Consistency is one of the most important aspects of achieving any goal. Sticking to your meal plan is essential and will produce incredible results quickly. That’s easier said than done! Here are five tips for sticking to your meal plan and not missing those metabolism building meals!
- Plan ahead
Proper preparation is the number one way to stick to your diet. Usually bad decisions or less-than-optimal solutions occur when we are unprepared. Clean food isn’t always available. If you get behind on your meals for the day, you will likely also get very hungry and start to rationalize bad dietary decisions. “I’m starving; I don’t even care; just give me SOMETHING!” Always try to plan ahead. Make a plan the night before about what you’re going to eat and when. Learn how to make a plan that allows for flexibility. For instance, you MIGHT have a lunch meeting that will require you to eat at a restaurant. Plan the meals around the lunch and have a plan before you arrive about what you will order and also what you will avoid at the restaurant. It’s far easier to avoid the bread when you’ve decided ahead of time, “I will not eat the bread served before the meal.”
- Keep a stash
I rely on my stash all the time! In fact, I keep multiple stashes around. I have a truck stash, an office stash, a stash at my Dad’s house, and a gym bag stash. What’s a stash? For me, it’s whey protein sample packs, tuna packs, and raw nuts. A stash should be a quality source of protein, fat, and carbs that are not quickly perishable that you can depend on if you’re stuck without a meal. Life is often unpredictable and sometimes your days just don’t go how you planned! That’s okay if you’re prepared. If you have a stash of foods that fit your meal plan, it’s very unlikely that you will need to miss a meal or rely on unhealthy foods to sustain you because you don’t have access to any clean food.
- Learn to be resourceful
You know those survivor shows, where survival experts can turn a barren desert cave into a livable bungalow and eat a three-course meal before bed? That should be you when it comes to sticking to your meal plan! Make something out of nothing. For instance – how to navigate a convenience store or gas station when you need to eat and you don’t have food, your stash is empty, and restaurants are closed. “Health Foods” can be a trap. Sports drinks, granola bars, mixed nuts, and most other items marketed as “health” food are usually very calorie dense and were designed for people in endurance events. Your road trip may require endurance, but not the kind that requires intra drive glycogen replenishment! My favorite go-to is beef jerky – the sodium content is high, but it’s high in protein and low in fat and carbs. If you want fat or carbs, you can add in a single serving of nuts or be one of the one in 1000 people that buy the fruit at the gas station. Protein bars can be hit or miss and the same with protein shakes. Just make sure you check the nutrition facts to avoid unnecessary calories from sugar or fat.
- Learn how to order at restaurants
Ordering at a restaurant in a meal plan friendly way is a learned skill. There are lots of tricks of the trade. A few of my favorites:
- Make sure the meat is cooked with no butter or oil (it often is).
- As for any and all sauce, get it on the side (this can sometimes cut the calories by 25-50%).
- Get certain items steamed instead of pan fried, fried, or any other method that involves using fat to cook a would-be healthy food choice.
- Just ask for what you want! If you can’t make a good combo using their preset menu, just ask for what you want. They’ll often make it for you.
- Set a timer
For me, and most dieters, the stomach grumble is timer enough. But if you’re trying to add muscle mass and living in a calorie surplus that doesn’t leave you hungry or you have a slow metabolism and meal frequency is a struggle, then set yourself a timer. Use a phone or watch and set a timer so you don’t forget. Keep shakes nearby in case it’s time to eat and you’re not in a setting to pull out a meal. That way you don’t end up trying to make up for lost time late at night or missing meals altogether.