Prepping For Success
Have you ever heard the old adage that you can’t out train a bad diet? When it comes to fitness, reaching your goals is about 10% the time you spend in the gym and 90% the time you spend in the kitchen. Falling short or completely missing your original goals is as easy as forgetting a meal one day, and thinking that grabbing fast food just this once won’t hurt anything. If you’re anything like me then you don’t really have the time to spend every night making dinner and then preparing your next day’s lunch and snacks. Since most of you reading this won’t be able to hire that personal chef to handle your meal planning for the week, I will give you some tips to help simplify the process and make prepping your meals easy and fun!
The first step (if you haven’t completed it yet) is to find out exactly what you need to be eating. You cannot develop a meal plan without knowing your specific macronutrient needs. If you haven’t already met with us in person and want to get a good idea of where to start I suggest reading back to an earlier blog of mine “Fuel Your Body Right: How to Accurately Calculate Your Energy Needs” in order to get started. Now that you know what you need we can move on to the fun part.
For example, let’s say you ended up with a total of 2400 calories to spend with varying macronutrients and you want to prep out your day. The first thing you want to do is spread out your calories and macros into 6 separate meals to keep you full and happy throughout your busy day. If you want to make things easier on yourself and just make 6 meals/snacks of the same size throughout the day then prep 6, 400 calorie meals (6×400=2400). However if you want to follow a more traditional path and separate meals from snacks then you could do breakfast, lunch and dinner at 600 calories and snacks at 200 calories each.
So now that we have our meal sizes planned out its time to build your meals and get them ready for the days ahead. At the very beginning of your meal prepping journey I suggest following K.I.S.S and just keep it simple, stupid. In order to do this, build your meals around a few ingredients that you can keep separate in order to keep full control over the end result. It is much easier to determine the amount of calories in a meal with chicken breast, potatoes and asparagus than it is trying to spoon out a beef stew into separate portions.
Over the years, I have found that most of my meals stay fresh and tasty for at least 3 days before I notice any changes to texture or flavor. With this in mind my best suggestion would be to set aside an afternoon every 3 days to prep for your next 3 days meals and snacks. During the first few attempts of meal prepping it will probably take around 3-4 hours in order for you to prep, cook and clean up the eventual mess made. Over time you will have everything down to a science and that four hours goes down to maybe one and a half.
Finally you need to be able to take your food with you when you leave for work, school, or the gym. For work we bring a briefcase, for the gym we bring a bag of clothes to change in to. Similarly, in order to eat we need some sort of accessory to match the seriousness of the situation. There are plenty of different options available and you can choose whatever works best for you. My personal recommendation is the Isobag. These are lunchboxes that come with their own specially designed Tupperware to hold your food in tight and fit specifically inside of their bag. You can keep your food cool throughout your day with ice packs adjacent to food storage. There are also compartments inside to hold drinks, snacks, silverware and anything else you may need.
Although I explained this in a page in a half summary, it is easier said than done. When you first start it will feel impossible, but just like anything else, practice makes perfect.