When it comes to making a meal plan, the process appears to be straightforward. For many, all you need is some knowledge of the right foods and the right amounts to put together your diet plan. In contrast, experts claim that many factors come into play when you are planning a diet. Different diet experts will vary on what foods they recommend and give various techniques to follow, as well as details on which protocols fit which meal plans. That said, the underlying theme is that all of them will evaluate and follow diet planning principles. But just what are the principles of diet planning? Well, let us find out!
When it comes to diet planning, most people think short-term. It is, therefore, not surprising that most of them end up with short-term results. The problem is, most of us start these diet plans with the hope of long-term outcomes. If you want such results, you must create a meal plan that abides by the six basic nutrition principles. Again, what are the principles of diet planning?
This read seeks to unveil these six principles and discuss what each one of them involves. These principles are easy to understand and implement. Take a look at these before you design a practical diet plan, for optimal health or long-term weight loss.
A large number of people in the world are using diet plans to attain various goals. These could be to lose weight, build muscles, gain weight, or maintain a healthy eating lifestyle. For some reason, most people believe dieting is pretty easy compared to other programs. For example, most people believe dieting for weight loss is more manageable than exercising regimes.
These comparisons have struck up different debates. But we will not look into that today. As for today, our primary focus is on diet planning. Over time, numerous fad diets have been established. These diets have attracted so many people because they tend to promise fast results.
The problem with that is that these results are short-lived. Down the line, you likely end up discovering that your commercial diet no longer yields results. Based on this, most people have decided to create their own diet plans. Although it seems pretty straightforward, creating an effective diet plan is a tricky and challenging process.
Despite that, it is not meant to be impossible. It is quite attainable so long as you have the relevant knowledge required to create a diet plan. More so than that, it is easy as pie if you understand the fundamental principles of diet planning.
Read More: Creating A Diet Plan: A Detailed Playbook On Finding Your Own Dieting Rhythm
How To Create A Personalized Diet Plan?
To create a suitable and effective meal plan, you have to take into account various elements. Most people believe this only entails determining the right foods and adequately matching them with other healthy foods. That is far from the truth. To create a long-lasting and rewarding meal plan, you ought to consider the following elements:
People decide to diet for numerous reasons. This could be to gain weight, lose pounds, or start and stick to a healthy eating pattern. You will have to dig deep to determine why you need a meal plan in the first place. This will help shed light on what foods you need to incorporate into the diet plan.
Experts also recommend that you evaluate any other daily habits that may affect your adherence to the meal plan. These could include practices such as frequently dining out or exercising (5). If you frequently dine out, you might have problems keeping up with your daily calorie intake. Similarly, if you constantly work out, you may need to adjust your calorie intake to match your activity levels. You can sit down with your dietitian or nutritionist if you need more insight into understanding how your habits impact diet planning.
Your Eating Patterns
We all have different eating patterns, all of which stem from our different activity levels or daily schedules. Some people may eat five or six times a day while others eat only three times each day. Similarly, some people may only consume plant-based foods, meaning they do not consume meat at all.
Additional factors, including one’s religion, may influence all these different eating patterns. For example, some religions do not recommend the consumption of pork. You must take into account these aspects when creating your meal plan.
Your Dietary Needs
In addition, we have different dietary needs. If you have additional requirements due to an existing health condition, make sure you also consider this. Avoid any foods that your healthcare provider has advised you against eating due to your health history. Additionally, you should prioritize those foods your physician has recommended, to help you meet your daily dietary needs.
Principles of Nutrition
Every successful diet plan takes into account the six principles of nutrition. Most people who are creating meal plans on their own do not know this element. As a result, they end up overlooking this knowledge set.
The consequences of not paying attention to the principles of diet planning can be dire. They range from overeating, disregarding the daily calorie limit, as well as nutritional deficiencies. This is one of the many reasons why most people end up without results despite following various diet plans.
We will put this to an end today by looking at these principles and how they affect diet planning. Read on to discover what these principles are and how they impact your diet plan.
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What Are The Six Principles Of Diet Planning?
Most diet plans today often are fad diets that trigger only short-term results. Following this will only make you end up at square one a couple of months later, despite all your efforts at following your diet plan to the tee. This often happens when the commercial diet in question disregards the basic principles of diet planning.
Every diet plan must acknowledge and meet all the fundamental principles of diet planning. If you bristle at the slightest thought of following another person’s diet plan, the good news for you is that you can create yours. Note though, it is going to help if you met the following principles:
The problem with most diet plans today is that they lack variety. They will recommend the consumption of the same meals every other day or restrict certain foods or food groups. Although some people may not mind this, they may struggle and fight it when they stop following the meal plan.
At that point you will start craving foods that were once restricted in your meal plan. In most cases, most of us end up giving in to high-calorie or junk foods. The aftermath of such an eating pattern is in regaining lost weight or increasing our risk of several health conditions.
Most people crave a variety of tastes and food choices. It helps most forget the intention of the meal plan, making it much easier to follow. In other words, it just makes the meal plan less boring. Plus, eating a variety of different foods is the best way to ensure that you are getting all your essential nutrients. Make sure that you include a variety of foods in your meal plan.
That said, opt for mostly healthy foods. Of course, do not incorporate excessive high-calorie foods such as junk and processed foods in the name of variety, while your goal is weight loss. Stick to healthy and nutritious foods. You can certainly spice up your diet plan by incorporating various recipes that help you create variety. For example, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends incorporating a salad to boost variety in your diet (2).
There is no limit to the kinds of healthy foods that you can add to your salad. You can sprinkle fresh herbs, healthy fats such as olive oil, or diced vegetables such as broccoli. You may actually end up eating healthy while enjoying a vast array of healthy foods.
Read More: How To Stay On A Diet: Simple Tips And Tricks To Help Keep You Committed To Your Diet
It would help if you consumed a balanced diet. Such a diet contains foods from all food groups, including proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and healthful fats. The problem is that some of these food groups have gotten quite a bad rap.
For example, carbohydrates have always gotten the blame for unexpected or unwanted weight gain. So, you will find most people designing a weight loss diet plan which excludes all carbohydrate foods. Remember that you need carbohydrates as they are your body’s primary source of energy (10).
However, it is essential to note that carbs in foods present themselves in various forms. Some of these include (10):
This form is essential in your body as it helps prevent health problems such as constipation, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (11). This also helps with weight management as it creates bulk and helps you feel full for longer (8). Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diets. This means that you must incorporate high-fiber foods in any weight loss meal plan.
This form of carbs is found in dairy products, products with natural sugars, and added sugars (10). It is the form of carbohydrates you must keep away from if you want to lose weight, especially added sugars. Foods that contain natural sugars like dairy and fruit also contain other nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Added sugars, on the other hand, are mostly “empty” calories.
These types of carbohydrates are not fully absorbed into the body. They tend to be added to reduced-calorie sweeteners, such as sweets and baked goods (10).
By looking at these various forms of carbohydrates, you can tell that not all are unhealthy. With that in mind, research before cutting out any food group in your diet plan. The same case applies to proteins. Some weight watchers believe that protein sources such as red meat are harmful, especially for your heart.
In this case, most people will avoid including red meat in their diet. Red meat does have high traces of saturated fats that may raise your cholesterol levels (7). An increase in these levels may increase your risk of heart diseases.
However, the lean meat parts have low traces of saturated fats and have been deemed healthier for consumption (4). Always opt for the lean cuts or trim off any visible fat instead of cutting off meat entirely from your diet plan (4). Do this unless the diet plan you are following indicates otherwise.
The idea is to balance all your meals. Do not disregard a particular food group based on what you have heard about it. Do your research or seek consultation as some of these are merely myths.
Most people tend to associate calories with sugary or salty foods and drinks only. However, calories are units of energy present in every drink and food you consume (3). Typically, everyone requires different amounts of energy every day.
This is influenced by factors such as age, body size, sex, and one’s activity level (3). This might explain why the calorie requirements differ according to one’s gender and age group. Calorie control is crucial for several reasons. These include:
It Affects The Attainment Of Your Fitness Goals
For example, it is known that you must maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss. This entails consuming fewer calories than your body is burning every day. Once you know how many calories you are required to consume each day, the next element is reducing this limit.
It is possible to create a calorie deficit by yourself. That said, it is still advisable to seek professional help when creating a calorie deficit. Such assistance will guide you on how to create a healthy eating pattern with a calorie deficit that does not exceed 7 000 calories per week (6). This is the recommended limit as per Medical News Today, although even that may be too extreme for some people.
It Prevents Overeating
You also need to know your daily calorie limit as it helps prevent over-indulging. Remember that overeating means the consumption of extra calories. If your goal is to lose weight, this will be compromised by the extra calories. Noting this, pay attention to your calorie intake.
Perhaps the most challenging thing for most people is in the determination of which foods will help them stick to their calorie requirements range. You might have an idea of some foods to incorporate but remember you need a variety.
As always, get the help of a licensed nutritionist or dietitian. They will guide you on limiting consumption of various foods and still stick to your calorie range. Similarly, they will strategically help you place your meals to avoid over-consumption.
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Successful dieting plans always take into account the nutritional density principle of diet planning. Every meal that you have benefits your body with specific nutrients. According to Medical News Today, you get these nutrients from protein consumption, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, water, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals (9).
Your body needs macronutrients in relatively large amounts. You get macronutrients from carbohydrates, proteins, water, and fats (9). Your body also needs micronutrients, which it receives everytime you consume vitamins and minerals (9).
You need to carefully plan for your meals in order to align with your required daily macronutrients and micronutrients intake. For example, your body requires about 4 700 mg of potassium each day (9).
You also need to find foods that can help you reach this target. Remember that too little potassium intake can lead to stroke, kidney stones, and high blood pressure (9). On the flip side, too much of it can be harmful, especially if you have a kidney problem or disease (9).
Talk to your dietitian or nutritionist as they have better insight on nutrition matters. They will guide you on how to adequately match foods and incorporate them in your meal plan for added nutritional benefits.
You also need to pay attention to adequacy when you create a diet plan. This principle of diet planning validates that you are getting all your nutrients and in the right amounts. It will advocate for carbohydrates, healthy fats, dietary fiber, water, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Such a diet allows your body to perform various tasks and processes smoothly. It also enables your body to absorb enough nutrients required for different bodily functions, including growth, cell and tissue repairment, and so forth.
Moderation is one of the critical principles of nutrition. There is a notion that you do not need to focus on moderation so long as you are eating healthy. The problem with this statement is that it does not account for your calorie intake.
Remember that you are creating your diet plan to attain a specific goal, such as weight loss. If this is the case, your idea should be on how to maintain a calorie deficit. Obviously then, you should not be over-eating, even if you are consuming healthy foods only. Remember that each food contains its calories, which matter and count as you are counting your daily calorie intake.
Stick to an eating pattern that allows you to eat your meals in moderation. This should detail when you should have your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Different diet plans have different snacking schedules.
Some will recommend snacking in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Meanwhile, others will recommend snacking once throughout the day. Remember that it always comes down to your calorie intake. These snacks also contain calories, which are also accounted for in total consumed calories.
Again, moderation also pays close attention to the portions and food servings of various food groups. For example, adults are advised to consume at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound of their body weight each day (1). It indicates that you need to eat your meals in moderation to prevent getting such macronutrients in excess.
The Bottom Line
What are the principles of diet planning? They include balance, variety, moderation, adequacy, calorie control, and nutritional density. You have to take into account these different aspects if you want to design a practical diet plan. These principles are easy to apply, meaning you can easily incorporate them once you understand what they are. As always, remember to talk to your nutritionist or dietitian for more insight on how to create an effective diet plan.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Get the Protein You Need (2020, webmd.com)
- Healthy Eating Tips (2021, cdc.gov)
- How many calories do you need? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How meat and poultry fit in your healthy diet (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- How to Design Your Own Diet (2009, webmd.com)
- How to safely and effectively create a calorie deficit for weight loss (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Is Red Meat Bad for Your Heart? (2021, medscape.com)
- National Diabetes Prevention Program: Post-Core (2021, cdc.gov)
- What is nutrition, and why does it matter? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What you need to know about carbs (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why do we need dietary fiber? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)