Meal Plans

Reform: Ditch the Meal Plan, Follow These Habits

If you’re starting from a bad place, these simple changes will make a ton of difference and help you stay focused on the workouts and progress you’ll make in three months.

reform eating habits

As far as nutrition goes, you're probably starting from a terrible place. The good news is that most people eat similarly to the way you do, the bad news is that way is total crap. But you can go from a poor diet to one that optimizes body composition by making a few key changes and adopting new habits.

Given what you've probably been eating, aim to attack food quality first with a secondary focus on macronutrient timing. I'm going to hit you with a few habits and then we'll add more as these become incorporated and second nature:

Habit #1: Stop relying on processed foods. 

Anything with a laundry list of ingredients, usually found in a box with a bar code, is out. You want to rely on whole foods, namely lean meats, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, "healthy" fats (such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil), root vegetables (such as sweet potatoes) and a small amount of grain-type carbs (oatmeal, barley, quinoa, etc.). Say goodbye to the Lucky Charms and say hello to chicken and spinach.

Habit #2: Get some protein in at every meal.

Part of improving body composition is increasing muscle mass (not just reducing fat). Regular doses of protein should help regulate your appetite and provide what you need to help with muscle development/growth.

Habit #3: Eat 3-5 times per day.

This has gotten a lot of flack lately, particularly with things like intermittent fasting (IF) becoming popular. But dosing protein multiple (3-4) times per day has shown to be beneficial. And, I don't know about you, but if I haven't eaten in 16 hours the last thing I'm grabbing is a plate of broccoli. Eating multiple times per day will help you adhere to habit #1.

Habit #4: Grab a protein shake after your strength training workouts.

Call me old-fashioned, but I've just seen this work with too many people to think that it all of a sudden has no relevance.

Habit #5: Eat protein/fats at breakfast, and protein, veggies and carbs at dinner.

Nutrient timing is relevant, though not the key factor in getting your body composition in order. However, a protein and fat breakfast gives you a nice hit of calories right in the morning (something you can use) and the carbs with dinner at night can help you sleep (promoting recovery). My favorite breakfast: buffalo, avocado and macadamia nuts. All other meals should follow what I told you to eat in habit #1. For now, I don't care about the macro breakdown (though, remember, protein with every meal).

Habit #6: Keep a food journal.

Maybe the most important habit. Of all nutritional interventions and schemes (low carb, low fat, calorie counting, etc.) food journaling has proven to be the most effective for weight/fat loss. Go figure. It also allows you to track what you are doing and make changes as necessary.

With that, you’re setting a great base. Once you’ve mad it through months of training and dieting, you can become more regimented. But don’t sabotage your ambition by focusing too much on tiny details and wearing yourself out right from the beginning. Trust me, those structured meal plans will come in handy once you’ve established your base.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Curious about your requirements for putting on healthy lean mass? GNC's Protein Number calculator is just the ticket. Try it out:

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