The Beginners How-To Fat Loss Guide: Meal Preparation for Weight Loss
Why You SHOULD Be Prepping Your Meals if You want to Lose Weight
There’s no two ways about it – planning my meals a week ahead has contributed hugely to my overall health and well being.
As every personal trainer, fitness coach and health website worth their salt would say – nutrition is a vital pillar for fat loss success.
By planning your meals ahead of time using the steps outlined below you’ll be able to;
– Save money: By planning ahead of time you’ll find yourself being ‘caught out’ less when hunger strikes. No more spending unnecessary money on the go buying unhealthy packaged sandwiches from your local groceries
– Have more energy: This one kind of follows on from the previous point. Provided you plan properly you’ll always be able to keep your body burning the right amount of ‘fuel’ at the right time.
– Save a HUGE amount of time: One thing that get’s increasingly annoying is coming home after a hard day’s work to face a huge amount of cooking every night. Planning ahead allows you to be more productive with your time
– Save yourself untold amount of stress: Again, leading on from the previous point. Coming home and preparing meals every night is enough to send the pope mad.
– Allows you to add variety to your meals: One thing that many people complain about when it comes to burning fat and losing weight is they don’t want to eat the same bland, boring meals every night. Planning ahead, with the right recipes eliminates this problem completely.
There are so many more benefits to planning your meals than just the ones I’ve mentioned above, but I think you get the point – if you want to see fat loss success with the least amount of stress and time devoted to doing it then you need to plan ahead. Efficient fat loss shall we say 😉
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss Beginners
There are 6 steps to this guide;
- Planning: This is where the majority of your efforts will be focused
- Buying Your Food: This is where you must stay disciplined – more on this below!
- Meal Prepping & Cooking: This is the fun part!
- Storing: Tips and Tricks for keeping your food easily accessible, organised and fresh
- Transporting: Most ‘health’ websites won’t talk about this
- Eating: Of course, the rewarding part of our ‘work’!
So let’s start at the beginning…….
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Step #1: Planning
This is where you’ll focus most of your efforts and depending on how well you plan will depend on how easy your plan will be to stick to throughout the week!
First things first – you’ll need a shopping list. I typically like to split my shopping list into sections depending on the meals I’m eating.
So I would have the following headings;
- Protein: Should be the cornerstone to all your meals
- Fat: Healthy fats are essential to optimal health
- Other Vegetables
If you’re looking for a list of foods complete with an super-effective program – check out the E-Factor Diet by John Rowley.
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Step #2: Buying
This is the hard part! Discipline is the key to this part of the process.
The trick to successfully completing this step without going down the wrong aisles and picking up your favourite cake is to plan properly.
However, with that said supermarkets and grocery stores are very clever with their marketing tactics and techniques and are purposely looking for you to;
- Spend more money
- Buy what THEY want you to buy
Your job is to know who, what, where, when and how your going to buy your food.
- WHO are you buying for?
Are you buying for just yourself or are you buying for your partner as well? Do you have kids? You may even have the whole family under one roof. You need to know WHO you’re buying for.
- WHAT are you buying?
You will have answered this in the previous step so you should be all set to go here.
- Where are you likely to spend most of your time shopping?
Down the meat and veg aisles is where most of your time should be spent. Most stores are set up to have chocolate and sugary stuff in their very own aisle so with that in mind it shouldn’t be too hard to stay away.
- When are you shopping?
Some people won’t see this as such a major problem as other might. But going shopping on an empty stomach can have dire consequences! I myself am guilty of heading straight to the savory section to eat a freshly made sausage roll while I shop – but this only happens IF I’m hungry.
- How will you shop?
Buying in bulk? Looking for dinners you can make and freeze for a later date? Make the decision based on what you need and the offers available.
Shopping is actually an art. With so many different marketing tactics employed by big chain companies designed to help you fail it’s hard – but you can do it….I promise!
Once you’ve bought the food it’s time to cook and prepare it.
If you’re from the UK then check out MuscleFood.com – you’ll not only save a huge amount of time but you’ll notice your stress levels suddenly go down too!
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Step #3: Meal Prep and Cooking
I typically try to do this once a week to save myself some time, but everyone’s circumstances are different – I understand that.
When I first started planning my meals ahead for the week I tried to go the whole week. It wasn’t long before the hinges to my plan started falling off!
After I worked out what was going wrong I decided to do two ‘cooking and prepping’ sessions a week – one on a Sunday, one on a Wednesday.
Now if you’re working until 11pm on Wednesday’s this is isn’t obviously going to work, but if this is you first time then I recommend you choose two days in which you ‘cook and prep’.
This gives you enough time to see how well your plan is going but also doesn’t give you too big a goal to try and reach. Planning for 7 days worth of meals isn’t an easy task by any means – especially if you have more than one to cook for.
Here is a one way in which you could work up to planning for a whole week ahead;
(Example: 2:2:2:1 = Plan for Monday & Tuesday / Plan for Wednesday & Thursday / Plan for Friday & Saturday / Sunday)
Week 1-4: 2:2:3
Week 4-8: 3:3:1
Week 8-12: 5:2
Week 12+: 6:1 / 7
Again, you’ll need to find what works best for you and your own circumstances. The example above I’ve just given might be way to far from what could actually work for you, but it’s an idea to get your brain rolling in the right the direction.
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Step #4: Storing
This part is more important than you think!
The most common way that people store their food is using plastic containers. These are then kept in the fridge.
Now, depending on how far ahead in the week you’ve planned will obviously determine how many plastic containers you will need.
This is far easier for those preparing meals just for themselves but maybe a little trickier if there’s more than one person to plan for.
Plastic containers such as these ones here will be perfect for what you need. There have been times when I’ve planned my meals and run out of containers and had to fit 2 meals into one container – not something I recommend however so try and have at least 3 container per day you’ve planned!
Another way of staying organised and keeping things super easy is by having each shelf in your fridge for each meal. So for example; top shelf will ‘house’ all early lunches, and middle shelf will house all later afternoon meals.
Of course, if you’re just planning your lunches for work then this isn’t necessary. The main take away from this step is to have enough containers and space in your fridge to store your food.
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Step #5: Transportation
This is something you won’t hear many people taking about. I think you can imagine how ‘nice’ tuna smells on a hot summer’s day after being left in your car for 4 hours…. Not only isn’t it very tasty but you’ll be feeling the effects later on that day in more way than one.
Yep! Been there!
What I recommend is one of two things;
- Use fridge if you have use of one
I didn’t have a use of a fridge and therefore stupidly left my lunch in the car. If you however DO have access to a fridge or something similar to keep your food cool then use it as soon as you have the chance too!
- Buy a cooler bag
This is what I’ve done now. Although it doesn’t keep my food as fresh as it would if it was kept in the fridge it does a pretty good job of keep the nice taste – and limits the amount of times I go to the toilet as well!
Another tip here is to invest in some ice packs. Stick them in the freezer overnight and put them in the cooler bag before you leave in the morning.
How-To Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Step #6: Eating
The best part of course.
Not too much to be said here apart from these little pointers;
- Try not to eat to quickly
- Take smaller mouthfuls
- Taste your food. Don’t gobble it down
- Try, where possible to take yourself away from whatever you’re doing whether it be work or anything else and concentrate on what you’re eating.
- If needed, eat your meal in smaller meals. There have been times when I’ve ate my meal in 3 smaller meals. Just because it’s all there in your container looking juicy and ready to eat doesn’t mean you can’t make it last longer! 😉
As a kid I used to shovel my food away so fast you’d think it was going out of fashion. I’ve had to almost retrain my eating now that I’m older.
In fact still to this day I’ll find myself eating too fast and will have to consciously tell myself to slow and down and enjoy it!
Your life has just been made so much easier
There you go – 6 steps that will save you time, save you money, decrease your stress levels and overall make your life a lot easier.
By planning, buying, preparing, storing, transporting and eating consciously and properly you’ll not only see a huge difference in your life but your waist size too.
It is because of this simple strategy that I am able to stay lean even with so much work to handle as well.
Any questions or help needed please feel free to leave a comment below!
Take care and good luck!