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  • Clem Duranseaud

Using Chatgpt to make a personalized meal plan


Lean how to use ChatGPT to create a personalize meal plan

We are all familiar with AI now, and with its many capabilities we can use tools such as ChatGPT to help us in our fitness journey. One of the many ways AI can enhance it is by helping us create personalized meal plans.


In this article

Why a personalized mean plan


A well constructed meal plan will help you reach your fitness goals quicker and make the process enjoyable. You can enjoy all the foods you love once you understand a few tricks.


A personalized meal plan will take into consideration your daily caloric intake, food preferences, any dietary restrictions, social obligations and any other personal information related to your diet.


Your daily caloric intake is what matters most in your plan. When you choose to eat throughout the day and how frequently are of secondary importance.


The first thing you want to do is to understand how many calories you should be eating every day.


Using an online calorie calculator like this one is a simple way to get a starting number.


Here's what a calorie calculator looks like
Calorie calculator from calculator.net

Enter your age, height, weight and activity levels. The calculator will then give you a daily calorie goal. Keep in mind that this is a generic number and will need fine tuning down the road.


Caloric balance

Now that you have a starting point for your daily caloric intake, you can choose one of three options depending on your goals.

  • Caloric Surplus: This occurs when you consume more calories than your body needs. The excess calories are used as energy or stored as fat, leading to weight gain via increased muscle mass and fat deposit. A healthy caloric surplus ranges between 200-300 extra calories per day.

  • Caloric Maintenance: This state is when the calories you consume equal the calories your body uses. Your weight remains stable in this condition.

  • Caloric Deficit: This happens when you consume fewer calories than your body requires. This state forces your body to use stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss. A healthy calorie deficit ranges between 200-300 calories per day.


Understand you macros

Having a daily caloric goal is also essential to understand how to break up your macro nutrients (protein, fats and carbs)


Each macro contains different amounts of calories per gram

  • One gram of fat contains 9 calories

  • One gram of protein contains 4 calories

  • One gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories

Protein

Once they go through your stomach and get digested, proteins are broken down into amino acids. You may have heard this term before if you take BCAA supplements (Branch Chain Amino Acid).


Amino acids are the molecules that make up protein. Think of them as the building blocks of your body. They are used to make muscles, collagen (all your tendons and ligaments and other stuff like that), antibodies, enzymes and much more.


When you digest a protein molecule, you form a bunch of these amino acids which are in turn rearranged into different forms of tissue, according to your body’s needs.


It is recommended that you consume between 1.5g to 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight. I weigh 90 kg so I need to eat 90 x 1.5 = 135 of protein each day.


Fats

Your body needs fat for cell repair and function, to absorb vitamins A, D, and E, to regulate cell signalling, to help with hormone function and many other key functions. As with carbs, the source of those fats are important because more natural fats are going to be better for us than processed fats.


There are four types of fats:


  • Monounsaturated fats (healthy fat): these are good for us, they are found in olive oil, most nuts and seeds, and avocados.

  • Polyunsaturated fats (healthy fat): also good for us and our body cannot synthesize them, so we have to eat them. We can find them in fatty fish, flax seeds, walnuts, chia and hemp seeds and soybeans.

  • Saturated fats: Still healthy but solid at room temperature so harder to digest. Comes from animal products like butter.

  • Trans fats: Have been artificially altered to have a longer shelf life, very solid at room temperature and very hard for your body to digest and get rid of, this is the one that causes us more harm than good, avoid them if you can!


You want to eat 1 gram of healthy fats per day to ensure proper body functions.


Carbs

When a carbohydrate molecule gets digested, whether it’s a healthy or unhealthy carb, the resulting molecule is the same: it turns into glucose. So whether you eat ice cream or a fruit, you end up with molecules of glucose in your body.


Once glucose is digested, it goes into the bloodstream and looks for a purpose. Your body loves to use glucose to create energy, so that’s what glucose molecules are looking for.


If there is no work for the glucose molecule, your body wants to keep it for future use, and it converts the glucose into fat molecules that are stored in your fat cells.


Carbohydrates are the macro that should vary the most in your diet. Regardless of your goals, whether to lose or gain weight, you should eat an suitable amount of protein and fats since these two macros are vital for your body to perform at it's best.


The amount of carbs can be modified with more flexibility because they mainly supply energy. An important role obviously, but less important than building muscles or delivering vitamins throughout your body.


What to ask ChatGPT to create your meal plan


Now that you know how many calories and macros you want to eat in a day, you can head over the ChatGPT (or whichever AI site you prefer) and start creating your meal plan.


A few things to remember:

  • Being as precise as possible will yield the best results.

  • You can refine your questions after each time Chatgpt answers you

  • Remember that AI will give you a great starting point but you may need to make adjustments

  • I found AI to be slightly inaccurate with the macro and calorie counting. I recommend double checking everything for optimal results


Lets dive into it!


Step 1: Ask Chatgpt precisely what you would like your meal plan to be.


Here is a short list of what you may want to include in your meal plan description:

  • How many times a day you would like to eat

  • Which foods to avoid

  • Dietary preferences

  • Cuisine styles you like

  • How many calories to eat in a day

  • How much protein to eat in a day

  • How much fat to eat in a day

Ask the AI like you want ask a personal chef to create your plan.


Here is an example of a prompt that you can copy and paste into chatgpt


"Pretend that you are a personal chef specializing in creating healthy and delicious meal plans. Please create a 7 day meal plan for me. I am currently trying to [lose weight/build muscle/get stronger....] and I eat [X amount] of times a day. My favourite food is [enter a food you love] and I don't like [enter a list of foods you don't like]. I need to eat [X amount] of calories and [X amount of protein] protein grams per day."


This is what I asked it when I wrote this article:


Be as precise as possible when asking chatgpt to make your mean plan. Features you may want to include: How many times a day you would like to eat, which foods to avoid, dietary preferences, Cuisine styles you like, How many calories to eat in a day, How much protein to eat in a day, How much fat to eat in a day

Step two: See what chatgpt creates and refine your order


Chatgpt's strength lies in it's ability to come up with an extensive list of options. You may like what you see at first glance, or you may want to further filter your order.


Here's what the prompt above gave me:


Day one of chatgpt meal plan, including a breakfast, lunch, dinner and two healthy snacks
Day 1 of chatgpt meal plan

Day two of chatgpt meal plan, including a breakfast, lunch, dinner and two healthy snacks
Day 2 of chatgpt meal plan

The other seven days of the meal plan look similar to this.


After a quick glance I was satisfied with all of the recipes suggestions, but I noticed chatgpt hadn't given me a grocery list. That was my next refining question.


Follow up question for chatgpt meal plan, in this case a grocery list for the meal plan
Follow up question for chatgpt meal plan

I was pleasantly surprised with how easy chatgpt made the grocery list, it broke it down into proteins, vegetables, fruits, pantry essentials, grains, healthy fats and dairy.


You could further refine this meal plan by specifying details such as no dairy, more or less of this type of food, include more smoothies, the list is only limited by your imagination and preferences.


For example if you don't like day two's second snack (cottage cheese with pineapple chunks) you can ask it to rewrite the meal plan and to avoid that snack.


Now let's dive into the nit-picky part: double checking chatgpt's entry.


Limitations of chatgpt meal planning


Protein and calorie inacurracies

I found chatgpt's ability to properly count protein amounts to be slightly off. If we take the lunch of day 1 and use MyFitnessPal, we calculate that the total amount of protein is 42g and not 30.


The total daily calorie is also off by 450. Given that this amount can be the difference between a calorie surplus or maintenance, double checking the amount of calories in each meal using MyFitnessPal is a diligent step to do.


For those two reasons above, I strongly suggest that you take an extra few minutes to manually verify what chatgpt gives you. That will give you a clear and accurate idea of how many proteins and calories you are getting.


Take the time to find the meal plan you love

This is not a limitation per say, but you may need to refine your search a few times for Chatgpt to come up with exactly what you want.


Remember that the first meal plan Chatgpt comes up with doesn't have to be the one you go with. Ask it to remake it with the exact parameters that you want.


Don't forget the grocery list

As mentioned earlier, Chatgpt didn't give a grocery list, which was easily solved by asking it to provide it.


What if you don't count calories?

I strongly recommend being familiar with the caloric information of the foods you eat on a daily basis. These are the foods that will influence your body composition the most, so knowing how many calories are in them and in your portion sizes is crucial.


You don't need to count calories every day for the rest of your life. Spend one to two weeks recording how many calories you ingest each day and you will control your calorie input more easily.


When you get familiar with the caloric content of your foods, then Chatgpt can truly become your go to meal planner, as it can give you a panoply of potential meal plans that you can sort through.


Over all, I believe that the benefits of using AI for your meal plans outweighs it's limitations.


Benefits of using Chatgpt for you meal plan


Unlimited creativity

Between your creativity and artificial intelligence's database, you can create unlimited meal plans for yourself.


Mold them to fit exactly what you want your diet to be that week. You can reuse your templates, or keep asking for new plans each week changing certain parameters.


You can also ask the AI to further explain certain recipes or ask for meal prep tips. Since it also gives you a grocery list, using chatgpt to create your meal plans gives you a one stop shop solution.


Chatgpt and cheat meals

We all have our go to cheat meals. We don't really need AI to tell us what to eat in those meals, but it can do it.


Once again, you can input any type of parameter that you want it to consider such as which ingredients you want or what type of cuisine you want.


Chatgpt can also create healthy cheat meals


no more food waste

Another benefit of AI is it's ability to create meals out of anything. If you ever find yourself with a bunch of left overs at the end of the week, you can ask chatgpt to create a recipe using them.


It can blend up the ingredients together to come up with something that you may not of though about.


Note: I found that it sometimes gave me recipes with ingredients I hadn't listed. Either ignore those ingredients or refine your query by asking it to omit that ingredient.


Chatgpt can help you create healthy recipes with your left overs so no food goes to waste at the end of the week

Conclusion

Chatgpt can be a useful tool to help your create a meal plan that works for you. It will need some help from you to give you exactly what you want, you are the head chef and it is your cooking assistant.


If you are someone that loves variety in their diet, I find it to be very helpful since it can create a plethora of recipes that we may not be aware of.


Bon appetit!


Clem

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