Strategic Meal Planning Tips to Support Your Fitness Routine
There’s a reason why they say that “abs are made in the kitchen.” It doesn’t matter how much you are working out… if you are consuming high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, then you aren’t going to reach your fitness goals. When you are ready to ramp up your weight loss efforts, then meal planning can be a necessary strategy.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the idea of preparing healthy meals for yourself? It’s a challenge, especially if you are trying to make the meals one at a time. No one has enough time in the day to prepare a healthy meal on-the-spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A better solution is to batch your preparations with a meal planning strategy.
The goal with meal planning is to not only streamline your diet, but also make your life easier at the same time. When you have meals pre-prepared, then it’s much easier to grab something out of the fridge instead of going through a local drive-through because you are starving.
The good news is that meal planning doesn’t have to be a chore or a burden. Here are a few easy tips that will keep you on track so you can achieve your health and fitness goals this year:
Write Down Your Meal Planning Ideas
The people who are most successful with meal planning tend to eat similar types of food each day. Pick your favorite healthy recipes and write down a list. Break out your list by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas. It’s helpful to have all of the recipes in one central location.
Then, when you are getting ready to meal prep for the week, pick the recipes you would like to use this time. You might rotate through different menus every week. Or, prepare a bunch of meals at once and freeze some of the leftovers for the future.
Figure out a system that is going to work for your unique needs. Then make sure to write it down and get organized so you have minimal decisions to make when it’s time to start cooking.
Stick to the Shopping List
Have your shopping list in hand when you head to the grocery store. Then, only buy the things on your list! Your dietary goals will quickly be sidetracked if you slip a few extra treats into your cart. Shopping without a list increases the likelihood of impulse buys, which makes it harder for you to stay on track with your goals.
Two strategies to ensure success with your grocery shopping trip:
- Never go to the grocery store hungry. If it is close to mealtime, then take a moment to eat a snack before going to the grocery store. Hunger cues make it hard to say no to the temptations you will find in the grocery store aisles.
- Consider ordering groceries online. Some people find it challenging to avoid impulse buys. One strategy is to reduce your exposure to the endcaps and treat aisles at the grocery store. Online orders are simple and easy, and you can save the time and hassle of walking through the store. Plus, online orders can be repeated or adjusted slightly if you are planning to use the same recipes each week.
Remember that the goal of meal planning is to make your life easier. If you feel like it’s too much to try to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week, then start by planning your lunches for work. Take baby steps as you are implementing new routines. Slowly build on your plan by adding in more snacks and meals as you are getting comfortable with this new way of living.
Over time, you will start to figure out what works for your schedule and personality. Also, keep in mind that even the smallest habits can make a big difference in your overall results. A simple swap, such as packing carrot sticks instead of chips in your lunch, can reduce your calories and increase nutrition at the same time.
Prepare a Balanced Variety
One of the benefits of meal planning is that you can make better decisions about getting the right types of foods into your diet. Ensure you are satisfied after each meal by planning a sufficient amount of protein. Also, fruits and vegetables provide the “bulk” fiber you need to feel full.
Avoid crash diets and stick with a well-balanced meal plan instead. Strive to include protein, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and a little bit of healthy fats. Make sure you are staying away from the diet disruptors: added sugars, refined grains, and unhealthy fats.
Mark Your Calendar
Life gets busy. If you are waiting for free time to work on your meal planning, then it’s never going to happen. Remind yourself that meal planning is a priority. Then, be proactive about marking your calendar to make sure you follow through.
The most common routine is to schedule time for meal planning on Sunday. Spend 2 or 3 hours in the kitchen every Sunday afternoon to prepare your fridge so you are ready to go for the new week. Or, you might choose to meal prep on another day of the week if you have more free time during the weekdays.
Use Quality Food Storage Containers
When you use these containers daily, you want to ensure they are sturdy and reliable. Invest in good meal prep tools right now, and you can continue using these containers for a long time. Meal prep is more enjoyable when you have high-quality containers for your food.
Glass is often the best choice because it is durable and can be put in the microwave and dishwasher.
Combination for Success: Meal Planning and Fitness
As you are implementing your meal planning strategy, also consider how you are going to fit workouts into your routine. Our team is here to help with your workout goals. We invite you to join Fitness Nation if you are looking for a community of like-minded people. We offer a safe, fun fitness environment and top-notch equipment to support your weight loss goals.