Overwhelming? Time consuming? Stressful? A chore?
These are some of the things that come to mind when people think of food prep, but in actual fact it can be really easy to do and an awesome tool to stay on track and help you reach your goals.
How can food prep benefit me?
Getting the right nutrition is fundamental when training to keep your health optimal. With optimal health comes optimal performance and with optimal performance comes awesome results! Food prep can help hugely when training and on an eating plan – it ensures that you eat the right food at the right times and can stop you reaching in the fridge aimlessly to get a quick fix. If you don’t have your food prepared and organised, it’s easy to make the wrong choices and end up sabotaging your goals. This can lead to feelings of guilt and any gains that you’ve made in the gym can seem like a waste of time. After all, what’s the point of smashing your goals in at the gym to then go home to an empty fridge and fail to refuel yourself properly? By making sure that you have the right kind of foods readily available, you can avoid this vicious circle, and are more likely to stay on track.
Where do I start?
If you’re new to prepping food and keeping track of your macros, it can be overwhelming trying to create and stick to loads of new habits. I find the best way to tackle this is by setting small, realistic and achievable goals, for example, choosing and eating 1-2 healthy breakfast options for 1 week. Once you’ve achieved this first realistic target, you can then look at setting yourself another small goal to work towards and complete, for example, preparing lunch for the next day. Taking this approach means that you’re more likely to adhere to what you’re doing and as a result, achieve success. It’s all too easy to take on too much at once, lose focus and give up. I always work with my clients on breaking down their goals into stages, making it a lot easier to achieve.
Nobody wants to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen, so the main aim of food prep is to make your life as easy as possible by taking away the stress and saving some time. The thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to do it, only what works best for you and your circumstances. For example, a couple who work 9-5 with two children are going to have completely different needs to somebody who works late nights in a restaurant or bar.
Food prep ideas I believe that when most people think of food prep, they imagine lunchboxes full of the same boring meal, ready for the week. But it doesn’t need to be like this and I think for the majority of us, it is not a realistic expectation. Food prep can be as easy as making sure that you have some celery and carrot sticks pre-cut in the fridge – they seem way more appetising when they’re chopped and ready to go with a dip rather than sitting in a plastic veg bag. A good tip of having a jar of mixed nuts in the cupboard or in a small tub for on the go can offer the perfect snack for that afternoon dip as they help balance blood sugar levels and stop sweet cravings. (Remember just a small handful should do the trick as nuts can be highly calorific.) Make your lunch for the next day whilst you’re cooking dinner. You’re already going to have the chopping board out and it will be one less thing to think about in the morning. This is a highly useful tip for most people but especially for those of you that have children. Parents constantly prioritise their children’s needs and often forget about themselves. By making sure that you have lunch prepared the night before, it stops you from going without if you’re in a rush to leave the house in the morning and don’t have time to prepare anything. Alternatively, it can stop you nipping to the shop at lunchtime to buy an expensive and unsatisfying sandwich… and a packet of crisps… These examples of food prep encourage you to make better choices and stay on track with your training and nutrition. Even just incorporating one into your daily routine to start can make a big difference.
Having been a professional chef for over 10 years, I’m lucky to have spent lots of time in various kitchens and gained plenty of skills which have a great carryover into my fitness and nutrition. But as I’ve just pointed out, you don’t need to be Gordon Ramsay to be successful with your food prep. I firmly believe that by putting in a little extra energy here and there, you can ultimately save a lot of time in the long run and set yourself up for success.
Food prep and you Food prep doesn’t have to be a chore or a stress – getting in the kitchen with some music on can be highly therapeutic and offer an opportunity to zone out from the days stresses. Think outside of the box! Food prep doesn’t even have to mean cooking anything. I have one client who really struggles to eat breakfast in the morning. Together, we have set a small, simple goal of preparing oats in a bowl the night before. They found that if their breakfast was there and ready to go that they were less likely to skip it all together. You can try this too if you struggle to fit in breakfast – starting small and building up can really work, so have a go and see what’s best for you.
If food prep is something you find difficult or maybe you’re just looking for other ways to improve what you’re already doing now, then give me shout. I’d love to hear from you guys and know what tips and tricks you like to use. So let me know if you have any questions on the matter and I’ll give any advice and help that I can.
I’ll try to end this post with something cool sounding and thought provoking that makes me look really smart, so here you go…. “Fail to prepare or prepare to fail?” That is the question…
Adam Shaw… “Shaw results… It’s a Sure thing
Post by: Adam Shaw – Personal Trainer at Mike Ward Personal Training