The Power of Meal Prep
Nutrition plays a huge role in having a successful fitness journey. Making sure you are properly fueled for your workout, your day, your anything-is what allows us to remain productive and active! Our Personal Trainer Programs include an extensive unit over Nutrition and how it plays a role in our daily lives. Often we may skip a meal for the sake of saving time for another area of our life, however, we end up paying for it in the end with sluggish behavior or overeating at our next meal.
Part of what we discuss in our programs is how to guide clients on the right nutrition path that suits their needs; one of the ways to successfully implement balanced nutrition in your diet is through Meal Prepping. Meal prep can actually help establish a better relationship with food, by understanding what macros are, why they are important and how they can help give/sustain energy throughout the day.
On the flip side, many of us do not eat enough or do not eat enough of the right macros and automatically think we have to eat less carbohydrates to reach our goal. Which is not true at all. With the right balance, we will see better results. “If we fuel our metabolism, our metabolism will in turn help fuel us.”
I compiled a list of common questions and misconceptions about nutrition and meal prepping:
WHY SHOULD WE MEAL PREP?
For sanity! Planning out your food ahead of time allows you to assure you have the right amount of macros and portions per meal. Prepping will help keep you on track for the right calorie intake, meaning you are less likely to hit a surplus or deficit (depending on what your goal is).
Health studies have shown that meal prepping aids in achieving your fitness goals, whether it be to lose weight, sustain weight, or gain weight (bulking).
Meal prep can help with stress and anxiety throughout the day. Many of us will get anxious thinking about what our next meal will be and end up going with the quickest (most likely unhealthy) option. But when you prep, there is one less thing to worry about, because it’s our next meal that is ready to be cooked/warmed up. .
WORKING OUT WILL ALLOW ME TO EAT MORE RIGHT?
*buzzer sound* WRONG! This is actually a very common misconception that many people think when they workout. Just showing up to the gym on a daily basis and not really putting any true intensity and structure into the workouts will not provide you with the results you want if you aren’t fueling yourself correctly.
If someone were to come to you and they wanted to lose weight and lean out, your first step would be to find out what they eat on a daily basis with a 3 day dietary log. From there figure out their BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) / Activity, Lean Mass and Fat Mass with either a skinfold test, BIA (Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis) or just off their BMI. None of these measurements are 100% accurate, but they give you a ballpark of where to calculate the nutrition intake at.
Once you figured out their BMR/Activity and their goal is to lose weight/lean out, then you would want to decrease their caloric intake. For example: if their intake after activity is roughly 2800 calories, then we would roughly want to decrease it to 2300 calories; without looking at how much they are already eating, how much activity they do on a daily basis, etc.
Most people don’t realize how much food they should be actually eating and so that can be a reason they are not reaching their fitness goals. So when you introduce the concept of maintaining nutrition, they can be overwhelmed.
ISN’T MEAL PREPPING EXPENSIVE?
*buzzer sound* WRONG AGAIN! This has been an ongoing misconception. Once I started prepping my food I started to realize almost immediately how this was not the case. I looked at how much I was spending on random food, cruddy snacks (that didn’t really fill me for very long), and the amount of takeout I ate every month and it was 3x as expensive as a routine grocery haul.
Since then, I have been prepping my meals a week in advance and buying groceries every two weeks. Within the first month of practicing meal prep I noticed cravings were curved and my bank account was getting a break. I would start prepping by pricing out what I was buying and from where (curbside pickup has helped this process a lot), then looked at what I needed from the grocery store to meet my caloric/macro needs and also still helped to keep me happy throughout the day.
HOW DO I MEAL PREP? HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH OF EACH FOOD GROUP I SHOULD BE EATING?
There are many different options in deciding how to plan out your meal prepping. It can range from just slapping some food together (which if you were not really eating regularly or structured, in the beginning you’ll see results and changes), but over time this option will not work. All the way to nutrient timing, carb loading and figuring out what you should be eating depending on seasons and hormonal changes.
One important way to plan out your meals is; going off your schedule. This means that meals that take a little longer to cook/eat should be set up and eaten during the times you are not on the go. Then the meals/snacks that are easier to eat should be set up when you are in a hurry. This way you are not rushing to eat all the time or pushing the meal off because you don’t want to worry about rushing.
HOW CAN I TEACH CLIENTS ABOUT MEAL PREPPING?
The first step in teaching clients how to meal prep is to help them feel comfortable with food. Help them understand what it is like to eat better foods, to take in the correct amount of calories daily and help them feel comfortable with what macronutrients do for our body.
After going through that process, it’s good to walk them through what a day would look like with a menu or even food prep with them. Many times, if you walk them through this process, it will take away some of the stress of prepping. Because many people make it out to be a much harder process than it really is. I will admit that food prep can take anywhere from 1-4 hours, depending on how creative you get with food. But will save you so much time in the long run throughout the week.
The most important rule of teaching anyone how to meal prep, is to make things as simple/easy as possible. You want them to understand what meal prep means, why we do it and tricks that can make the process easier and easier each week.
REMEMBER: “Consistency is key”
If you’d like to learn more about meal prep, macronutrients and how to work with clients on nutrition, Check out our website for information on our Nationally Certified Nutrition Program! Or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook and instagram!