I always try to come up with new ideas for the meal plans while still keeping them simple enough that you don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking every week.
For the meal plans to be successful (and to ensure that you don’t feel like you’re cooking 24/7), meal prepping just a few times a week is essential.
The breakfast muesli in this week’s plan can be made in batches, and so can the tuna salad, chicken, and spaghetti squash. The rest of the meals don’t require cooking at all.
When cooking and prepping in batches for several days at a time, just make sure to store everything in airtight containers and add a small note with the date when it was cooked. The note will help ensure that you don’t leave the food in the fridge for too long. You don’t want to accidentally eat week-old cooked chicken.
You won’t find any shortcuts in the form of protein powders in this plan, but if you are short on time, you can always grab a few scoops of the Collagen Protein Peptides I introduced last week for a quick protein fix.
Of course, if some of the meals in this plan don’t work for you, you can always look at my other meal plans for substitutes. Mix and match as you like, just try to match the macros (carbs, protein, and fats) for each meal.
How to find your calorie need
If you already know how many calories you need to reach your goal, you can skip the next section and go straight to the meal plan.
We all have different calorie needs. Your daily calorie need depends on your size, fitness level, daily activity, gender, etc. When you are creating a healthy diabetes meal plan, your first step should therefore always be to calculate your “calorie equilibrium”, or how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. You can learn exactly how to find you calorie equilibrium with 5 easy steps in this post: “How to Find Your Daily Calorie Need“.
Once you know your calorie equilibrium, you can adjust your daily calories up or down to meet your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, I recommend that you eat up to 500 calories less than your equilibrium each day (but no less than 1,200 per day). This should lead to a steady and healthy weight loss.
If you want to gain muscle, start out by adding in 300-500 calories more than your equilibrium each day and see what happens. If you find that you are also putting on a little too much fat, decrease your calories slightly.
The Healthy With Diabetes meal plan
Now that you know how to calculate your daily calorie need, you are ready to create a healthy diabetes meal plan. Well, I say create, but you can really just use the plan in this post as it is. I have already calculated all the macronutrients (calories, carbs, protein, and fat), so you just need to choose the calorie level that is right for you.
The example below is for a 1,600 calorie/day plan, but you can download the meal plan as a PDF with many different calorie levels. The download also includes a version with grams instead of ounces for my international friends.
This meal plan has a calorie split of 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat, which is what I generally recommend for weight loss (you can read “How to Lose Weight When You Live with Diabetes” for more details).
If your goal is to build muscle, I recommend that you increase the carbs to 35-40% of your daily calories and decrease the fat to 20-25%. If this sounds a little complicated, you can simply add 20 g carbs to meal 4 or meal 5 (20 g carbs equals: 1 oz. oats, 3 oz. rice (cooked), 3.2 oz. sweet potato or quinoa (cooked) or 2.5 rice cakes).
I know that healthy nutrition (and especially how many carbs to eat) is a topic that causes a great deal of discussion in the diabetes community. I make no claim that my approach is the best or only way to do it, but it’s what works for me and the clients I work with. If you are doing something different that works for you, then definitely keep doing it!
This is a 1,600-calorie example. You can see other calorie levels by downloading them here.
Meal 1 – Greek yogurt muesli bowl
- 0.7 oz. oats
- 0.7 oz. flaxseed meal
- 0.1 oz. coconut oil
- ¼ tsp. apple spice (or just plain cinnamon)
- 1 tsp. Stevia
- 1.3 oz. apple
- 5.3 oz. low-fat Greek yogurt
Instructions: Mix oats, flaxseed meal, stevia, and apple spice in a bowl. Add in melted coconut oil and mix (it will clump a little, that’s OK). Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the muesli mix in a thin layer. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F. Set aside and let it cool.
Chop the apple into small pieces and put them on top of the yogurt together with the muesli.
Pro Tip #1: Make a big batch of the muesli and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
Pro Tip #2: If you want to reduce the carbs, just omit the apple
Nutrients: 305 calories, 22 g protein, 30 g carbs, 11 g fat
Meal 2 – Tuna salad
- 2.7 oz. tuna (light, canned in water, drained solids)
- 0.4 oz. low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1.5 rice cake
- 4 oz. veggies (peas, celery, tomato)
- 2 oz. avocado
- Salt & Pepper
Instructions: Drain tuna and mix with Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. Wash and cut veggies and avocado. Fold veggies and avocado into the tuna mixture. Put on rice cakes and serve.
Nutrients: 258 calories, 22 g protein, 22 g carbs, 9 g fat
Meal 3 – Ground beef & spaghetti squash
- 4 oz. ground beef (92-93% lean)
- 4 oz. cooked spaghetti squash
- 4 oz. broccoli
- Cooking spray
- Salt & pepper
- Mustard or soy sauce
Instructions: Cut the spaghetti squash in quarts and scoop out the seeds. Bake for 40 minutes at 400 F (200 C), skin side up. Let it cool for minimum 10 minutes before scooping out the flesh with a fork.
Cut broccoli into small florets. Coat a pan with cooking spray and add the broccoli when it’s warm. Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes, then add the ground beef. Let the beef brown before adding the spaghetti squash. Mix well for about 3 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Serve with mustard or soy sauce.
Pro tip: You can keep cooked spaghetti squash in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container.
Nutrients: 227 calories, 24 g protein, 13 g carbs, 8 g fat
Meal 4 – Egg & shrimp sandwich
- ½ Ezekiel muffin
- 1 hardboiled egg
- 2.7 oz. cooked shrimp
- Salt & Pepper
- Chives (optional)
Instructions: Toast the Ezekiel muffin. Place the sliced egg and shrimp on the muffin as an open-faced sandwich. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle chopped chives on top.
Nutrients: 226 calories, 26 g protein, 15 g carbs, 6 g fat
Meal 5 – Chicken wrapped in prosciutto (Parma ham)
- 4 oz. chicken breast
- 2.7 oz. quinoa (cooked)
- 1.5 oz. finely sliced Serrano or Parma ham (prosciutto)
- 1.3 oz. cream cheese (low-fat)
- Basil leaves (fresh or dry)
- 4 oz. veggies
Instructions: Place the ham on a piece of aluminum foil. Mix cream cheese and basil and spread it evenly onto the ham. Fold the ham around the chicken breast and grind a little pepper on top. Bake in the oven at 380 F (190 C) for 25 minutes. Serve with quinoa, veggies, and fresh basil leaves.
Nutrients: 333 calories, 33 g protein, 28 g carbs, 10 g fat
Meal 6 – Edamame
- 6.1 oz. edamame beans (shelled)
- Salt (optional)
Instructions: Serve cold or warm, salted or unsalted. Edamame is a great nighttime snack.
Nutrients: 243 calories, 24 g protein, 16 g carbs, 9 g fat
Daily totals: 1,592 calories, 152 g protein, 124 g carbs, and 54 g fat.
Changing up the plan
I like to eat the same foods for several days in a row with only minor changes and then change the plan every week or so. I would suggest that you follow this plan for a week and then start on the next plan (which I will post in a week from now). You can also go back and follow my one of my other meal plans for another week.