Maybe you’re traveling, are dealing with a particularly busy time, or are completely turned off by tracking your food. The next best thing?
Designing your plate.
What does it mean to design your plate?
Designing your plate is a method in which you look at your empty plate like a canvas. Your job at that point is to design that plate using the following guidelines:
- Fill up 25% of your plate with protein
- Fill up 25% of your plate with starchy carbohydrates
- Fill up 50% of your plate with vegetables
If your protein is lean and you didn’t use oils or sauces to prepare your starches or veggies, then add in a source of dietary fat by topping that plate with things like a drizzle of oil, nuts, seeds, or avocado.
To give you a visual, your plate would look like this:
What meals does this apply to?
This strategy applies well to all three main meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the case of breakfast, you can think about 25% of your plate filled with things like egg, chicken sausage, etc., 25% of your plate filled with things like toast, english muffins, oats, etc., and 50% of your plate filled with things like berries, melons, or some other non-starchy fruits or vegetables.
How does designing your plate work?
If three of your main meals are comprised of 25% protein, 25% starchy carbs, 50% vegetables, and a healthy amount of dietary fat, we can assume that (without the swaying of your snack choices), your diet is pretty balanced.
This way you should be getting an adequate amount of protein, a decent amount of carbs, and a solid amount of vegetables. Having those ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fats generally works well for general population. It’s also a great way to ensure blood sugar and insulin levels are steady and energy is stable throughout the day.
That being said, this guidance is VERY general and will need to be adjusted depending on specific needs. For example, active people may need more carbohydrates in their diet, and someone who is dealing with hormonal issues may need more dietary fats. Also keep in mind that this method doesn’t take into account overall quantity of food so even if your plate is designed as described, don’t eat past the point where you feel 80% full. That being said, if you generally want to clean up your diet for improved health and body composition, this is a great place to start.
When can I use this method if I track my macros?
Anyone who has tracked macros long enough knows there are going to be situations in which accurately tracking your food can be difficult or even unnecessary (for example, vacations, social events, etc.). When our clients come across those situations, we have them skip the macro tracking and just focusing on designing their plate. It’s a great strategy to keep things generally on track. We especially love this method when navigating buffets and family-style dinners.
What if there’s a food that has mixed macros?
Use your best judgement. For example, if there’s alfredo that you are tracking as your carbohydrate, remember that it’s also relatively higher in fat because of the cream-based sauce, so to ensure things stay balanced, opt for a leaner protein option like chicken breast, shrimp, or white fish.
Can you provide examples of proteins, carbs, and fats?