Ask The Powells: How Can I Structure My Meals?

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. 😉 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. 🙂

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 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

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