I love meeting new people. Its one of the many reasons I love doing what I do.

When I meet people for the first time everyone has their own unique story and I enjoy hearing them.

At that point the person sat opposite me is ready to do whatever it takes to lose weight, get stronger and feel happier about themselves and they will listen and do whatever I say to make that happen.

Or so they think.

One of the first things that everyone is keen to get their hands on is a meal plan. ‘If I just knew what to eat then I would lose weight” but this belief for the majority is simply not true.

In the last 10 years of being in this industry of all the hundreds of clients I have worked with, only 3 have ever followed a meal plan from day 1 all the way through.

Why? Most of us just need to eat a bit better than we normally do. For some of us that’s as simple as having 3 potatoes instead of 5 or cutting down on crisps and chocolate. We don’t eat these foods because we believe they are healthy. So lack of knowledge isn’t in most cases the reason why we don’t eat better, which suggests we are eating for other reasons. A meal plan isn’t going to address this.

The biggest issue with meal plans

Too often in this industry I have seen PT’s handing out meal plans containing rice and broccoli and asking clients to prep their food and eat from a plastic container. That’s great if your circle of friends are into fitness too but we have to remember that for most of us, eating out of a plastic container highlights the fact we are trying to lose weight and makes us feel even more awkward about going to the gym and trying to lose weight than we are already.

These meal plans are often generic and focus on short term rather than long term with complete disregard for health education. Often the calories are too low and with lack of food we are going to over eat. Why are we trying to overcomplicate something that can be as simple as asking someone to buy a healthy option ready meal with all the calories and protein already on there!

So what do you do?

At Hustle we place our nutritional aspect on education. I’m always reluctant to hand out a meal plan because if I’m going to give you a ‘perfect meal plan’ its not going to have cheese, wine or any of the good stuff on there because people don’t follow the perfect diet. We want to show you how to do include all the foods you enjoy eating and still lose weight.

The first place I’m going to start with a new client is find out what they are eating right now. Then I will coach them through making one small change per week. Some of the advice I have handed out is as simple as “can you go to the pub twice a week instead of 5” and ‘next time you get a burger for a takeaway can you get one without cheese”

These simple pieces of advice over the course of a week have added up to saving hundreds of calories and not a meal plan in sight.

If we haven’t been given the knowledge to make our own choices around the foods we eat then all too ften we can use a meal plan as an excuse. ‘I’m not losing weight so it’s the meal plan that is wrong” If people are given the tools and education to make informed choices then that gives them a level of responsibility and ultimately if they are not losing weight they can look at the real reason and that’s themselves. Following a meal plan makes someone believe they are doing all they can when in fact they are not.

Remember your favourite teacher from school? I’m sure they were there one that stood out because they gave you the right amount of support and knowledge to succeed and not just left you to get on with it.

A good nutritional coach should do the same.

So, in summary why do meal plans not work?

  1. Too many habit changes at once
  2. Very restrictive no flexibility and people will often rebel against it
  3. Over complicating something that can be relatively straightforward

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