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How to build a balanced meal

Building a balanced meal will help you consume proper nutrients throughout the day, as well as help you feel fuller for longer. Now, I'm not saying it's not okay to have a snack or meal that is primarily one macronutrient, but it is important to aim for balanced meals most of the time. When building a balanced meal, you'll want to consider having a source of protein, vegetables, carbohydrate, and fat. The "perfect" or "optimal" ratio of each category varies depending on the person, their goals, meal frequency, and personal preferences. As a general rule of thumb, aim for the following at each meal: 1 serving or 1 palm-sized serving of protein 2 servings or 2 fist-sized servings of vegetables 1 serving or 1 cupped-hand-sized serving of carbohydrates 1-2 servings or 1-2 thumb-sized servings of fat Here are several examples of foods that fall into each category: Protein Chicken Turkey Lean Beef Steak Pork Salmon Tuna Tilapia Cod Shrimp Eggs Greek Yogurt Cottage Cheese Tempeh Tofu Protein Powder Vegetables Spinach Cauliflower Romaine Broccoli Kale Carrots Tomatoes Mushrooms Peppers Cucumbers Onions Brussels Sprouts Celery Leeks Beets Zucchini Cabbage Carbohydrates Sweet Potato Potato Rice Quinoa Oats Whole-Grain Bread Chickpeas Lentils Pasta Beans Berries Apple Banana Orange Mango Peach Pineapple Melons Fats Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cashews Almonds Peanuts Walnuts Avocado Flaxseeds Chia Seeds Sunflower Seeds Olives It's important to note that just because a food is listed in a specific category here doesn't mean that it is only a source protein, carbohydrates, or fats. It likely has other macronutrients, but how the foods are categorized is based on where most of the foods' calories are coming from. For example, peanuts have protein, but it is primarily a fat source. Beans have protein, but it is primarily a carb source. Greek yogurt has carbohydrates, but it is primarily a protein source. It's also important to note that fruits and vegetables are both carbohydrate sources.


Katharine Moustakes
Hey, friend!

I'm Katharine.

I'm a personal trainer, running coaching, and nutrition coach who's stoked about lifting, the outdoors, summit snacks, and my dog.


I understand that fitness is not your whole life. Fitness is a PART of your life. I approach training in a way that adds value to your life and longevity, so you can enjoy being active whether you're romping around in the mountains, playing with your kids, or signing up for your first 10K race.

I'm here to meet you where you are, so you can train safely and effectively, and gain strength and confidence both in the gym and on the trails.

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