You’ve probably seen the breathtaking photos circulating across social media. The kitchen counters covered with dozens of Tupperware containers filled with symmetric portions of lean meats, veggies and rice. But this isn’t food porn. This is evidence of the kind of dedication it takes to achieve your dream body. Meal prep is more than a photographic art; it’s a way of life for those who are truly committed to eating the right foods day in and day out.
In essence, meal prep is exactly what it sounds like: prepping your meals in advance. One of the key elements of any successful fitness program is the diet. To reap the benefits of your hard work in the gym, you have to fuel your muscle growth and trigger the fat burning. If you’re forced to grab food on the go, it’s simply impossible to ensure you’re consuming all the nutrients you need to hit your goals.
Meal prep is convenient because you don’t have to think about what to eat every day. When you’re away at work, you can avoid temptation and stick to your regimen. When you’re at home, you can kick off your shoes and relax because dinner’s already made. But more than convenience, meal prep is a guarantee that you’re consuming exactly what you need to grow and burn. When you order out, there’s no way to know what’s in your food. When you’re the chef, you’re in complete control of what enters your body.
So how do you get started?
Calculate Your Macros
Before you can start cooking, you need to know what to buy. Apps like MyFitnessPal and sites like IIFYM.com provide free, easy-to-use macronutrient calculators that tell you exactly how much fat, protein and carbs you should consume daily to hit your target weight. In MFP, you can even pre-enter food combinations to see what everything adds up to.
Pick a Prep Day
Set aside a few hours one day a week to get all your food cooked. You’ll need to hit the grocery store to stock up. Then, you’ll need time to cook it all in advance and separate it out into individual portions. It’s a lengthy process but it’s one day a week compared to cooking multiple times a day every day.
Invest in Containers
As an active athlete, you’ll be eating anywhere from 3-6 meals a day plus snacks. If you’re preparing all your food for the next 7 days, you’ll need at least a few dozen storage containers. Make sure you buy what you need so you aren’t scrambling last minute to put everything in its place.
Spice It Up
When you’re cooking this much in advance, it’s easy to stick to basic recipes so you finish faster. But remember, you have to eat this food all week long. If it’s bland, you’ll be more likely to ditch the meal plan by week’s end. Keep it interesting with spices and healthy seasonings.
Meal prep is a genius way to handle all your diet concerns. With a little bit of planning, you can scratch one big item off your fitness to-do list and focus on your workouts.