Shayna Schmidt | May 18, 2018
When fitness professionals ask their clients why they slipped up, why they didn't eat better yesterday, where that piece of chocolate cake came from, the responses are often variations of: "I was running around," "I had no time to meal prep," and "Fast food was the only convenient choice." A major battle in the fight for that trim, healthy body is having nutritious food ready and available. Even if you know what’s healthy, if you aren’t prepared when meal time comes around, you will not succeed. The old adage is true: "Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail."
All that being said, what can you do? You can plan for the unplanned, for starters. But how? And what are the best snack options? Let's dive in.
People often see me busting out my tupperwares in unlikely locations to eat the food that I've cooked and packed for myself. When I first started doing this, I felt like the odd man out. Especially since responses will typically range from, "Wow, that looks good!" to "... what is that?" and "Wow that's a strong smell." This started way back when, in elementary school, thanks to my mother. I used to get quite embarrassed during school lunch when I'd pull out my bag that my dear mother had packed me while all the kids around me traded their Lunchables. But now I know she was onto something!
Take a moment to imagine this: every single time you feel those hunger pains in your belly, you zip open a lunchbox and take out a container of a tasty, nutritious food. Wouldn't that be amazing? If you answered yes, then let's introduce you to the meal prepping ritual here. Our friends at Precision Nutrition call it "The Sunday Ritual," but the actual day of the week certainly doesn't matter. You pick one day per week to set a few hours aside to plan your food intake for the week (or 3-5 days at a time), go grocery shopping, and prep the food.
This will take time, but remember, you get out of something what you put into it. Things that are worthwhile (both in nutrition and in life) take a bit of time and effort.
If cooking once a week for 5-7 days sounds insane to you, why not try doing a bit each day then? For example, each night before the next day of work, or even each morning. In less than 30 minutes, you can get all of your food for the day organized. Try putting some lentils on the burner right when you get home from work and letting them cook (takes about 45 minutes). Or some spaghetti squash in the oven while you hop in the shower (takes about 45 minutes-1 hour). In the AM, what about hard boiling some eggs (10 minutes or less)? Chopping up some veggies and throwing them into a tupperware with some lettuce can't take too long. Scooping hummus into a box can't either. Nor can packing a protein bar. Is it sounding easier and easier?!
Are you noticing a theme here? Many of the above snacks boast protein as their predominant macronutrient. Why is that? In general, protein is the most important macro both when one wants to lose weight and also gain muscle. The most basic reason for this is because it helps you feel fuller for longer. Protein slows down digestion, making us feel more satiated and less likely to go back for seconds (or thirds!). Furthermore, digesting protein requires more of your energy. The “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. Protein has a higher TEF compared to carbs and fat meaning you’re actually burning more calories to process protein than the others! And finally, your protein needs increase especially after bouts of intense exercise and/or strength training. When you lift, you actually do not build your muscles, but you tear them. Protein is one of the only ways that those muscles get repaired. A predominant function of your dietary protein is to repair and rebuild the tissues of your body, including damaged muscle fibers, by supplying your cells with protein building blocks called amino acids. Convinced?
We're dropping a little Precision Nutrition infographic below here, which we have found to be extremely beneficial in teaching folks how to eat well when on the move. Questions? You can always ask your Livekick trainer.