Rachael Attard Lean Legs Program – Thursday Week 1
Today I wanted to talk with you about macro meal plans and food. Mmm food.
There are many types of diets and meal plan options out there, all promising success. But are meal plans a good way to go? Are they sustainable in the long term?
I am following Rachael Attard’s Lean Legs Program (check out my first day on Rachael Attard’s program) and the food plan is all about getting the right macros for energy, weight loss and toning. There are actually two daily macro meal plans – one vegan diet meal plan and one gluten and dairy free meal plan.
Rachael also advocates for the 80/20 diet or intuitive eating, so you can choose between a structured macro meal plan, or a more flexible approach. But how do you work out which will suit you best, and fit in with your lifestyle and your fitness program?
Which meal plan should I follow?
First, I’m going to share with you some more information about the different diets and how I will be approaching the food side of things on the program. Then I’ll share with you five things to consider when starting a diet for weight loss or toning, and what style of meal plan/eating is best for you.
Before we get into it, a quick workout update – I am bit stiff and sore after my leg workout (aka walking) yesterday. Today’s workout for lean legs and calorie burn was a 20 minute run and a 60 minute walk. The run felt ok, but I am still struggling with the simple act of walking! I am looking forward to getting better at walking throughout the program – what a goal to have! A bit of flexibility would be nice too, my hamstrings are as tight as a board. Okay, on with the foooood.
What is a macros diet meal plan?
Macros stands for macronutrients and relates to the breakdown of protein, fat and carbs in a meal. One of the purposes is to help you get balanced nutrition.
Emmie Satrazemis at Trifecta Nutrition explains that the first step is to work out how many macronutrients you need each day (they have a macro calculator on their website) and then using this information to create actual meals.
With Rachael’s macros diet meal plan, all the calculations are done already, and there is loads more information about macro breakdowns in the meal plan guide. You can either follow her daily meal plan which is all laid out for you to make it easy, or you can make up your own meals and recipes following the correct macro and calorie breakdown.
What is the 80/20 diet?
The 80/20 diet is not so much of a diet as it a guideline – by which you aim to make healthy choices 80% of the time and 20% of the time you can choose what you like.
Matt at Cheat Day Design explains that the 80/20 diet gives us some flexibility and can make it more sustainable. You may want to eat three out of four healthy meals in a day, or you may want to allow yourself one free day per week. Matt says: No matter what your goals are, there’s room to relax and enjoy yourself without ruining your progress!
Rachael Attard is a fan of the 80/20 diet for maintenance, but does warn to be careful of too many unhealthy food choices and to watch the calorie intake, especially If you’re not getting the weight loss or toning progress you want on her program.
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating to me is about being in tune with your body and understanding what it is to be truly hungry and to be truly full.
For me, it’s thinking about what will nourish me, give me energy and make me feel good. While calorie-counting or macro-counting is not part of intuitive eating and the idea is that you have more freedom around food, I think the principle and mindset can still work when trying to lose weight or tone up, with the right knowledge and understanding.
On the Lean Legs program, Rachael suggests another diet plan option is to simply eat at a slight calorie deficit. So eating nutritious, balanced meals and stopping when you’re full is a great approach that might work for you.
Five things to consider when deciding if a macro meal plan is right for you
1 – Flexibility/fit with lifestyle
What does your lifestyle look like? Do you have lots of work or social eating occasions? Do you have a family or other people who need feeding by you? Are you out and about a lot, or travel – situations that limit your cooking or even re-heating abilities?
These things make it very difficult to stick EXACTLY to a meal plan. If you do follow the meal plan, be as prepared as possible, and don’t beat yourself up if you have switch out ingredients or swap meals on certain days!
2 – Do you want to lose weight fast or tone up quickly?
If you are wanting fast results, I would think sticking to a meal plan as closely as possible would help. Rachael has put the macros diet meal plan together to help you get the best results possible over the eight weeks, so this will give you the most chance of success. If you are happier with possibly slower progress and want something more flexible, then consider the 80/20 rule and eating at a slight calorie deficit.
3 – What do you know about food and macros?
Are you already very knowledgeable about the calorie count of foods, and more so – the macro breakdown? The recipes on Rachael Attard’s program are all part of a relatively high protein meal plan (even the vegan meal plan is reasonably high protein) and are balanced with the right amount of fat and carbs for nutrition and energy but also to help with cravings.
If you have a good understanding of this already, you can use your knowledge and more easily follow the 80/20 diet or intuitive eating approach. If this is all quite new to you, a macro meal plan might be a better option.
4 – Eating too much or not enough
Similar to the last point, do you know your correct portion sizes? Eating too much or not eating enough can impact your results. It may be a good idea to follow a macro meal plan even for a couple of weeks to get an idea of the right sized servings and then use this to guide you when eating on the 80/20 diet or eating intuitively.
5 – What do you LIKE to eat
I think this one is so important! You do not want to be eating food you don’t like! There are sooo many healthy foods and nutritional, macro-balanced recipes available, that forcing down something that tastes gross to you, is really not necessary – it’s also un-sustainable and un-enjoyable! Having said that, don’t be afraid to try new things!
I was kinda wary of the cauliflower rice recipe, but it was actually a tasty and fulfilling lunch yesterday! Batch up meals and freeze them when you find something you like.
The best approach to nutrition for you (and me!)
Okay lovelies, so for me, I’ve already made up lots of Rachael Attard’s meals in bulk to freeze and am using the meal plan as a guide. I’m using the macro meal plan to learn about portion size and macro breakdowns and making sure I add fats, protein and fibrous carbs (lots of veggies) to my meals.
If I eat out, or need a little flexibility in the diet then I will try to choose healthy and not overeat (intuitive eating) and the occasional treat is ok (80/20 diet)! So for me, a combination of all three is the way to go!
I hope this post has helped you decide what meal plan/approach to eating is best for you. You can continue to follow me on my fitness journey (next up I’m looking at calorie counting and counting macros!) and you can see my before and after results at the end.
*Update: Try my deep dive into finding the best diet or fitness program for you!
What do you like to eat when choosing a healthy lifestyle? Do you want a plan laid out for you and the hard work done? Or do you prefer something more flexible that you fit around your life. Please share!
Frequently Asked Questions
Use my junk food replacement table (free pdf version) if you’re looking to replace your chocolates, sweets and cakes with healthy snacks.