“As a kid, I got three meals a day. Oatmeal, miss-a-meal and no meal.” - Mr. T
There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world: Will it rain next week? Who will win the big game on Sunday? How long will I have to wait in line at the store? It can be overwhelming when we think about it. So, let’s stop.
There are also many certainties in life, in addition to the certainty of death and taxes. We know what we need to survive. We know we need oxygen, we know we need sleep, we know we need water, we know we need food.
Whether we order in, get take out, cook from scratch, or warm-up leftovers, we have to decide what we will eat every day and for every meal and snack we consume. But how often have you felt like a deer in headlights when you open up your fridge after a long day trying to figure out what the hell you’re going to eat for dinner? If you’re like most Americans, this is a pretty common predicament. And, a very predictable one if we don’t do something very simple: meal prep.
Prepping is For Everyone
Meal prep is the process of planning and preparing the meals you will eat. Instead of waiting until it’s lunch time or you feel hunger pangs to decide what to grab and put in your mouth, meal prep is a deliberate and thoughtful approach to eating.
Fitness professionals, particularly bodybuilders and athletes, commonly prep the meals. They want to know exactly what they will eat, exactly how much they will eat, and exactly when they will eat it. They do so because they seek to optimize their nutrition to build and maintain their bodies. Some people diligently prepare their meals themselves and some – including our partner and Super Bowl champ Steve Weatherford – use meal prep services, such as Elite Lifestyle Cuisine that make the process very simple.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete to find enormous value in preparing your meals. Exercise plays a huge role in health. I write about the benefits nearly every week in this blog. In addition to exercise, nutrition is critical. Although my company is focused on offering Core Flytes (exercise products) and workout programs, I am comfortable saying that nutrition trumps exercise for good health. Eating well is fundamental to fitness. We all know the saying, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
Benefits of Meal Prep
Control: I started this article by writing about things we can’t predict. They are also the things that we cannot control. What we eat is something we most certainly can control. I can hear some readers say, “Easy for you to say! I struggle with self-control!” It is very hard to have complete control over what we put in our mouths, especially given all the high-sugar, high-fat temptations available. However, planning in advance gives us more control and a much higher probability that we will be able to use self-control when choosing what we eat.
Consistency: Having healthy meals prepared and ready to eat when you’re hungry or at meal time allows you to prevent your body from getting into a catabolic state. A catabolic state occurs (and we all know the feeling) when we haven’t eaten for a long time and our metabolic rate decreases, causing loss of lean body tissue. In addition, you remove the often stressful (yet predictable) “what will I eat?” quandary. You know what you’ll eat. You can focus on other things.
Cash: Not only are we likely to eat poorly when not planning meals in advance, we are likely to spend more. A homemade sandwich or salad or [insert your favorite dish] is much more affordable that that same dish from a takeout joint. When we are hangry (so hungry we get angry), we are willing to spend more to feel better. And we tend to spend it on quick fixes like chips and cookies that do not satisfy us or offer nutritious benefits.
One Way to Meal Prep
You don’t have to be a chef or use complex and lengthy recipes to eat well. There are many ways to plan and prep your meals.
I’m a fan of what I’ll call “lazy cooking:” creating meals with a small number of ingredients that require little time and effort. There are a ton of meals that work within these limitations: omelets and a Nutribullet juice for breakfast, pan-seared chicken and veggies for lunch, salmon with couscous and salad for dinner. Not fancy. Not pretty. But tasty and healthy. And most important of all: easy.
I prefer to go to the grocery store and do a large shopping trip about once a week. It’s important to know what key staples you need if you plan to cook meals yourself. Think in terms of meals as you write your grocery list and do your shopping. The more healthy staples you buy, such as lean meats, fiber-rich vegetables, and leafy greens, the easier it will be for you to create nutritious meals. It’s tough to find the time and energy to cook in real-time when we are hungry. So, don’t do it.
Cooking well in advance simplifies the process. Making a large batch of a few core centerpieces of your weekly meals ends up saving a lot of time, helps save money (less ordering in or wasted food), and makes it much more likely that you’ll eat healthy meals. It also makes it much more likely that you won’t wait until you’re super-hungry before you decide what you’ll eat. The main reason that late-night eating is so bad for us is because we make poor decisions when we are tired and starving. If we avoid that situation, we are doing ourselves a tremendous service.
Portion out your meals for the week and put them in the appropriate storage containers, such as Tupperware in the fridge or a Ziploc bag in the freezer. You don’t need to weigh the food or go overboard with precision. The act of prepping meals in and of itself will go a long way.
Be Flyte Fit,
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