Personal Training, Fitness and Nutrition Motivation

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

How to Meal Prep for Fitness Goals and Improved Health

Many of you have heard of meal prepping to achieve fitness goals, but do you really know what it means?

What is Meal Prepping?

Meal prepping is one of the most popular ways to stay on track with eating right. It does take planning, time, and cooking healthy.

It's not a diet and quite the opposite. It means having plenty of nutrient-dense foods ready to fuel your body and achieve fitness goals. It also includes cooking in bulk and separating out meals to eat during the week.

Results Require Good Nutrition

Nutrition remains the primary ingredient to achieving your fitness goals. Eating right is also how you maintain a healthy body. No amount of exercise is going to make up for an unhealthy diet. Getting fit the right way takes a balance of eating right and exercise. This is where meal prepping gives you a definite edge up to reaching goals and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

I highly recommend re-reading my Blog post on Cleaning Up Your Nutrition for Results as a great compliment to this topic. It also provides an excellent grocery list of healthy foods to buy for meal prepping.

How to Meal Prep

The process of meal prepping isn't difficult. It actually simplifies and reduces the amount of time spent cooking during the week.

Plan to use a weekend day or day off to buy, cook, and meal prep. The following cooking methods are typically used:

  • Crock pots also called slow cookers
  • Oven roasting
  • Outdoor grilling

Crock pots are the most popular methods to meal prep. When the weather isn't favorable for outdoor cooking, slow cookers are always ready to go. Many people purchase more than one crockpot to bulk cook lean meats and oatmeal at the same time for example.

Popular Foods to Prep

The most popular protein food cooked in bulk are boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you can crockpot 6-10 chicken breasts at one time. I enjoy topping the chicken with roasted garlic salsa and letting it cook all day or even overnight. You may prefer sprinkling with your favorite spices, herbs and a small amount of water.

Steel cut oatmeal is another crockpot favorite. Using a 4-quart slow cooker works well for cooking a triple batch. Simply follow the cooking directions, except add the ingredients to your slow cooker instead of stove top. I also enjoy adding a chopped apple, 3 cinnamon sticks, and tablespoon of vanilla to the oat and water mixture. I give it a stir, set to low, and let cook overnight. Batch size will vary depending on how many people will be enjoying the oats.

Meal Prep Guidelines

Meal prepping is simple, fun, and promotes eating better as a lifestyle. The following guidelines will help you get started:
  • Buy a crockpot (slow cooker) or two.
  • Buy a large roasting pan for cooking vegetables.
  • Buy a large stove top pot for cooking grains, legumes, etc.
  • Purchase individual serving size storage containers.
  • Buy a nice fabric cooler to carry your healthy food to work.
  • Buy snack size and sandwich storage bags for holding raw veggies, nuts, etc.
  • Buy a nice knife for slicing and chopping vegetables. 
  • Buy sanitary cutting boards you can wash in the dishwasher.
The following will help add flavor to your healthy food:
  • Garlic, spices, and herbs (pick up a nice variety)
  • Variety mustards
  • Salsa
  • Siracha chili sauce or Cholula hot sauce
  • Low sodium chicken or vegetable broths

Prep and Eat Your Veggies

Eating plenty of vegetables is essential to your health and another component to meal prep. Buying celery, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, red peppers, and green beans are just a few examples. The following veggie prep tips will be helpful:
  • thoroughly wash, drain, and cut up vegetables.
  • Raw veggies can be stored in snack or sandwich bags in the refrigerator ready to grab during the week.
  • Cooked veggies can be stored in individual storage containers ready to be added as a compliment to your cooked lean meat. 

Popular Meal Prepped Meals

Eating healthy is tasty, not boring or bland like many assume. How you meal prep determines the flavor and texture of your food. Once you get the hang of spicing up your chicken, grains, veggies, and oats, you will enjoy the results of eating this way.

The following meal prepped foods are often combined into individual meals:
  • Chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli
  • Crockpot chicken and roasted veggies
  • Salmon and vegetables
  • Greens topped with chicken, avocado, and salsa
  • chicken, white rice, and broccoli (athlete fuel)
  • Chicken, quinoa, and vegetable
  • Chicken lettuce wraps with salsa

Enjoy an older video of my crockpot cooking


Success

Success takes planning, and in this case, cooking. It also takes some time to portion out your chopped veggies and divide the meals. The time is well spent and will keep you accountable to stay on track with good nutrition.

Remember, small steps create big results. Meal prepping is just another step toward living a real, sustainable, healthy life.

Let's do this!

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Be well and Stay Healthy



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