As I mentioned before Brooks and I have tried a few different diets with limited success. The main things we struggled with were entire food group elimination (whole 30) or starting with too extreme of a calorie deficit (unable to maintain for extended periods of time and led to binging). After a lot of trial and error, we found that flexible eating based on caloric needs and macro nutrient goals (Similar to the concept of “If It Fits Your Macros” IIFYM) works the best for both of us.
Disclaimer: in order to be successful with any meal plan/diet, you have to be prepared! I recommend doing research on different diets before choosing one and also not to be afraid to change things up if it just isn’t working for you.
Our current goal is to hit our protein macros everyday while staying in a slight calorie deficit. This means high protein every meal and supplemented by whey protein powder during and after our workouts. I’ve put together lists of the food we typically eat, tricks we’ve discovered to help with variation and palatability, and the main ways we prepare our protein sources.
We do most of our grocery shopping at Costco and get the non-bulk items at grocery stores like Safeway or Winco.
- Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Breasts or Tenders
- White fish such as tilapia
- Lean Ground Beef
- Egg whites
- Packaged boiled eggs
- Breakfast sausage
- Carne asada
- Pork shoulder
- Cottage cheese
Carbohyrates (not pictured):
- White and Jasmine rice
- Old fashioned oats
- Corn tortillas
- Sweet potatoes and occasional white potatoes
Fruits and vegetables:
- These will vary depending on sales and season. We try to always have a salad kit in the fridge to throw together in a pinch. They’re also sources of micronutrients and fiber.
- Chopped vegetables as easy snacks such as peppers, carrots and cucumber.
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut
- Franks red hot sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Ranch Dressing
- Teriyaki sauce
- Sweet chili sauce
Condiments are a great way to help change up meals and palatability. The only thing to be cautious of is high sugar and fat content that can increase calories really fast if you’re not careful.
Spices, oils, vinegars, etc:
- These are essential in helping make food prep easier, more affordable, and more palatable.
- A good meat rub (store bought or homemade) is an easy way to add flavor and variety to your meal preps. We try to have a dedicated poultry, steak and fish rub on hand.
We use our Traeger so much! It’s leaves the food moist which is great when you’re reheating meals and gives an extra smoky flavor. We get our pellets from Costco.
Our crockpot also sees a lot of use. The main meals we use it for are shredded chicken and pulled pork/carnitas.
When we’re doing a full meal prep we will use the Traeger, grill, and crock pot to prepare different types of protein. We’ll portion everything into containers and stock up the fridge for quick protein sources.
We have dozens of these little rubbermade containers floating around our cabinets and in our fridge. They have worked great for us and are nice because they have a ton of different sizes and interchangeable lids.
In the near the future we will be posting up a sample meal prep plan as well as offering tailored solutions. The most important thing to do though is to make sure you are putting together a plan that is sustainable for the long term. The two biggest mistakes we see folks make is to: plan with recipes they find online that are not their normal foods and suddenly starting a new fad diet that is also not their normal way of eating.
While there is nothing wrong with finding recipes online, we do it all the time, the trap folks fall into with starting a new diet or eating plan is to choose recipes that are significantly different than how they normally eat. This is especially common in restrictive diets, but is also frequently done by people trying to just eat healthier. The all or nothing approach is common and usually leads to folks choosing the easier and often more immediately satisfying choice of all versus nothing. We will see people grabbing grocery carts full ingredients they’ve never even eaten in their lives, none the less thought about cooking with, the day before starting a new diet or eating plan. These recipes are also often very labor intensive and the ingredients quite expensive. We simply do. It have the time or money to follow complex recipes for every meal. In our opinion most people will be better served adapting their existing food choices and meals to their dietary and weight goals. Yes this will mean cutting out and limiting a lot of processed foods and a long term timestyle change, but it should be done in a way that still is pleasing to your pallet and works with your lifestyle, fitness goals and finances.
Forcing yourself to do an ultra restrictive diet that you cannot maintain will lead to falling off the wagon and unhealthy rebound. In our experience it is better to allow consistent access to food you enjoy within moderation and within your planned macronutriental requirements than to do an strict diet that allows no “cheats” and for many people cannot be followed for a long term. While this may not have the quick success or results as a crash 4-6 week diet, it leads to consistent flexible results. By flexible we mean this can be used to reduce fat (cut) or to increase muscle (bulk) by adjusting your macronutrient and caloric requirements. The best way to be successful with this and really any eating plan (including ultra restrictive diets) is to meal prep.
If you want further information, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We offer diet and meal planning with our online coaching or as a stand alone service. See our store or email Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org