“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin was a pretty smart guy, but who knew he had such wisdom when it comes to engineering your diet to meet your weight loss, muscle gain and energy boosting goals. Ok, so that’s probably not exactly what he was going for when he said it, and it holds true for many aspects of life, but consider applying his “planning” wisdom to your meals. You can take complete control of what you eat and when you eat to ensure that you’re doing what it takes nutritionally to achieve your goals.
This is where the concept of meal prepping comes in. Meticulously planning your meals ahead of time and accomplishing the prep work up front might sound like a time consuming drag, but by doing so, you’re setting yourself up for success. Meal prep lets you take guesswork and impulsivity off the dinner menu so you can know for sure that you’re getting the nutrition you need.
Get on board with meal prepping and grab your diet by the horns. Become a “prepper.” Here are a few ways to prep meals ahead of time for weight loss, muscle gain and energy boost.
What Is Meal Prep?
If you’re anywhere on social media you may have seen images of a kitchen countertop covered in a week’s worth of perfectly portioned, organized, healthy meals. That, my friends, is meal prep and some people are obsessive about it.
You don’t need to go crazy planning, but putting a little effort into your meals up front can save you time, money and hassle in the long run. By planning and preparing your meals ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to buy groceries you don’t need, resort to fast food or make unhealthy choices when you’re tired. And, according to a study from Appetite, you’ll be less likely to overfill your plate and gorge yourself past the point of satiety.
The study focused on the instances of people “cleaning their plates” (which happened at 91% of the meals) and how it correlated with planned meals. Planning before a meal made people less likely to change their consumption and eat more than they set out to. Only 18 percent of participants in the study reported eating a different amount than they expected to. With such a strong inclination to clean their plate, 28 percent reported eating past the point of fullness but 57 percent said they could have eaten more. “Logistic regression,” the study claims, “confirmed pre-meal planning as the most important predictor of consumption.” Decide ahead of time what will go on your plate to control what you will actually consume. Then you can clean your plate with confidence.
There you have it. If you make a game plan and prep your meal ahead of time, you’re far more likely to stick to your guns and eat exactly what you set out to. This is why meal prepping can be so beneficial to people looking to meet specific goals that tie into their diets.
Prep For Weight Loss
When you’re aiming to lose a few pounds, keeping your eye on your portion sizes is crucial. “Portion size is a key environmental driver of energy intake,” according to a study on portion size and obesity in Advances in Nutrition, “and larger than appropriate portion sizes could increase the risk of weight gain.”
The study claims that, while there’s still a lot of research to be done, limiting portion size is a key step in losing pounds or maintaining a healthy weight. This is one way that meal prepping gives you an instant advantage in the weight loss game. By planning your meals outright, you’ve given yourself the opportunity to completely control your portion size.
Whip up a week’s worth of healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks and you eliminate the potential for leftovers, the option to sneak into the kitchen for an unscheduled snack and, best of all, you know exactly how much of everything you’re eating. You’re planning to succeed.
Prep For Muscle Gain
Meal prepping for muscle gain follows pretty much the same theory. You’re in complete control of your diet, and really you’ve done your future self a favor by taking the guess work out of meal time. When Mark Wahlberg was training for the film Pain & Gain he was eating 12 meals a day. 12! You better believe he wasn’t leaving what he was eating up to chance or how he was feeling at the time. To pack on muscle for the role, Wahlberg was meticulously planning what he was eating.
Now, you might not be in the market for an extra 40 pounds of muscle like Mark, but if you’re looking to build muscle and strength, planning and preparing your meals ahead of time is going to give you a distinct advantage. By putting in the necessary time to plan and effort to prep your meals for the week, you can be sure you’re hitting your macro- and micronutrient requirements every day.
Just like for weight loss, portion control is important, but timing can also be crucial. Plan for your three main meals and prepare snacks for yourself so you’re eating consistently throughout the day.
Prep For Energy
We are all well aware of that mid-afternoon slump, right? That feeling a few hours after lunch when you’re sitting at your desk, willing time to pass and trying your damndest to avoid a trip to the vending machine out of sheer boredom. Well, if you think ahead and prepare some energy boosting snacks, this 3 o’clock flop could be totally avoidable.
Even something as simple as stashing a pre-portioned serving of almonds in your desk can help you beat the mid-afternoon blues. According to a study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who had a snack of almonds reduced hunger and lowered spikes of serum glucose, balancing participants’ blood sugar and staving off the dreaded dip.
Get fancy and try a recipe for a homemade trail mix, or toss one of Performance Inspired Nutrition’s Inspired Bars in your bag for on the go. If you’ve planned for it, you’re in control of it.
Ben Franklin also said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Man, that guy knew what he was talking about. Invest in the knowledge that will help you create the diet to best meet your goals and plan to succeed with meal prepping.