We live in a world where time and convenience take over complexity and individual efforts. We see fast food restaurants, burger and hot dog stands, pubs, and dine-in eateries everywhere around us.
It is so convenient to satisfy our hunger and appetite by choosing to buy our meals at the same time or sporadically throughout the day at any of the aforementioned places. Why not? After all there is no time involved in cooking, preparing, and breaking down portions with micro-formulas, calories, ounces, and ending up with a bunch of Tupperware in our kitchen drawers.
The truth is not all choices are wrong, and even having a “cheat meal” here and there could be of benefit for the body both physical and mental. Yet, the purpose of this article is to specifically and simply aid you in creating a meal plan for yourself that fits most people’s busy schedules.
Let’s consider for a moment what our bodies need the most to feel energized, healthy, and strong. We need a good variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, essential fats, carbohydrates, and water to keep us working at our fullest potentials.
In my last 15 years as Trainer I have seen it all when it comes to people’s nutritional habits and eating trends. To be truthful, even with today’s massive ocean of information online I meet more and more people confused about what and when to eat foods than ever before! This is not an understatement. I literally get asked what to eat and when at least 5 times a day from different people.
The common cup of coffee and a piece of toast is more abundant and common among people than you think. This trend will lead to lethargic, burnt out adrenal glands, loss in muscle tissue, diminished immune system response, and increased acidity (lower PH balance). Consequently, leading the day to a nightmare of spiral habits that will continue to affect negatively the bodily systems. I know a lot of people who don’t have lunch then get home and have a massive dinner. The release of insulin, a hormone secreted in the pancreas that regulates sugar levels in the blood stream, is heightened above normal leading to fat gain and lethargy.
To keep it simple and fun try this approach that works very well for most people who are looking to look and feel better.
Wake up in the morning, have 250-500ml of water in which prior to drinking squeeze 1/4-1/2 lemon in it (for your day’s total water intake try to have 2 to 3 liters a day). Following that nothing beats a rushed morning than a great smoothie. Make it double too. That way you drink half of what’s in the blender for breakfast, and the other half as your mid-morning snack with some almonds. This smoothie can be changed daily to add variety to your week. Use your favourite flavor of protein powder, add some fruits, and nut butter (peanut butter or almond butter, or hazelnut butter). A good example of one that a lot of my clients like and that I do myself is:
1/4 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 scoop whey protein (if you are vegetarian you can have pea protein, or brown rice protein, or hemp protein, or quinoa protein powder)
1/3 cup oatmeal
1 scoop of greens ( I use phytofuel by EON. Is organic and one scoop contains 2 lbs worth of vegetables phytonutrients).
You can mix it with either water, coconut milk, or almond milk. Tastes great and gives your body everything it needs to get your day started.
Now, remind yourself to double up on each ingredient so that half of it you put in a shaker cup and drink as a mid-morning snack. You can add some cashews or raw almonds to the snack to continue to fuel your day.
Now, let’s assume that you still have a few hours of work before you get to go home. A good lunch is important. Try to stay away from refined sugars and high glycemic carbohydrates. A large spike in insulin at this time of the day, will make you drowsy and sleepy and will likely reduce your productivity at the workplace. As an alternative, have a salad with a lean skinless chicken breast or fish. Adding olive oil or nuts to lunch will continue to give you slow sustained energy into the afternoon.
For mid afternoon snack, again keep it very simple. Just add a scoop of your favourite low carb protein powder to your shaker cup mix with water and have a low glycemic fruit with it such as either an apple, pear, or grapefruit.
For dinner, I’ll assume you are at home with your family. Similar to lunch you could either have a salad or steamed vegetables with a side of meat (turkey breast, chicken breast, fish, lean beef, and lean bison). If you are going to be up for a while before going to sleep you may have some carbs such as a small portion of brown rice or yams. These are amazing carbohydrates that rarely turn into fat. In huge amounts they could so try to aim for portions the size of the palm of your hand.
Meal planning and creating daily habits of eating like this are not hard. Simple always beats complicated. This article is not for the hard core bodybuilder or athlete but for everyone looking for guidance and help on how to improve their nutritional habits.
Juan Jimenez, Active Body Nutrition President
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