how to get bigger muscles

Why Meal Plans Fail (And Why You Won't Fail)

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Average Read Time: 3 minutes

Early in my fitness journey, I came across a series of bodybuilding videos on the internet. Along with these videos came a free meal plan promising to make me as muscular and lean as the guy in the videos. After following the meal plan for 12 weeks, I had gained 13 pounds, almost all of which was body fat.

Have you ever followed a meal plan you found online only to find yourself stuck at where you started or maybe even further away from your goals? Even worse, have you ever purchased a meal plan from a YouTuber or Instagram fit model that you thought you could trust only to be disappointed by your lack of results?

The Problem(s) With Meal Plans

I want to start by saying it isn’t your fault the meal plan didn’t work. You see, there’s one major problem that most meal plans, including some of the ones you may have paid for, all have in common. They aren’t customized to you!

I don’t have the same nutritional needs as a guy who is twice my size. You don’t have the same nutritional needs as me. You also don’t have the same nutritional needs as the professional bodybuilder or fitness model trying to sell you their meal plan. This sounds obvious when said out loud, but we’ve all fallen into this trap before.

Even if a meal plan is customized to you, there’s no guarantee that you’ll enjoy it. As crazy as this may sound, diets shouldn’t suck. In fact, if you aren’t enjoying the dieting process, you will not reach your goals, period. After your willpower reserves dry up, you’ll quit.

The Solution

Step 1: Calorie intake

The first thing you need to set yourself free from poorly-made meal plans is to understand that you don’t even need a meal plan to lose weight. The only thing that is mandatory for fat loss is that you eat fewer Calories than you burn.

I’m guessing you probably don’t know how many Calories you need in a day. (I know I certainly didn’t back then.) Don’t worry though! I have you covered. Use this calculator to estimate how many Calories you need to lose, maintain, or gain weight:

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The key word is estimate. Use this as a starting point and go from there. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, start with the estimated Calorie target and if you aren’t losing after a couple of weeks, drop the Calories by approximately 200 per day. If you’re trying to gain weight, follow this same process except you’d want to add approximately 200 Calories per day if you aren’t gaining weight.

Step 2: Protein Intake

Next to eating fewer Calories, eating enough protein is the most important thing you can do for weight loss. High protein diets help you lose weight faster and help ensure more of the weight that is lost comes from body fat rather than lean body mass.


When dieting for fat loss, if you’re a beginner weightlifter, aim to get 0.8 - 1.2 grams per pound of body weight. If you’re an advanced weightlifter, aim to get 1.1 - 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight. When muscle gain is the primary concern, aim to get 0.8 - 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that I never mentioned specific foods and that’s for one very good reason. The specific foods you eat actually have very little do to with fat loss. Despite what scummy people trying to take your money may lead you to believe, there are no magical foods that cause fat loss or fat gain. (Click to tweet this.) They don’t have “the secret food combinations” that will make you muscular and lean.

Hopefully, you find this information as freeing as I did when I first discovered it. Fast forward from back then until now and I’m more muscular, leaner, and stronger while enjoying a more flexible, more effective, more enjoyable, and most importantly, a more sustainable nutrition program. You can achieve this too! As a special offer to you for reading this article, you can click the button below to receive my eBook on how to write your own mean plan that shreds fat, absolutely free.

Thank you so much for reading! If you found this information helpful and want to help the Treadaway Training blog grow, simply share this post with a friend. If you like what I have to say, sign up below to become a Treadaway Training insider and get notified for each blogcast and video. I will be back here Thursday with another fat loss topic. As always, God bless you AND your family and I'll see you Thursday.