There is a common misconception in the health industry that nutrition and healthy eating are intricate. The general population neglects their nutrition because it seems difficult to maintain, driving people to opt for fast food restaurants and processed food options. Further, people often find themselves jumping into common diet trends like the Keto diet, carb-cutting, intermittent fasting, and macro counting (commonly referred to as IIFYM– “if it fits your macros”). This can potentially lead to an overwhelming feeling, cause burn out, and be hard to maintain unless you have advanced experience with nutrition. If you are new to the nutrition realm, or unfamiliar with what approach to take, then the first step should be one that is smart and sustainable. In this blog, we will describe a foundational concept to healthy eating— The Plate Method.
Instead of getting wrapped up in calorie counting, eliminating certain food groups, and other approaches preached in social media, the Plate Method is simple and easy to implement. If nutrition and healthy eating were illustrated as a pyramid, the plate method would be the foundational piece of the structure because it emphasizes the basics and guides people to a sustainable approach that can be tailored to their lifestyle and behavior. Once the person is comfortable with the plate method and adheres to the basics of nutrition, then they are ready to dive in a little deeper such as manipulating their macronutrient ratios, calculating calories and tracking…but remember, that’s not always the best approach for everyone. Most of the time, the Plate Method is all you need.
So, what is the Plate Method? As shown in the picture above, it is a visual tool that shows the recommended servings of food on a plate. You’ll see that the Plate is ½ veggies, ¼ protein, and ¼ “smart carbohydrates”. This method ensures you get enough protein and carbs, without having to weigh any food out or make any drastic, intricate changes. The goal is to make sure you are making healthy choices while getting the foods you need to fuel your body properly. Trust me, the food choices you make will influence your performance in the gym!
On the plate, the main focus is protein and carbohydrates, but where are the fats? Well, fats add up easily and usually are found from traces in meats, eggs, and oils that are used for cooking. Instead of emphasizing fats on the plate, we want to make sure you know that you will probably get enough fats from the foods already on the plate. However, if you have a pure protein source such as 99% lean ground turkey (which has very minimal fat) with steamed broccoli as the vegetable source, then there will be minimal fat. As a result, feel free to use a bit of olive oil or light dressing, but use in moderation.
Having trouble finding foods for each category? Here’s a list of potential foods for each:
This is the foundation of all nutrition practices. The Plate Method will help you with taking the first steps to a healthy life by focusing on the following:
Emphasizing protein intake: I have noticed that many people do not get enough protein in their diets. Protein is essential for muscle synthesis and is extremely satiating. Increasing protein intake is usually what most people need to do to enhance their nutrition.
Removing processed foods: Processed foods should be kept to a minimum in healthy diets. Instead, replace them with healthier, whole food options. This will provide you with the micronutrients you need, your body will thank you for it! Although whole foods are emphasized, it does not mean you can’t enjoy some cookies and ice cream every so often 😉
Eating the correct proportions of food: As mentioned above, many people do not get enough protein. The plate method makes it easy to visualize how much of each food you should consume to make sure you’re getting the right amounts of each. For example, if you’re eating toast, make sure to add some eggs and/or cheese to squeeze some protein in; your muscles will thank you.
If you are starting off with your nutrition journey, do NOT get caught up with the details or dive into an approach that is hard to keep up with. Focus on making small changes that fit into your lifestyle and eating healthy whole-food meals. In future blogs, we will be introducing more nutrition concepts, such as the science of macronutrients and fueling properly for different levels of activity & sports. This will allow you to build your nutrition “tool kit” and apply it to your life appropriately. I also want to highlight that we have a recipes page that is worth checking out for great meal ideas: Recipes
At Telos, we are committed to providing the best approaches to ensure our members are making the best choices tailored to their lifestyle. Need more help? Book a FREE nutrition intro with us using the button below!