The more I learn and coach clients the more I realize nutrition is the biggest reason why people cannot get the results they would like.
You can crush it in the gym and do all the cardio in the world, but if you are not eating properly then you will be going in circles.
The good news is that just like anything else, improving your nutrition is all about putting in the reps and planning ahead.
A lack of planning is the biggest reason why you cannot stick to your diet.
One thing that I have all online clients work on if they are new to coaching, struggling to see results, or are just plain busy is to start meal prepping.
There are going to be those days when you had a long day at work, there are things going on with friends or family, not to mention you still need to get your workout in.
The last thing you have time for is making a nutritious dinner.
So what do you usually fall back on in these situations?
Eating out at restaurants or fast food, the bag of chips, the ice cream in the freezer etc.
Meal prepping weekly will change this. No longer will you have to worry about spending 30-60 minutes making a meal each night. Who has time for that?
My number one and main principle for meal prep:
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
When online clients or anyone else hears meal prepping they usually think they need to cook up something gourmet that would impress Bobby Flay.
It doesnt need to be complicated. Keep it simple.
This is beyond the scope of this article, but if your only goal is to eat for pleasure every single time or that you need to have the best looking meals then that may be why you are having trouble seeing the results you want.
While you want food to taste good and be tolerable, it doesnt need to be Instagram worthy every time.
Again, we want meal prep to be basic and simple.
My thought on it is that meal prep fills in the gaps where you would otherwise be going for less than ideal choices or eating out, over time this will add up. Build a strong foundation and fill in the gaps with simple and basic meals and then the rest of the time you can make more Instagram-worthy meals and/or eating out at restaurants.
Not enough time?
Another misconception with meal prepping is that it needs to be a 3-hour long marathon and that they don’t have time for it. However, you only need an hour or so to meal prep. What you don’t have time for is making meals 6 times per week.
So meal prep actually saves you time.
Let’s go over how to meal prep in 4 simple steps.
1. Choose 1-2 days to meal prep
The first step for meal prep is picking 1-2 days in your week to time block meal prepping. Making it a consistent thing and a habit is the best thing you can do. So look over your schedule and pick 1-2 days that fir your schedule best. Yes, you may have to spend 1-2 fewer hours watching Netflix or scrolling through Facebook. But it will be worth it.
You can overthink this. Just start so you can get into the habit of meal prepping. If you find out a certain day doesnt work you can always adjust later. Just get started, see what works and what doesnt, and then adjust from there.
2. Choose your food sources
Now you have your meal prep days chosen. Now you will figure out what foods you will be eating for the week.
The most important macronutrient that you meal prep is protein. Time and time again when I go through clients’ macros or food logs, the one macro that is lacking in protein.
It makes sense, it requires the most planning. So first things first are making sure you meal prep some lean protein.
The other macronutrient that you will meal prep is carbohydrates. One of the big reasons people blame carbohydrates for their weight gain or lack of weight loss problems is because of the types of carbohydrates they are consuming (also its the combination of carbs and fats/lack of protein that is the real issue). So its more of a quality thing.
What I recommend online clients do is choose 2 lean protein sources to prep and 2 carbohydrate sources to prep.
Here are your options:
- Chicken Breast
- Lean Steak Cuts
- Turkey Breast
- Ground Turkey
- Pork Tenderloin
- Lean Ground Beef
- White Rice
- Sweet Potatoes/Yams
- White Potatoes
- Red Potatoes
So you will select at least 2 foods from both groups to meal prep. I recommend 2, but you can do more. But picking more than 2 and you start to over complicate things.
3. Grocery Shop
You know what sources you are choosing for the week so now you need to go buy them. With grocery shopping, I find that picking a day and time to do it each week helps with adherence.
Online shopping is now a viable option so if getting to the grocery store isnt an option for you then look no further than online shopping.
Again, you want to be solution-focused. Not problem-focused. There are always going to be roadblocks, but you must find ways to break through them otherwise you will be stuck in the same place.
This is the most time-consuming. BUT at this point, you have blocked out 1-2 hours per week to cook (you know what days and times) and you already choose what foods you are cooking, and you bought the food and have it in front of you. So you are well prepared.
Now you cook.
The goal here is to be efficient.
Choose your cooking method. Some example cooking methods for protein are:
- Air frying
- Simply cube up your protein and cook it up in a skillet
- Throw it on a pan, and stick it in the oven
I personally just bake in the oven. It requires even less work.
Now, you dont want just some plain chicken breast, so lets spice it up a bit with some seasonings.
Here are some example herbs and spices to use
- Celery seed
- Chili powder
- Black pepper
Or you can buy the pre-mixed seasonings.
For chicken, I will do salt and pepper and then some pre-mixed seasoning that I like.
For ground turkey I will do taco seasoning.
These don’t require as much prep as your proteins.
Here are two carbohydrate sources I will meal prep each week
Rice: Batch cook your estimated servings in the week.
Potatoes: Prep ahead the more time consuming options. Ex: You want to make low-calorie sweet potato fries. Slice them up, put on some olive oil (be sure to track this), sprinkle on some garlic salt, and put them in the oven on a pan.
Again, here we want to keep it simple. You can meal prep veggies with your proteins, but I personally just stick to frozen veggies or spinach for salads.
Now the hard part is out of the way. You have your basics prepped for the week. If this feels too simple thats because it is and it should be. Now you must do this each and every week and watch you build the body you desire.
Here is what a sample meal should look like now that you have your protein and nutritious carbohydrate sources prepped for the week:
For extra and quicker results have handy sources available for the times when you want to switch up what you are eating or maybe you ran out of meal prep.
Here is my list of handy nutritious food options when in a bind:
- Rice packets
- Beef Jerk
- Greek Yogurt
- Tuna packets
- Protein powder
Here are some sample meals when in a bind:
Meal 1 : Tuna Packets, Rice, Spinach Salad w. Tomatoes/Light Dressing, 1-½ Apple.
Meal 2 : Oatmeal, Milk (1% or Skim), Protein Powder, Peanut Butter, ½ Banana.
Meal 3 : Baked Chicken Breast, Pasta or Rice, Microwavable Veggies, with some teriyaki sauce over top.
If you need more guidance on how to meal prep or how to improve your nutrition for your goals then apply here for nutrition coaching and lets get to work.