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The Quick 8 Step Guide to Creating Your Ideal Workout Diet Plan

Updated: May 11, 2022

So you're ready to start a new diet. Or maybe you're ready to start a whole new fitness program, and are looking to transform both your body and your lifestyle!

Whatever it is that you need, it can often be hard to know where to even begin when it comes to creating our own nutrition plans.

There are hundreds of thousands of meal plans out there, and everyone tells you that theirs is the best choice for you.

However, it's impossible to know which ones actually work, and which ones we should be using.

And even if we were able to pick out the best one, there's no way that it would perfectly suit us. This is because there's simply no one-size-fits-all meal plan that's going to be right for everybody.

You have to take into account your goals, bodyweight, schedule, training and more.

It's so individual that the best thing you can do is simply create your own, or get a trained nutritionist to make one for you.

However, while the latter will bring about the best results, it can often cost hundreds of dollars. We trust that doesn't sound too appealing to you.

That's why in this post, we're giving you the definitive guide on how to create your own workout meal plan. Please note, it will not likely be up to the standards of top-level professionals and nutritionists as these steps will be more general and not ABSOLUTELY personalized for you.

However it will be better to sit down and take this time to create one instead of simply taking a random one off the internet.

Healthy meal boxes sitting on table ready to be consumed after workout

The 8 Steps to Creating Your Workout Meal Plan

Deciding on Your Goals

The first step to any plan in fitness is to know what your goals are. You need to know exactly why you're doing what you're doing, and why you're starting all this in the first place.

A diet plan takes a lot of work, and if you don't have any real reason to be doing this, you probably shouldn't be.

It's important that you know what your goals are, as it'll help keep you motivated and increase your progress. Your goals will likely be different to that of your friends and family, and that's completely normal.

We all want to achieve different things, and it's important for us not to fall into the trap of thinking that we need to adjust our goals and dreams to satisfy those around us, especially the ones that we care about the most.

So pick your own goals. You need to be the one to do this. If you've already got your goals set in mind, great, you can skip this section and move onto step 2.

Some common goals include:

  • Building muscle

  • Weight loss

  • Living a healthier lifestyle

  • Bulking and gaining weight

  • Training/programming for a specific activity (running a marathon, playing competitive sport, etc.)

Now there are loads of other possible goals out there, but what we've given you are probably the most commonly shared goals out there.

Like we said, it's important that you know what your goals are and why you're doing this.

Otherwise, when you start to struggle, you'll find it hard to keep pushing on as you've got nothing to work towards.

Consider Your Budget

Once you've decided on your goals, you'll also need to take a look at your budget, and know how much money you have to work with.

Dieting can be expensive, and it's important to know how much money you're able to commit into this.

While it's great that you're willing to commit to your fitness, you can't let it cut into your everyday life either.

This should go without saying, but you need to make sure that you can afford to pay your rent/mortgage, your bills, and so on.

So take a look at your budget. How much money are you able to put towards this? Let's say that you were on a tight budget.

If this was the case, it wouldn't make too much sense for you to be eating out every night. It's expensive, and not practical at all for you. You'd be better off cooking at home.

And if you're tight on money, you'd also likely want to buy whole foods in larger amounts, as they tend to be less costly than processed foods such as canned beans instead of refried beans.

Likewise, you probably won't be eating steaks, lamb shanks and oysters all the time. Instead, stick to more modest foods such as chicken thigh or canned tuna. This should be pretty obvious, but we had to get it out there.

So take a look at your budget. Check how much money you're abel to put aside for this.

Can you afford to eat all this? Or do you have to be smart about it?

Maybe this even means cutting down on some of your expenses to make this work.

If you do it right, the results will be well worth it.

Know Your Calorie Intake

This step is probably the most important part of your diet plan. You need to know how many calories you're going to be eating everyday.

If you have your calories wrong, it doesn't matter what foods you're eating, you won't make good progress towards your goals.

First of all, we need to point out that weight loss will only happen if you eat in a caloric deficit. This means, eating less calories than you're burning on a day to day basis.

No amount of ab exercise or HIIT workouts will make you lose weight. It doesn't matter how hard you train, you won't lose weight if you're eating more calories than you're burning.

Likewise, you won't gain any weight if you're eating less calories than you're burning. You slowly burn fat and build muscle (slow cut), but you won't gain any weight.

That's simply the way that it works. No matter how hard you train, if you've got your calories wrong, you won't make progress towards your goals.

To determine the number of calories that you need everyday, you can use this calculator by to figure out an estimate of what your maintenance calories are.

You can use this to then determine the number of calories you need to be eating in order to reach your goals. Simply type in your weight, age, your height, select your gender, exercise frequency and you'll be good to go!

As a general rule of thumb for weight loss, the most commonly recommended size of a caloric deficit is about 20% or 1/5 below your maintenance calories.

For example, if your maintenance calories is 2,200 calories a day, you'd have to find 20% of 2,200, which is 440.

This means that you'd simply eat somewhere around 1760 calories per day to lose weight over time.

Please remember that this is an example. You should use the calculator above to know what your maintenance calories are.

And if your goal requires you to build muscle or gain weight, then you need to/ideally want to be eating more than you're burning. Generally, around 250 calories above maintenance level for most males is a good place to start.

For women looking to gain weight/size, somewhere around 125 calories above maintenance level will be ideal to begin with.

For example, a man who eats 2700 calories a day at maintenance levels would eat somewhere around 2950 calories in order to gain weight and muscle at the optimal rate.

So figure out what your maintenance calories are, and figure out how much you need to be eating everyday to reach your goals.

Like we said earlier, if you've got your calories wrong, you won't make too much significant progress towards your goals.

Know How Much Protein You Need

Man sitting and drinking protein shake after a workout for muscle recovery

This is one of the most important parts of your diet plan. You need to know how much protein you need, as it makes up the building blocks of our muscles, and is absolutely crucial to reach any fitness goal.

Generally for healthy adults, it's recommended by ACSM that you have 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day, or about 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight if you're in the US.

For example, if you're an active man that weighs 81kg or 180lb, you'd want to have anywhere between 90 and 145 grams of protein per day.

To know how many calories will be coming from your protein, simply multiply your protein intake by 4.

Each gram of protein contains 4 calories, and multiplying your daily protein intake in grams by 4 will be the easiest way to figure out how many calories are coming from your protein.

Where this protein comes from is completely up to you. If you prefer to consume plant based foods, your protein could come from things like tofu and lentils. And if you prefer animal based protein, you could look to get this from chicken, fish, beef, pork and more.

Determine How Much Fat You Need

Next up, you need to know how much fat you're going to be consuming everyday. For most people, somewhere around 20-30% of your total caloric intake as fat will be ideal and is recommended.

But how does fat have anything to do with calories?

Well, it's important for you to know that one gram of fat contains 9 calories. This means, for every gram of fat that you consume, you're consuming 9 calories at the same time.

So to figure out how much fat you need, take the number of calories that you need to be eating each day to reach your goals (you should've calculated this above), and pick anywhere between 20% and 30% of that to come from fats.

So for example, if you're going to be eating 2,500 calories a day, you'd figure out that 20% of that is 500, and 30% of that is 750.

You would then divide these two numbers by 9, and that would give you the amount of fat you should be eating each day.

So in this example, you could look to have anywhere between 55 and 83 grams of fat per day.

Exactly how much you have will be u to you and will be determined by your choices of food. It's likely to vary slightly from day to day.

Ideally, most of your fats should come from healthy fats. This will come from foods like avocados, nuts, olive oil, eggs, dark chocolate, fish and more. You can have some processed foods and unhealthy fats, but try not to have too much of it.

Figuring Out Your Carb Intake

Now that you've found your ideal guidelines each day for protein and fat intake, you need to know the amount of carbs that you'll be having each day.

The simplest way to know this is to subtract your protein and fat intake combined from your daily calorie intake. The rest of your calories will come from carbs.

You need to know that one grab of carbs contains 4 calories, which is the same as protein.

Remember that:

  • 1g of protein contains 4 calories

  • 1g of fat contains 9 calories

  • 1g of carbs contains 4 calories.

So you simply have to take the number of calories that come from your protein, the number of calories that come from your fat, and subtract that from your total ideal calories each day.

Take that remainder of calories, divide it by 4, and that tells you how many carbs you need to be having each day.

For example, if your daily ideal calories is 2500, and you're getting 480 calories from protein (120g x 4 calories) and 720 calories from fats (80g x 9 calories), you'd have 1200 calories each day left over after subtracting protein and fat intake. This will come from carbs.

Divide 1200 by 4, and you'd get 300g of carbs each day. This will all add up and help you reach your optimal number of calories each day, whilst ensuring you're getting the right macronutrients.

So you figured out that you're going to have:

  • 2500 calories each day

  • 120g of protein each day

  • 80g of fat each day

  • 300g of carbs each day

After doing this, you've figured out what your most important macronutrients are. You've now done the majority of the work in terms of creating your diet plan. Well done!

Picking Your Combinations of Foods

Healthy meal combinations full of vegetables and fruit sitting on table

Now that you've done the majority of your work, you can now pick your combinations of foods to make up your actual meals.

You cab be flexible with this, and you don't have to give up your favorite foods in order to get this diet plan working either.

You can eat curry, lasagna, pizza, whatever you like! It doesn't just have to be salads and bland chicken on rice.

As long as you pick mostly whole foods for your protein such as chicken, eggs, beef, fish, tofu, you'll be fine.

And if you find that you're struggling to reach your daily protein intake, you can use protein powder to get the rest of it. But try not to have too much of your daily protein intake come from powder.

Your carbs should mostly come from rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits, vegetables, bread and nuts.

Now, while you can technically eat whatever you want and still reach your goals if you keep your macros in check, eating unhealthy all the time can lead to other serious conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases.

So yes, you can technically eat whatever you want and be fine in terms of gains, but you need to keep your health in check as well.

Your fats will mostly come with your other foods such as your protein sources, but you can get lots of healthy fats from foods such as avocados, oil, fish, nuts, seeds and more.

To help you track all this, you may want to use a nutrition tracking tool such as MyFitnessPal or Lifesum.

Many tools will also provide you with recipe ideas if you're unsure, otherwise you can stick to your favorite (hopefully healthier!) foods, and adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly to reach your daily recommend intake of macros.

You can also look to incorporate snacks into your diet throughout the day if you're struggling to reach your daily intake of macros. Good examples include protein bars or some fruits like apples and bananas. Maybe even your favorite smoothies and shakes!

You can have a grilled salmon fillet with a side of a garden salad and some potato chips if you like! Maybe you like to have butter chicken on rice.

Whatever you like to eat, you can adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly to ensure you reach your ideal macros at the end of the day!

Scheduling Your Meals and Snack

The final step to this guide is to schedule your snacks and meals in a way that works for you. Get yourself a routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday.

This will help you get into a routine and find the right times that you should be eating, training, recovering, etc.

You need to ensure that you pick times that work around your schedule, and don't hinder any of your other activities throughout the day. For example, you wouldn't want to be eating lunch 30 minutes before your workout session in the gym.

You can have as many meals and snacks throughout the day as you like. As long as you're reaching your daily intake of the right macros, you can eat however many times you like in a day.

Just remember though, the more meals you eat throughout the day, the smaller they will be. Otherwise you'd go way over your daily ideal intake. Hopefully that makes sense.

Try to schedule some meals and snacks around your training session as well.

By this, we mean having a good meal 2-4 hours before your workout session in the gym, and having your post workout meals/snacks afterwards.

Your pre-workout meals should be pretty high in carbs, as they are your body's main source of energy, and are necessary if you want to perform as best as possible.

However, probably the most important thing is that you need to ensure your diet works well for your schedule, and is convenient for you.

For example, you don't want to be rushing everyday to eat breakfast before going off to work. It's just hard to sustain and will likely causer you to lose motivation or see slower progress.

The key takeaway is: schedule your diet in a way that works for you, and has you actually enjoying what you're doing. You shouldn't feel like you're a slave to your diet.

Healthy protein bar in wrapper filled with nuts and chocolate

Things to Keep in Mind/Bonus Tips

Well done! Hopefully by now, you've managed to create your own workout meal/diet plan. You know your macros, you have an idea of the types of foods that you're going to eat, and you know roughly when you're going to be eating your meals/snacks.

Now, we'll finish off by leaving you with a couple things to bear in mind and some bonus tips to ensure that your diet plan works as effectively as possible!

We won't spend too much longer explaining everything.

  • You can definitely give yourself 1-2 cheat meals each week. Eat whatever you like, as much as you like. This will help keep the diet plan sustainable.

  • Drink at least 2 liters of water each day. The more intense your workouts are, the more water you will need.

  • You can take some basic supplements, and can definitely take protein powder to help increase your intake if you're struggling to reach it.

  • You can consider creatine if you want. Look into the research behind it first and consult a professional if you're not sure.

  • Have as many meals throughout the day as you want.

  • Eat mostly healthy and high quality foods.

  • Get yourself a routine.

  • Stay consistent!

  • Know that it will take time to see results.

  • Reassess how you're doing every couple of weeks to stay on track.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it! A guide on creating your own workout meal and diet plan.

Hopefully by now you've got an idea of the macros you're going to be eating, as well as a rough idea of what you're going to eat, and when you're going to be eating throughout the day.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't expect to see any crazy results instantly! It'll take time, and lots of consistent, hard work. Stay committed, ensure that it's scheduled in the most convenient way possible for you, and you'll be well on your way!

Hopefully you've enjoyed reading through this guide, and have learnt something from it. If you found this post helpful, consider sharing it with your friends so that we can reach more people!

We're trying to help as many people as possible reach their goals.

And for exclusive, unlimited access to all our blog posts, start your free trial with Gympulsive Pro today and take one step closer to becoming the best athlete that you can possibly be!


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