If you’re like most people, you’re not 100% satisfied with your body. Whether you’re looking to gain muscle mass, lose weight, or tone down for bikini season, meal prepping can help you reach your health and weight loss goals. Most professional athletes and health enthusiasts say that they get their dreamy bods from a combination of regimented exercise and adequate nutrition (or meal prepping). While there’s no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan for everyone, most people who want to gain muscle or lose body mass focus on calorie counting so they know exactly how much they are eating each day. Some even take it as far as counting macronutrients, which we’ll discuss below. Macronutrients: Understanding The Basics Also called macros for short, macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Carbohydrates - The human body uses carbohydrates as its primary energy source. They typically make up around 45% to 65% of a diet. Common carbohydrates include apples, cauliflower, carrots, oats, quinoa, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
- Proteins - Protein is important to the body because it repairs and regenerates body tissues and cells. Some common proteins include seeds, nuts, avocado, beets, and meats.
- Fats - Don’t be afraid of fats! They are a critical part of the human diet, and they should account for about 15% to 20% of your diet. Healthy fats include almonds, walnuts, and olives.
Why Meal Prep?Many people wonder how meal prepping can help them achieve their health and wellness goals. The simple answer is this: when you have healthy food waiting in your refrigerator, it’s much easier to stick to a healthy diet. For example, when you rush out the door and don’t have time to pack a lunch, you’ll likely choose the cheapest, most convenient restaurant when your stomach starts rumbling around one o’clock. Or, you may make a quick trip to the vending machine down the hall to snack on chips and chocolate bars.
- Remove The Temptation. Meal prepping is a great way to ensure you have food on-hand, at all times, that will meet your dietary needs. Instead of reaching for that bag of barbecue chips, knowing you have healthy snacks stored away will remove any temptation of cheating.
- Take Complete Control. One thing we as humans struggle with is control. It’s easy to feel like everything going on around us is outside of our control, and in some cases, this is totally true. When it comes to your food choices, however, you are in complete control. Nobody is forcing that brownie into your mouth. By taking the time to meal prep, you gain complete control of your diet and outcome. This allows you to omit unhealthy ingredients from your meals like sugar and unhealthy fats.
- Save Yourself Some Time. Did you know that meal prepping can actually save you time in the long-run? Instead of having to cook a new meal each evening, you can spend one afternoon making meals for the entire week. This means that when you get home from a long day of work, you can simply pop your pre-made meal in the microwave for a healthy option.
- Make Grocery Shopping Easier. Some people love to browse at the grocery store. They’ll make a point to go down every aisle, meandering to this product and that product, until they eventually make their way to the checkout register. Other people, however, don’t love the act of grocery shopping, and they’ll do everything they can to make sure their trip to the store is short and sweet. By determining what meals you would like to meal prep each week, grocery shopping will start to feel like a breeze. It will also help you avoid the aisles that you don’t want to go down due to temptation (like the candy or ice cream aisle).
- Save Money. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of meal prepping is that it can save you money. Think about how much money you spend going out to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each week. When you premake your meals for the week, there’s a good chance you’ll save money since you won’t be ordering out as much.
- Portion Control. American are notorious for overeating. When you make a point to meal prep, you’ll slowly learn the art of portion control. This is a key component to weight loss.
- Gain Willpower & Make Healthy Decisions. Once you get into the swing of meal prepping and eating a consistent, healthy diet, you’ll start to lose cravings for sugar or fatty foods. By keeping a healthy eating routine in place, you’ll eventually start turning down foods that don’t serve your body.
- Feel Energized. When we eat refined or processed foods, it takes our body longer to digest, which can ultimately lead to feelings of sluggishness. When you meal prep and fuel your body with a healthy balance of nutrients, you’ll notice a significant difference in your energy levels.