I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and I want to put my opinions out there because there's so many different opinions all over social media and I feel like it's so easy to get confused. Especially if you're just starting to get into this lifestyle.
Meal Plans: This is when you either make your own meal plan or you get one from a coach, and it's just simple and basic meals for your day. Example: Meal 1 : eggs & oat meal Meal 2: Chicken & Rice Meal 3: Chicken and Vegetable etc. Like super basic, cookie cutter, eat this and nothing else. I did this ONCE for like three days. I purchased a plan from an online coach and I literally only lasted 3 days. Mind you it was not customized to me so I was STARVING TO DEATH. IT wasn't even about being bored with the same meals every.single.day, it was just not enough food to fill me up. If you're the type of person who doesn't get bored with food, then this might work for you. If you want to keep it simple and very strict, this is for you. Not my thing.
Macro Tracking: GREAT tool if you're trying to stay on track and enjoy flexibility. Basically you figure out your Fats/Proteins/Carb intake of the day, and log all of oyour food and try to hit those numbers. for example 60g Fat / 120g Protein / 200g Carbs. And you can eat ANYTHING to fit these, so you literally can eat whatever you want and have full flexibility. This is where you see a lot of fitness people eating poptarts. Personally I tried that for a little bit but poptarts fill up way too many macros for me for what they are. I like eating with more volume to actually fill me up. I used My Fitness Pal which was really easy to just scan my food, create my recipes, and log everything. It is a pain in the butt because you have to weigh everything or measure it and all of that. But if you're trying to keep yourself accountable, it's worth it. Online calculators can be close to accurate for what you need, but you can have somebody else do your macros for you or you can do them yourself. There's a lot of math formulas you can use on YouTube to help you figure it out! I might do a blog about that another day! But everyone's different based on their daily activity,weight,height, etc. I feel like tracking macros was good for me to realize how much food I can eat and still lose weight and it really helped me to not fear carbs. I think for the longest time in my weight loss I was scared of carbs, or even eating "too much" in general. So I recommend Macro Tracking if you enjoy flexibility but also enjoy some sort of accountability and structer.
Intuitive Eating: Eating when you want, what you want, how much you want. This is what I'm currently doing. Eating when i'm hungry. I'm glad I practiced tracking for some time so I kind of got a feel for what my body needs, but I'm practicing having a healthy relationship with food. I eat when i'm hungry, stop when I'm full. Clients ask me all the time if they are at the end of the day and they NEED to hit their macros. If you're not hungry, you dont' have to eat. Just like if you're starving and out of macros, still eat. This is having a healthy relationship with food. Go out to eat with your family, don't feel guilty about it. I've definitely grown to be MINDFUL about food over the years of meal plans and tracking. Tracking made me actually aware of what was in food, so it was actually a good stepping stone into intuitive eating. It doesn't mean I eat crappy food or anything like that. I'll eat my oat meal and my salads and a lot of grilled chicken, because I like it. But I also will eat a burger or some frozen yogurt or some icecream. I eat whenever I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. When I was tracking I felt like sometimes I'd eat because I had so many macros to fill. I actually tracked my food after intuitive eating for a day and I was basically spot on to what I'd do when tracking. (ps I'm currently cutting weight) I naturally eat lower in fats, high in protein and high(ish) carbs. I'm pretty active and I lift heavy and do my cardio so I need the carb energy. Usually 200g of carbs is my ideal and I'm still losing fat. I definitely recommend this if you're mindful of nutrition labels & you're mentally ready to have a healthy relationship with food.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!