I’ve been somewhat of a guinea pig throughout my career as a writer and editor. As someone who’s been in and around the fitness scene for years, I’ve tested shoes, recovery devices, bikes and more for some major publications, but when the MyFitnessPal team reached out to me to test one of its new in-app meal plans, I was, let’s just say, nervously excited.
I’ve always prioritized eating healthy and exercising regularly. I’m a two-time IRONMAN finisher and a self-described endurance junkie, so naturally carbs are my best friend. Bread, pasta, you name it — there’s nothing I like more than a plate full of carbs. But what does eating healthy really mean, and have I been going about it all wrong?
Protein is the macronutrient I’ve subconsciously always known I should eat more of, so when I was given my pick of options (including nutrition, steps and habit-building plans), I went for the High-Protein Plan. MyFitnessPal graciously supplied a beta version of its app, and after installing it on my iPhone, I was off to the races (I mean, grocery store).
Here I’ll talk about what MyFitnessPal’s High-Protein Plan includes, my initial thoughts and my reflections after completing the 28-day plan.
Long story short, for the cost of a couple cups of coffee a month, you essentially get access to a dietitian, meal planner and motivator, all wrapped up into one.
THE PLAN ITSELF
The High-Protein Plan is basically exactly what it sounds like — it’s designed to help you build a diet that contains more sources of protein. This includes helping you pick recipes, meals and snacks to help you reach your goals, no matter if it’s to lose weight or gain muscle.
While some high-protein meal plans can really go overboard on the amount of protein they recommend, this plan helps promote a healthy balance of carbs, fats and protein, and even emphasizes a healthy fiber intake (including fruits, veggies, grains, etc.).
I’m not a vegetarian by any means, but I’ve been trying to eat less meat (especially red meat), and the plan provided plenty of resources for high-protein alternatives. For example, did you know that a 1/2 cup of pinto beans has an impressive 11 grams of protein, and 6 ounces of Greek yogurt has 18 grams of protein? I didn’t … at least not before I started this plan.
Designed for beginners, the High-Protein Plan doesn’t expect you to make a complete diet overhaul overnight — it’s organized to help you ease into a new diet and create healthy, lasting habits. The plan lasts 28 days and is broken down into four distinct sections that build on each other.
The first week is really about self-reflection and learning your optimal protein intake, and begins to include some recommendations for high-protein lunches.
The second week is all about easy, high-protein snacks (who doesn’t love snacks?) and lunches, and the third week includes breakfasts and pre-workout snacks.
Week 4 rounds out the plan with high-protein (and seriously delicious) dinner recipes and post-workout snacks. At this point, all three of your meals and all of your snacks should be high in protein.
MY INITIAL THOUGHTS
Before you click the “start plan” button on the MyFitnessPal app, it gives you a few different self-reflecting “choose this plan if” statements to help frame your expectations.
Was I hoping to lose weight and boost general fitness? Yes.
Was I was willing to cook some meals? Yes.
And was I interested in all food groups? For sure.
I also appreciated how the plan suggests starting the plan so days 2, 7, 14 and 21 fall on a day you can go grocery shopping to prepare for the week ahead — no running back and forth to the store required (they also provide tips on how to make produce last, too).
As I mentioned above, I was nervously excited to get started. What will the plan require? Will I feel different? Is it sustainable? Is the app clunky or easy to use?
Thankfully, within the first few minutes of opening the plan, my concerns were alleviated. It’s super intuitive and essentially gives you four (or so) tasks to take care of each day. It’s a gentle start, too — you begin by learning about your protein needs and prepping some delicious high-protein lunches.
Day 4 was especially compelling: Pack your first high-protein lunch; Set an alarm for lunch; and Eat lunch at the scheduled time.
Now that’s a plan I can get behind!
My favorite part of the MyFitnessPal High-Protein Plan was easily the education component. Many of the tasks are to simply read an article or guide that helps give context to why you should incorporate more protein into your diet, and how to go about doing so (like this Essential Guide to Protein). They also include tasks that allow you to reflect on your progress or tips on how to foster a more well-rounded healthy lifestyle (like waking up 10 minutes earlier, hydrating and working out). These little daily tasks helped fine-tune some of the meal choices and keep the plan on track.
It’s definitely a slow build as it takes the full 28 days to really revamp your diet, but I think it’s necessary. I’ve found myself guilty of getting into a rut and eating the same handful of things week in and week out throughout my life, but this plan makes it easy to organize your meals in a thoughtful, healthy way while mixing it up as much as you’d like.
I’ve never been super connected to my phone, but it helped me stay on track to start the plan by entering all of my food choices throughout the day into the app, and it was really eye-opening to see just what I consume on a daily basis. While you don’t have to input your diet for the app to work, it’s a great way to see progress, hold yourself accountable (the daily push notification reminders help) and see a detailed breakdown of your calories, nutrients and macros. You can even export your information as a CSV file if you want to get in-depth with it.
Now let’s get to what we’re all here for: the recipes.
The plan includes a weekly “blueprint” for the following week. After clicking your daily calorie range goal (mine was 2,000–2,200 calories), the plan provides suggested recipes for the week. You don’t have to be an experienced cook to enjoy them — some recipes are as easy as peanut butter and banana toast for breakfast or a high-protein salad for lunch. The Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps were one of my go-to favorite dinner options.
I’ve been meal prepping for years, but the plan provides a pretty systematic and intuitive way to go about it — from determining the number of meals you’ll make for the week, to selecting and scaling recipes, to making a grocery list and preparing and packing meals.
While I didn’t hit my weight goal in the first 28 days (you can track your weight under the “progress” tab), I noticed a shift in how I was feeling and how I approached making food within the first week. By the end of the plan, I felt better energy-wise with less peaks and valleys between meals, and I started making conscious food choices and reaching for high-protein alternatives. I also started experimenting on my own as well by printing out the list of protein sources and crafting my own high-protein meals.
Overall, the app and the plan are simple and straightforward and take the learning curve out of retooling your diet to foster well-informed decisions and create lasting habits.
And try the Grilled Honey Lime Chicken — you’re welcome in advance.
Note: Always consult your physician before starting any of MyFitnessPal’s plans, and neither MyFitnessPal nor its affiliates will be liable for any injury sustained as a result of your participation.
Introducing MyFitnessPal Plans, the ultimate nutrition and fitness guides to help you reach any health or wellness goal. Whether you’re trying to increase your protein intake, reach 11,000 steps a day or establish a healthy habit, there’s a Plan for you.
Designed by nutrition experts, these Plans vary in length and intensity and provide you with a multitude of tools, tips and tricks to meet your personalized goals.
MyFitnessPal Plans are now available for U.S.-based mobile users. The feature is not yet available on iPad devices. Download the MyFitnessPal app from the app store to begin your wellness journey today.