Meal preparation, also commonly called meal prep, is an important aspect of taking your progress to the next level! But how do you know how much to prep? It all depends where you are starting from. If you are just getting started and making smarter choices, then don’t worry so much about the specific numbers, and counting the macronutrients, micronutrients, proteins, and fats. It is good to have a basic understanding of portion sizes, but the change in the quality of food alone will help put you on the path to health and wellness. However, if you are at the other end of the spectrum, someone who frequently works out and is looking to accomplish a more specific goal, it will require more specific meal prep and calculations.
Step 1: Calculate your daily estimated energy requirement (EER). This is defined as the average dietary energy needed to maintain energy balance in healthy adults. This is estimated using a formula that takes your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level to produce a caloric value that sustains your current being.
Step 2: Establish your specific goal. Are you trying to gain, lose, or maintain your weight? What is your targeted goal and the time frame? This will help guide your energy needs and prepping for your caloric deficit or surplus. Deficit is needed to lose weight and surplus is required to gain weight.
Step 3: Establish the food distribution. How much protein, carbohydrate, and fats is needed to achieve your goals? This step has the largest variation based on the individual. Proteins, carbs and fats are all essential for our bodies to run at its optimal level. The body will break down these nutrients into ATP for energy, but also requires them for other crucial functions. These nutrients cannot be produced by the body itself, so proper amounts need to be consumed.
Fact! These are the calories per gram per nutrient.
Protein = 4 kcals/g
Carbohydrate = 4 kcals/g
Fat = 9 kcals/g
Based on your EER and goal, find a ratio that will supply you with the fuel needed to meet your fitness objectives. Consulting a nutritionist or registered dietitian is recommended to help determine your individual plan safely and effectively.
Step 4: Make time to meal prep. Set aside specific days in the week when meal prepping can be done without interruption or excuses. Many people choose Sunday to do all of the food shopping and meal prepping for the week ahead. Making large batches of different proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and freezing portions for future consumption can help with time management. Choosing to order meals from a meal prepping company is another method to achieving goals with less of the hassle of planning and cooking.
Step 5:Have the proper equipment. Having proper tools to make meal prepping achievable is key. Components such as a cooler, food containers, and utensils are necessary to making meals accessible for a busy lifestyle. Prepping and having meals on-the-go will deter you from making poor choices while being away from home.
Disclaimer: Consult with your physician prior to making any changes to your diet to avoid any complications in health.
The content of this blog is intended for general advise and has not been approved by the FDA or any other organization.Contact your local nutritionist or registered dietitian for greater detail. Follow at your own risk.