I'm getting a skinny man's gut.
May 19, 2009 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I need a meal by meal diet plan for a mostly sedentary person.

I am going to be physically inactive for about a year due to a problem with my right knee. I will be getting surgery, but there is a waiting list and I need to save up some money because I have no insurance. I have been inactive for about six months now and I am already feeling kind of flabby. I need a meal plan that will help me get through this next year without getting fat. I imagine it will involve a lot of fruits and vegetables and I'm fine with that, I just need to know which ones and how much. Any recommendations involving books or websites are most appreciated. Thanks.
posted by Brandon1600 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Sparkpeople is online and free and does have meal plans available. They are moderately customizable and the check-box-as-you-eat-it function works to keep track of nutrition over the course of a day.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:09 AM on May 19, 2009

Paleo/Caveman Diet: The science is bad (terrible, even) but the diet is good. I find it very easy to maintain or lose weight while eating this way. I'm not strict about dairy or legumes, although I try to stay away from them unless I'm looking to add some mass.

All the information you need about what you can and can't eat is easily googled, along with recipes.
posted by Loto at 8:34 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, think about how inactive you need to be. Are you really prohibited from any exercising at all?

I'd be researching paraplegic athletics, amputee workouts (though that may be harder to adapt), and more to see what options are available. Maybe talk with a physical therapist if available.

Even eating healthy you will lose muscle mass if you don't use it. Not getting fat is a great start, but your goal should be to maintain fitness as much as you can. Additionally, being fit will speed your recovery too :)
posted by jpeacock at 9:48 AM on May 19, 2009

This might be exactly what you're looking for. Tasty, and easy to plan ahead. Plus, you can vary what you eat, but it is literally meal-to-meal and even can create shopping lists for you. Hope it helps!
posted by indiebass at 10:25 AM on May 19, 2009

It's a calories game. So the first thing I would do is figure out what kind of daily caloric intake you'd like to have. You can calculate it for free at livestrong.com for either 2 lbs loss per week, 1lb loss per week, or maintenance calories, based on your height, current weight, and activity level. I've been using this for a while now and I've found it helpful because the daily calories you need to have changes as you lose weight - so readjust as needed.

Once you calculate that, then you can find low calories recipes based on your daily calorie needs.

My cousin lost 50 lbs lbs in about 6 months (post delivery) using this guide. From what I remember flipping through it when i visited her, it had meal plan ideas in it and was fairly simple to follow. I've also been using 200 under 200 by Hungry Girl. Since all of the meals are about 200 calories or less, you just mix and match the ones you like depending on your caloric intake. So 6 meals if you're on a 1200 calorie diet and so forth.

I've also had a lot of success with just tracking calories. I use livestrong but I found an igoogle app calorie tracker that also looks very easy to use. I just find low calorie meals from websites like allrecipes.com (which has nutritional information for the recipes) and some of the books I just linked you too.

Hope that answered your question.
posted by icy at 10:47 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Agree that all you need to do is track your calories. I use fitday.com.

You might also consider upper-body workouts (dips and pull-ups can make a BIG difference, and can be done cheaply if you don't have a gym membership), and working out the good leg (one-legged squats). If you do have a gym membership, do the stationary hand bike.

The 4 months I spent laid up after knee surgery were some of the LEAST sedentary of my life.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:47 AM on May 19, 2009

From your title page, it sounds like you are in some shape - or at least not fat. My advice as follows is for you as starting in a non-fat state. If you are starting out on the larger end already, you will need to adjust my advice accordingly.

Inactive has a lot of different meanings... Bedridden, Couch Potato, In-House Only, No lifting, Normal Daily Routine, No Gym workouts / No Sports Participation. Inactive can mean no interruption to normal life, or effectively operating with a disability. With one, I'd put you in the kitchen cooking, with the other I don't have a medical background where I'd feel comfortable being able to say that it would meet your needs nutritionally while not hurting you further.

By the end of one year, regardless of what you eat, because you are gearing down your activity levels, your metabolism is going to change drastically. This means - if you go gangbusters out of the door and limit what you eat right off the bat, your body will adjust but as time progresses and your body looses its muscle mass, your body will adjust further - meaning more severe cuts would have to be done for maintenance. In other words, as time progresses - you will have to make drastically larger cuts to maintain.

As such, this is what I'd reccommend. Do not diet in the traditional sense. Instead, ramp down your caloric intake over the entire time you are going to be out. Set a timeline and a goal. Figure out your caloric intake now, and determine what your current level of activity is and how many calories that burns. Figure out what you expect your activity levels will be, and figure out how many calories that burns.

So: if I eat 2500 calories a day, and do 700 calories worth of cardio currently, then my baseline is 1800 calories a day. If I will no longer be doing the cardio, that 700 calories, then I am gearing down to 1800... but wait, there's more. Your body's metabolism will slow, figure that 1800 drops down to 1600, so now, my ending maintenance goal is to be subsisting off of 1600 calories.

So if I was going to spread from 2500 to 1400 calories a day (wait, what? 1400?), I might take a span of 13 weeks, dropping 100ish calories per week until I got to below my target. (remember, you'll be above your target for the first 9 of those weeks, meaning you'll start off putting on some unavoidable weight. Then, once I've been been below my dietary intake for long enought to counteract it (I'm not doing the math here, but offhand 28ish weeks after I've been eating 1400 calories I've compensated for my overages and I can ramp back up to 1600 - meaning I spend 13 weeks ramping + 28 weeks =41 weeks to lower caloric intake to minimize weight gain.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:50 AM on May 19, 2009

Are you sure you cannot do any exercise at all?
Depending on how messed up your knee is - you could swimming backstroke, do upper body exercises - pull ups, dips, push ups. You could even do single leg squats known as pistols, work on your calves. Your activity level is going [gone] down, this might be the least you can do to keep up your muscle mass.

You might want to hire a professional trainer who specializes in rehabilitation to design a workout plan for you.

Also - cut out as many processed carbs from your diet as possible.
posted by ye#ara at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2009

There's a TV programme and books called Sit and Be Fit. It's geared to seniors and others who are mostly confined to chairs/wheelchairs. With a bad knee, you won't be able to all the exercises, but the upper body ones should help.
posted by x46 at 8:39 PM on May 19, 2009

I'll second the paleo diet, with a proviso: fruits and veggies are fine, so long as the fruits are low in sugar, and the veggies are low in starch. You can look for recipes here here, and here, and sample meal plans here and here.
posted by artemisia at 10:29 AM on May 20, 2009

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