If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. Seems a bit extreme, but there’s definitely a valuable truth in this cliché expression, especially when it comes to a specific fitness goal.
Whether you want to gain muscle mass or lose body fat, you need to know exactly how you’ll make it happen. Naturally, you’ll need an appropriate workout with the sets, repetitions, and intensity levels that will help you reach your goal. But you’ll also need a meal plan – One that has the right amount of calories, macronutrients, and foods to pack on muscle or burn away that stubborn body fat. Let’s take a look at some tips on how to meal plan. I’ll also cover the right way to use meal replacement shakes to complement your diet.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Is meal planning and prepping really that necessary? Absolutely.
You’re in Control: There are numerous benefits of meal planning, not the least of which is that you are in complete control of your day. You don’t have to be a tyrant with your diet. You get to select the meals that are as nutritious as they are delicious.
Your Wallet Will Thank You: Meal prepping is substantially cheaper than going out every day to buy “healthy” fast food.
You Control the Portions: When you go to a restaurant, it really is a gamble as to how big or small the portions will be. Often, the portions far exceed what is considered normal for a healthy meal. When you meal prep, you get to control the portions, ensuring you’re not eating too much (or too little).
Tips on How to Meal Prep
Despite popular belief, meal planning and prepping doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some helpful tips on how to meal prep for the week:
Get the Deets
Every great meal plan starts on paper. First, establish what your goal is: fat loss, muscle growth, performance enhancement, etc. Next, calculate the number of calories and macronutrients you need to eat to attain your goal. Easiest way to do that is with an online calorie calculator.
Focus on Practicality
This one is important: Do yourself a favor and make your meal plan practical. What do I mean by that? Don’t try to be Gordan Ramsy every night of the week. Focus on a few simple recipes that can easily be scaled to do bulk meal batches.
Don’t Eat the Same Thing for Every Meal
There are two critical mistakes people make when meal planning: They either make the meals too complicated (see above) or they cook ONE thing for every day and night of the week. You don’t have to get crazy but add some variety to your meals. It’ll increase your chances of sticking with the meal plan.
Know What Days You’ll Cook
You should plan your meals, but you should also plan the days you’re going to cook those meals. Nothing beats the batch method (outside of having a personal chef). This is when you select one or two days per week to cook a few recipes that will last until the next cooking day. Personally, I cook my batch meals on Sunday and Thursday. I cook enough lunches and dinners to get me through until the next cooking day. And since there are two cooking days per week, the meals I prep stay fresh.
Limit Your Options
To bring all the ideas above together, I’d recommend selecting two or three recipes for your cooking days. What’s more, if you’re not handy in the kitchen, start with easier yet healthy recipes. Here’s an example from my own meal planner:
- COOKING DAY: SUNDAY
- Lunch: Grilled marinated chicken breasts with brown rice and broccoli
- Dinner: Grass-fed steak with sweet potato and salad
Don’t Forget Your Snacks
You must plan out your big meals but I would recommend planning out what snacks you’ll eat throughout the day as well. And when I say “snacks,” I don’t mean candy, chips, or junk. Plan to eat healthy snacks such as Greek yogurt and granola or apples with sunflower butter.
Are Meal Replacement Shakes a Good Idea?
Speaking of snacks, can you use meal replacement supplements like a protein shake or protein bar in the place of a snack? Yes, I would recommend meal replacement shakes BUT only when they are used as a complement to your diet – NOT the focus of it. In other words, you should never use a meal replacement shake in place of one of your big meals. This is a big misconception especially with people who want to lose weight. These supplements are designed to be used to replace smaller snacks throughout the day.
What Are the Best Meal Replacement Supplements?
Regardless if you’re trying to bulk up or slim down, there’s only one type of meal replacement supplement I’d recommend: protein shakes. Why not protein bars? These bars can be handy in a pinch, but most are glorified candy bars. And even if your goal is more calories, for the amount you pay for a single bar, you’re better off getting actual food like a grilled chicken breast sandwich from a fast-food place.
But meal replacement shakes are a different story. You’re getting more of the nutrition that supports your goal, and it’s not a one-and-done thing. You’ll get anywhere from a month supply to a several month supply, depending on how large of a container.
If your goal is to burn more body fat and lean out, I’d recommend CB18 – Complete Body. This is a meal replacement shake that is lower in calories, high in protein, and packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Now, if you want to pack on lean muscle, you’ll want to try SP50 – Superior Protein. This is a protein-driven supplement that contains 28 grams of a five-protein blend! It also contains digestive enzymes and electrolytes to ensure every gram of protein gets used.
Learning How to Meal Prep? We Can Make It Easier
Hey, we get it: There are going to be some meals that you just won’t have time to make during a hectic week. Instead of running to a fast-food restaurant, why not try CB18 – Complete Body or SP50 – Superior Protein? Both of these are nutritious options that will satisfy your hunger and keep you on track to reach your fitness goal.