Nutrition, like any other skill in the gym, requires willpower. Unfortunately most of us do not have an unlimited supply of willpower. That is why meal preparation is so important to your nutritional/strength/physique goals. Most of the athletes and fitness enthusiasts that I see often have very poor diets. This truly kills me, because I see so much wasted potential.
In his book, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy, author Paul Chek explains how every piece of food that you eat is eventually going to be converted into a new cell in your body. When you perform intense exercise, you are breaking your body down. Your body is building itself back up with the nutrients that you put into your body. If you eat junk, your body is going to be built with junk. Enough said!
So what does this have to do with meal preparation? Well, if you are serious about your training, then nutrition should be a top priority. If you have grueling workouts day in and day out, your willpower is going to be a little low and you may not feel like preparing a healthy meal. Temptation will start to take over and the risk to eat something unhealthy takes over.
If you have all of your meals prepared a head of time, however, eating healthy becomes less of a burden and suddenly looks more manageable.
In this post, we are going to go over 5 strategies to help you on par with meal preparation.
1. Do It On Your Off Days
This is probably the most important tip. Always cook your meals on your off days from either work or the gym (or both). Take inventory of what food you will need and in what meals they will go in. Now get your pots and pans out and start cooking.
You want to cook every meal for the week in that one off day. When all of the meals are cooked, separate them into your containers and store them for when your ready to eat.
The best day, by far, to cook all of your meals is Sunday. Most people have this day off and it is one of the most popular shopping days for grocery stores. So on Sundays you have two options, sit around and do nothing; or prepare yourself for success for your next week of workouts. The choice is yours.
2. Bring A Better Lunch Bag
One of the common excuses to not being able to prepare your meals throughout the day is “there is no way to carry around all of that food.” Well, there is.
Personal workout equipment has really come a long way in the current decade. Now there are lunch bags designed specifically for the fitness enthusiast/athlete. These new lunch bags allow you to bring separate containers for your food for up to six separate meals. This is a huge milestone in nutrition and in taking the athlete to the next level as it virtually eliminates the excuse to eat poorly at work or away from home.
The type of lunch bag that I personally recommend is the Jaxx FitPak. It can hold up to six meals and a shaker cup and is very affordable. Some people, however, want a bigger lunch pack to carry more food. In this case I recommend the 6 Pack Fitness Innovater, which can hold a helluva lot more food and drinks than the Jaxx FitPak.
3. Only Cook What You Will Need To Eat
Don’t go crazy with your meals. Just because you hear some story about what some professional athlete eats or what some huge bodybuilder eats doesn’t mean it is right for you. They are eating according to THEIR goals and THEIR sport. You need to eat according to YOUR sport and goals.
After Michael Phelps won his 5th gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Wall Street Journal released an article describing some details of the Olympian’s Diet. Phelps consumes about 12,000+ calories per day! That is an insane amount of calories. However, for his goals and training, this kind of diet is appropriate. Remember though, he is Michael Phelps, you are not.
4. Stick With What Works
When people stick to a regimen of any kind for too long, boredom starts to kick in. Unfortunately, boredom often leads to a gullible consumer willing to try anything new to shake up his/her routine. I cannot stress this enough, don’t be fooled by glamorous marketing tactics and promises. Stick to what works.
What often works is dedication, planning and hard work. There are no shortcuts!
Get out a pen and paper, write down your favorite fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, whole grains and start organizing them into a meal plan. Simple as that.
5. Supplement When Necessary With Your Meal Preparation
A supplement is, by definition, something that completes or enhances something when added to it. That “it” in the previous sentence is food. A supplement should only be taken with a phenomenal diet, or when a key nutrient is missing from the diet.
With your meal preparation, make sure that your meals are actual meals. Don’t replace real food with a powdered drink, unless absolutely necessary.
- Save you money down the road
- Make you less dependent on supplements for “results”
- Force you to place strong focus with your meal choices
The only supplements I recommend are a protein powder of some sort, to be consumed with actual food, such as in a smoothie; and a green powder veggie supplement to balance the bodies pH and to detox the body.