The Four Golden Rules of Meal Planning – Part II

Food Bible

The Four Golden Rules of Meal Planning

Part II

By Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS ©2014

We left off in Part I of this weblog talking about taking control of our blood sugar levels.  Rule #1 is to eat every 3-4 hrs and in Rule #2, we said eating a good quality protein whenever we eat a carbohydrate would slow up the release of glucose from the carbohydrate into our blood stream. Selecting a good quality carb (Low G.I.) is also key in this process. By not following these 1st  two simple rules, we invite in the process of gluconeogenesis. It’s a fancy word that means “the new formation of glucose”. It’s sounds friendly until observe the pathway in which the glucose is formed. Very simply… we don’t eat regularly and the body goes into starvation mode. Needing to survive, it slows down metabolism and instead of consuming the fat cells, it continues to save them and catabolizes muscle tissue for energy. That is correct. You begin to digest your muscles for fuel. This continues to slow down metabolism and the cycle continues. So… eat regularly and keep fueling that furnace. Well… won’t we just get fatter if we eat all the time? Well, that depends. If we more than we can process or too much of a good thing, our body will store the excess in fat cells. (Or bad things too – Stay tuned. I’ll tell you later how to get fat drinking diet soda) So, with all the food choices available, how do we know what would be best to purchase? This leads us to Rule #3


Rule #3 – The 20% rule. Since all carbohydrates break down differently in the body and refined sugar is definitely not your friend, one of the best ways to determine whether a food is a good choice is to adopt the 20% rule. This is where we make certain that the total sugar in a product does not exceed 20% of the total carbohydrate. This is actually pretty easy to do without carrying a calculator around with you every time you go food shopping. Here’s how it works. I just picked up a can of baked beans. The nutritional facts on the side of the can says that it has a total carbohydrate of 28 grams. To find 20%, I simply calculate 10% first. This is easy because you just add a decimal point. So, 10% of 28 grams is 2.8 grams. Then to find 20% you just double that number. So, 2.8 + 2.8 = 5.6 grams. If the total sugar in this product is 5.6 or less it’s a good choice. This can has 11 grams of sugar (nearly 40%). This is not a good choice, so I’m leaving it on the shelf. I also have a box of brown rice. It is 34 grams of total carbohydrate and 0 grams of sugar. This is a much better choice. The orange juice I have is 29 grams of total carbohydrate and 28 grams of sugar (nearly 100%). Contrary to popular belief, fruit juices are pretty much fruit flavored sugar water. They are all pasteurized, which means they are heated to a high temperature to cook off bacteria. This unfortunately cooks off all of the vitamins as well, which just leaves flavor and sugar. The fructose (sugar) in them does not get absorbed into the muscle tissue like other forms of sugar. And, believe it or not, fruit juices and high fructose corn syrup are the number one causes of childhood obesity. Sometimes the foods we are led to believe are good for us, don’t quite hold up their end of the bargain. So how much is enough? On to rule #4.


Rule #4 Learn what exchanges are and how to use them. The next time you go to the supermarket, grab three different brands of bread and check out the nutritional information. All three will say, Serving Size 1 slice. As we read a little further, we see that Brand A has a Total Carbohydrate of 15 grams. Brand B’s total carbohydrate is 22 grams and Brand C has a total of 31 grams. So, it becomes clear that all serving sizes are not created equal. So how can we compare apples and apples? To do just that, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) came up with a system called exchanges. Exchanges simply indicate an amount of a macronutrient which would significantly increase blood sugar levels. For example, 15gr. of carbohydrate is 1 exchange. 7 gr. of protein and 5 gr. of fat also equal 1 exchange. So right about now you’re saying, “Great Mike!! Now how do I use this?” Well… the first thing that comes to mind is awareness. By starting to compare foods, we can deduct that 1 english muffin is 31 grams of carbohydrate or 2 carb exchanges and ½ cup of oatmeal is 28 grams of carbohydrate or roughly 2 carb exchanges. This way you can start making meal choices based on the amount of nutrients found in them. Well, now you’re asking, “How much should I eat?” For most of us, our plan should have the right amount of nutrients to stimulate lean muscle growth and drop our body fat percentage. Every lb. of muscle gained burns an additional 50 kcal per hour!

Let me give you a generalization of some intake levels, but keep in mind that every ”body” is different. With that said, if you exercise at least three times per week, eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day and 1 gram of healthy fats per 4 pounds of body weight per day. For example for a 130 lb woman, it calculates to: 130 grams of protein per day 195 grams of carbs per day 32 grams of fat per day. That is roughly 1,600 calories per day to maintain your current weight. 3500 calories is equivalent to approx. 1 lb. Therefore eating 500 additional calories a day should have you gaining 1 lb. a week and reducing your intake 500 calories a day should have you losing the same amount. This is a generalized statement and should not be written in stone. What I don’t like about making a general claim like this, is that there are so many other variables that need to be taken into consideration when determining an individual’s dietary needs.

So consider the following variables.: Age, gender, total weight, lean muscle mass, body fat percentage (BF%), type of exercise, amount of exercise, intensity of exercise, metabolism, goals, specificity, sleep time etc.. When designing a meal plan for my clients, all of these variables are taken into consideration. Based on their goals an exact number of exchanges are spread across 5 to 6 daily meals. After they are on the plan for a couple of weeks, we evaluate how their body is responding by using the following four basic principles.

1. Lean muscle Increases or stays the same & BF% decreases – plan is perfect.

2. Lean Muscle Increases & BF% Increases – Too many calories.

3. Lean Muscle Decreases & BF% Decreases – Not enough Protein

Here’s the kicker

4. Lean Muscle Decreases & BF% Increases – Not Enough Calories!!


So, as you develop your own meal program, remember garbage in garbage out. Eat quality meals and treat yourself with the respect you deserve. Eat every 3-4 hours. Cut back on the refined sugars and use the 20% rule. Always eat a quality protein with a carbohydrate to slow the release of glucose into the blood. And, learn exchanges so you can begin comparing the nutritional quality of different foods.


OH!!! Before I forget… How do you get fat from drinking diet soda? Easy!! Remember, whatever the body can’t process… it stores in our fat cells for later use. So, with diet sodas, it’s the artificial sweeteners that reek havoc on our systems. Aspartame in our body breaks down to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde breaks down further into formic acid (the same acid found in the venom of fire ants). Our body cannot process the formic acid and needs to remove it quickly from the blood stream. Where does it put the formic acid? Right on your sides, in fat cells. Drink purified water J


On one final note: Health is a journey. As science and technology continues to expand so does the understanding of the intricacies of our own bodies. Before starting any exercise plan, diet or change in activity, talk to your doctor. It’s their job to screen you to make sure you’re able to utilize this or any other program. Then… the rest is up to you to follow through and create the life and body that you’ve imagined. My commitment to me is to learn health and live it passionately; being the best I can be at this or any age. My commitment to you is share what I know and help you find your stride along the way. Look for my upcoming articles on fad diets and some cutting edge medical information on digestion and food assimilation. It may be a game changer for all of us.

Until we meet again… Love your life and live it without limits!



About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach and father.


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