Ask The Powells: How Can I Structure My Meals?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print

It’s a brand new year, the fire is lit, and you’re ready to do what it takes to reach your health and fitness goals…the only problem is that your schedule doesn’t want to cooperate with your dreams of a slimmer, fitter you. Guys, this is a question we get all the time – how am I supposed to structure my meals with my crazy, long schedule? It can be so difficult to find a healthy?eating schedule that coordinates with odd hour shifts, long days, and just general busyness. Luckily, after many years on the road and working around the clock, Chris and I have come up with a few solutions to keep you on track. Here are a few of our tried-and-true methods:

  1. Spread out your meals longer than every three hours. Although at first glance this may seem counter-intuitive to what we always preach?”eat every three hours no matter what!”?in some cases, it’s just not feasible, and we understand that. There have been several times that we, ourselves, have worked 20 straight hours, so spacing out our meals was a must. If every three hours is just not going to cut it, try eating a healthy, balanced meal every 3 1/2 or 4 hours instead.
  2. Cut your meals in half, eating each half-meal every 3 hours. Some jobs, like first responders, for example, require you to be up for 24 hours straight, which would mean eating every 3 hours and would give you 8 meals a day! Even if you’re eating clean, 8 full meals is quite the caloric bomb. On days where I’ve been required to be up 16+ hours, I try to cut my meals in half and continue on my regular eating schedule. That way, I’m satisfied and never hungry, but not overdoing it either.
  3. Plump up your meals with extra veggies! I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired, I’m hungry, or hangry (so hungry I’m angry), as Chris lovingly refers to it. πŸ˜‰ Satisfying your appetite when you lead such a crazy schedule can be difficult, so instead of loading your plates with more carbs or fats that’ll just leave you feeling groggier, fill up your plate with veggies. It’s a great way to make your meals go farther and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Do you work a long schedule or lead a crazy lifestyle? What works for you? I’m always on the hunt for helpful hints for staying on track! Let me know in the comments below. πŸ™‚

For more meal planning and healthy eating tips and tools, check out our new book,?Extreme Transformation, and?subscribe?to my YouTube channel?here!



Related reading:

Ask The Powells: How Do I Gain Healthy Weight?
1-Minute Breakfast in a Mug
Ask The Powells: How Do We Handle the Holidays?
Tip of the Day: Curb Those Cravings!



115 Responses

  1. Hi Chris and Heidi

    I live in Australia and am confused about protein powder. Your diet and recipes call for one scoop of protein powder, yet our protein powders call for three scoops in a shake. This yields 21.6 grams of protein. How much protein is in your one scoop? How many of our scoops should I be using?
    I’m only couple of weeks into the program and am enjoying the variety and freedom it offers.

    1. Hi Terri: For protein powders in our recipes, a scoop is about 31 g. And we love that you’re loving the program! πŸ™‚

  2. Hey Heidi,
    I am currently workin governights which are from 1045p-715a wed-fri some weeks and other weeks it is Wed-Sun not counting if i pick up some other days.
    I also may come in from 7p-7a. how in the world can i do this?? my life is all over and i am so confused as to how to approach this,
    Please help

    1. Hi Nita: It can be tricky to plan your meals on a crazy schedule. This post has some great ideas on how to fit your meals into your day, and just do the best you can, and plan for each day as best you can. You can do this!

  3. Hi Chris and Heidi!
    I’ve been watching your tv show for years now (it’s really popular in France too ^^) and I found out about your book recently. A few years ago, I lost 25 kg (around 55lbs, if I’m right…) but took a bit back over the past few months. Reading your book, I understood that I need to change in my mind to be able to keep the weight off ^^
    I’m now reading your book for the 2nd time, to take time to understand everything and take notes but I have a few questions ^^

    I understood I should eat every 3 hours. In the book, you explained that even two and a half hours or four hours is fine but because of my job, I’m not sure I can do even a 4 hours gap. I usually leave home at 11AM so I’m at my workplace for 12. Then I have a lunch break, but we never know in advance when it’s gonna be (usually around 3PM). And then, I’m working till 8PM so I’m home at 9PM. So there is a huge 6 hours gap while I won’t be able to eat and I don’t know what to do with it…

    And I also wanted to know, as I’m vegetarian, I read on your blog that I can substitute meat with tempeh and tofu. But I wanted to know about the other meat substitutes we can find. Like seitan or soya steaks/burgers. Seitan is made of gluten so is it a carb? And should I avoid all the industrial meat substitutes or are they ok?

    Thank you for all your work and thank you so much for teaching me to love myself! (even if it’s gonna take a bit more time πŸ˜‰ )

    1. Hi Alissane: Is it possible to keep some healthy snacks with you that don’t need refrigeration so you can eat more regularly? If so, I’d definitely recommend that. As far as vegatarian protein subs, as long as what you’re subbing has similar macros/calories to the meat option, you’re good to go!

    2. thank you for your answer ^^
      unfortunately, I really can’t eat during those 6 hours. I mean, it’s fine if I take a couple of minutes to grab a glass of water in the break room, but that’s all so I guess it would be difficult to eat enough in a few minutes.

      For the vegetarian options, I never looked at calories or anything when I was eating meat so I don’t really know what I should aim for. I guess between 25 and 30g of proteins per serving would be fine, but what about fat?
      thank you for helping me on my journey ^^

    3. Hi Alissane: That’s a tough schedule! For the vegetarian subs, you should be okay to sub the same amount as what’s listed in any recipes, especially for recipes calling for chicken breast. You could consult with a calorie counting website like, and this site has some awesome information on calorie and macro counts for thousands of foods. Do the best you can, and you can do this!

  4. Thanks for the tips! One question: so I know which gap I should do, how many hours should there be between the last meal and sleep? Obviously, I don’t want to have my last meal immediately before bed, right? This will help me determine if I should be doing 3.5 or 4 hours between meals on my long days.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Sunshine: I’d do whatever works best for you and your schedule. We’re more picky about getting in those 5 meals than the space between your last meal and sleeping since you do have a crazy schedule. If you can get in 3 hours between your meal and sleep, that’s optimal, but just do the best you can! πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Heidi, I want to give a try to carb cycling. I had older book and also ordered “Extreme transformation” yesterday. I read a lot on your blogs. I want to start with turbo cycle. I also have been working with fitness nutritionist for months and lost 30# but I want to give it a boost. I have been eating 5-6 meals a day with break of no more than 3 hours in between. Here is the question: I go to crossfit almost every morning and class starts at 6am. I usually get up around 5 and eat 1tbs of peanut butter around 5:30. After I come back I have protein shake with some sort of fruit or berries. Since every first meal should consist of carb and protein should I substitute peanut butter? It’s really hard to eat anything at 5am and I also don’t want to eat too much before workout. Thank you very much in advance, Regina

    1. Hi Regina: If you’re following the Turbo Cycle (, you’ll want to skip the fats for that first meal of the day. And good luck achieving your transformation goals – you can totally do this! πŸ™‚

  6. Just received my cop of Extreme Transformation, so I have a lot of reading to do. I have 2 questions at first glance.
    1. I am with a personal trainer twice a week (30 minute) and do atleast 30 minute cardio on my own before session. Should I plan to eat a higher carb day that day?
    2. I am 40 y/o and slightly over 300 pounds. Should I be eating more calories than the 12-15k for women that is listed in your book?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Frances: Since up to an hour of daily cardio is built into the program, you should be good to go to do your cardio on any day. And the calorie recommendation (around 1500/day) should work great for you. You can do this! πŸ™‚

  7. Hey Heidi! I just bought your Extreme book and love it! I love keeping track of macros and can’t find macro counts/day or meal in the book. I know it is listed with the recipes, but those seem to vary quite a bit. Can you give me a macro goal for a woman and man? (or tell me where to find it?) I’m 5’9 210 lbs – aiming for 150-160 lbs. The hubs is 6’2 235 lbs – aiming for 180 lbs. Thanks so much!!

  8. Thank you! I was also wondering if I can use nutritional yeast as a seasoning & avocado oil spray to cook ?
    On Week 3 !! Eating clean is not hard, thanks to all the motivation in the book & here!

    1. Hi Sasha: Yes, you can use unconditional yeast, just be sure and keep track of those calories, and yes, avocado oil spray is acceptable also! And you’re doing awesome!

  9. A little clarification. The book does not specify if Cheat Day is also regimented? Shud I stick to 5 meals or just freestyle?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Sasha: On your cheat day, you can eat any foods you want, any time you want, up to 1000 extra calories (2500 for the day). πŸ™‚

  10. Hy!?My name is Margareta,I come from Croatia. I was watching :Extreme waightloss for some time now and I really love the way you’re helping people with their weight. I also have a weight problem I weight 105 kg(sorry don’t know how much is it in lb?)and I’m 171cm tall. My weight goal is 80 kg as I weight nine years ago. I used to go to gym but there’s a little problem I’m an easy quitter. I also suffer from anxsiety and fear of death,and everytime I was at the gym on the track or orbitrack I felt like I was about to colapse and the training was over for me. The point is I’m desperate,can’t get a sirious move on,I feel week ans that makes mi mad,have two kids which I cannot be played with cause I don’t have strenght,I quickly get tired and it’s killing me. I don’t want to live like this I’m only 30. Please if you can help HELP ME i’ll be gratefull. Big kiss from Croatia

    1. Hi Margareta: Thank you so much for your comment! You can learn all about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in this post, and be sure and follow all the links within the post too: And it’s always good to discuss a new nutrition and exercise program with your healthcare team first. You can do this!

  11. Hi team!! On week 2!! Very excited! I feel so nice eating clean!! I can’t workout currently ( bum leg).. But I’m still happy to eat clean till I can add my workout! I’m a pretty active human & I just wanted some structure diet wise! I really appreciate you guys for ur support & guidance!
    A few questions-
    1- can I use nutritional yeast for my salads & omelettes as a seasoning?
    2-Is it ok to use Avocado oil spray mist to cook ground meat?
    3- can I add psyllium husk to my food & shakes?
    4-I love pumpkin. & eggplant! Is it ok to eat it for dinner almost every day?
    Thank you!

  12. Heidi and Chris, thank you for caring about people and their health.

    Over the last 3 years, I have had 3 different blood tests that say I have a strong sensitivity to: gluten, yeast, soy, wheat and corn. Within minutes up to an hour after ingesting, I usually end up with abdominal crapping resulting in a runny bowel.
    I don’t know how to take this information and cook, so I eat out emotionally due to marital stress, weight scale stress and not eating correctly.
    I am currently 175 pounds, 5’4″. I want to be healthy and I have been told that realistically 140 pounds should be my ideal weight.

    What can I do? I am to my wits end…….at one time, I did weigh 253 back in the early 1980’s. I feel I am headed back there……PLEASE HELP,……

    1. Hi Donna: Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through. Here’s a post about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, and they have a complete nutrition program as part of their program with many foods that could fit into your restrictions: And you could discuss their program with your healthcare team, also, and then follow any modifications they might recommend. We wish you the best – you can do this!

  13. Hello Chris and Heidi!
    My name is Tatiana. Please tell me, I don’t want to get fat, but want to have sports trim figure and how to eat? What foods can be eaten for lunch, dinner ? And how many times a day should one eat? Thank you!

  14. Hi, just read this blog after you suggest it! my problem is that for me 3h hours between my meals it’s hard ( it’s more 2h to 2.5h between) it’s not because i’m hungry but because of the time! I work evening shift and and don’t have controls of when I’m suppose to eat and it change every day! Can I change the order of the meals (breakfast, snack 1, lunch, snack 2 and diner) I want to continue my weight lost, lost 3.6 pounds last week and I don’t want to screw up! do you have advice?

    1. Hi Suzie: You can change up the meals and snacks, the most important thing is to do your best to eat every 3 hours and get in all the macros recommended in each meal/snack. And congratulations on losing 3.6 pounds – that’s awesome!

  15. Im just over 300..and beginning again. I had gastric bypass 14 years ago..and got down to 220. I got married, moved to Idaho and had three boys..and fell back into my old patterns. I NEVER did get down to where I wanted after the Bypass Surgery. i NEED to do this!! Have ordered the book State of Slim and read some…and have been inspired by your show..and the transformations. This might seem like a dumb ??… but should I follow the State of Slim Phases…or The Extreme Cycle. i have a ton to lose and want to so this right!! PLEASE HELP…how many calories should I shoot for…?? 5 ft 5

    1. Hi Deanna: You can follow whichever program will work best for you and your goals! As fa as how many calories to aim for, on the Extreme Cycle, women eat around 1500 calories a day. I’m not sure what the recommendations are for “State of Slim.” No matter which plan you choose, here’s a post about Chris and Heidi’s #1 transformation tool to get you started: You can do this!

    2. Im still waiting on the book through amazon…what is the best place to start as far as exercise,,,…and is your plan what you have the week 1 list 4…I am still trying to fully understand the State of Slim Plan…..I feel more familiar with your Extreme Cycle Program than the State of Slim. I have watched the show and adore you guys and truly feel Team Powell is the way for me to go…as far as the transformation i want to achieve, I had applied for a Scholarship for Destination Boot Camp…but was not chosen… Kinda i was looking forward to a swift kick in the but in the right direction as far as healthy eating/nutrition, weight loss, exercise and life in general. To that end, I guess. I am now gearing myself up for success and want to start of right so that I can be successful!! I just purchased a treadmill secondhand and I already had an eliptical. Do you recommend any other equipment….I can watch for deals. I got an awesome Nordic Trac Treadmill for $100…Im a total deal junkie. I was also contemplating purchasing your Bode_e protein..I have started with the Walgreens Whey Protein Powder…and I am going to check at Costco. The one I am using now is 20 G protein, 2 g sugar and 140 calories and 11 g carbs. Price is an issue..SEVEN kids = tight budget!! ..sorry if this is long winded. IDK why..I just feel a kinship with you guys and that your program is how I should go….waiting on book!! and trolling the blogs for bits of information!! I have read your 11 “extreme makeover ” secrest..and Im starting changes already…. 120 ounces of water yesterday!! You guys are awesome…When I met and married my husband, i was an Ag Teacher in CA and had just gotten my Masters Degree. I had not been married before. We met on LDS We got married in the San Diego LDS Temple and I moved to Idaho…where I became a mother to his 4 kids (then 15, 12, 8, and 3). That was 13+ years ago and we have had 3 boys together. They are 12, 10, and 8. One daughter is married and has 2 kids!! My family is my life!! We call ourselves the Dayleybunch! ( I think its cool that you call yourselves the Powell Pack). We even created our own words for the Dayleybunch Song. My Family is my life..and I want tp be here for the,…as an active participant in their lives and fully engaged in my life. I don’t want to be on the sidelines.!! Over Spring Break, we went Roller Skating. I did too…and I LOVEd it..I went 50+ times around and did not fall even once. I was petrified of falling. Being so big..I would surely injure myself if I did! I was proud that i went out and skated!! I grew up skating…so it all came back to me!! My kids and I have lots of summer building projects planned (clubhouse and go-karts). want to have the energy and stamina to keep up with them and then some!! As far as exercise. I am getting my music ready..that is what drives me through workouts. I love Whitney Houston, some church music, Lee Greenwood, Alabama…and lots like that,. I am a total 80’s kid!! My husband and kids are on board and will support me in whatever I want to do. BUT–> Of coarse they may fight with each other while i am trying to work out!! LIFE GOES ON!! Can you give me some idea of the length and intensity that my workouts should be…or some idea of a schedule. I read about your 3-2 1 and I understand that…just need to get a schedule that will help me achieve success. I home-school 1 child, who has ADD …so I’m home and sitting with him a large part of the day. That is most likely changing for his 7th grade year, so that i can focus more on me time. ..and see how he does. Sorry for the long story….Its just how I am!! <3 <3 >> You are an amazing inspiration and can motivate me…even as i just watch your shows and videos. I love your story….the POWELL Story!! OK>>>Enough for now!! So…IN SUMMARY while i wait for the book….1) Where to start my focus on exercise and ideas for routine (cardo/strength training). 2) I found your “Diet Plan Grocery List” Is that for the entire 21 day cycle? Also..not sure what bulletproff coffes is..but alternatives?/ THANKS DO MUCH!! STAY AWESOME!!

  16. I’ve been carb-cycling for a few months and feel great but am not doing s good job of estimg breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. My problem is at least 4 days a week (weight trIning days) I have to get to the gym st 5 or earlier (before the toddlers wake). I usually eat breakfast right after but am wondering if there are ways to drink my breakfast or snack at the gym or if the first meal needs more carbs than a protein shake.

  17. Hello πŸ™‚

    I love your show. In Sept 2016, i was in a car accident. My back is not healing. I need to see a neuro surgeon. I am waiting.

    In the mean time, i was gaining weight fast. I was coaching volleyball 20-30 hours a week before the accident. Since sept, i lost 25 lbs. I want and need to loose another 30 lbs without exercises. (i still can’t workout).

    Your book sounds interesting. Can i do this gluten free? thanks for being there πŸ™‚

  18. My income is limited and I try to shop healthy for every meal, but it’s hard when your spouse doesn’t want to eat the same thing so I’m preparing two meals. Also I’ve been on my weight loss journey for two years and have only lost 75 pounds I know I should be further but not everyone in my family is 100% supportive they get angry with me if I turn down doughnuts or cake or pop, telling me just one isn’t going to hurt me. Going to the gym was is hardship I can’t afford it anymore and I am going to find a gym that’s not expensive. Also I’m not all that smart on meal planning , counting calories carbs fat protein what can i do to change this and meet my goal. Thanks

    1. Hi Jeanne: Congratulations on losing 75 pounds – that’s awesome! It can be tough when those around you aren’t supportive of you and your goals. Just stay strong and tell them that when you have a weakness for food, one doughnut, etc., really can hurt you and your goals! And no matter what they say, stick to your goals and your plan! For weight loss, check out Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program basics in this blog post: And the exercise part of their program requires not equipment, and can totally be done at home. You can do this!

  19. Hello Team Powell,

    I have recently purchased your book, and have a couple questions if you don?t mind answering for me?

    1. I am going to try a couple breakfast options from your book, but I also enjoy taking a couple supplements in a shake (ingredients below) and wanted to see if I could alternate between meals and a shake? BUT I do not know what category the ingredients fall under, would you help me?

    ? Almond milk
    ? Barlean’s organic flax chia coconut blend
    ? WelleCo Super Elixir Alkalising Greens
    ? Symbiotics Colostrum Powder
    ? Vanilla Extract

    2. What category does PB2 powder fall under?

    3. What type of protein powder do you recommend I purchase?

    4. On reset days I know there are recipes in the book for clean cheats but I was wondering what the caloric intake limit would be. My husband is thin as a rail and a total foodie, so my reset day would be for us to enjoy going to lunch or dinner and having a burger, pad thai, etc., therefore what are the guidelines for the rest days?

    5. How would sushi fit in the 21 day program, as well as soy sauce?

    6. For my immun system I drink a few times a week an unsweetened inced green tea with pure matcha powder, would this still be allowed?

    7. For sweeteners, the only thing that tastes like sugar to me is Equal which I know is bad. I read on the blogs that you recommend Xylitol, but is there anything else that would taste like sugar? I read the xylitol is harmful to animals.

    I thank you in advance for your time and attention.


    1. Hi Nicole: Let’s get you some answers to your questions: 1) Chris and Heidi recommend using unsweetened almond milk, and if you use 2+ cups at a time, this is considered a fat. The Barleans product does have some fat in it, so keep an eye on that. I couldn’t find a nutritional label for the WelleCo product. The other two products should be okay. 2) You can find a complete foods list beginning on page 302 of the book, and this is a great tool for you to use when putting your meals together. 3) Chris and Heidi recommend low-fat, whey-based powders with between 15-20 grams of protein and less than 5 grams of carbs per serving. 4) On Reset Days, you can eat anything you’d like up to an additional 1,000 calories. 5) Low-sodium soy sauce is considered a condiment. Sushi can be a bit trickier depending on the serving size you’re eating. With rice as a part of most sushi, that counts as a carb. Any meats could count as a protein if the portion size is large enough. 6) This should be fine. 7) Chris and Heidi recommend stevia and xylitol as natural sweeteners. And here’s another post that can help you with meal planning on the Extreme Cycle: Good luck – you can do this!

  20. Hey!! So I have a pretty good structured meal plan. But I’m having the hardest time trying to figure out how many calories I need a day. I’m a recovering bulimic and was told to never eat less than 2000 calories a day. But sometimes I feel like I have to eat all day to reach that! I do weight training and run everyday. 5.5 and 130lbs. I know it’s a no size fits all thing but I’ve just been confused about this! I would love your input if you could!

    1. Hi Paige: Thank you for your comment! If your healthcare team recommends you eat 2000 calories a day, then it’s best to follow their recommendations, and if you have any concerns about this daily calorie recommendation, it’s best to discuss this with them since they know your health history and can work with you personally. We wish you the best!

  21. I want to say thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of our questions! I have another though. As im planning my meals and looking through the approved foods list, I have a questions about eggs. We are getting ready to start the extreme cycle and for breakfast we were thinking toast with avocado, eggs, tomatoes, and spinach. if we have a whole organic egg would the yolk be our fat and we would be doubling fat then (which is a no no). Or if I make egg salad do I have to avoid using the yolk for that for the same reason.

    thanks in advance

    1. Hi Natasha: In the Extreme Cycle, 2 egg yolks count as a protein serving, and 5 egg whites count as a protein serving. So if you eat two whole eggs, you should be okay, and this would count as your protein portion for a meal. If you eat one whole egg, you’ll need to add some additional protein for that meal. In the breakfast you described, the toast is your carb, the egg(s) would be your protein, the avocado would be your fat, and the rest count as veggies. Hope this helps!

  22. Hi ?i really love you all. I am inspired and want to look fit. Height is 5.2″ with weight 65 kg but i look unhaped with fatty arms and lower body looks like a pear really worried look bad when i wear jeans or what. Please team powells help me out. Any diet plan and workouts ? I actually eating clean and doing walk and workouts but my weight is same. I am losing in inches only. Can’t break my plateu. I will be very thankful if you will reply.

    1. Hi Sharry: It sounds like you’re on the right track! You can get some great tips and tools in this blog post: Hopefully you can find some things you can add to what you’re already doing to help you achieve your goals.

    2. Thankyou team.. it really helps me. Need to know meal plan i am following turbo carb cycle. But can you fill it with meals which meal should i go for it .. i have chart but need full filled chart..

    3. Hi Sharry: We don’t have sample meal plans for the Turbo Cycle, but here are some meal ideas for low- and high-carb days (all recipes are from Chris and Heidi’s books: “Choose to Lose” and “Choose More, Lose More for Life”): Low-carb day:
      Breakfast (within 30 minutes of waking): Basic Omelet with a corn tortilla to make it a wrap. Snack (3 hours later): A protein shake with a portion of a healthy fat, like peanut butter, mixed in. Lunch (3 hours later): Tomato Basil and Garlic Chicken with a portion of olive oil drizzled on top. Snack (3 hours later): Sonora Cottage Cheese with a portion of avocado. Dinner: (3 hours later): Lemon Chicken drizzled with salad dressing. High-carb day: Breakfast (within 30 minutes of waking): Denver Omelet with a portion of your favorite fruit or oatmeal on the side. Snack (3 hours later): Greek Yogurt Parfait with a portion of low fat granola. Lunch: (3 hours later): Caribbean Jerk Chicken with a portion of brown rice. Snack (3 hours later): Protein shake with a portion of oatmeal mixed in.
      Dinner (3 hours later): Apple Cider Chicken. And remember, you can have veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type) with every single meal, and you can use any of the foods on Chris and Heidi’s approved foods list – in the proper proportions – to create meals to fit your needs. I hope this helps!

  23. When the recipes in the book call for 2 oz of protein is that raw or cooked? I think it’s raw but I want to be sure since I like to log my foods into myfitnesspal. If cooked, I would need to log a higher number since the product label info is for raw. Also, in general, what’s the different in weight before and after cooking (baking or boiling)? I’ve found it to be around an ounce. Would you agree?

    1. I just read in a previous post that if a recipe says 2 oz chicken, cooked, then I should measure cooked not raw. I do still have the question about the weight difference. If I bulk prep and measure out 2 oz chicken, what would I log into MFP since the weight was actually more raw? Whether chicken, fish or ground turkey, do you think Increasing it by 1 oz when I log it will be close enough to be sure I don’t end up eating too many calories?

    2. Hi Leslie: (I’ll answer both of your comments here). Comment #1: The weight after cooking of any meats can depend on how it’s cooked, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Comment #2: The calorie difference between cooked and raw meat is small (for chicken, raw is about 5-10 calories/ounce more than cooked, depending on how it’s cooked). If you are worried about going over on your calories, you could use whichever number (raw vs. cooked) is higher just to be safe. Chris and Heidi put cooked chicken into recipes to make things easier to bulk prep ahead of time. Good luck – you got this! ?

  24. I’ve hit a plateau on my current diet, and I just bought your “Extreme Transformation” book for new ideas. I really like the concept, and want to try it out, but I’ll have to admit, some of the recipes I’m thinking “no way” – so I’ll have to tailor fit this for foods that I like. Is there anyplace that you have a list of foods that are considered carbs? As you mention in your book, some foods are a bit of both categories, so I’m trying to figure out what to cut out on the “no carb” days.


    1. Hi Kathryn: You have other options in addition to following the meal plan as outlined. You can sub high-carb recipes for high-carb recipes (the same with low-carb for low-carb, etc.) making multi meal prep easier, or you can put your own meals together (look at Day 4 and on page 28 for tips for doing this), and there’s a complete foods list in the appendices at the back of the book that is helpful too. You can also do a combo of both, and you can use any of the recipes in Chris and Heidi’s other books too. We want this to be as easy as possible!

  25. Heidi,
    how do you feel about pesto sauce? I assume that it has a fairly high fat content but other than that it seems to be pretty health to me. Thank you for your time.

  26. Hello Heidi and Chris!
    I would like to ask something. I have been attending to the gym for 4 months now, 5 days a week, and I have been in a 2 hours schedule, 1 hour of aerobics and one hour of weight lifting, and even though my shape did change and I look visibly smaller, the scale won’t show a smaller number. I have asked two of my gym teachers what they think about the idea of dropping the weight lifting till my weight drops about 20%, but they I shouldn’t leave the weight lifts and forget about the scale. Problem is I can’t forget the scale at a 260 pounds of weight. Well,I have already seen a nutritionist(she agrees I should drop the weight lifting till some weight loss comes) and adjusted my diet,and still,no drop on the scale. Should I drop the weight lifting for a while and pick it back up later or should I stay in and forget the scale?

    1. Hi Rachel: Both weight lifting and cardio are important. Could you lessen your weight lifting time and add that time to your cardio? Maybe do 30 minutes of weight lifting and add the extra time to your cardio? And I don’t know what nutrition program you’re following, but nutrition is a huge part of weight loss. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the nutrition part of Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program: You might be able to find some things you can add to what you’re already doing. We wish you the best!

  27. I have questions about the extreme transformation meal plans. My husband and I are trying it together. This video also helps with hubby’s schedule. My concern though is the meals. Meals have been great, but when I enter my food into myfitnesspal to track calories, mine are way off sometimes. For example Day 3 breakfast was 150 calories and 50g carbs higher then what your plan says it should be. That’s the largest difference so far, but other meals have been off as well. It has me a little concerned…. Like I said the meals are great so far, but I don’t want to get to week 3 with no change because something is off. Please help!

    1. Hi Chelsea: Different apps can figure calories a bit differently, so that might be part of the issue.

  28. Hi! I really don’t know who else or how to reach Heidi or Chris so I’m hoping someone here can respond from their team? I am doing their diet that but I don’t understand why we are weighing in on the Monday after reset day from their extreme transformation book? can we weigh in on the Sunday morning?! The 31st!?

    1. Hi Crystal: DietBet sets the weigh in days, and for this DietBet, you can weigh in on either February 1 or 2. If you’re concerned about the Reset Day, then wait until the 2nd to do your final weigh in. Hope that helps, and good luck! ?

  29. I watched your show last nite for the first time. God I wish I had seen your show years ago. I am a 57 year old disabled woman and I have even gone through gastric bypass to lower my weight. My mother complains that I don’t eat enough. I wish I could have the bypass reversed so that My vitamin and mineral absorption would get better. I have no bones in the left wrist need both knees replaced and need desparately to know what to do. I drink whey Isolate protein shakes eat salads and greek yogurt as well as skinless chicken and cottage cheese. I keep my meals to three per day and the lightest is at night. I drink water and tea with neutra sweet as my sweetner. I walk as much as I can with my dogs due to my knees and I do isometric exercises. I can not afford special foods so healthy is what I do. My dietition said I need to eat more to loose weight as it is creaping back on. I an 246 at the moment on a 5’1″ frame. What can you recommend. And yes I do have a lot of excess skin that will God willing eventually come off but I need help. I have delt with my emotional problems from the past and need someone who understands the human body to help me figure out what to do to keep loosing weight instead of gaining it. And please don’t tell me to eat more. I am desparate for whatever help you can provide me with. Thank you again for your show. Lorrie McClary
    Coulterville CA

    1. Hi Lorrie: You can read about the basics of Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program (nutrition and exercise) in this post: And be sure and follow all the links within the post too. And with your health issues, it would be best to discuss this, or any nutrition and exercise program, with your healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they recommend. Make that first promise to yourself, choose a cycle, get your doctor’s okay, and go! You can do this!

  30. Hi guys,

    Just got your book, Choose more, and I love it. During the week, I am up at 3:30 am to be at gym at 4 am for weights. I have 1 slice of toast w/ PB and a banana – am type 1 diabetic so need fuel before workout. Then after workout I typically have a protein shake. Do I continue with this as I start the Classic Style?

  31. Hi! I just got your new book and really like it! I had been following the classic cycle from the previous book and really liked it. Do you think I should switch to the extreme cycle, like in your new book or is it okay to stay with the classic cycle? Have you seen better results with the extreme cycle vs the classic cycle?

    1. Hi Liane: You can use whichever cycle you’d like, and you can switch at any time. If you like the Classic Cycle, then stick with that one. πŸ™‚

  32. I’m a type 2 diabetic and I weigh222 lbs, I sleep well but wake up tired. I honestly don’t k ow how to eat. My husband is almost 400 lbs. my youngest daighter is 19 and is 260. I feel I’ve not only failed my self but my family as well. I need a diet plan wrote out for me with everything I need to buy and meal plans to follow. I’m willing to pay for this information just need to know where it is. If it’s a book the name of it just to make sure I get the right thing. Please help!

    1. Hi Lora: Chris and Heidi’s new book ( has everything you need in it, including day-by-day meal and exercise plans. With your diabetes, it would be best to discuss their program with your healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they recommend. You can do this!

  33. Hi Team Powell! Thank you so much for all the great information that you give! I hear you say to always eat within 30 minutes of waking up and this is something I have had a problem with. I currently wake up at 5am so that I can fit a workout in before going to work. I work out from 5-6 and then jump in the shower and do not eat my eggs until around 7am. How important is it that I fit in something before I workout and what exactly do you suggest I have? I do not have time to make my eggs, eat them, and give them time to settle, then workout and be to work on time. I am sure I am not the only one who has a schedule like this and am curious what you recommend.

  34. Hi there! Happy New Year! πŸ™‚

    I have a question about veggies. I read Chris’ book and I’ve been carb cycling for a couple of months now and I really like it. I’ve seen steady weightloss and I’m so excited to continue this plan. My struggle is happening in the veggie area. While I love the visual aid the book provides on portion sizes, it still leaves me confused at times on how much a fist size of veggies is, especially since they vary in size. (Maybe a video could one day be made to show exactly what they mean?) Also, although I’ve read the book, I’m also still confused on whether I should be having veggies for each of my 5 meals or if I can skip veggies at breakfast. I was under the impression that if I have a high carb day parfait with greek yogurt, granola and berries, for instance I would also add a side of veggies to that somehow. Not sure where I read it, but I think I got confused somewhere along the way. Any tips? Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Natasha: Great questions! Two fists full is around 2 cups, and you can have veggies with every meal. For high-carb meals, they are optional if you’re full. Hope that helps!

  35. Hi Powell Pack!

    My boyfriend and I just started the Extreme Cycle and are loving it so far! The recipes are delicious AND fit our busy schedule!

    One question though, are the recipes designed to weigh our food raw or cooked? We are currently weighing it raw, but it seems like so much less protein than we are used to eating (previously paleo and counted macros).

    Thanks so much for changing our lives! We love you guys!

    Stacy and Nick

    1. Hi Stacy: Great question! Unless the recipe calls for something cooked (chicken breast, cooked, for example), measure foods raw. Good luck – you guys got this!

  36. I am not on a weight loss journey like so many but I am on a leaning out journey so to speak. However I am a teacher and as you can imagine you cannot stop your class to eat a meal. So I try and do “snack type” things in the 5 minutes of transition between class (I teach junior high) that I can find. This isn’t a meal though so my question is, is there something specific I should be snacking on to help? Thanks!
    ?? From Houston

    1. Hi Angie: Great question! You’ll want to make sure you get a serving of protein with any meal, so if you have a cooler/mini fridge handy, lowfat/nonfat Greek yogurts, low-sodium deli meats, hard boiled eggs, protein shakes, protein bars, and things like that would be a great protein option. If you can, add a healthy fat like nuts or reduced fat cheeses (if you have a way to keep them cold), or a carb like fruits, starchy/root veggies, whole grains, etc. Pre-cut veggies are also a great option! So try and pair a protein with either a carb or fat, and add in veggies if possible. I hope that helps!

  37. Hi,
    I just picked up a copy of your latest book, and at a glance it looks like the meal plans are not geared towards anyone with a blood sugar problem. I don’t eat any refined sugars and very, very, little foods with any amount of natural sugars. I also don’t eat any thing that is remotely considered starchy.
    I’m 52 years old 6′ tall and I weigh 275 lbs. I’m sure I’d feel considerably better at 175 lbs, which is what I weighed at the age of 14, at which time I was already 6′ tall. I already eat lean meats and vegetables and sometimes just vegetables. I eat fruit but most fruit has to much (natural) sugars in it, aside from apples. pears, and Mandarin oranges. (Sparingly on the oranges) I have been at my current weight for a number of years, I don’t exercise per say but I do have 5 acres to maintain, which includes a veggie garden, a small orchard, and a number of bee hives. Please advise.

    1. Hi Roy: You can put your own meals together so that you can better meet your own dietary guidelines, and this post will help you with this: Chris and Heidi had so many requests for a day-by-day meal plan, so they included one in the new book, but you don’t have to follow it – you can do what works best for you. Hope that helps!

  38. HI,
    I have been doing the turbo carb cycling from the previous book and am going to start Monday on the carb cycling from the new book. I have done really well at creating meals and loosing weight. I want to use some of the new recipes in the book but the only dairy I can tolerate is kefir and need to know what I can use to substitute for cottage cheese in recipes? Thank you for your help.

    1. I follow a ton of their recipes, but I absolutely hate cottage cheese. For those I have subbed in plain nonfat greek yogurt….do you think you could use that? Its so much creamier than regular yogurt and maintains most of the tartness almost like kefir.

  39. Hi Heidi!

    I’m a Mom, 124 lbs., 5’4″ and I have a very hectic schedule. I work 12+ hours a day, 5 days a week. I get up at 4:30am, ride the bike from 5am-6:30am then off to work by 7am, and work from 8am-8pm. I usually go to bed after my daughter is asleep, that’s 11pm the latest. I am cyclist, and I race from February unto early September. I would like to lose some weight and be lighter on hilly races. I’ve been stuck at 124lbs for a while, and I feel like I need to do something with my diet. Also, my core is falling apart ever since I gave birth to my daughter. I have a 4 year old, and she’s super awesome. I would like to have a better power to weight ratio on my bike. I aim to be a healthy 115lbs. Is this do-able? I’d love to be a strong 115lbs, with lots of energy. Will you help me out with diet and a proper core workout? Pretty please? Thank you!!

  40. HI Powell pack I am on a massive amount of medication for Brittle asthma Arthritis Onset brittle bones Depression Chronic pain disorder migraine and a couple of other thing that are under investigation from nuro science. I can lose weight I used to be a size UK 24 currently a size UK 14 but my weight is up and down and gets me very sad I’ve already had my galbladder removed through yo yo dieting and I’m back on a crash diet help me find a balance that I can cope with exercise with my health problems luv and happiness to you all xxxx

    1. Hi Kerry: I’m so sorry to hear about all the issues you’re dealing with! I’d suggest you discuss Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program with your healthcare team and let them help you make any necessary modifications. They are the best ones to help you since they know your exact issues and can work with you personally. We wish you the best – you can do this!

  41. I love your program because EVERYTHING is all together in one place. But I am struggling with the time intensive recipes and feel I am spending too much money on food and ingredients. I SO want to use this but need some simple “go-to” items I can grab and go since that is the reality of life today. The amount of time it is taking to prepare meals is too much. Every recipe is involved. I’m finding I am grumpy about all the prep. I’m ready to give up but don’t want to. I need SIMPLE.

    1. Meal prep is the key! On Sunday afternoons I make small containers or baggies of portions. Like 25 carrots in a bag with 2 tbsp hummus in a little container. Or I’ll make one of their recipes for 4 servings instead of 1 and divide it out into 4 small lunch bowls for the week, then most of my lunches are made! Also, really rely on low carb protein shakes on really hectic days…this is a life saver! Takes less than a minute to throw some almond milk and protein in a bottle and shake.

    2. I completely agree with you. I would love to see a weekly meal prep list that repeated meals. The variety is great but my shopping list was so long! What I did was just pick a couple recipes out and made a bigger batch. Like the sweet potato fritters, I made a batch to last me the week.

    3. Hi Kayley: With this meal plan, you are totally welcome to change up the meals as best fits your schedule. Just be sure and switch out high-carb meals for high-carb meals, and the same with low-carb and cheat meals. It sounds like you’re already on the right track!

  42. What would you recommend for night shift workers that work 9-9 shifts. I am having trouble with times i should eat because of night shift work and then switching to day eating on my days off. my body is all over the place.

    1. Hi Val: I’d start with the suggestions in this post and video, and then go from there. You might have to tweak these a bit to fit your schedule, but it can be done!

  43. Loving the new book. My biggest issue right now is dinner time. My final meal of the day needs to be around 730 but when my husband is home from work and my daughter comes home from daycare, they are both ready to eat dinner at 530ish. We have always eaten together as a family and I don’t want to stop that. I thought about having my 4th meal with them and then a small 5th later on my own, is that ok? Also really confused about the condiment section. I have no idea when these are ok, every meal? Once a day? They aren’t divided up as a macro and not sure how to count them for calories when the guide doesn’t a lot for them. Thanks!

    1. Hi Bec: Yes! You could eat 1/2 your last meal with your family, and then 1/2 later on as suggested in this post/video. As for the condiments, those can be eaten any time during the day, but keep an eye on them because those calories can add up. Since women eat around 1500 calories a day based on the meal plan/recipes, add those calories to that 1500 calorie total. And this food list is most helpful if you’re not following the meal plan and putting together your own meals. Get a quick guide to putting your own meals together here: Hope that helps – you can do this!

  44. My questions is this. Here in canada the price of food especially vegs have doubled over the last year. A head of cauliflower costs $8.oo. What can I do to help save money yet eat healthy?

    1. Hi Lisa: Wow! That is an expensive head of cauliflower! I’d choose veggies that are in season, and that could help. Another thing is to look for farmer’s markets and buy locally grown veggies. Frozen veggies can be a great option too. Hope that helps!

  45. Question… How do you know how much Protein, Carbs, and Fat to have in a day? Also how to change them depending on your calorie intake?

    1. Hi Ty: In Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, everything is figured out for you, you just need to follow the program. You can learn more about their program here: As far as general recommendations, you could try a 40/30/30 program – 40% calories from protein, 30% calories from carbs, and 30% calories from fats. Hope that helps!

  46. My name is rashaun cherry and I’m 16 and I weight 370 which is allot I wat to get down to 210 because I am tired of carying all this weight something needs to chance can you help me

    1. Hi Rashaun: Heidi wishes she could help everyone who needs her help, but she’s not able to take on clients right now. You can get some great tips for developing healthy habits in this other post on her blog: Here’s another thing that might help you on your journey to get and stay healthy: One awesome tool Chris and Heidi use with every client is to make and keep a small, simple promise to yourself every day. This is truly a key to achieving any goal! Learn about the process here: What will your first promise be today? Make and keep that one, then make and keep one tomorrow, and so on. It works! You can do this! ?

  47. Hi! My hubby and I have been reading your new book, and love all the tips!

    I have been struggling with my eating schedule for the past 5 years as a 3rd shift RN. Half of the week, I am up early to get kids to school, and sometimes don’t sleep until after I get them to school THE NEXT DAY!! When I’m on my work schedule, I’m usually up at 3p and in bed at 9a the next day. I really struggle with the timing of my meals, and eating every 3-4 hours during my shifts just isn’t always doable.

    I eat fairly healthy, and so follow a workout plan, but I have about 20 lbs I’d like to lose, as well as focus on sculpting more muscle.

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks & love you guys!! Keep up the amazing work you do!


    1. Hi Gabrielle: There are some awesome tips in this post and video, so I’d start there. And just do the best you can! It might take a bit of time to figure out what will work best for you, but it can be done. You got this!

  48. So glad this post came up – as like many others it’s something I’m struggling with. I work shift in the hotel industry – morning, afternoon/evening and overnight shifts and sometimes it’s physically not possible to have a sit down meal break or it can be 5 hours or more between meals. Any suggestions on what I can do as my hangry side makes an appearance and trying to eat healthy is beginning to become a struggle. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Tammi: Follow the tips in this post, and have foods handy and ready to go like protein powders, protein shakes, low-sodium deli meats, non/low fat Greek yogurts, reduced fat cheeses, nuts, pre-cut fruits and veggies, etc. You can do this!

  49. Hi powells πŸ™‚

    I have begun my journey and I feel very empowered. I am looking for advise on finding my ideal, maintainable weight. I am 5-7 and currently 175lbs I know I have set small goals for along the way. I am part of your dietbet so don’t be surprised to see my name as a winner lol. Thanks for bringing motivation and compassion to the world around you.

    1. Hi Brandi: Your ideal weight range depends on several factors like muscle composition, bone structure, and others, so there’s not really a one-size-fits-all answer to your question. I’d suggest you discuss your ideal weight range with your healthcare team, and then go from there. You got this!

  50. I am single mom of 2 teenage boys. I just got your new book and my youngest and I have been following the food portion. (I haven’t been able to find time to squeeze in the workouts… yet, but I will.) I feel like when I come home from work I spend hours in the kitchen prepping, cooking and packing the next days meals. Any suggestions on how to make meal prep and packing easier?

    1. Hi Maralee: Chris and Heidi recommend prepping your foods two days during the week (at the beginning and in the middle). Keep taking those baby steps, and you got this!

  51. Hi Chris & Heidi!
    I just bought the book yesterday and read through it. I am also part of your DietBet challenge right now. πŸ™‚
    I have 2 questions, currently I have been on an 1100 calorie diet and jogging 3x/wk for over 6 months. I want to start your extreme program but with the calories at about 1500 for women, will I gain weight since I’ve been on 1100calories? Also, can I substitute certain recipe ingredients from your book such as mayonnaise and salmon for something else? Do I just choose another fat for mayo and lean protein for salmon?

    By the way I LOVED the French toast!!!

    Thank you!!


    1. Hi Christina: Yes, these are the calorie recommendations, but you can adjust these to fit your needs if you need to. And depending on what your goal weight is, as you get closer to that weight, you’ll need fewer calories to maintain your weight/weight loss. And you can substitute like foods for those in the recipe if you need to.

  52. Hi, I just bought you new book and I love it. I am ready to start a new life. But I am trying to figure out how to eat my meals due to my work. I work 7 days a week. I deliver newspapers (which I drive and throw for 6 hrs a night). I get up at 11:00pm, leave for work at 11:45. I am on the road driving until 6:30am, then I have to get sleep (due to being physical and mental drained) from 7am-10am. I am then up only until 6pm when it all starts over again. Please let me know what times I should eat. I can eat finger food during driving but can not stop to eat or eat anything needing fork or spoon. Plus it is dark and that could get messy, lol. I hope you can help me so I can get started. Thanks so much, Kimb

    1. Hi Kimb: What a crazy schedule! There are some great tips in the video and in this post, and I’d start there. And keep in mind that each day might be different and you might have to be a bit creative, but it can be done! As far as finger foods, you can try protein shakes, protein bars, boiled eggs, low-sodium deli meats, whole grain products, pre-cut fruits and veggies, nuts, reduced fat cheeses, and others. You can do this!

  53. Thanks for this. It’s like you read my mind. I’m up from 2am-930pm 4 days & work one overnight shift a week plus teach spin classes in the evening which leaves me exhausted & reaching for food to pull me through the day …. I have a hard time staying under my calorie count for the day which has lead to about a 20 lb gain last year. I workout just can’t seem to find a balance eating to lose & keep off the weight – so frustrating! I’ll take any suggestions you have beyond what you said above. Plus quick protein ideas you have for a grab & go meal or snack. Thanks for your motivation & sharing ….

    1. Hi Heather: Begin with the tips in this post, and hopefully those will work for you. As for grab and go proteins, try protein shakes, protein bars, low-sodium deli meats, boiled eggs, and low/non fat Greek yogurts. Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.