Most diets out there are total BS. Usually because they state the same generic guidelines with vague principles. They tell you to eat more greens and vegetables, yadda yadda. Everybody knows that already, yet nobody does it.
None of them give you a clear ‘dieting’ blueprint you can apply to every single meal. This is the critical piece.
Let’s face it, none of the experts and hobbyists want to simplify their dietary advice to its core. They think it will lose credibility. What it actually loses, is its applicability.
Dietary plans without a clear underlying blueprint are too hard to follow. Would you be able to construct a meal with the right amounts of different foods, then sustain this effort long term without falling back to old habits?
I know I wouldn’t. I failed many times before. The reason it’s worked since? After years of looking for a solution, I distilled my eating to a few simple pointers.
Enter the world of what I like to call the Meal Canvas principle. Based on the Pareto efficiency, this blueprint makes it easy for me to throw together perfectly balanced meals every day.
The Meal Canvas Principle
Sketching out your next fat burning meal is simple. Here’s how I do it:
First, think of your plate as a blank canvas and food as your paint with which you’ll cover the plate. Your goal is to create healthy art that will also help you burn fat:
What I like to do before even purchasing the ingredients is to think of how the various macronutrients will be visually represented on my canvas:
- I know that vegetables should take up to 80% of my plate space. They’re also my primary source of carbohydrates.
- A good amount of protein – just enough to provide the necessary amino acid profile. Usually a handful or so of fish or meat.
- A good amount of dietary fat. The essential fatty acids for optimal brain function, healthy gut lining, good cholesterol production. Great sources of it are: avocados, macadamia nuts, coconut oil etc.
- Other condiments and items of taste. This includes healthy tidbits like olives, pieces of goats cheese, nuts etc.
The most important thing is to keep it simple. Simple enough that your meal doesn’t contain more than 4 or 5 ingredients. Why? Well because to make a meal healthy and fat-burning you need to focus on quality, not quantity. Keeping your meals simple will also help you stick with this way of eating, and research also shows that having less variety means we’re less likely to overeat. How’s that for a bulletproof diet?
The most important thing is to keep it simple. Simple enough that your meal doesn’t contain more than 4 or 5 ingredients
Most people still believe that a mix of random grains, dressings and so on, which might amount to 20 ingredients will provide a full range of vitamins and minerals. I understand that some want to be better safe than sorry, however this usually just leads to gastric distress, insulin spikes, and therefore the inevitable fat gain.
Rather than focusing on thousands of items in every meal, think of every meal canvas as a new painting – throughout the day try to create meals with a few different ingredients each time and you’ll be sorted.
Back to business…
As you can see this does not mean that the meal will consists of 80% of carbohydrate and 20% of fat and protein – no. The percentage indicates the space this food takes up on the plate. This is the Meal Canvas Principle.
This was my lunch a while back. Key ingredients form a nice, healthy and fat burning ‘flower’ are: a bulletproof base of green leafy salad (rocket, lettuce and spinach), a few tomatoes, a handful of mixed nuts (brazils, hazelnuts and walnuts), pre-cooked chicken bits with herbs and spices, a sprinkle of grated mature cheddar. Finally, a drizzle of olive oil.
This was a snack. It was served in a bowl, thus might be a bit hard to tell, but the base is still made of leafy greens (Italian mixed salad). This is then mixed up with some roasted salmon flakes, as well as a handful of brazil nuts. On top of that, it is all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Easy to buy ingredients and create on the go.
Lastly, an example of a green leafy salad covered with: smoked salmon flakes, bits of goat cheese, a handful of mixed olives (kalamata and the green ones). On top of that we have a seasoning of melted grass-fed butter (Kerrygold), ground black pepper and mineral salt.
As you can see, with these meals I fulfil all my busy-lifestyle needs without thinking about food too much. The majority of my meal plate is always covered in greens. I then just add a mixture of 4-5 ingredients on top. It makes for amazing, easy to put together meals that I actually enjoy. Best of all, I don’t need any special cooking skills or to sacrifice precious time.
To recap. Next time you want to build your fat-burning meal use the Meal Canvas Principle:
- Cover 80% of the plate space with green leafy vegetables or other veg
- Cover the remaining 20% with the desired amount of meat, fish or other protein sources.
- Be sure to also add a good amount of dietary fat by topping your plate off with nuts, olives, extra virgin oil seasoning.