Meal preparation can seem like a fairly straight forward task, however, it is vital to get the most out of the fuel you're putting in your body. We’ve come up with some helpful steps to make sure you can be at your best.
The number one step is to understand where you are at and where you want to be. Do you want to gain muscle? Lose weight? Understanding what you want to do and the period of time you want to achieve those goals is the bedrock of your meal preparation and keeping that goal in mind will keep you focused.
For example, a good starting point for weight loss is aiming for 1-2 pounds per week (depending on the total weight loss goal) over a 6 month period. This keeps the goal achievable without going overboard and for a time period that is realistic and relatively short term. Let’s say you wanted to lose 40 pounds over the 6 month (26 week) period, from 220 to 180 pounds. That’s an average of 1.54 pounds per week.
Once you know where you are going and how long you’re planning on sticking to your diet, the next step is to get down and dirty and do the meal math! First, taking into consideration your maintenance calories and your daily exercise routines, determine your daily calorie intake. Next of course, workout your macro split to meet your calorie intake, exercise routine and fitness goals.
Using our example above (and a few assumptions) let’s say our maintenance calories including daily exercise is roughly 3080 calories per day. To lose that 1.54 pounds per week, you would need to be achieving a daily calorie deficit – i.e. consume less than the 3080 maintenance calories. The most common recommendation to achieve a calorie deficit that maximizes fat loss and minimizes muscle loss is by being below maintenance calories by 20%. The reason for a percent based deficit is that it ensures the deficit matches the degree of weight loss. So someone who only wants to lose 10 pounds has a smaller deficit that someone who wants to lose 20 pounds, sounds pretty fair. In this example, your daily calorie intake would be 80% x 3080 maintenance calories = 2464 calories.
Now get out there and find some recipes that can be prepared in bulk, taste great, fit within your budget and add up to reach your daily macro split. Head to the shops and buy in bulk, once or twice a week – this will help you stay focused on your goals and stop you straying towards those unhealthy cheat meals! Finally, to help you save some time, prep your meals after you do your shopping, once or twice a week (or whatever works).
One important step that is often overlooked is to weigh each portion of your meals as you prepare them. To ensure that the macros you are consuming are on target, this is an essential step. By adding just a little bit extra meat, pasta, rice or nuts and you could be wasting all that time calculating and prepping. So remember – weigh every portion of every meal!
To make sure that sinks in, check out this:
Adding a handful of brown rice extra in a meal twice a day could add as much 370 calories to your daily intake. A pound of fat roughly contains 3500 calories. Over the 6 month weight loss phase, you’d be selling yourself short by nearly 20 pounds – half of what you were trying to lose!! Just over two handfuls of rice.
Finally, as you work towards your goal, be sure to track your progress at every step. First thing when you wake up in the morning after using the bathroom, make sure you weigh yourself – everyday! This will provide a consistent point of reference to determine how you are tracking on your goals with the meal plan you have set. Try using a tracking app like MyfitnessPal to make sure you can keep all your records handy.
Remember, don’t be afraid to modify your total calorie intake up or down to hit your target once you have enough data. Heading back to our example again, every week sit down and review your weight loss in comparison to your 6 month and 40-pound goal. If you’re dropping weight too fast, up your calories. If you’re not quite getting your average loss every week, take another 5% off your calorie deficit.
With the 5 steps above, you’ll have everything you need to get started on your fitness journey. Remember, set your goals, prep your meals and track your progress. The most important thing is to get your routine set and never miss your meal prep – that’s the fastest way to get off track!
Carry all your meals and keep your food fresh with your very own Undeniable Meal Prep Bag. We’ve put in all the hard work to make you a range of perfect products to keep you on track, all day every day. Implement these steps with your Undeniable Atlas or Motion Meal Prep Bag and let us know how it helps!
The Undeniable Team