When it comes to fat loss - meal prep is the closest thing to a "hack" you'll find.
The difference in your ability to stick to your diet when you have meals prepped ahead vs. when you don't is crazy.
I push ALL of my online clients - no matter their experience or goals - to prep ahead.
No matter what you're trying to accomplish, meal prep makes hitting your nutrition goals 100x easier.
Something I strongly believe and, tell all of my online clients during our check-ins if they didn't hit their macro goals for the week:
"If you're not hitting your macro goals, it's a planning issue."
When you have all your food prepped ahead in accordance with your macros (a.k.a. you've meal prepped), the easiest thing to do is just grab your food out of your tupperware and eat it. The choice that takes the least effort is simply staying on plan.
This makes hitting your nutrition goals - the SINGLE biggest struggle new online clients have been having for years before we started working together - nearly automatic.
For most of us, the idea that you'll be able to find 1.5 hours every day of the week to cook up 3-4 meals that match your goals is just unrealistic. You NEVER have as much time in a week as you'd expect.
Plus, when Wednesday night rolls around, and you're crazy stressed and exhausted from work, the LAST thing you'll want to do is take 30-40 minutes to cook a meal. Times like these are when you're most likely to simply order a frozen pizza - it's the easiest thing to do a.k.a. the path of least resistance.
The awesome thing about meal prep is, it completely changes the path of least resistance. Since you're already prepped ahead for your high-stress/low willpower situations, the new path of least resistance is simply throwing your prepped meal in the microwave, and eating ON TRACK for your goals.
We ALWAYS eventually fall back to the path of least resistance during times of high stress. Trying to be more motivated isn't nearly as effective as simply changing the path of least resistance.
The most push back I get on meal prep is from clients that think it's too "time consuming".
In reality, meal prep will save you HOURS during your week. A simple meal prep should take you 1-2 hours. That's your total cooking time for the week.
Compare this to the time it takes to cook 4 healthy meals per day.
If you're VERY efficient, you can cook 4 meals at 15-minutes each, for a total of 1 hour per day.
That's seven hours per week cooking time.
Most of us just straight up don't have that much time to cook, and thus fall off our diet mid-week. Prepping ahead will actually FREE UP a lot of time for you.
Ok, enough gushing about meal prep. Let's break down how to speed up YOUR fat loss with an effective and efficient meal prep.
1.Determine What Days You'll Prep On
This is pretty simple - you first need to know WHEN you'll actually be buying/cooking this food. I would be sure to block out 1-2 hours for this.
Personally, I prefer just prepping once per week. I HATE cooking. I would rather eat my own arm for sustenance than have to cook multiple time per week.
That said, if it grosses you out to eat food you cooked Sunday on a Saturday, you'll probably want to establish multiple prep days.
I wouldn't get TOO carried away with this.
→ Most people are good to prep for at least 3-4 days in advance, and if you have 4 prep days per week, you're not really saving yourself time.
→ I would establish something like Sunday/Wednesday as your prep day, OR just Sunday if you're good with letting your food sit longer.
2.Choose Your Food Sources For Each Macro
The three macros (macronutrients) are:
Some quality sources:
From here, choose 2-4 options from each category.For example...
→ Chicken breast
→ Pork tenderloin
→ Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
→ Protein Powder
→ White rice
→ Sweet Potatoes
→ Eggs (doubles as a protein source)
Don't forget your veggies and spices either!
While veggies are technically a carb, I would be sure get at least 2-3 separate veggie sources. These are KEY for helping you feel full, and are packed with nutrients that will help you achieve optimal health.
3.Acquire Your Food
There's a reason you planned out your foods before actually shopping.
Any time you don't have a plan, you're much more likely to fail.
When it comes to shopping, failure is the temptation to buy tons of foods that will be detrimental to your success if they're in your house. If it's in your house, you're going to eat it.
Planning what you'll buy ahead of time helps you make this trip efficient, saves you money, and keeps you on track for your goals.
→ The BEST option when it comes to shopping is to do it online. Avoiding physically facing the temptation to buy foods you don't need (inevitable when walking through the store) makes it MUCH more likely you'll stick to the established food plan.
→ If online shopping isn't an option, "sticking to the perimeter of the store" is a good rule of thumb. The nutrient-dense, whole food options that will help you build a leaner, stronger body will be primarily along the perimeter of the store, whereas the more highly-processed, calorie-dense foods will be in the aisles.
4.Cook Your Food
Unless you enjoy cooking, the name of the game here is efficiency.
We want to batch cook foods as much as possible, to get you in and out of the kitchen ASAP.
Here's what to do.
→ Choose your seasoning. Since these will be primarily meats, make sure to use some seasoning from the herbs & spices section of the meal template.
Outside of what's shown in the Meal Template, some easy go to's are:
Chicken: stir-fry seasoning, fajita seasoning
Ground beef & ground turkey: Taco seasoning
→ Choose your cooking method. Some super time-efficient methods for cooking your proteins deliciously are...
- Air frying
- Simply cube up your protein and cook it up in a skillet
- Throw it on a pan, and stick it in the oven
These don't typically require as much prep as your proteins.
→ Rice: Batch cook your estimated servings in the week.
→ Potatoes: Prep ahead the more time consuming options. Ex: You want to make low-calorie sweet potato fires. Slice 'em up, drizzle on some olive oil (be sure to track this), sprinkle on some garlic salt, and put them in the oven on a pan.
Alternatively, you can just stab some holes in a potato, wash it, wrap it in a paper towel, and throw it in the microwave for 5-7 minutes. No need to prep that ahead.
→ Veggies: The reality is, despite your best intentions, you probably WON'T eat your veggies if they're left separately in your fridge.
I highly recommend cooking them as necessary - sauteed, grilled, or cooked with your protein source - and then putting your protein sources and veggies in the same container. You NEED your veggies for optimal health. Cooking and mixing them with your proteins forces you to eat them.
Your other carb sources (e.g. fruit) don't typically require any prep.
These take the LEAST prep time (excluding fatty protein sources, which you'll have already cooked as your protein).
→ Eggs: These don't take much time to cook, but if you want to save 10ish minutes each morning, batch cook them and store as individual servings for each day.
And that's it as far as cooking! I personally like to store my proteins, carbs, and fats individually. This allows me to mix & match foods through the week for more diversity.
5.Enjoy Your Food, Get Leaner 10x Faster
Now, you can use the simple Meal Formula I give online clients to mix and match foods to meet your goals:
The Meal Formula
1 Protein (25-50g/1-2 palm-sized portions) + 1 Veggie + 1 Herb/Spice
↑ This is your foundation. It’s a good idea to include this in every meal.
From here, depending on your macros and meal-timing needs, you can add in:
1 Carb (25-50g/1-2 cupped hand-sized portions)
- AND/OR -
1 Fat (5-25g/1-2 thumb-sized portions)
From here, you're free to add condiments to your preference - just be SURE to track the calories in those (BBQ sauce is typically sneaky high in calories - use steak sauce or THIS sauce.
Example Meal Prep
To make all of this as easy as possible on you - here's MY meal prep.
It's definitely no culinary masterpiece, but it gets the job done.
Remember - keep it simple, focus on whole foods, and use the meal formula.
Mine are typically...⠀
→ Breakfast - Nonfat Greek Yogurt + protein powder, eggs (prep these ahead).⠀
→ Lunch + Dinner - Grilled chicken, ground beef with taco season or made into burger patties. I cook 3lbs of each ahead, eat 8oz at each meal.⠀
→ Pre-bed - Cottage cheese.
Mine are typically...⠀
→ Breakfast - Berries (mixed in Greek Yogurt).⠀
→ Lunch + Dinner - Rice (prep ahead) or sweet potato (Stab holes in it, throw in the microwave for 7 mins). I prep veggies ahead and mix them with the protein sources to force myself to eat them.⠀
→ Snacks - Bananas.
Mine are typically...⠀
→ Breakfast - Eggs.⠀
→ Lunch + Dinner - Almonds, avocado, grass fed butter, fish oil.⠀
→ Snacks - Peanut butter.