Client: FitNow Club
Whether or not you’re fully immersed in the fitness world, meal prepping is a perfect way to improve your health. Working out in a disciplined manner will eventually call for meal prepping as a way to stay on top of your fitness goals. We even see people not immersed in fitness prepping meals for their week to save time. When you prep your meals in one session, you’ll be amazed how much time it saves you. In this blog, we cover the health benefits and advantages to planning ahead in and outside of your kitchen. Meal prep steps should be simple and easy to follow.
The processes behind setting up your kitchen, cooking food, break down and cleaning takes at the very least one hour a day—usually more if you’re a parent with children. At minimum, you’re allocating 7 hours a week when you can better allocate your time. Meal prepping is broken down into five easy steps: planning (and frequency), shopping, cooking and packing.
Meal Prep Steps
When you take the guess work out of your daily routine for meals, you put yourself ahead of the curve. Use a written schedule that you’ll stick to when it comes to packing your meals. What would you want to eat and when? Decide and write it down day-by-day. Imagine reaching into your fridge, snagging your “Monday-lunch” and “Monday-snack” and heading out. No deciding required and no packing necessary; you’ve already done it.
Exercising will naturally speed up your metabolism. If you’re used to eating three big meals a day, prepare to adapt to 5-6 smaller meals a day. Smaller, more frequent meals are healthier for your body and releases steady energy throughout the day. If you’re new to meal prepping, you might start with 3 larger meals, but work to course-correct to 6 smaller meals a day.
Bring your written plan with you to the grocery store. Follow your list to the letter and do not deviate. By only buying necessities, you’ll save yourself time and money. Make your first trip your baseline: take note of how much of each food you buy, its pricing and how long it lasts. A good rule of thumb is to overbuy slightly to ensure you have enough food and to avoid another grocery store stop during the week.
Cooking will be trial and error for the first two weeks. If you’re new to meal prepping, start simple and eat chicken every day as your protein with different sides or flavors for variety. Once you get the process down, add in steak, pork, or another protein. If you’re a seasoned cook, then dive right in. Another rule of thumb is to make sure your week’s worth of food is balanced between complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
Keep at least 7 days worth of Tupperware or glassware on hand for two meals out each day. Mark the days and meals such as “Monday-lunch” and “Tuesday-dinner.” Refrigerate the first half of the weeks’ food and freeze the second half to preserve its freshness until you’re ready to eat those meals. Get to eating what’s salvageable in your fridge and start fresh with a new list, new schedule and more time saved! This is the last item on our list in our meal prep steps.
Macronutrients and Calorie Counting
In my last blog article, I discussed the benefits of meal prepping and covered the phases beginning with planning (and frequency), shopping and cooking all the way to the packing phase. Now, I’d like to cover the second part to meal prepping. As a refresher: meal prepping is the key to saving time and streamlining your schedule, your grocery budget and your healthy lifestyle! Calorie counting and the benefits behind tracking your macronutrients is the key to real measurable success! The article on meal prepping can be found here.
Many fitness enthusiasts track their weight as a way to gauge progress depending on their goals. Therefore, tracking calories and macronutrients should be a staple in your workout regimen as well for several reasons. First, let me cover the basics of macronutrients. An easy way to think about macronutrients or “macros” is they are the major groups of foods we should be eating.
(This should be common knowledge and if not, I’m glad I can share my knowledge with all my readers). Food groups such as complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein are the main macros to focus on. Vegetables should be included in your meals as well for a balance. However, carbohydrates, fats and protein are paramount.
Discipline plays a factor in keeping track of your macros, especially if you are new to the FitNow Club. My advice is to pick one way to count and scale up from there as your discipline solidifies and your confidence grows. Whether you start counting calories or macros, tracking your numbers in an app is tremendously helpful. One particular app comes immediately to mind.
Calorie intake is helpful for Meal Prepping.
I really believe this app is the end-all-be-all of food tracking based on its dynamic capabilities to track all major macro and micronutrients, water, weight and much more. MyFitnessPal is available for both iOS and Android platforms and gives users the ability to create a custom profile online which automatically syncs to the phone app. Not everyone needs their daily sodium intake to reach the pre-determined 3500mg or their daily Potassium to be capped at 4000mg. Generally speaking, less sodium and more potassium is the way to go and you can update your goals with a few clicks online.
The beauty of counting calories is that it goes hand-in-hand with weighing yourself. Apps let you set a daily caloric goal and maintains with every entry. As you hit your pre-determined daily caloric goal, use the bathroom scale to cross-check your food intake and vice versa. If you’re eating the right amount of food, the scale will reflect your progress and vice versa. Think of the two as a checks-and-balance system.
Counting the Pounds
One point I’d like to interject is to not go overboard with the bathroom scale. My advice is to pick a day, pick a time, mark your calendars and stick to weighing yourself at that time. For example, I have one client who picked Tuesday as his day. Every Tuesday morning, he wakes up, relieves himself and steps on the scale nude for the most accurate reading. Keep in mind: clothes and shoes worn one time and skipped the next will throw off your reading. With variables such as food digested, water retention, bloating, stress, the average person’s weight can fluctuate up to 8 pounds in a day. Keep it consistent and omit the variables that can throw off your progress.
The beauty of counting macros is simply knowing what you are ingesting. Everyone will have a different split between carbs, fats and protein (see above for reference). With a food tracker, you will know ahead of time to substitute your nightly sandwich for a protein shake and peanut butter—if your carbs are maxed for the day, but you haven’t hit your protein and fat goals. If you need assistance in establishing a baseline split for your macros, please feel free to reach out to me directly at 1-888-815-4360.