If you’ve ever intermittent fasted for a couple of days, you know all about calorie variance!
Whether you’re planning each and every meal on your keto diet or you need some strategies to make dinnertime a little easier, these resources will get you on your way!
The way I see it, there are three ways to meal plan:
YOUR CALORIE INTAKE GOALS OR HUNGER LEVEL. There’s nothing worse than following a meal plan designed for someone with a huge appetite or, on the flip side, having to over-prep because the plan outlined in your favorite cookbook gives you 1,400 calories to work with in a day when you actually need 2,000 calories. By basing your meal plan on your personal calorie target or overall hunger level, you can build a plan that’s more unique to you.
WHAT YOU NEED WHEN YOU NEED IT. You know how much time you have to devote to prepping your meals, how many people are going to be enjoying those meals, and which kitchen appliances you have and don’t have. For instance, you wouldn’t add blender-based recipes to your meal plan if you don’t own a blender!
Following a cookie-cutter meal plan could have you spending more time than you want to spend preparing meals, leave you with too many leftovers, or call for using kitchen appliances you don’t own.
THE INGREDIENTS YOU HAVE ON HAND. If there’s a bunch of chicken in your freezer, you probably want to include a couple of recipes in this week’s meal plan that use chicken. Likewise, if there’s a kale sale (try saying that ten times fast!), you’ll probably be looking for recipes that use up the 5 pounds of kale you just purchased. Meal planning with the ingredients already in your home will save you time, energy, and money.
Let’s go through these strategies individually, and I’ll show you how to make the most of each one.
Your calorie intake goals or hunger level
Whether your calorie requirement is 1,500 or 2,500, having calorie variance in your plan is important. With calorie variance, you aim close to your calorie goal but often come in either below or above that goal. Some days you hit it spot on, other days you fall below it, and other days you come in above it. Calorie variance mimics natural eating, allowing for metabolic maintenance. People report easier weight loss, better energy, and an easier time sticking to a diet when calorie variance is in play.
CALORIE VARIANCE is especially helpful if you:
√ Like to MEAL PLAN
√ Have been at the SAME CALORIE LEVEL for a long time
√ Like to FAST
I practice calorie variance by categorizing my meals into small, medium, large, and huge, mixing and matching meal sizes based on my hunger level and my overall goals.
Since all the recipes have similar keto macro percentages, you shouldn’t see grave differences in your macro intake from day to day.
If you’re already thinking, “But Leanne, so many keto coaches recommend that I not pay attention to calories, and you’ve even said it yourself . . . what gives?” That’s a fair question. Remember, this is one of three meal planning strategies. If calories aren’t the thing for you, pick another strategy.
However, if you’re willing to give it a shot, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. With the recipes being categorized as small, medium, large, and huge, you can use calorie variance to your advantage, choosing the meal size that meets your needs at that particular time. And, when all these meals are keto to start, it really comes down to your hunger levels/how much you want to eat per day to realize your goals.
less than 300 calories per serving
500 to 799 calories per serving
300 to 499 calories per serving