While exercise is definitely important to fitness, you won’t really go far without getting your nutrition right too.
But the problem is that eating healthy is not that easy to do—or is it?
Today, we’ll share with you a sure-fire way to make the whole thing so much easier. It’s called meal planning, and here are five reasons why it works so well:
Reason #1: It Allows You to Manage Your Caloric Intake Better
Here’s the thing: if you want to manage your weight, you need to manage your caloric intake.
Want to lose fast? Eat fewer calories than you burn. Want to gain weight in the form of muscle? Eat more (and do resistance training). Want to maintain your current physique? Eat as many calories as you burn.
Sounds simple enough, right? But the problem is that we all tend to underestimate the amount of food we eat—some of us by as much as 50%—and that can easily sabotage our progress.
This is where planning your meals comes in. By knowing exactly what you’ll be eating for the whole week, you effectively eliminate the risk of you unintentionally going over or under your target caloric intake.
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Reason #2: It Gives You Control Over the Quality of Each Meal
Not all calories are created equal. A 250-calorie meal that consists of lean meat, vegetables, and healthy oils will always be a better choice than a 250-calorie bag of chips or fast food burger. That’s because unlike healthy food, junk food is designed to keep you coming back for more.
The problem is that even if we tell ourselves that we’ll start making healthier food choices, there are so many things that could happen throughout each week that could keep that from happening, such as birthdays, crazy workloads, and super stressful situations.
By planning your meals out in advance, you significantly increase your odds of sticking with your diet no matter how many curve balls life throws at you along the way. It works so well because it eliminates the need for you to rely on something volatile like your mood, will power, or schedule when making food-related decisions.
Reason #3: It Allows You to Schedule Your Cheat Meals
The good news is you don’t really have to eat healthy 100% of the time to stay fit and healthy (unless you want to). In fact, studies show that cheat meals can even help you stick with your diet if you know how to properly work them in.
It has something to do with how the human mind works. The more we deprive ourselves, the more will power we use up. And when we finally run out, we snap and end up doing way more of the thing that we were trying so hard not to do in the first place—which in this case is eating junk food.
The solution? Plan out your meals in advance and work in a couple of cheat meals here and there so you never feel deprived.
Don’t worry. It won’t sabotage your progress. As long as you eat healthy at least 80% of the time, you should be perfectly fine.
Reason #4: It Allows You to Account for Special Occasions
There’s always something to celebrate. It doesn’t matter if it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or some other kind of special occasion, the point is there’s always a reason for you to eat junk food or simply overeat.
The good news is that you almost always also know about these events in advance too so you have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments.
For instance, instead of spreading your cheat meals out on the week of the special occasion, just save them for the day of the event itself. Or instead of eating the usual amount of food, cut back a little per meal on the days leading up to the event, specifically your Carbohydrates and Fats so you can stay within your target caloric intake that week even if you end up overeating during the celebration.
That’s the kind of flexibility and adaptability meal planning provides.
Reason #5: It Helps Keep You Accountable
When you plan your meals in advance, you’re essentially setting eating goals for yourself. And when you have clear goals, it becomes easier for you to stay focused and driven.
You know exactly what you should eat and when, so you can easily tell how well you’re doing in terms of your diet and make adjustments as you see fit.
Keep in mind that it’s the little things that you do each day that determine the kind of long-term progress you’ll make (or not make), and meal planning allows you to make healthier food decisions consistently much more easily.
But How Exactly Do You Plan Your Meals?
Now that you know how important meal planning is to realising your fitness goals, let’s talk about how you can do it.
The whole thing can be broken done in three simple steps:
Step 1: Identify Your Goals and Requirements
What do you want to achieve? Are you looking to lose fat? Build muscle? Maintain your physique? Prepare for a competition? Whatever your goals are, you need to design an eating plan that would help you achieve them.
Needless to say, unless you’re an expert when it comes to nutrition, your best bet is to enlist the help of a professional nutritionist or fitness coach in designing your eating plan.
Aside from your fitness goals, though, you also need to take note of and work around your specific dietary requirements and restrictions. Do you have food allergies or intolerances? How about nutrient deficiencies? Talk to your doctor about how you can design an eating plan that would address, or at the very least not aggravate, your conditions.
Step 2: Make Your List
Once you’ve identified your goals and requirements, it’s time to start making your list. Jot down all the foods you need to eat and when you should eat them. Be sure to include a couple of cheat meals here and there if you know you’re the type of person who can’t live without junk food, but besure to include no more then two. Know yourself and start smart!
Step 3: Prepare Your Meals
The third and final step is to prepare your meals ahead of time. Set aside a day or two per week to cook and pack everything so you have instant access to healthy meals throughout the week regardless of how busy your days become.
Supercharge Your Progress by Planning Your Meals!
And that’s it! Give meal planning a shot today and see for yourself just how easy it is to start eating healthier.
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