If you take the BuzzFeed Get Fit Summer Challenge, you’ll be doing four workouts a week for a full month. So you need to eat for energy.
Some workouts are strength training, some are cardio. And you need to eat food that will leave you feeling energized and happy, not bloated or sluggish. BuzzFeed Food editors worked with Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, to create a meal plan that’s full of protein and fresh produce, with enough starchy carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and rice) to fuel your workouts.
We created 25 recipes that have the exact amount of calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates that you need.
There are five breakfasts, five lunches, five dinners, five light snacks, and five big snacks that you can mix and match to eat right for the whole month.
But wait, doesn’t the amount of food you need vary based on your size, gender, and activity level?
Absolutely. Also, if you’re looking to lose weight, you’re going to have to eat a little less than if you’re only looking to kick ass and get in better shape. To figure out your personal daily caloric needs for the Get Fit Summer Challenge, use the two-step guideline created by Giovinazzo that are at the bottom of this post.
Before you use these recipes, you need to figure out which calorie plan fits your goals.
Each recipe includes instructions for how to personalize them depending on your daily caloric needs. If you’re reading the recipes online, any modifications are noted below the ingredient list in each recipe. You can also print a PDF file of all the recipes, tailored specifically to your daily caloric needs.
Step 1: Determine Your Activity Level
If you’re doing the Get Fit Challenge exercise plan as written, your activity level is somewhat active. Meaning, you exercise 30–60 minutes a day, three to four days a week.
If you’re doing the Get Fit Challenge exercise plan while also doing other workouts (like extra running, spinning, or weightlifting that aren’t on the plan), your activity level is very active. Meaning, you exercise one to two hours a day, five or more days a week.
If you exercise three or more hours a day, five or more days a week, you’re extremely active. For the most part, the people in this category are athletes and/or sports professionals with a good understanding of how to fuel themselves for all that activity.
Step 2: Use your activity level, gender, weight, and personal goals to calculate how much you should eat.
1,400 CALORIES PER DAY:
This is for:
Women who are under 125 pounds, somewhat active, and looking to lose weight.
1,700 CALORIES PER DAY:
This is for:
-Women who are under 125 pounds, somewhat active, and not looking to lose weight.
-Women who are under 125 pounds, very active, and looking to lose weight.
-Women who are over 125 pounds, somewhat active, and looking to lose weight.
2,000 CALORIES PER DAY:
This is for:
-Women who are over 125 pounds, somewhat active, and not looking to lose weight.
-Women who are over 125 pounds, very active, and looking to lose weight.
-Men who are under 185 pounds, somewhat active, and looking to lose weight.
2,300 CALORIES PER DAY:
This is for:
-Women who are extremely active and looking to lose weight.
-Women who are over 125 pounds, very active, and not looking to lose weight.
-Men who are under 185 pounds, somewhat active, and not looking to lose weight.
-Men who are under 185 pounds, very active, and looking to lose weight.
-Men who are over 185 pounds, somewhat active, and looking to lose weight.
These guidelines aren’t totally all-encompassing. For example, people who are very active and not looking to lose weight, or men who are over 185 and very active may need to eat more than 2,300 calories per day to maintain their health and happiness.
When it comes to health and nutrition, everyone is unique. If you really aren’t sure which plan to choose, consult a doctor or nutritionist.
Note: You’ll probably want to buy a food scale!
The recipes call for proteins and some other ingredients by weight. You can have your butcher pre-portion your meat if you want, but it’s probably easier to invest in a food scale. Here’s one that’s reliable and inexpensive.
If you don’t want to cook, you can use these guidelines:
Aim to eat every three hours, and within one hour after working out.
For the most part, you should follow the meal plan in the order it’s written. But, if you work out in the morning, you might want to eat your light snack before your workout, then breakfast within two hours of finishing your workout.
Drink at least 60 ounces (7 ½ cups) of water per day.
No need to obsessively measure, but most water glasses hold 10 ounces, so make sure you’re drinking at least six glasses every day, preferably more. If you need coffee, limit yourself to 2 cups (16 ounces total) per day. To be clear, booze is not allowed on the Get Fit Challenge. But if you’re going to cheat and drink anyway, stick to either wine or liquor, with only club soda as a mixture so that you’re not getting extra sugar. Limit yourself to two drinks per week, maximum.
Recipes by Christine Byrne. Food Styling by Rebekah Peppler. Photos by Lauren Zaser.
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