3 Steps for Successful 21 Day Fix Meal Planning

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“When it comes to being healthy and fit, it’s not just about what you do in the gym. It’s really about what you do in the kitchen.” – Autumn Calabrese.

Planning your 21 Day Fix meals may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if you’re new to healthy ingredients or portion control, but with a little practice, you will see just how easy it can be to get your clean eating on track. Below are step-by-step instructions for planning your meals and some pro tips on healthy eating.

 

1. Calculate Your Calorie Level and Daily Container Count
Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight, calculating your proper daily calorie goal is essential to reaching your goals. Here’s how:

1. Multiply your current weight in pounds x 11. This number is your Caloric Baseline.
2. Add 400 (The Fix Calorie Burn) to your Caloric Baseline. The resulting number represents your Caloric Needs to maintain your weight.
3. Subtract 750 (the caloric deficit) from your Caloric Needs. This number is the Caloric Target you should eat to lose weight.

Using your 21 Day Fix Eating Plan Guide, look up the corresponding container count on page 15. Your calorie bracket will determine how many containers of each color you should eat each day.

Here’s an example using a 150-pound person who would like to lose weight.
1. 150 x 11 = 1650 (Caloric Baseline)
2. 1650 + 400 = 2050 (Caloric Needs to maintain weight)
3. 2050 – 750 =  1300 (Caloric Target to lose weight)

Note: If your Caloric Target is less than 1,200, round up to 1,200. If it’s more than 2,300, round down to 2,300. If you are trying to gain weight, add 750 instead of subtracting 750.

 

2. Write Down A Sample Day of Meals
Now it’s time to start planning. Go to the food lists on pages 24-39. Read through the choices and mark down some of your favorites under every container. Then, using
this meal planner, plan a sample day. Think about what types of food you would like to have at each meal and include some of your favorite healthy snacks. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple.

Pro Tip: Choose most of your foods from selections near the top of the list as they are more nutritionally beneficial. Here is a sample day prepared by our Social Media Specialist, Amanda Meixner, who follows the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan.

21 Day Fix Sample Day of Meals

Before you move on to the next step, think about what you would like to eat for the next 3-5 days. Do you want to eat the same thing for breakfast each day, or do you want to switch it up? What about your snacks, lunches, and dinners? Do you have time to cook meals, or would you prefer to eat simply? Write down the variations you’d like, which “free foods” you’d like to add (page 37) and any treats you’d like to substitute for a yellow or orange container this week (page 38 & 39).

 

3. Make a Grocery List
Set yourself up for success by writing out your grocery list and sticking to it. Base your list on the foods you chose for the next 3-5 days. It’s okay to buy a surplus of these foods so that you have a little extra on hand, but try to stick to the amounts that match your calorie level. Remember that one green container holds about 1 cup or more of vegetables, and that a serving of protein is about 4 ounces (before cooking). If you plan to eat 4 red containers of boneless, skinless chicken breast over the next few days, you would buy 1 pound of chicken. Click the image below to download your Fix-friendly grocery list.

21 Day Fix sample grocery list

 

10 Time-Saving Tips

  1. Buy pre-cooked chicken breast or fish from the deli section.
  2. Choose canned tuna for quick meals.
  3. Buy pre-cut vegetables. (Just make sure nothing is added to it!)
  4. Hard-boil several eggs at once for quick, high-protein snacks or to add to salads. Here are our tips on how to cook perfect hard-boiled eggs.
  5. Bake all of your sweet potatoes at once.
  6. Pre-cook enough quinoa or brown rice for the week.
  7. Chop all carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, etc. at once for healthy snacks and ready toppings for salads.
  8. Mornings can be hectic. Have your breakfast ready to go by prepping a large batch of oatmeal or these simple egg cups.
  9. Stock up on berries or fruits that don’t need to be cut like apples, oranges, and bananas.
  10. Raw, unsalted nuts make a great, portable snack.

Now that your shopping list is ready and you are set to go shopping for your healthy 21 Day Fix meals, find out how to enter our #GroceryPro contest for a chance to win great prizes!

Note: This is an excerpt from Beachbody’s Monthly Newsletter.

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Are you eating the right grains?

Did you know you know there’s a simple way to help lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol,1 and reduce your risk of dying from all sorts of scary-sounding things—and you don’t even have to leave the dinner table to do it?2

Whole Grains


Intrigued? Then consider replacing the refined grains in your diet with whole grains. What are whole grains? They are cereals and seeds that have not been milled or processed to remove their hard exterior. This outer layer, called the bran, contains healthy oils, fiber, and protein. This is stripped away when the grain is refined. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that take the body longer to digest, so their nutrition is released slowly and continuously, leaving you feeling energized and full for much longer, partly because they don’t spike your blood sugar. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and manganese.

Whole Grains Gluten-Free
Whole Grains
Refined Grains
Amaranth
Barley
Brown Rice
Buckwheat
Bulgur
Emmer
Farro
Flaxseed
Grano
Kamut
Kañiwa
Millet
Montina
Muesli
Oats
Popcorn
Quinoa
Rye
Sorghum
Spelt
Teff
Triticale
Wheat berries
Whole cornmeal
Whole wheat
Wild Rice
Amaranth
Buckwheat
Millet
Montina
Oats (not always GF)
Popcorn
Quinoa
Rice
Sorghum
Teff
Whole-grain cornmeal
Wild rice
White flour
White rice
White bread
Degermed
cornflower
Enriched flour


Misleading food labels have sparked plenty of confusion about what is and isn’t made from whole grain. The best way to verify if your packaged baked goods are whole grain is to read the ingredient list on the back or side. If the grains listed are “whole,” then you’re in good shape. An even better way to know you are eating whole grains is to buy them whole and cook them yourself.

Some of the whole grains you might be familiar with include brown rice, quinoa, and oats, and these are fantastic. But, did you know there are a lot of other whole grains—many of which have been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years—that you can add to your meals for variety? Look for them in the bulk bins or dry goods section of your local market, where many will cost just pennies per serving. Stretch your dollar farther by blending the more exotic varieties with brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa. Experiment to find your favorite flavor combination!

If you can cook rice or oatmeal, you can easily cook other grains. We’ve provided measurements and cooking times for you below. Use a heavy pot with a lid (or a rice cooker!) and set the burner of your stove to a medium temperature. All grains should be rinsed well before cooking and inspected for stray twigs or stones that remain from the harvesting process.

Substitute whole grains in place of white rice or pasta, add them to soup and casseroles, toss cooked grains into salads, or serve them for breakfast and enjoy like oatmeal. Cooked grains keep well in the fridge, so we recommend making a large batch and storing the leftovers for quick meals during the week. Store uncooked grains in an airtight container in a cool, dark cabinet for up to 6 months, or in your refrigerator as long as a year.

Here are 7 up-and-coming whole grains to try:

AMARANTH

AmaranthWhile not technically a grain (it’s a seed), gluten-free amaranth has a nutritional profile similar to grain. Originally from Peru, its cultivation spread through Central and South America and played a crucial role in Aztec rituals and their diet. Amaranth contains more protein than most grains, is considered a complete protein, has three times as much calcium as other grains, is rich in iron and magnesium, and is the only grain that contains vitamin C. It has been shown to lower blood cholesterol in patients with coronary disease and hypertension3.

To Cook: Add 1 cup amaranth to 3 cups water, and simmer gently for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cooked amaranth has a consistency similar to Cream of Wheat® (it can become sticky if overcooked). For a dish that is more like rice, combine amaranth with other cooked grains. You could also add a few tablespoons while cooking homemade soup to add thickness and protein.

BUCKWHEAT

You may already be familiar with buckwheat—no, not the character from The Little Rascals—the grain. Only, once again, it’s not a grain at all or even related to wheat. This heart-shaped seed is a relative of rhubarb, making it gluten-free. Buckwheat has a satisfying, nutty flavor and numerous health benefits. The phytonutrients in buckwheat are powerful antioxidants that protect cells from cancer-causing free radicals. Buckwheat is also a star when it comes to keeping the heart pumping—its fiber has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels4 and its manganese promotes healthy circulation.

Make it a staple in your pantry, and you’ll be glad you did. It cooks quickly for a weeknight dinner, and can be made ahead in bulk and stored in the fridge for easy lunches throughout the week. Buckwheat flour makes delicious pancakes and crepes. Soba noodles made from buckwheat are a great gluten-free alternative to pasta.

To cook: Prepare it like rice on a stovetop or in a rice cooker. Pre-toasting in a dry pan before adding liquid intensifies the nutty flavor and is worth the effort. Bring 1 cup buckwheat and 2 cups water to a boil, reduce heat to low, put a lid on it, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the kernels are tender.

FARRO

FarroFarro is an ancient relative of wheat that has been eaten for centuries. Want to look like a gladiator (or a goddess)? Then eat farro, the grain that fortified the armies of the Roman Empire. Farro is sometimes called spelt or emmer, but they’re not the same. Farro has a firm and chewy texture, and a nutty flavor that is great in grain salad, stuffing, and soup. It is surprisingly filling because it has 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per cup. It is so nutritiously dense, in fact, that you might find a smaller serving than other grains will make you feel full. The fiber supports healthy digestion and satisfies for hours, making it a healthy choice for people trying to lose weight.

To cook: Farro also benefits from toasting. Add 1 cup farro to 2-1/2 cups boiling water. Cover and simmer without stirring for 20 minutes, or until tender. Farro can be cooked in a rice cooker and makes great leftovers because it keeps its firm texture for several days and never gets mushy or sticky.

KAMUT®

Legend has it that a Montana man discovered several kamut seeds in a tomb near the Nile River. Later, an enterprising farmer trademarked the seeds and gave it the ancient Egyptian name for wheat.

One thing is certain, kamut is an ancient grain. It is an heirloom variety of Khorasan wheat from Iran. Research suggests that ancient grains may have more health benefits than modern strains of wheat, and recently, Canadian scientists compared several ancient grains, including kamut, to modern wheat, and found higher levels of lutein (important for eye health) and beta-carotene in the heirloom grains.5

Kamut is a smart choice for a healthy diet and, as an added bonus, the branded product is always grown organically. It is high in selenium (which supports the immune system), zinc, and manganese. It also has 20 to 40% more protein per serving than regular wheat. A half-cup serving provides 6 grams of protein and only 140 calories.

To cook: Kamut is a Goliath of grains, and takes a long time to cook. Bring 1 cup kamut and 3 cups water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the grains are plump and chewy. This can take 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Soaking the grains overnight will reduce cooking time.

KAÑIWA

Though the name sounds similar, don’t confuse kañiwa (pronounced “ka-nyi-wa”) with its popular cousin, quinoa. (If you’re following the Beachbody® nutrition guide that came with your fitness program, you should be well acquainted with quinoa.) Kañiwa, from the Andes Mountains, is being touted as the next superfood. These tiny ruby red seeds are about half the size of quinoa and have a mild, sweet flavor. Because they are made up mostly of outer shell, they stay pleasantly crunchy when cooked.

To cook: Add 1 cup kañiwa and 2 cups water to a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds look they have sprouted little halos (like quinoa). Fluff with a fork and serve. Try it as a “breading” for meats.

MILLET

Some people think millet is for the birds, literally. It is a main ingredient in birdseed mixes, but this gluten-free seed (again, not a grain) is delicious and fluffy when cooked. It is not commonly eaten in the U.S., but it is the sixth most popular grain in the world. Millet may have been the staple grain of Asia before rice, and it’s rich in phosphorous, which is important for strong bones, and is also a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps reduce stress.

To cook: Toast 1 cup millet in a dry pan then add 3 cups water. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, then set it aside and leave the lid on for 15 minutes more. Fluff with a fork before serving.

For hot cereal or polenta, grind millet in a spice grinder. Bring 5 cups water to a boil, then gradually whisk in 1 cup millet. Cover, lower heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 30 minutes until grits are tender. The tiny seeds can even be popped like corn!

WILD RICE

Just like how many of these “grains” aren’t really grains, wild rice is not really rice. It’s the seed of an aquatic grass that was originally cultivated in shallow waters across North America. It has double the protein and fiber of brown rice and 30 times greater cancer-fighting antioxidant activity than white rice.6 Reddish brown to black in color, wild rice commands attention with its toothsome bite and bold nutty flavor. For this reason, and also because it’s pricey, it is often blended with other grains.

To cook: Wild rice requires more time to cook than most grains, but it’s worthy of the extra patience. There is time to crank out INSANITY’s Plyometric Cardio Circuit while you wait. Bring 3 cups water or stock to a boil, stir in 1 cup rice, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 50 minutes, until the kernels burst open, revealing a creamy interior. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and continue cooking over low heat for 5 minutes more if needed. Overcooking causes kernels to curl up and loose their distinct texture.

Let us know which whole grains you love and how you eat them at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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