1. Download MyFitnessPal on to your phone and change your daily macros to the ones you have been given. You will get more out of the premium package in the app but it is not required. You can work with the free version. The premium package will allow you to set your macros to the gram and allow you to have multiple sets of macros in order to track properly on training days, rest days, etc. If you opt not to go premium, you will have one set of macros that is based off a percentage opposed to exact grams and you will need to be OK with remembering rest day and training day macros. If you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of MFP, watch the provided tutorial and play around with the app by scanning items in and using some of the features.
2. The most important thing to consider when planning your nutrition is determining a practical and realistic approach. The “wing it” approach is extremely inconsistent and can be stressful, as you’ll spend more time doing math and playing macro Tetris than you spend in the gym. Set 20-30 minutes aside on Sunday to get ready for the week ahead.
3. The first step is determining how many core meals (meaning full meals, not snacks) you want to eat a day; there is no right or wrong answer here. Some people do better on two large meals a day and others do better on four. The important thing is to choose the route that will keep you both happy and consistent. You can name your meals in MFP; I highly suggest you do that.
4. Looking at your macros and number of desired core meals, start planning your meals ahead for the week. Enter what you KNOW you will eat each day. Save common meals on MFP to make this easier, this way you won’t need to manually enter each day. You can copy any meal to any day. Create and save meals on Sunday night, then you can easily add them throughout the week. Know that you can tweak and adjust meals; the serving sizes aren’t set in stone. For example if you save a meal in your phone that has 5 ounces of chicken in it, once you add it to a day in your food diary, you can easily change that serving size to 6 ounces if need be.
5. Create a training day menu and a rest day menu if you have different sets of macronutrients. You may only start with one set of numbers. On training days you will have pre and post workout meals containing carbs. Beyond that, consider your training time. If you training in the morning, you should consider incorporating more carbs into breakfast. If you training in the evening, you should consider incorporating more carbs into dinner. On rest days, your carb intake will be lower and fat intake will be higher. Rest days typically mean fattier cuts of meat/fish, which is something to take into account when planning for the week. Here are some basics to keep in mind: • Protein: Should be broken up evenly based on your meal schedule & consumed through the day. • Fat: Slowest digesting macro and keeps you satisfied the longest. Consume a bulk of your fat when you tend to get the hungriest during the day. • Carbs: Human gasoline. Seventy percent should be consumed around your training time. For example, “bookend” your training with roughly 35% before and 35% after. Do not overthink this guideline. • Fiber: Roughly 15% of your daily carbohydrate intake should come from fiber. By consuming adequate fiber, it will be virtually impossible to over consume sugar.
6. Add any supplements that you take daily in order to be accurate with micronutrients and calories (vitamins, BCAAs, protein, etc.).
7. Give your plan a once over to make sure macros and micros are met. If your micronutrients are under 100%, go back and add more produce
8. Head to the grocery store once you have your nutrition outlined. Buy all the food you have entered for the week and then some. See provided shopping list.
9. Prep some food to make life easier. For example, making a weeks worth of sweet potatoes and baked chicken at the beginning of the week will make eating a lot easier. If you want to actually prep and portion your meals to keep you on track, go for it. Make sure you buy high quality Tupperware in order for your food to keep better.
10. Set alarms on your phone during the day if you are prone to under eating or forgetting to eat (athletes are busy people). Skipping meals is completely fine because meal timing plays a very minimal role in the grand scheme of things, however over eating at the end of the day because you forgot to eat will make most people miserable.
11. If you know you will be going out to eat at any point in the week, look at the menu ahead of time and assess your options. Enter as much as possible ahead of time in order to make eating during the day easier. The more you have entered ahead of time, the easier nutrition will be. Remove the guesswork, remove the stress!
12. You will almost always have “left over macros” that are unaccounted for each day after planning out your meals. This gives you options. For example, if you are hungrier than you anticipated you would be, you have some wiggle room for bigger servings. You can divvy them up between snacks throughout the day, or you can save them till the end of the day in hopes to squeeze in another meal of your liking.
13. At the end of the day, if your calories, protein, and micros are closely met, you did well. The whole point of this is flexibility and leniency and we never want perfect to be the enemy of the good. The more you plan, track, and measure, the easier this will become for you. The planning ahead part is usually what is the most stressful part for people but after a few weeks of practice, it will start to come easy.