We all know how to make a meal but what makes a good meal for your fitness objectives? If you're reading this then you will be interested in your fitness, and want to eat well to compliment what you're doing on the exercise front. So I've put together a few key guidelines of what to think about when you're putting a meal together and why.
1. What is my protein source?
You may remember from a previous blogpost on how much protein to eat, I talked about getting at least a gram of protein per kg of bodyweight each day. So if you weighed 70kg you'd be looking to consume around 70g of protein. As well as the many benefits for cell and muscle growth and repair, having protein at each meal helps to stabilise your blood sugars (reducing cravings, crashes) and helps you to feel satisfied. Refresh your memory on protein sources by having a read of that blogpost.
2. Half my plate is going to be vegetables or fruit
I don't think I need to say too much about why this is a good idea, but in short: it provides a plentiful and an array of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre as well as generally being low calorie, so you get a whole lot of goodness that really fills you up with not a huge amount of calories. And we all know that if we start to eat more calories that we burn, we will gain weight.
3. What will be my fat and / or carbohyrate source?
Some people work well and enjoy low carbohydrate / high fat diets, some people like high carb & low fat diets, and some like the middle ground. All are ok! Personally I'm more lower carb when not running much (my body just doesn't need / crave it so much) but all about the carbs when marathon training - I sometimes have porridge for 2 meals a day!!! If fat loss if your objective, the key is to be in a caloric deficit, and how best you can achieve that whether its through low or high carb diet is a matter of personal preference and your ability to be consistent with it. The only macronutrient you really need to be consistent with across the board, is protein. And my protein is fairly consistent whatever type of training I'm doing whether loads of running or more HIIT and strength type work - because I think about my protein source at each meal (see point 1!). Many proteins are also a fat source too - like eggs, oily fish and some nuts and seeds.
4. Have I got my portion size right?
I posted this on the KFSS facebook group - a very visual guide to portion size. It is very easy to opt for huge portions of food, particularly if we end up eating what our (in most cases, taller and bigger) other halves eat! It is a useful guide if, like me, you quite easily lose sight of what a sensible portion is! And if you feel short changed, add in more non-starchy veg!
I hope this helps a bit and something to consider in meal planning / food shopping!