These days, strategies for meal preparation are seemingly everywhere! Endearingly known as meal prep (or #mealprep if you’re so inclined), the concept of preparing your food in advance has taken hold in the fitness industry, and it offers so many benefits that we hope it’s here to stay!
Not only can preparing your meals ahead of time helps you save time and money throughout your week, but it can also help you achieve your fitness goals.
Meal Prep Can Help
Balance your diet.
We all remember the importance of the food pyramid, balanced diets and (of course) eating your veggies, but how many decisions about what you eat actually follow this advice?
If you’re making a lot of in-the-moment choices about what you’re eating, probably not many. With meal prep you determine the menu beforehand, meaning you can craft the perfect protein/veggie/whole grain medley to reach all of your fitness goals.
Cut down on “impulse foods.”
Making decisions about what you eat meal-by-meal provides many chances to make unhealthy choices…and when your stomach is growling and you’re getting hanger-induced road rage on the evening commute, who wouldn’t choose pizza?
Everyone who hasn’t meal-prepped, that’s who! Knowing you have a healthy, delicious meal waiting for you at home will keep you from making those unhealthy pit stops and keep your diet on track.
Improve your portion control.
The assortment of cute containers are good for more than just a #mealprep Instagram post! Because your food is pre-divided into the perfect portions, you’re not even giving yourself a chance to overeat. If you tend to graze or snack on whatever food that’s in front of you, dividing food up into the proper portions ahead of time will help you kick that habit.
Reduce your stress.
There’s a lot of evidence that points to stress being a contributing factor in weight gain, in part by increasing the hormones that signal us to overeat. Deciding on what to eat last minute can be stressful, which in turn produces hormones that make you more likely to choose unhealthy foods—basically, this is a situation that’s setting you up to fail. By having your meals pre-planned, you’re reducing your stress hormones (which helps with weight management) and making better choices (which also helps with weight management). That’s what we call a win-win!
How to Get Started
Plan your meals in advance.
If you intend to meal prep, don’t go to the grocery store without a plan! There’s nothing worse than getting home from the store with a load of groceries that don’t work together. Cut down on food waste and save money by planning out your meals and only buying ingredients that will be used for the week.
Make sure you have space for your prepped food.
Before you go on your meal prep adventure, make sure to do a refrigerator clear-out beforehand. Meal prepping is fantastic, but you’ll notice quite a bit of your refrigerator real estate will be claimed by your future breakfast, lunch and dinners.
Don’t dive headfirst into meal prepping with difficult or time consuming recipes. Stick to the basics and try prepping a week’s worth of protein, grains and veggies. You need to walk before you run straight into a meal prep meltdown.
Dedicate time to prepping.
Meal prepping simply can’t be done at the 11th hour. You will drive yourself crazy trying to fit a week’s worth of cooking into an hour before bed on a Sunday night. Make time for shopping and prepping and take it easy. You’ll thank us later!
If you need help or advice on reaching your fitness goals, Anytime Fitness is here to help! Find your gym and get to a healthier you today!