Typically, I don’t see a huge value in meal plans that are posted online. They are either celebrity plans (Mr. Olympia or Celebrity ‘X’), or generic starter plans that are tremendously boring. Plans that follow the “this is what I eat, so you should too” mentality are discounting human variability. What works for one doesn’t work for another. That being said, someone looking for a place to start can do worse than one of those plans.
It’s with that sentiment that I offer up what I’m currently eating, and why. I always joke with my clients that if they were all perfect, diet-following robots my job would be amazingly easy. But they’re not – they’re people. People with strengths, weaknesses, faults, preferences, aversions, and sensitivities. This is the stuff I take into account when writing plans, including my own. Which looks something like this:
Note: due to my work schedule, my days vary tremendously. Sometimes I lift early morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon, whatever – so the plan shown here represents a “most common configuration” of sorts.
Meal 1 – 5 whole eggs – I get the Private Selection Omega-3 eggs from Kroger, which have 600mg Omega-3 fatty acids per egg (I think that number is probably a bit inflated, but I run with it). Since Omega-3 FA’s are hard to come by, I take them wherever I can get them to keep the O-3’s and O-6 in balance at a better ratio. 2 slices Ezekiel bread – I don’t particularly care for the taste of Ezekiel, but it’s 80 calories per slice (on the low side) and has enough protein to make a dent in the daily requirement. 1 TBSP Kerrygold grass-fed butter – makes Ezekiel bread taste delicious – quite a feat!
Meal 2 (pre-workout) – 2 scoops whey protein, 1 TBSP peanut butter, 1 banana, churned into a smoothie – fast and easy with minimal prep. When in a more aggressive cut, this would be a whole food option because liquids just don’t keep me filled the same way.
Meal 2.5 (Intra-workout) – 35g or so of maltodextrin, or a designer starch – depends on what I have on hand. For added fuel while lifting, and to accelerate reglycogenation (that word failed spell-check, unsurprisingly). Skip this on non-lifting days, of course.
Meal 3 (post-workout) – 2 scoops whey protein. Again, fast and convenient. My workout time is usually selected when I have extra time afterwards to run whatever daily errands are needed, so being able to slam some calories down quickly to keep me moving is essential. My go-to protein options are Dymatize Elite Whey (taste and texture are great), or the generic brand that Vitamin Shoppe sells (buy 1 get 1 50% off is hard to beat!).
Meal 4 – 6 oz chicken breast, 1 oz cashews, 1 cup veggies. I have definitely turned into more of a lover of fats as I get older and I feel my body responds well. Carbs also take longer to eat, and I spend so much of my day on the phone that I usually have to scarf something down quickly (this is where I think that being in the military when younger would have been a smart move). The chicken is mass-prepped in a slow cooker – I prep it in there plain, and add whatever seasoning/sauce I feel like when dishing it up (pictured left: Frank’s Red Hot Sauce). The veggies I typically pull out frozen and steam for each meal.
Meal 5 – 1 rice cake, 2 TBSP Nutella, 1/2 oz chocolate chips. Yeah, that’s right. Not surprisingly this is the best part of my day. In a maintenance phase, I can handle this shift in macros. When it comes time to cut, this will have to go as the protein intake goes up and I put a higher emphasis on food quality. Having this worked into my plan keep the rest of my (significant) sweet tooth cravings at bay.
Meal 6 – 6 oz grass fed beef, 1 cup veggies. This can take on many forms – whether a steak on the grill, ground beef in a taco salad, a simple veggie stir-fry kind of creation, or something else creative that my fiancee dreams up. Due to the indulgence in meal 5 and the fat content in the beef (typically around 15%), the meal is fairly low volume. I’ve had plenty of experience eating chicken 3 times a day and by this time, I prefer to mix up the proteins a bit more!
Total macros: 229g protein, 168g carbs (133g on non-lifting days), 113g fat, 21g fiber, 2523 calories
Due to the lower fiber intake, I typically supplement to get closer to 30g, which is where my body is very comfortable.
I love flexible dieting as much as the next guy, but let’s be real: the most realistic application of flexible dieting is to develop a plan that is doable for you, and then you follow that plan until you get sick of it, change it, and repeat the cycle. I know of very few people with the patience and dedication to log everything and track macros diligently on a daily basis without driving themselves insane after a month or so of that.
I do often have times for that in the evening though, and so frequently I’ll turn those last 2 meals into a flex block that looks like this:
35g protein, 46g carbs, 40g fat, 670 calories
This gives me plenty of freedom to take something that my better half has schemed up for dinner, indulge a bit, and round out the macros with something else to complete the day.