diet plan that includes not only a calorie deficit but also respects the balance of nutrients and micronutrients, people ought to use the formula:
Weight (or the daily calorie allowance to maintain that weight) minus 500 calories (for beginners). The result will be the allowable number of calories per day, allowing you to lose weight.
Then it would be best to calculate the norm of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Their balanced ratio will determine how a person feels about the diet. It is done according to this scheme:
1 g of protein = 4 calories
1 g of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 g of fat = 9 calories
At once, it should be noted that despite the quantitative value, fats cannot be eliminated entirely from your diet. Still, you can reduce their percentage in relation to proteins and carbohydrates.
So, depending on your weight, your diet plan should include proteins (2 grams per 1 kg of your weight), carbohydrates (35% of the daily norm), and fats (0.8 grams per 1 kg of your weight).
As we can see, dieting is actually math in its purest form. A meal plan is exactly what you need. Instead of doing the calculations daily, you can enjoy cooking and eating delicious meals, knowing that this plan has already calculated everything for you. Using the above charts, you can also make such a plan. Of course, you can always use the calorie diary to calculate the calorie content of food.
Things to Include in a Healthy Meal Plan
A healthy meal plan includes clean foods that match caloric intake, meal times, number of meals, spacing, extra liquids, and even tasty snacks.
The main rule of healthy eating is that every meal should include all three macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
The most important meal is breakfast. To skip it and save time or calories to eat more in the evening is absolutely unacceptable. The classic breakfast should be within an hour and a half after awakening. The first meal starts the metabolic processes and the gastrointestinal tract. The main components of breakfast are:
- Fiber (vegetables or greens, whole grains)
- Proper fats (unrefined oils, nuts, oily foods)
- Protein (plant or animal)
Lunch helps improve mood and replenish energy. Lunch accounts for about 40% of the daily calorie intake. Missing lunch can lead to evening binge eating. This meal should usually be no earlier than 4 hours after breakfast.
Dinner is the lightest meal, contributing no more than 25% of your daily calorie intake.
Healthy Foods and Additives You Need to Have on Hand
To avoid shopping each time you prepare a meal, it is a good idea to prepare in advance some foods that you can store for a long time, use in small quantities and utilize every day and in different dishes. Let’s call them the basic products for a healthy diet:
- Oil for cooking or salad dressing, ideally olive oil, but can also be sunflower oil, pumpkin oil, cocoa or coconut oil, etc., depending on the region or taste preference.
- Nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans or pistachios, seeds.
- Spices: turmeric, black/red pepper, oregano, thyme, ginger, garlic, honey, balsamic vinegar.
- Whole grains: durum pasta, oatmeal, buckwheat, bulgur, rice, quinoa.
5-Day Healthy Meal Plan
Breakfast: oatmeal with banana and dried fruits. You can cook it with milk and add a teaspoon of honey. One boiled egg and a ripe apple or pear. This meal can be divided into two, leaving an apple and an egg for a snack.
Lunch: grilled chicken breast in a yogurt marinade with spices (salt, dried garlic, oregano, paprika), sautéed vegetables (tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, green beans or asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, onions). Yogurt with berries.
Dinner: fish patties or steak, salad with fresh vegetables, and plenty of greens.
Note: try to cook lunch and dinner for more than one meal, as you will use the leftovers the next day. It is convenient, you will have to cook less, and at the same time, you will know what to eat tomorrow.
Breakfast: cottage cheese with nonfat yogurt or sour cream, one teaspoon of honey, and a banana. One grapefruit, which can be eaten as a snack before lunch.
Lunch: you can use leftover fish patties and sautéed vegetables from the first day, and add a boiled or grilled corn cob. Toast whole-grain bread with hard cheese.
Dinner: vegetable salad with lots of greens, dressed with olive oil and sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds. Chicken breast in the sauce from yesterday.
Breakfast: oatmeal with berries and nuts. You can sweeten it with a spoonful of honey, jam, or maple syrup. For a snack: Grainy cottage cheese with one teaspoon of jam.
Lunch: pasta with squid or shrimp and bell peppers. You can stew string beans, broccoli, or any favorite green vegetable as a salad. For dessert, an apple baked in the oven.
Dinner: shakshuka made with eggs, lots of tomatoes, and onions.
Breakfast: egg scramble with green onions and a pinch of grated cheese. A glass of milk. An orange for a snack.
Lunch: rice stew with finely chopped red meat, onions, and tomatoes. The spices may include turmeric, ground black pepper, garlic, and salt.
Dinner: caesar salad dressed with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar instead of gravy. You can add sesame or sunflower seeds.
Breakfast: cottage cheese pancakes with fruit, nuts, and one teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. Toast whole-grain bread with avocado and a pinch of salt. This toast can also be postponed as a snack until lunch.
Lunch: bean stew with tomatoes, onions, carrots and spices, and buckwheat. Buckwheat is unavailable in all regions but can be replaced with bulgur, rice, or other cereals.
Dinner: grilled or oven-baked fish drizzled with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Serve with a salad of fresh vegetables and greens.
The convenience of this meal plan is that the foods are, for the most part, readily available and interchangeable. In addition, meals imply that they can be eaten the next day, so there will be a little less hassle with cooking. However, this menu considers the most necessary micro and macronutrients, which should enter the body with food.
The Place of Beverages in a Healthy Eating Plan
It is no secret that the main drink that you can consume in unlimited quantities is water. In the morning, on an empty stomach, it is better to drink lukewarm water mixed with the juice of half a lemon. To reduce acidity, you can also dilute freshly squeezed juices with water.
Green and white tea without sugar, and herbal teas like mint, melissa, lime, rose hips, and dried berries are beneficial.
Smoothies and shakes should not be classified as drinks since they are closer to a meal or snack in terms of calories.
Moderate consumption of coffee is also acceptable, as this drink increases the tone and raises the mood.
In this article, drinks were not part of the meal plan since, other than coffee, everything can be drunk in unlimited quantities and at will.