Diet & Nutrition

Building a balanced meal

Building Balanced Meals

Building balanced meals is an important part of the puzzle when it comes to time-restricted eating and reduced carbohydrate intake. Failing to get the right balance of food groups in our meals can lead to us over-restricting and eventually overeating.

In the early stages of Roczen, we recommend a reduced intake or starchy carbohydrates in order to lower blood glucose levels and support improved metabolic health and weight loss. In light of this recommendation, it becomes even more important to ensure that our plates are well balanced with a mixture of food groups that will keep us both energised and satisfied throughout the day.

So what makes up a balanced plate?

  • Proteins: Protein is the cornerstone of a healthy balanced diet, and so important when fasting and reducing carbohydrates. Protein plays a key role in maintaining lean muscle, and also helps fill us for longer. Opt for rich protein sources such as chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs, lentils, tofu and tempeh. This should roughly make up a quarter of your plate.
  • FIbre & Carbohydrate: Non-starchy vegetables and higher-protein carbohydrates such as quinoa, beans and lentils are a great way of adding fibre to your diet. These foods are slow to digest, keeping us fuller for longer and helping to maintain a healthy gut in the process. Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, salad leaves, aubergine, tomatoes, etc, should take up half of your plate.

    At the 12-week stage of the programme, or when you feel it’s time to re-introduce more carbohydrate into your diet, we recommend focusing on high-fibre and whole grain options such as brown rice, brown pastas, pearl barley, sourdough, sweet potato. When it comes to including starchy carbohydrates, aim for small servings that equate to less than a quarter of your meal.
  • Fats: Fats are crucial to better health, as well as adding flavour to our food and adding to the satiety of a meal.  Include healthy sources of fat with every meal, such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, dairy and oily fish. 

When it comes to finding balance, it’s important to remember that each meal might look slightly different in terms of the ratios that you include for each nutrient. Meals themselves will also look different, which is why the ‘classic’ balanced plate model can sometimes be somewhat unhelpful. For example, it’s hard to split a bowl of soup like standard balanced plate models suggest. 

Before we move on to some live examples of these principles in practice, here are some additional tips to consider before you start building healthy balanced meals:

  • Include all of the above food groups in each meal: This balance of food groups will help to meet your overall nutritional requirements, whilst also helping to slow down the release of glucose from carbohydrate-containing foods.
  • Fill your plate with non-starchy vegetables: These foods will add bulk to your meals and really help fill you without adding lots of calories. Make use of convenient options such as frozen and tinned vegetables which are just as nutritious.
  • Build around the protein: It’s common for people to build their meals around carbohydrates and de-prioritise the healthy and more filling components. Start by choosing a protein source, then consider your fibre and fat before adding a smaller serving of carbohydrate if you’re having any. This is a handy trick to staying full when fasting and reducing carbohydrate intake.
  • Seek support: If you’re ever struggling to find the right balance or adapt your favourite foods for example, remember that your group mentor and fellow Roczen members are there to support you and bounce ideas off.
August 31, 2023
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