What is meal prep? How is it done?
30% GYM 70% DIET
AB’S ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN, NOT IN THE GYM
I’m sure anyone who has been into fitness for a while has at some point of time come across the above words. And though being fit is not about getting the perfect set of abdominal muscles, it is mostly about maintaining a good diet.
What do you do before hitting the gym? Do you randomly pick exercises and start smashing out sets here and there with absolutely no aim? Or do you follow a workout plan according to which you do a fixed number of sets and reps of a few particular exercises on each day? Well of course, you follow the later one. You follow a workout plan that fulfills your fitness goals. But why don’t we do the same for our diets, when we already know that dieting plays a bigger role in your fitness journey?
The best part about planning your meals is that even if you have a very busy schedule throughout the week, you can actually save a lot of time by preparing them well in advance. Meal preps save your time, your money and also help you stay on track for your fitness goals because you don’t tend to over-eat or under-eat when you’ve already planned a fixed quantity of food for yourself. And for obvious reasons you don’t have to plan every single meal. Just planning that one meal you struggle with the most (usually lunch) is good enough. The idea of eating the same thing everyday of the week might not exactly sound exhilarating to some, but then again it comes down to what your priorities are.
So now that you’re convinced that it’s worth a try, let’s get down to how it’s actually done.
• Do it twice if necessary: Most people reserve their Sundays for meal prepping just how Mondays are reserved as chest days. But then you may end up being that one person at your work place whose food smells funny by the end of the week. This may depend on your food choice and your method of cooking. Remember that quality is always better than quantity whenever it comes to building muscle or preparing meals in advance. So if meal prepping once a week is not manageable for you, split it into two days.
• Start off simple: If you start off with meal prepping all your meals in advance you’ll probably end up failing. Instead start off by just planning one meal of your day, preferably lunch. Meal prep is ideal for lunch. Most people have 9 to 5 jobs anyways and carry their lunch with them. Also, it’s easier to grab an unhealthy meal when you’re eating outside and at the same time can be really expensive. But it’s easier to say no when you’re carrying your own meal.
• Plan your numbers: Regardless of where you fall on this meal prep spectrum or the number of meals you’re planning in advance. It is important to make sure that these meals fit to a path that will help you succeed with your fitness goals. Planning the calories and macros well in advance can ease out the process of grocery shopping and also the process of cooking. Determine the numbers you need in order to achieve your fitness goals and plan your meals accordingly. Choose foods that are easier to store and also fits your macros.
A few examples of these are:
Proteins: Chicken breast, ground beef, pork, steak, turkey, low fat beef jerky, tofu, soy and farmer’s cheese.
Carbohydrates: Oats, bread, brown rice, white rice, tortillas, quinoa and bananas.
Healthy fats: Almonds, walnuts, peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil and coconut oil.
• Swap it up to amp it up: Unless you’re a hardcore clean eating freak and you can somehow gobble down the same meal every single day, eating chicken breast with steamed rice and broccoli will not float your boat for a long time. So, to avoid getting tired of your eating, try to swap certain things in your meal such as swapping chicken with eggs or fish on certain days. Also try cooking food that’s healthy but also tastes good at the same time by adding spices, dressings or by using basic ingredients such as lemon and olive oil for cooking so that you don’t get bored.
• Go out grocery shopping: Obviously you have to go out grocery shopping well in advance. You cannot just use what’s lying inside your fridge. Create a plan that supports your daily calorie and macros intake and shop accordingly. It's also necessary to shop for insulated and good quality containers and meal bags that are BPA free so that later you can re-heat them in the oven.
• You don’t have to necessarily cook all your meals in advance. For example, you can just marinate chicken breasts and store them in the freezer and later quickly cook them when required, You can also freeze blended smoothies in muffin tins and later use them as a quick breakfast.
• Simple combinations such as chicken with asparagus and rice, broccoli with meatballs and potatoes or broccoli with sweet potato are simple yet healthy meals that also taste good and can be easily prepared.
• You can also whip up a batch of protein rich snacks such as nuts, energy balls or even storing meat in the form of kebabs instead of reaching for protein bars.
Make sure you plan your meals your way, keeping your fitness goals in mind.
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