4 Components of a Perfect Meal

Every time you make a meal, grocery list or a plan for food, it is important you take care of these 4 major components. The better and more consistently you can pick these the faster and better you’ll improve your health and performance.


Hopefully, by now you’ve already read the article about Why Meal Plans Suck & What To Do Instead. In that article, Should I Track My Macros and Is One Diet the Best? we discuss the differences of each approach to dieting and how to avoid the usually pitfalls.


When we help our athletes and clients to pick their foods, we’ve learned that very few of them succeed using meal plans. As we learned, we adjusted, now focusing more on educating and empowering our athletes. This includes picking the best foods possible from our macronutrient lists, figuring out the appropriate portion control and how to prepare it:

High quality protein (plant or animal based)
Eat Less
Eat Some
Eat More
High fat ground meat
Medium lean meat
Lean Beef / Bison / Lamb/ Pork / Venison / Chicken / Duck / Turkey
Protein bars
Eggs & Egg whites
High mercury fish
Fish / Shellfish
Meat Jerky
Greek Yogurt /Cottage cheese
Protein powder
Lentils / Beans / Tempeh  


While picking your protein sources, it is important to remember a few things:

  • Honor your lifestyle and values. If you are a pescatarian, vegan, vegetarian or only eat certain foods due to your religion or other beliefs, stick with those! We can find plenty of other food sources and ways for you to reach your goals!
  • Of the macronutrients, this is usually the one that is most undereaten. We highly recommend finding a way to eat it with every meal.
  • Protein powders and bars are great tools and supplements, BUT they are not the best protein option, we recommend using whole non processed foods first before those.
High quality carbohydrates
Eat Less
Eat Some
Eat More
Couscous / Granola
Beans & Lentils
Instant / flavored oats
Quinoa / Rice / Barley
Canned / Dried Fruits
Milk / Vegetable juices
Potatoes /
Cereal Bars
Pancakes / Waffles / Flavored yogurt
Steel cut / Rolled / old fashioned oats  
Fruit Juice / Flavored Milk
White grain bagels / muffins / oats / pastas / tortillas
WHOLE grain bagel / muffin / oat / pastas / tortillas
Muffins / Pastries
Buckwheat / sorghum / millet / Farro / Amaranth / Yuca
Fresh or frozen fruits  

While picking your carbohydrate sources, it is important to remember a few things:

  • Finding whole grain, nutrient dense foods is a great way to improve this category fast
  • Increasing fruits and veggies with each meal is another major habit we work on with most of our athletes and clients when we start. They provide so many important micronutrients for both health and performance it is vital.
  • Start with the least processed foods possible
Vegetables Dense with Micronutrients

Acorn Squash
Purple Asparagus
Butternut squash
Purple Cabbage
Brussel Sprouts
Red Cabbage
Jerusalem artichoke
Purple Carrots
Red Onions
Purple Cauliflower
Summer squash
Red Peppers
Purple Peppers
Yellow Beet/Pepper
Peppers / Beans
Yellow Carrots
Spinach / Kale
White carrots

When picking your vegetables, it is important to remember that the different colors will provide different micronutrients and health benefits:

  • Work to eat as many different colors and variations of vegetables as possible
  • If you want to improve your overall health and performance than at a minimum you should try to have 1/3-1/4 of your plate be vegetables
  • EVERYONE can and should have multiple portions of vegetables and fruits throughout their day


Healthy fats
Eat Less
Eat Some
Eat More
Bacon / Sausage
Olive oil (not virgin)
Extra virgin olive oil
Processed meats & cheeses
Sesame / flaxseed oil
Avocado or avocado oil
Butter / margarine
Peanut butter
Egg yokes
Corn / cottonseed / sunflower / soybean oils
Cheese (aged < 6 months)
Seeds / walnts / almonds / pecans / fresh coconut
Dark chocolate
Cheese (aged > 6 months)
Hydrogenated oils & trans fat
Fish oil / algae oil

Fat often gets a bad rap, but when the correct choices are made it can lead to great improvements in health, body composition and performance.

  • Make sure your portion sizes are well measured on this, a lot of these foods are very calorically dense, so the total amount can add up quickly
  • Try to limit the eat less list and really work to limit the saturated and trans fats as the research behind their negative effects is very convincing


Remember, as you start working to improve your health and performance it will come down to daily habits. Some of the biggest things these goals should work towards are picking good food choices off of these lifts, picking the correct portion sizes and then preparing it the best way you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, have some self compassion and if you do have a bad meal, work to just simply improve the next one.  Improving your food choices is a great example of long term growth!


Want to learn more about how to reach your goals by using long term sustainable actions and habitsClick Here to get started

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