Meal planning and food prep (plus carb/protein advice from my new dietician!)

Meal planning and food prep (plus carb/protein advice from my new dietician!)

Hi guys, I am starting a new job next week. Planning on using this as a way to kickstart a healthier weekly routine as I have friends who religiously meal plan but I have always seemed to float from day to day (via frequent trips to the supermarket). Getting organised is likely to save me time and money as well as reducing the chances of falling off the healthy eating wagon. As a way to get me going with this, I decided to visit a dietician for advice as I have read so many conflicting articles about ideal ratios of protein/carbs etc at this stage that I was getting a bit I have some issues with skin breakouts recently and would like to figure out what may be causing it.

Anyway, her advice was great! Quick summary below

- Have three meals and two snacks per day, or four smaller meals

- Give up food tracking and just go by the proportion of meat/veg/carbs on my plate. Reduce carbs in the evening meal unless I have exercised after work.

- Try to eat within an hour of getting up (as metabolism can slow down by 30% otherwise)

- Ensure I include protein in EVERY meal

- Eat a handful of nuts or one spoon of nut butter every day (improves skin, hair etc and increases average life expectancy by three years :) )

- Eat oily fish at least twice a week (and/or take fish oils) for overall health and good skin/hair etc

She said to up my protein intake to keep my blood sugar stable and stop me from getting hungry (and hence going off the rails...) She emphasised the importance of having it in every single meal, as having balanced meals/snacks keep us full and stop the headaches/energy crashes associated with carbs alone. So she wasn't a fan of my daily breakfast of porridge, almond milk and chopped apple (which I thought was saintly...) She suggested adding greek yoghurt/nuts/protein powder to ensure it is more balanced...without that, she compared it to eating a bowl of potatoes!!!

She said not to bother calories counting as it would drive me mad, be impossible to keep to in the long term and only encourage the on/off the wagon attitude that I am prone to. She suggested thinking in terms of plate proportions instead. And to factor in the time of day. So for breakfast and lunch, have around 30% protein (ideally lean meat, fish, eggs, tofu etc but can also be your chilli, chicken curry etc), 40% carbohydrate (starchy carbs or fruit), 30% vegetables or berries. An easy way of remembering this is that the protein serving should be the size of your clenched fist. And in the evening, stick to this if I have had a workout. But on the days I don't exercise, change this to 50% vegetables or berries, 30% protein and 20% carbs. As protein is important for our muscles/joints/bones and veg is important for our overall health (and skin!) but our bodies don't need the carbohydrate fuel just before we go to sleep.

She said keeping to this 90% of the time will be effective for losing body fat and no need to weigh, measure food if the plate proportions look broadly ok. I thought that this was great advice as it takes a lot of the work out of eating healthy and it also means that I can have the same dinners as my partner in the evening but while I am aiming to lose weight just ensure I have half the rice/pasta and double the veg.

Any feedback on the above would be welcomed, I think it sounds quite sensible so am going to give it a go for the next three weeks and see how I get on.

So, on to the meal planning! Breakfasts during the week will be overnight oats and I like omelettes at the weekend. I have read about making egg muffins to freeze and eat during the week but never tried it…has this worked for anyone else?

I need a big lunch in the office or I get too hungry to concentrate…I always used to buy my lunch but am going to make a big effort to prep them at home and take them in every day. Am thinking brown rice/quinoa/cous cous, chicken or tuna, feta or halloumi, peppers, courgette ribbons, peas…not sure how to add flavour to keep them tasty. Salad dressing or hummus maybe?

Quick dinners can be baked chicken or fish with veg and rice/pasta but I’d also like to batch cook some stuff. Will start off with chilli and curry and as the weather turns I might freeze some soup as well.

Snacks that include protein are trickier…so far all I’ve got are oatcakes and nut butter, carrots/celery and hummus. I’ve found recipes online for protein balls and oven roasted chickpeas so I will try those this week and report back.

All feedback and other suggestions from regular food preppers would be very welcome!! Including ways to convince my partner (who is naturally slim) that this is a good idea and won’t mean sacrificing our tastebuds :)

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13 Replies

  • Cool, thanks for that; I found it to be informative and interesting...I like the nuggets of advice that I can remember easily, like the importance of protein in every meal and to eat in the first hour of getting up (I struggle to eat for the first couple of hours and tend to sip tea but this morning after reading your post I made myself eat a banana and clementine as well as sipping my usual tea as the idea of my metabolism slowing down by 30% that early in the day scares me.).

    It sounds like a sensible plan and I'll work on the protein part, I am a vegetarian who is trying to become vegan gradually so this will take some thinking. :P I am probably eating too much veg and fruit but I know it's safe to eat them lol. :P

  • Oh it must be so difficult to get the protein as a vegan. I have been cutting down on dairy to see if it helps my skin so have been using almond milk. However, soy is far higher in protein so I have bought that this week instead, it is calcium fortified too which helps make up for cutting out cows milk! Not sure how else to get protein except for nuts/ you like tofu and quorn? I'm not a huge fan of the texture if I'm honest but eat it sometimes for variety. If you have any veggie meal suggestions that you find work well for you please let me know and I'll give them a go too :)

  • I have loads of beans and pulses in and yes, I use soya milk which is full of protein and added calcium so I think I can do it with not too much trouble - I meant I was struggling about what to do with them, to make interesting meals. I have ordered a book at the library; full of vegan recipes. I'm not a fan of tofu or quorn either and just don't see the point of them if I am honest with you. Fair enough, if that's what other people like but it is not for me. :) I might try it now and again to stir things up and make a meal more interesting but there are so many ideas out there to make veg, salad, fruit and fungi more interesting and tasty. I like my mushrooms and also I will make more of an effort to include more nuts and seeds into my diet as I know I lack them! :)

    We should keep in touch and share ideas, you never know, we could really help each other and it makes all this easier and friendlier. :) I'll click follow on your profile. Stay in touch. :)

    Sazkia x

  • Actually, protein deficiency is very rare in the western world even for vegans. What vegans are prone to is B12 deficiency, and fatty liver/insulin resistance if the have too much fructose, alcohol and high-glycaemic foods.

  • Hi, I think there are a few people who prefer counting portions to counting calories, BHF do a diet based on that, you can even buy a special plate off amazon to help control portion sizes. There's a useful guide here to

    I prefer to weigh and log food, but I have time to, not so easy when you are busy working.

    Good luck!

  • If you have protein at every meal, you will need a portion that is only about three-quarters of your palm size to get your recommended 45g per day.

    The Body Clock Diet recommends we eat most of our carbs for our last meal of the day because when we sleep that is the ideal time to replenish our glycogen that we have used during the day. Even if you are active, you are unlikely to need such a big portion of carbohydrate at every meal because you get carbohydrate from the vegetables, and when you burn body fat it releases the carbohydrate backbones that hold triglycerides together.

    Eating four or more small meals is a remnant from having a high carbohydrate diet. It is used to try and prevent the highs and lows in energy from being so severe. However, if we are using our glycogen and fat reserves the peaks and troughs shouldn't be noticeable. That's why It's important that the carbs we eat are low Gi to provide sustained energy, not spiking insulin/IGF-1.

    Finally, for now, lean protein is the fastest way to deplete the liver of vitamin A, which then has the knock-on effect of disrupting the balance with vitamin D. Having nuts is one way of getting your natural fat, as is oily fish, but having some natural fat at every meal is truly balanced eating.

    I hope this is the feedback you were looking for.

  • Hi Concerned, thanks for this. I've googled the diet you recommended but didn't find much on it without buying the book. I will add more carbs to my evening meal once I am at target weight but am going to follow the dieticians advice for now to see how I get on. I agree that low GI makes sense for avoiding blood sugar spikes :)

  • Actually, the book I mentioned is not a high carbohydrate diet. They suggest having protein earlier in the day for consciousness. However, Ron Rosedale warns against having too much protein which has harmful side products when burned for fuel instead of cell maintenance, and the excess glucose disrupts nutrient sensing hormones. High IGF-1 levels increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.

    I only mentioned that to complement the advice you were given anyway, because cutting back too far on carbohydrate at night might disrupt your sleep. Better to eat balanced meals as outlined above.

  • Ok thanks, I'll keep an eye on that :)

  • Hiya, some good advice there. I have blood sugar problems and also find i need to eat protein at each meal. I used to avoid carbs aswell but since ive been taking some supplemts i can tolerate carbs better, as long as they are slow release ones. I agree that if you have blood sugar instability that porridge isnt a great breakfast, atleast without protein aswell. Am gluten intolerant so I normally have a chickpea pancake with bacon and tomato, or cheese and tomato. Or even butter and raw honey i find doesnt upset my blood sugar. Buckwheat pancakes are also good although less protein than the chickpea ones so you need to def have with something proteiny like low fat pork/quorn sausages and mushrooms.

    Snacks: Homemade butterbean dip or lentil dip is nice, high in protein and makes a change from hummus. I keep meaning to make roasted chickpeas but they seem like a faff, atleast the recipe i looked at. Hardboiled eggs or ham roll ups with low fat cream cheese are good. Or low fat cheddar or feta in a lettuce leaf. Quorn chipolatas are good snacks- just bake a load and keep in the fridge.

    Im also working on eating half a plate of veg at each meal. I think the portion thing instead of calories is ideal, as long as it works for you. I tried it recently but actually found it harder- i think i prefer the black and white nature of calorie counting.

    Good luck, keep us posted how it goes for you ☺ xx

  • Thanks, some great suggestions there which would work at home or on the go - I will definitely try some of those and report back! I love lentils so a dip would be great (I do already eat tonnes of hummus so nice change as you say). What supplements do you take?

  • Heya, cool glad they were useful. i take magnesium, b12 and chromium which are all supposed to stabilise blood sugar. I def find when i take them i am less hungry and dont get the blood sugar dips as easily. Plus i can eat a portion of slow carbs without it making me more hungry like it used to. I generally stick to brown basmati (tilda microwave pouches), quinoa, oats, gluten free pasta or sometimes sweet potato. I want to buy some wholegrain buckwheat to try aswell. ☺

  • Hi food-lover this sounds like a great set of tips that I'm also absorbing and could benefit from following. Re breakfast porridge I've recently started adding a tbsp of ground almonds in along with my mashed banana. I think almonds and apple would work well too. As for adding flavour to your salad lunches, I've been thinking recently about the low calorie things that make things tasty so I'll list what I came up with here: things that are roasted, pickled, sundried, smoked, spicy, or salty. So salad recipes that contain roast veg, pickles such as capers/gerkins, or sundried tomatoes/sultanas, smoked mackerel/cheese/tofu, something hot such as mustard/harissa/chilli flakes, or salty such as capers/anchovies. Hope that gives you some ideas :)