Setting up for nutrition success: daily food prep
Achieving success towards fitness goals is definitely a challenge. Typically, it isn’t the 60 minutes of training that is the most challenging part. If your goal is weight loss (or weight gain for that matter), the challenge is in the kitchen, not usually in the club!
Don’t let the challenge stop you from getting closer to your goal. Here is my personal success strategy that allowed me to drop over 60 pounds and stay closer to where I want to be from a body composition standpoint.
Fitness goals that have a nutritional component can be overwhelming to most everybody. There is so much conflicting information out there about how to eat, when to eat and what to eat. More often than not though, the people I coach know what to do from a nutrition standpoint, but can’t seem to get it done. The missing part of the equation is having a set of habits that set the framework for success.
Succeeding in better eating comes down to having a plan. I’ve learned from personal and professional experience that there are basically two categories that food preparation strategies fall into.
- The “weekend” food prep. Patrick Lawler, one of our top trainers at the Midlothian ACAC uses this strategy very successfully. It involves doing as much preparation as possible in large blocks of time on a weekend day (and possibly a shorter, second day in the week). All foods are purchased, prepped for cooking and or cooked on a weekend day so he minimizes the work required during the week. This strategy is great if you’ve got busy weeks and more open weekends.
- The “daily” food prep. My preferred strategy involves getting the right stuff in the pantry and fridge (and keeping them stocked) and then getting my meal prep done on a day to day basis. Either in the morning of or the night before, several meals for the day are put together. My weekends are typically jam packed, so I need a strategy that allows me more frequent, but less time consuming work in the kitchen.
I am very much an early riser, so I love the hour or so that I have upon rising and before anyone else is awake. On the other hand, I am reduced to a puddle of goo by 8:30 pm, so I do my food prep in the morning. If you are more of an owl, this strategy also works great if you can prep the night before.
Here’s the basics of how I get my meals built:
I start with the right ingredients. We eat as close to “home” as possible, as practicality allows. In this case, it’s locally grown kale from Crumptown Farm, mustard greens from Forrest Green Farm. Plus, the always available organically grown carrots (probably from central California).
After peeling and slicing the carrots, then loosely chopping the kale, I add them to the steamer in order of cooking time. Carrots take about 6 minutes the way I prep them. Steaming my veggies is by far the fastest and easiest way for me to cook a large volume for multiple meals.
followed by kale
The kale goes for about 4 minutes, and the mustard greens about 2.
While that is going, I get my eggs scrambled:
4 eggs might seem extreme, but my doc has no problem with it. My blood lipid profile is great, and I need the calories and nutrients in the yolks. Plus, they’re the great joy of my commute to work!
With all that cooking wrapped up, its time to “pack” it. I prefer glass containers with snapping plastic lids as pictured below:
I love cooking and eating beautiful food, so I typically do a nice family dinner as often as possible. As result, we often have some protein left over from the meal to include in my next day’s lunch. If not, I can always throw a can of salmon or sardines right into the veggies in the container on the right.
The key to my success in weight loss and in keeping it off lies in my habits around eating. The daily food prep strategy is my preferred habit for assuring that I can stay on track in my effort to get my protein and veggies in!