How to Build a Balanced Meal: Eat by the Plate

by JJ Virgin on March 16, 2023

Putting the right food on your plate is crucial to reducing hunger between meals, creating steady and sustained energy, and burning fat for fuel. Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not the enemy, and fat is actually your friend (despite what we were taught in the 80s).

The key is to eat the right balance of clean, lean protein, healthy fats, colorful non-starchy veggies, and slow low carbs. When you eat by the plate, you’re not going to be chased by cravings all day, and you’ll eat less overall. Plus, what you do eat will be food that heals and honors your body—and burns fat fast.

How to Build a Balanced Meal

When it comes to staying full and focused throughout your day while crushing hunger and cravings, I have a few foundational principles.

One, I want you to break your fast every morning with a fast, filling loaded smoothie.

I’ve got over 60 protein-fueled loaded smoothie recipes that are delicious, quick, and keep you full and focused for hours in my FREE Loaded Smoothie Cookbook

Two, I want to teach you to eat by the plate. You’ll eat every three to four hours, and then close up the kitchen about three hours before bed so you get a 12-14 hour overnight fast.

Eating by the plate is simple. You start each meal with protein, healthy fats, lots of fiber, and some slow low carbs.

Eat by the Plate: Protein, Fat, Fiber, and Slow Low Carbs

Why this combination?

  • Protein works with fiber to slow down stomach emptying. That improves satiety, so you stay fuller longer.
  • Fat triggers the small intestine to release hormones to tell the brain that it’s full. ​
  • You should have loads of fiber-rich, non-starchy vegetables for antioxidants and satiety. ​
  • A small amount of low-glycemic, high-fiber carbs, such as lentils or berries, slowly releases sugar to the brain for energy so you can continue to focus. That will keep your blood sugar stable and insulin low so you can use stored fat for fuel.

There’s lots of confusing, misleading information out there. I wrote my FREE Ultimate Health Roadmap to cut through the confusion and provide short, actionable steps you can take to lose weight, feel better, and dial up your health.

Each Meal Should Include: 

1 serving of clean, lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef) 

To determine your ideal protein intake, use the following calculation:

  • 0.7 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight as your absolute minimum to avoid muscle loss. 
  • 0.8 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight for healthy folks and those who want to maintain a healthy weight. 
  • 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight if you have a goal of weight loss and/or building muscle, are very athletic, or are recovering from illness, injury, or surgery. 

Let’s say your ideal body weight is 150 pounds. If you’re currently there and want to maintain that weight, you’ll want to get 120 grams of protein every day, divided into three meals.

If your ideal body weight is 150 pounds but you’re not there, you’ll want to get 150 grams of protein every day, divided into three meals.

  • Serving size:
    • Women should eat 4-6 oz at each meal; larger or more athletic women 6-8 oz.
    • Men should eat 8 oz; larger or very athletic men up to 10 oz.

2-4 servings of healthy fats (every serving should be about 100 calories)

  • Serving size: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 small avocado, 4 oz cold-water fish, 10 nuts, 1 tbsp nut butter, 5 olives
  • Be sure to count fat from protein, so grass-fed beef or fish count as a fat serving

2+ servings of non-starchy vegetables 

  • Serving size: 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw. More is better. Eat at least five servings a day. You can always increase the portion size of your non-starchy vegetables. 

0-2 servings of high-fiber, slow low carbs (every serving should be about 100 calories)

  • Serving size: 1/2 cup cooked beans or rice, 1/2 small sweet potato, 1 piece of fruit

That’s it! Whether you’re doing The Virgin Diet or Sugar Impact Diet, the plate strategy remains the same.

Even with the healthiest foods, you’re not going to receive all of those amazing nutrients if you’re not breaking them down well. I’ve found that people over 35 and/or under a lot of stress benefit from taking digestive enzymes.

At Reignite Wellness™, we designed Protein First Enzymes with betaine hydrochloride (HCI) along with a comprehensive, synergistic blend of vital enzymes so you can efficiently break down carbs, protein, and fat at every meal.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.