How To Make Small Changes To The Meal Plan To Fit Your Needs

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We sometimes get emails from meal plan subscribers who are either experiencing fatigue and/or hunger. We also get emails from people on the meal plan who aren’t losing weight as quickly as they’d like on the plan. My first questions to both of these kinds of people are:

-How big of a person are you?
-How active are you?
-And are you tweaking the meal plan to fit your personal needs at all?

Are You Eating Enough, Too Much, Or Too Little On The Plan?

Those are my questions because I’m wondering if that fatigued person on the meal plan is eating enough and I’m wondering if that person who’s not losing weight is eating too much. If you’re a 6’1″, 180 pound guy doing CrossFit 5 times a week, the meal plan on its own isn’t going to cut it for you. It’s as simple as that. You’re going to be hungry and feel weak and fatigued. Your performance will suffer because you’re not getting enough calories. Even if you’re trying to cut calories to lose weight, you’ll be cutting WAY too many calories to be sustainable. For instance, a 25 year-old, 6’1″, perfectly fit guy at a lean 180 pounds doing CrossFit 3-5 times a week might need up to 3,300 calories a day to maintain his weight.

What The Meal Plan Provides

The meal plan provides between 1,489 and 1,974 calories per day on its own. Here’s a post on the average nutritional content of a weekly meal plan at Paleo Plan. The reason we provide this many calories is that it’s way easier to add to the menu than to take away in our opinion. If we gave a 45 year old, 5’0″, 150 pound, fairly inactive woman who’s trying to lose weight 3,000 calories a day, she’d gain weight faster than you can say Paleo Diet. She actually only needs about 1,650 calories a day, and that’s to maintain her weight – not to lose weight.

So, if you’re that big guy we talked about before, or even a 27 year old, 5’7″, 140 pound guy who’s moderately active and doesn’t need to lose weight (who needs roughly 2,150 calories a day to maintain his weight), you need to add food to the meal plan.

How Many Calories Do YOU Need?

Now, figure out how many calories you need. Your result is an APPROXIMATE. I can’t stress that enough, but it will at least give you an idea of how much or little you should be eating every day, and therefore how you should or shouldn’t tweak the meal plan.

If you want to know how much you should eat if you’re trying to lose weight, subtract 200 or 300 calories from that a day and you’ll likely start losing weight. If you want to get more detailed about it, go sign up for a free account at www.myfitnesspal.com, and in the set-up process, it’ll tell you how many calories you should be eating in order to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week. By the way, that is a healthy and sustainable amount to lose per week and it may end up being more or less than that, depending on your metabolism, stress levels, sleep habits, etc.

How To Add Food To The Meal Plan

When the grocery list says to buy 1 pound of meat, you buy more, depending on how many more calories per day you need. Oil is a relatively cheap thing to eat more of, and fat is a great source of energy. Just lather your meals in it if you need more calories. And carbs. Don’t forget the carbs if you’re that active person who needs more calories. DON’T FEAR THE CARBS (if you’re active, that is)!

Add Protein
3.5 oz chicken breast with skin = 197 calories
3.5 oz sirloin steak broiled = 212 calories
3.5 oz wild Atlantic salmon broiled = 182 calories

Add Fat
1 tbs coconut oil = 117 calories
1 tbs olive oil = 119 calories
1 tbs coconut milk (canned) = 112 calories
1/2 avocado = 160 calories

Add Carbs
2 cups raspberries (raw or frozen) = 128 calories/30 grams carbs
1 medium (2″ diameter x 5″ long) baked sweet potato = 180 calories/24 grams carbs
1 large banana (8-9″ long) = 121 calories/31 grams carbs

All of this information is from the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, by the way.

How To Subtract Food From The Meal Plan

  • Subtract snacks from the meal plan. Just don’t buy that jerky or the nuts – it’s pretty easy. Then cut your lunch in half. Eat one half for lunch and one half as your snack.
  • Use less oil when you cook. As you can see, a tablespoon of oil is over 100 calories, so if you use half a teaspoon (or none, like I do) instead of a teaspoon, it will add up over the day.
  • If you find that your partner on the plan needs more food and you need less food than you’re getting, then give your partner more food and you take less. No more even portions for two very differently proportioned people.

Remember that the meal plan is a template. Everyone has their own special caloric needs, and you might have to do just a little bit of research to figure out what yours are, and what you need to add or subtract from the meal plan, if anything, to make it work for you. I’m happy to answer questions to help you make it fit you better. Just email me at neely@paleoplan.com.