Creating Fitness Meal Plans: For Beginners

fitness meal plans

Starting a fitness journey is exciting, but people often become hyper-focused on exercise while getting lost in the minutia of learning how to eat to maximize fitness goals. Nutrition is critical to achieving body transformation, more specifically, fitness meal planning. It’s well worth your time to learn the basics of good nutrition.

Educating clients in Sacramento about the importance of detailed meal prep and following specific fitness meal plans is a significant reason we’ve been so successful in helping our customers achieve fitness goals. The results are profound, and we’re looking forward to sharing some insight.  

This article is designed to overview the importance of creating fitness meal plans as a beginner. We will discuss a few key topics to consider as you search for meals that match your lifestyle and include foods that provide sufficient protein, carbs, fat, fruits, and vegetables.

Benefits Of Fitness Meal Plans

The best approach to building muscle, gaining strength, leaning out, and making positive shifts in aesthetic appearance is strategic planning and implementation of a resistance training and cardio program. Most of us understand it’s not wise to show up to the gym without knowing what you’re going to do that day. 

So, when we think about nutrition, it stands to reason the same planning and execution will amplify a beginner’s results while alleviating the headaches associated with learning how to eat correctly for specific goals.    

Meal planning has many benefits:

  • Time savings
  • Portion control
  • Reduce food waste
  • Save money
  • Increase food variety

Getting into the habit of creating a grocery list that’s tailored to your caloric intake and macronutrients is the foundation of meal planning. The modern grocery store is full of temptation, and sticking to your list will help you save money, avoid poor quality food choices and save you time.  

According to a 2016 consumer survey by the Hartman group, 53% of dinners are planned within an hour of eating them. There’s no question that lack of planning is a significant problem in staying on track with a die, as impulse eating can lead to weight gain and poor food choices. We’ve all been there, scrambling around in the refrigerator and pantry, trying to decide what foods and seasonings you can combine for the night’s meal. Ugh.  

Concerning calories, fitness meal plans naturally encourage portion control. Much has been written about the impact of calories and how excess calories can be detrimental to body transformation and fitness goals. Too many calories can lead to weight and fat gain. In contrast, air balling low on calories can hurt the individual looking to put on lean mass.

Grocery Shopping

The time savings associated with meal planning is often underestimated. We all get 24 hours in a day to make good use of our time, and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour wasting time trying to figure out how to put together a meal. By creating and sticking to a grocery list, you know what you’re going to eat and how to prepare it.

Improvising when grocery shopping is an excellent way to spend excess money. As you walk up and down the isles, you may find yourself putting food into your cart that looks good but isn’t a necessity. A few dollars here, and a few dollars there, the next thing you know, you’ve gone well over budget. While spending a few extra dollars on one grocery trip might not seem like a lot, consider that most people make two, three, or even 4+ trips to the grocery store each month. Across a calendar year, this can add up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars spent on food or drinks that won’t move you closer to your fitness goals. It’s also worth noting that the cost of eating a similar dish from a restaurant or a delivered meal kit can cost as much as five times more than it does to cook at home.

Creating fitness meal plans can increase the likelihood of hitting individual nutrient needs and making eating less dull. Cooking at home also gives you control and choice over ingredients, which means you can incorporate elements specific to your health. Once you’ve adopted the habit of planning meals consistently, you can start to create a shopping list and meals that include seasonal and local produce.

Creating a solid grocery list means you’re in control of the protein, carb, and fat content of your purchased foods. Allocating adequate calories toward protein can help you build lean muscle, while carbohydrates are essential for recovery and providing energy. Carbohydrates are often vilified, but they’re crucial to muscle building because they spare protein. Your body will reach for glycogen instead of breaking down muscle tissue for energy.  

Dietary fat is needed in many places throughout the body, including cells that are the building blocks of the human body. Without properly functioning cell membranes, there would be no way to regulate which substances can enter cells. Dietary fat is also great for hard gainers who need a caloric surplus since fat is calorie-dense (9 calories per gram).  

The decision fatigue associated with nutrition can be a real problem with adhering to a diet that helps achieve your fitness goals. Deciding what to do for dinner can be exhausting, as it often adds stress and anxiety to the day, which most of us do not need. A great solution to eliminating decision fatigue is selecting a day to make your grocery list. Once you have your list, choose another day to get the shopping done. Taking it a step further, you can also select one day per week to prepare bulk batches of meals so that you have nutritious meals readily available throughout the week.

Take A Look At Your Lifestyle

Assessing your lifestyle can help you decide on the exact reasons for meal planning. Once you have a clearer picture of what you’re hoping to achieve by leveraging meal planning (goals and expectations), you can start adjusting to the process to make it more sustainable.  

We all have different budgets, unique needs for caloric intake, and varying tolerance levels for making intelligent decisions when life gets hectic. The time savings associated with meal planning can also be a significant relief if you’re busy with your career, family, or other social activities. Once you’ve been creating fitness meal plans for a few weeks, you’ll get into the groove of automating the process, which will further benefit your life.