Lil Bull Nutrition: What should I eat?
One of the many things that I get asked is: What should I eat? I understand that not everyone has the palette to eat the same meals everyday...so what should you eat?
WHAT IS CALORIE MATCHING?
Whenever my nutrition clients receive a meal plan, they will have their daily calories listed. In my professional opinion, I believe the body and metabolism have the best results with weight loss when your daily calories are staying the same. It has helps regulate insulin and blood sugar levels, and encourages the body to get used to a caloric deficit to achieve fat loss.
So, whenever a client asks about replacing one protein with another, I ask them to calorie match. What this means is that I want them to match the calories of the original protein to the calories of the new protein, not the amount of ounces. For example, if your lunch meal consists of 4 ounces of chicken, and you would like to replace it with salmon, you need to match the calories in the 4 ounces of chicken to an equal amount in salmon. So, 4 ounces of boneless skinless chicken is 184 kcals on My Fitness Pal; what you must do next is go to My Fitness Pal or another calorie app and play with the measurements until you get the same amount of calories. If you replace chicken with salmon, after toggling the measurements, you will find that it is also right around 4 ounces of salmon to equal 185 kcals. If you are within 5 calories, you will be fine! Now, let's use strip steak as an example. Where this cut of meat holds much more natural fat than chicken or salmon, it only takes about 2.25 ounces to equal 187 kcals. This means that your portion size is going to be much smaller, so you have to be conscious that you are not leaving yourself hungry. My meal plans are designed to keep your metabolism running all day with smaller but filling meals throughout the day. You are allowed to calorie match any of your proteins, fats, or carbs, but the trick is to understand that if you chose something that is more calorie dense, you are probably going to get hungrier throughout the day and end up breaking your meal plan. So, yes, calorie matching is allowed, but you must be smart with it for success!
DISCLAIMER: Calorie matching is ONLY for lifestyle eating clients. If you are doing your nutrition coaching with me for the purpose of a competition, event, or to help with an illness/condition, you are not allowed to calorie match without prior approval. These meal plans are carefully calculated for whatever energy system you require or restrictions you have, and even though your daily calories would stay the same, your macro count would be skewed.
Now that we have gone over calorie matching, which proteins can you use? Below is the list of proteins that I suggest, and we will go over them:
- Mahi Mahi
- Steelhead Trout
- Ahi Tuna
- Lean Sirlion*
- Egg Whites
- Chicken Sausage
- Whey Protein*
- Protein Bars*
- Beyond meat
- Vegan protein*
Any of the above proteins would be fine to calorie match, but some of them have stipulations. Lean Sirloin can be used to calorie match, but I do not want this to be an everyday thing. If you would like to replace with steak, I would also like to talk about it first as red meat can be and inflammatory for some. Eggs can also be used, but just like steak, these have a high fat content and will mess with your macros more than the other proteins listed. Whey and Vegan Protein as well as protein bars can be used to calorie match, but I usually have these incorporated into your plan, and that is where I want them to be. They can be used as replacements, but ONLY if that is the only way that you will get your calories in (i.e. nurse shift, event, vacation).
Carbohydrates are also allowed for calorie matching, but first I must break them down into simple and complex so you can understand which category you are allowed to chose from.
- Simple Carbs are made up of mostly sugars such as glucose, fructose, lactose, and sucrose. These carbs are quick energy source which means they burn up quickly and leave you hungry. Simple carbs have calories, but lack much substance such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Simple carbs can also raise blood glucose levels which leave you with insulin spikes and drops.
- Simple carbs have their place, but it is usually for quick energy. If you are about to run sprints or do a very heavy lift, you might want some simple carb fuel.
- Complex carbs are more dense and fibrous than simple carbs, which means they fuel your body better and leave you more full than simple carbs. Where simple carbs burn up immediately, complex carbs take time to burn which give you longer lasting energy. Complex carbs are also ideal for weight loss because they do not mess with blood glucose levels as much as simple carbs, and the body has to work harder to burn them which promotes less stored fat.
Now that we understand the difference between these two, here is a list of carbs that you can calorie match:
- White rice
- Jasmine rice
- White potatoes
- Rice cakes
- More citrus fruits (oranges, pineapples)
- Brown rice
- Steel but oats
- Sweet potatoes
- Ezekiel bread
- Wheat thins
- More fibrous fruits (apples, bananas, berries)
Lastly, lets talk about fats! Fats tend to be a bit more simple, but the one thing you have to be conscious about when it comes to fats is that they do have more calories than proteins and carbs. Where proteins and carbs both have 4 kcals per gram, fats contain 9 kcals per gram. As stated above, if you would like to use eggs as a source of protein, you can, but you are really going more towards fats than you are protein. I also like to use fats in my plans because they are a secondary source of energy. They are harder for your body to pull to use which promotes fat burning and they are a long lasting energy source. So, what fat sources can you use?
- Turkey bacon
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Flax seeds
If you are a person who can sustain dairy and lactose without any problems, then you are welcome to use cheese and yogurt, but, most people are either sensitive to dairy or dairy intolerant, so I do not use dairy in my meal pans. If you are lactose intolerant but still love cheese and yogurt, I suggest checking out Daiya dairy-free cheese and Silk almondmilk yogurt.
In conclusion, you do not have to eat the same thing every day, but you must understand your food and how it breaks down to understand what to replace and what not to. Meal plans are designed specifically for your goals, and the macros and calories have been calculated for you. This means that when you calorie match, it can change up your macros a little bit, but too much will completely throw your body. Be smart and continue to run headfirst into your goals!