Prep Your Meals for Success
If nutrition is of the utmost importance when it comes to energy and performance, then why do so many people skip meals or overeat foods low in nutritional value? Whether you’re an elite athlete, weekend warrior, or someone who couldn’t care less about exercise, eating enough nutritious food should be a priority.
When it comes to nutrition, proper planning prevents poor performance. Prepping your meals ahead of time is a great way to avoid the pitfalls of bad eating habits. Having your ready-to-eat healthy meals on hand will help you avoid fluctuations in blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day. Stabilizing your blood sugar levels throughout the day is a great way to neutralize cravings that can lead to binge eating. Additionally, a well-rounded diet will not only help with your blood sugar and energy levels, research shows that dietary factors impact cognitive function and mental fitness.
Tracking your macros
There’s no better place to start your meal prep journey than by learning about your current caloric intake. Buying a food scale and tracking your calories for at least one week using an app like MyFitnessPal (a free online calorie counter) will help you determine your average caloric intake. If you believe you already know what your caloric intake is, it’s always good to do this anyway. Often times you think you have a pretty good idea of how many calories you’re consuming, then once you actually track it, it becomes all too obvious that you need to be better about what you eat. If you have absolutely no idea what your intake should be, I recommend doing some research. Just make sure you’re getting your information from a reputable source. Bodybuilding.com has some great fitness calculators, including one specifically for macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) based on your lifestyle and goals.
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Prepping for success
Before you go to the grocery store and start loading your cart with goodies, you should figure out how much food you are going to need. Doing this before you buy your groceries will help ensure you don’t buy too much food. Let’s face it; we all know we’ve been there before. Then we feel bad when we have to throw out those cherry tomatoes or that chicken that went bad because it was hiding behind the condiments.
The next step is deciding what dishes you are going to cook. It may seem like a funny thing to say, but it’s a little different when you’re cooking in bulk. Dishes like macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs on top are not going to have the same texture and crunch when reheated. On the other hand, meals like baked chicken with baked sweet potatoes and steamed green beans are easy to cook in bulk and maintain their taste and texture when reheated. Breakfast should also be considered when deciding your meals for the week. In fact, it’s probably one of the more important meals to prep because it’s the one that people are most likely to skip as they hustle to get out the door every morning. Having your breakfast prepped will not only provide your body with energy for the day ahead, but research indicates that individuals who consume breakfast are more satiated throughout the day and therefore less likely to overeat later in the day.
Now it’s time to move on to your grocery list. This is pretty much your run of the mill grocery list, except it will be more detailed. Depending on how many to-go containers you have, you may want to add that to the list as well. Frozen vegetables and frozen carbohydrates (such as brown rice steamer bags) do not have to be excluded from the list. Steamer bags are very convenient in the event you’re running low on time or find yourself in a pinch, and they always come out of the microwave cooked to perfection.
So if you’ve become accustomed to skipping meals, now’s the time to try your hand at some meal prepping. Designating a couple of hours one day a week toward your meal prep will help nourish your mind and body while saving you time in the kitchen throughout the workweek. Even if you’re on the road travelling, carrying a meal bag through security at the airport is allowed. They won’t confiscate your ice packs as long as they’re frozen. If you’re still concerned, you can always use bags of frozen vegetables as ice packs. It’s time to make food a priority and take care of number one. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Bulk Breakfasts Made Easy
Hard boiled eggs
Egg and Ham Cup