Its all about the (meal) prep
Since about early May I have switched over to the Vertical Diet, which if you have some time, and want to learn a lot more about the diet, go ahead and out this video (watch out its a long one!). A more condensed definition would that its a, “performance-based nutritional framework that starts with a solid foundation of highly bioavailable micronutrients which supports a structure of easily digestible macronutrients that can be adjusted specifically to meet your body’s demands.” Basically you foods that are easily digested and converted into usable energy. The variety of foods is relatively small, but you can easily adjust the amount of food (calories) based on your specific needs (thats the vertical part). While I think the diet has worked very well for me (and I have converted a few more sweat shoppers!), I am not here to talk about the diet. I am here to talk about what the diet required me to start doing and what I think has been an absolute game changer for me. Whilst on this diet I have had to start Meal Prepping, and now that I have done it, I can’t see myself ever stopping this practice.
How many times have you said or have heard someone say that they want to eat healthier, but can’t because of time? I hear it all the time and the solution is really quite simple: its all about the prep. Meal Prepping is not a new concept by any means. Its been around forever, and a lot of people have used, and continue to use it with a lot of success. The whole idea behind meal prepping is that you prepare a variety of foods in advance and store them in your fridge or freezer, to allow yourself to have access to quick, and healthy meals on a regular basis. Meal prepping can help you with a multitude of things. One of the most notable assets of meal prepping is that it saves a lot of time during the week. Being able to just stick something in the microwave is significantly faster than having to cook every night. Yes, you are losing the “freshness” aspect due to the microwaving, but it is well worth it when you think of how much time you are saving. It also helps save a lot of money, since you tend eat out a lot less during the week. This is due to the fact that you have already paid for, and cooked all the food in advance. The biggest thing meal prepping has done for me, in combination with the vertical diet principles, is that it has allowed me to really improve the quality and quantity of my food. When I am preparing my own food I know what I am putting into it and exactly how it was prepared. Even though there is an abundance of seemingly healthy restaurants out there, calories sneak their way into our food all the time! Prepping my own food allows me to make sure that there are no sneaky calories in my food in the form of oils, butter, and sauces. Having all the food prepared ahead has also allowed me to determine how many calories I was consuming. Having prepped food makes it much easier to measure out, and plan your meals ahead of time. Affording yourself this convenience allows you to be much more exact when counting calories. Being much more precise with my intake, and improving my food quality has helped me tremendously in losing over twenty five pounds over the course last 7 months.
As described above, there are many benefits of meal prepping. The only slight downside is that you have to carve out some time (usually a Saturday or Sunday) to prepare the weeks worth of food. If you can carve out 2-3 hours on a weekend, this would be more than enough time to prepare most, if not all of, the food you’ll need for the upcoming week. Britney and I keep it very simple when it comes to our prep, due to the boundaries laid out by the vertical diet. We usually cook up about 6 pounds of chicken thighs, and 8 pounds of red meat (whatever we can get the best deals on). This takes care of our fat/protein sources for the week. In addition to that I will cook up some sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. I like to cube, season, and roast both varieties of potatoes, but anyway you want to prepare them is fine, as long as you can prepare it in bulk. If you really want to be stingy on time, you can even microwave your sweet potatoes, and they’re still very good! I will also will cook up some rice, but I sometimes just make it during the week since it tends to be the easiest to cook, so long as you have a rice cooker. That takes care of all of my carbohydrate sources. In addition to the meat and carbs, Britney and I usually cook up some veggies in bulk as well. Usually some bell peppers, mushrooms, and a little broccoli are the staples in our prep. Preparing all of this takes a couple hours, but once we are done we have food for the week. Investing a little bit of time before hand helps us tremendously with not only saving time in the long run, but also making the right choice when it comes to food quality.
Whenever I talk to people about easting healthier, the biggest roadblock they usually have is time/availability. This is where meal prepping is an absolute game changer. Preparing good, healthy foods in bulk ahead of time makes it easy to make the right choice. I am not saying you need to give up your favorite meals, or can’t go out and enjoy a nice dinner. Those instances just need to be an every now and then kind of occurrence. When it comes to dieting, your results are not dictated by of a couple good choices, or a couple bad ones, but rather the summation of your choices over a long period of time. For myself, I like to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I stick to my diet as strict as I can, and 20% of the time I eat whatever I want. Meal wise I tend to be fairly diligent Monday-Friday afternoon. Friday night, Saturday night, and sometimes Sunday morning are when I let the reigns loose and have whatever I want. I think applying this approach keeps me on a healthy track, but still allows me to enjoy food from time to time, and keeps me sane!
If you really want to make better choices when it comes to your diet, you need to set yourself up for success. I truly believe that meal prepping is the way to give yourself the best chance at a successful diet. If you want to learn more about meal prepping, or want to read about some ways to get started, check out this resource, for a good base outline. If you want an in person explanation, or want to just want to tell me that microwaved food sucks, come talk to me at the gym anytime!