Nutrition Tips & Meal Planning

Hey there lovelies,

I mentioned on Instagram yesterday that I would be discussing nutrition tips, meal planning, and common diets myths and misconceptions on today's blog post. I first would like to acknowledge that I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist, and to seek out a licensed expert for more specific recommendations and guidelines on nutrition. Rather, I would like to discuss nutrition from a factual standpoint, with some of my own tips and strategies to reach your fitness goals.

First of all, whether your goals include losing weight, building muscle, or fat loss it's a good idea to know how many calories you burn in a day. There are lots of useful calculators out there that take into account your height, weight, gender, and activity level. The Harris Benedict equation may be old, but with an activity factor, it is a good general approximation, click here to calculate your total daily caloric needs.

Once you have a general idea how many calories you need, I am a firm believer in food journaling. Particularly if you are new to working out, have had lackluster results in the past, or have never kept a food journal before. By writing down exactly what you eat as well a portion size and nutrition info (e.g. calories, carbs, protein, fat) you realize how much you are eating, as well as any habits that may be inhibiting your progress. For example, skipping meals can lead to poor choices or huge meals later in the day that can prevent weight loss.

Though food journaling can be time consuming, using it as a tool for even just a few weeks can be huge towards accomplishing goals and making permanent lifestyle changes. If you've never done it before it is a great exercise to get an understanding of portion size and nutritional content of foods. I would strongly encourage anyone trying to lose weight to keep a food journal. This includes measuring out how much food, and tracking portion sizes in terms of volume and weight as well.

How Do I Plan My Meals?

Based on the total daily calorie need calculated, I like to spend a little bit of time on the weekends planning what I will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I like to eat a minimum of 300-400 calories a meal (right now my meals are probably about 600 calories each), incorporating lots of lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and lots and lots of veggies and fruit. Particularly since studies have suggested lots of vegetables and fruit lead to optimum health. Again, see a nutritionist or registered dietitian for specific guidelines. 

Prepping things ahead of time will prevent moments of weakness and stopping off at the drive-through when there are no other options. We've probably all heard it before, but when you fail to plan you plan to fail.

I usually like to make something I can take for a week's worth of lunches, and pack it in microwave safe containers for each day. As for dinners, I get a little tired of eating the same thing again and again, and usually like to make something Sunday night that I can eat for a few days. Then, I'll make another large meal midweek to portion out for dinners through the rest of the week. I also like to make things for breakfast the night before, especially something like overnight oats. If I haven't posted a recipe for this yet, I will soon!

Some of my favorite meals on my recipes page (from the top: turkey meatballs and spaghetti squash, blueberry protein pancakes, cheesy broccoli kale casserole)

What is gluten-free? Should I try it?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. About 1% of U.S. adults have Celiac disease and about 10% have a less specific sensitivity according to the Mayo Clinic, though some argue this is just the latest diet trend. Because gluten can be found in things like enriched bread, white pasta, and fried foods (the breading) cutting out gluten can be beneficial merely by cutting out lots of processed foods from the diet. However, if you don't actually have Celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, there may be no need to cut out things like whole grained bread and pasta.

Is low carb a good way to lose fat? 

Low carb diet plans can lead to rapid weight loss, but a lot of this weight loss in fact comes from water loss, and can be hard on the kidneys and lead to dehydration. Low carb eating can also lead to a lack of energy. Typically, it is recommended to eat no less than 100 grams of carbs a day to prevent ketosis and other negative health effects. With that in mind, cutting out processed foods that are high in carbohydrates is probably not a bad idea. The picture of me posted above is from last April-May when I was trying out low carb/high protein eating, and while I looked nice, I definitely noticed a difference in my energy level. Again consult an expert before beginning a specific diet plan.

If you guys have questions tweet or email me @chicinsneakers and chicinsneakers.blog@gmail.com 

Have a wonderful week!


Meal Makeover: Spaghetti & Meatballs

This past week I passed my personal training exam, which means I am officially a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I'm so excited about this, and this next week or so, my posts will focus more on workouts and eating as 99.9% of my clothes are packed. Within the next few days all of my stuff is getting shipped across the country from small town Indiana to Orange County, CA. I'm so excited about this, and I can't wait to be settled in our new home in the OC.

This recipe makeover takes a classic indulgent dish, and slashes the calories and fat by replacing a classic meatball with turkey, and swapping spaghetti squash for enriched flour pasta.


1 large spaghetti squash
2 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1/2 chopped italian parsley
1/3 cup shredded parmesan
2 large eggs
1/3 low sugar ketchup
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, as desired.


Peel and grate onion into large mixing bowl. Add fresh chopped parsley, minced garlic, lean ground turkey, ketchup, shredded parmesan, eggs, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Mix and combine with a spoon or by hand, and shape into golf ball sized meatballs. Place on cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Bake at 375 F for 25-28 minutes, until meatballs are cooked thoroughly inside and lightly golden brown on the outside. 

For the spaghetti squash: Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds from the middle using a spoon. Lightly coat the squash with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place the squash, cut side down, on a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and bake approx. 30-35 minutes at 375 F, until the squash can be shredded easily with a fork.

Once the squash have cooled (approx. 10 minutes) shred the inside of each half with a fork, creating what looks like noodles. I prepped my squash ahead of time, and then once the meatballs were done, heated up the squash with some low-sodium tomato squash.

Recipe makes about 4 generous servings. I'll post calculated nutrition info later on today or tomorrow.

*Updated, Approximate Nutrition 

for 1 oz turkey meatballs (recipe makes 10+ oz)

Calories: 85
Carbs: 7 g
Fat: 4 g 
Protein: 7 g


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