How Meal Prep Can Make Or Break Your Training Program
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 19 seconds.
When you start out exercising regularly, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of trying out new equipment and researching different training regimes. Yes, it is important for you to design an exercise plan that is right for you, but this isn’t the only thing you should be focusing on. Instead, you need to pay equal attention to one other crucial aspect of a new fitness regime: meal preparation (meal prep).
The importance of suitable meal preparation
Meal preparation refers to you taking the time to plan out what you will be eating all week and then making the meals ahead of time wherever possible. Have you ever heard this phrase?
“Abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym”
Well if you haven’t, then you have now! And, better yet, it’s one hundred percent true for all kinds of fitness programmes. Whether you are looking to gain muscle mass, reduce your fat levels or improve your cardiovascular performance, then your diet is crucial.
In fact, the commonly agreed statistic is that only 30% of your results are made in the gym, and the other 70% comes from what you consume. For this reason, meal preparation is essential.
By properly planning and preparing your meals ahead of time, you can guarantee that your body is getting 100% of the nutrition it needs to grow properly. By failing to prepare meals and control your nutritional intake, the hard work you put in at the gym will be wasted.
In fact, one of the worst things you can do is to binge eat to make up for skipped meals or to buy takeaway food from restaurants and fast food joints. A properly tailored meal plan is the way forward.
Our top 5 fundamental dietary tips
Now that you understand the importance of dieting, it’s time to drill down into how to actually design and prepare meals that give you what you need. But first, here are our top 5 tips on dieting. They should help you to better understand what goes into a good diet, and the importance of crafting your meal plan based on your fitness goals.
1. Eat little and often. The best way to keep your body functioning is to maintain a healthy level of nutrition throughout the day. This is why you should try ideally to break up your daily intake into 5 or 6 smaller meals. This has the added benefit of keeping your energy levels stable. This will help curb hunger pains and stop you from snacking or binge eating large unnecessary meals.
2. Replace soda with water. When planning your meals, you should be sure to consider what you are drinking as well. It’s easy to drink sugary, or even sugar-free, sodas without thinking about the consequences. Regardless of what type you go for, they contain all kinds of unhealthy additives and sugars that aren’t good for your health. Instead, replace those cans with glasses of water. This will help you feel fuller and leave you better hydrated throughout the day.
3. Cut back on the booze. Whilst we’re on the subject of drinks, you should take a serious look at how much alcohol you consume each week. Even just a few beers of glasses of wine each week can dramatically increase your intake of calories. A good approach is to cut out casual evening drinking and limit yourself to once a weekend where necessary. Better yet, stick to spirits and diet drinks to reduce any unwanted calories.
4. It’s OK to “cheat” once in a while. Though this might sound counterintuitive, it is actually considered OK to “cheat” your diet plan once in a while. Humans are not robots and we can’t control our cravings all of the time, nor can we control every aspect of our daily lives. Events throughout the week may mean you need to dine with a client from work or attend a friend’s wedding. It is OK to then divert away from your plan, but it is important you see these events as an exception and a treat to you successfully following your meal plan for the rest of the week.
5. Have four different colours in each meal. Rather than cramming all of your proteins, carbs or vegetables into separate meals, keep them mixed up throughout the day. This way, you can ensure you are getting a healthy level of fats, proteins and carbs all day long. It also makes each meal much more enjoyable.
Simple meal prep ideas
By this stage, you’re probably wondering whether you can even prepare meals that follow all of these rules and still taste great. Well, it’s actually pretty easy. In fact, here is a quick rundown of 4 simple meals that you can prepare, and then eat cold or reheat when you need them.
Grilled chicken and veggies
This meal is dead simple to make and is a bodybuilder favourite. Just cook up a big batch of grilled chicken and flavour it how you like. Then, divide it up amongst four or five tupperwares alongside a handful of freshly cooked veggies. It will keep all week and can easily be reheated.
Pasta is one of the best carbohydrate sources around, and can easily be reheated whenever you want. As a minimum, you’ll also want to add some healthy spinach to the mix, and then choose a meat of your liking to accompany it.
Fajita chicken and rice bowls
Everyone loves fajita chicken, and rice is a great carbohydrate source for those working out a lot. You can cook up a big batch of rice, with onions and bell peppers. Then, evenly share it amongst a few tubs and top it off with some delicious fajita chicken.
Honey Sriracha glazed meatballs
Turkey meatballs are a fantastically lean source of protein and taste great in sriracha sauce. We recommend placing them on a bed of rice and accompanying with some leafy greens or sliced carrot.
4 different ways to properly prepare your meals
1. Do it yourself
The first method of carrying out meal preparation is the most obvious, do it all yourself. This includes researching what your daily intake of different things should be and then designing meals that you know you will enjoy.
You will of course then need to source all of the ingredients for these meals and cook them from your home. To help with this step, some people will cook as many meals as they can on Sunday and then store them in tupperware boxes for the rest of the week.
2. Work with a personal trainer to design you a meal plan
Learning what and what not to eat is perhaps the most challenging and time-consuming part of learning how to effectively prep meals. By working with a personal trainer you get the chance to ask any questions you have and then get a quick and easy plan all sorted. Using this method is great if you literally don’t know where to start or are worried that what you are currently eating is completely wrong. Personal trainers have the experience and know how to quickly design you a tailored meal plan.
3. Use a meal prep app
There are plenty of meal prep apps available for both Android and iPhones users. They can help you with everything right through from understanding the nutrients in different meals through to examples of great-tasting and well-balanced meals. Many of them are free or include additional charges to unlock other helpful features. Below is an example of just 3 top-rated apps. We recommend you download a few and see which one suits you best. – FoodPlanner – Eat This Much – Paprika
4. Use a meal delivery service like Function Fit Food
When you think of meal delivery services, you probably think about fast food restaurants who want to send you unhealthy food like burgers or pizza. Well, in recent years, there has been an increase in health-focused meal delivery services like Functional Fit Food. They take care of your entire eating process, helping you to save time and even money. Their team of expert chefs do all the work of designing great-tasting meals that give your body what it needs and then even cook them for you.
Is Functional Fit Food the best choice for your meal prep?
Here at Ultimate Fitness, we are proud to work alongside the guys over at Function Fit Food, to help bring you great-tasting, well-balanced meals exactly when you need them. They take away all the worry of planning meals and send them straight to your door ready to eat.
That way, you get to focus more of your attention on working out, with the knowledge that you have a perfectly balanced meal waiting for you when you arrive home. Better yet, they have a wide selection of meals for you to choose from, such as:
– Tandoori Chicken With Coconut Curry
– Squash & Sweet Potato Chili With Quinoa
– Vegan Chickpea And Coconut Curry With Basmati Rice
– Cajun Salmon With Beetroot Quinoa
All of their meals have been designed and cooked by fully trained chefs, and are made for people looking to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. They also offer a range of snacks and drinks for you to enjoy throughout the day, or just prior to a workout.
One of the other reasons we support them so well is the fact that they use ethically sourced ingredients that are genuinely good for you. By using only quality ingredients, you can make sure you know that what is going in your body is going to help you achieve your fitness goals and not take you further away from them.
To find out more about them, you can head over to their website and see the range of meals they have on offer. Alternatively, come talk to us next time you’re in the gym and we can take you through their range and help you decide which meals would be best suited to you.