Top 5 Reasons Why You Need to Prepare Your Meals Ahead of Time
It may seem silly to pack your lunch for work or school, but it is something that needs to be taken seriously by anyone who takes working out seriously. There are countless reasons why prepping your meals is highly recommended, but I will touch on my top five reasons why you need to prepare your meals ahead of time.
I have had my meal prep system in place for a while and it works exceptionally well because everyone knows what I need to do and when I need to do it. It is so important to have an understanding support group behind you on this one. My method is to basically cook my meals, sans breakfast (sort of), for the entire upcoming week. I normally do this on Sundays, but I may cheat and start cooking some vegetables on Saturday as well.
Like I said, there are so many reasons, but I am looking at my top five only for the sake of this post.
Control Your Macros
In order to take your bodybuilding regimen seriously, your diet needs to be spot on (the majority of the time at least). We all know, or at least you should know, how many grams of protein, carbs and fats we are taking in every day. The numbers will vary depending on loading days or your scheduled routine for that particular day, but we should already know our meal schedules for the upcoming week.
Sounds a little anal to most I am sure, but I know what every one of my meals will consist of during the entire week because the meals have already been prepared and portioned ahead of time. The ideal method is to use a food container with three sections to separate your foods, or just mix them all up. The important part is that you have the macros for that meal properly labeled. If I am scheduled for a meal of 40/40/20 (protein %/carbs %/fats %), I grab it and go. This is not just a work solution. This also takes care of dinner and even weekend parties where I bring my own food.
My meals typically range about 500 calories with 200 calories each of protein and carbs (40 grams each) and 100 calories of fat (11 grams). How do I know this to the tee? I measure my meals before placing them in their food container. Knowing what I need to eat for each meal makes getting your daily macros as easy as pie.
Control Your Caloric Intake
Along the same lines of controlling your macros is controlling your calories. This is less important for us because we are burning more calories by simply adding lean muscle to our bodies. Knowing the amount of calories in each meal does help us to ensure that we are staggering the totals of our daily caloric intake. You want to keep your body guessing, so that it does not becomes accustomed to the same thing every day.
Control Your Meal Times
If you know when you are eating and what you are eating at those times, then you will know when you will get hungry as well. The beauty of proper eating is that you will never experience hunger. Once you know how much your body needs to achieve the goals that you have set, you will eat before your body gets hungry.
The purpose of control meal times though is to split your macros evenly throughout the day to ensure that you are not eating all of your protein (or carbs or fats) in one sitting. You want even macro spreads throughout the day. I will the first one to say that I do not wake up in the middle of the night to eat though. Some people do, but I basically spread my macros out throughout the hours when I am awake.
If you know what you are going to eat, you will control cravings and not cheat. Of course, this assumes that you have your will power under control, but that is actually fairly easy to control. If you want something bad enough, you will do anything possible to get it. Cheat meals are good for some people. Some look forward to them. I really do not have cheat meals in the regular sense. To me, eating too much fruit is cheating. Some think that is crazy, but it feels like cheating to me. I have no desire to eat a bowl of french fries or foods similar to that. I have been down that road and it is not for me. My body is drained when I do things like that, so I simply do not.
Control Your Time
We are all busy. My calendar is stretched thin every single day. I am on the go from the minute I wake up. I get home around dinner time, but that is when I lift, then I eat dinner. By that time, it is around 7:00 PM or so. That is family time until the kids go to sleep. After that point, I have plenty to do to keep myself busy until it is time to lay down for the night. If I was to have to cook dinner every night, I would live off of lunch meat in order to try and stay with lean meats. If I did that, my sodium intake would be through the roof. By prepping meals, my dinner is ready to go when I am.
Like I mentioned, these are only five of the reasons why meal prepping is so important to bodybuilding, but there are so many more. The thing to remember is that what you put into your body is more important than what you lift with your body.