To Prep or Not to Prep, that is the Question!

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer break!  With kids being back to school. It is especially important to meal plan and prep to ensure that they get the required nutrients that their bodies and brains need to function properly at school and play.  While meal planning may seem daunting and too rigid, it actually frees up energy through the busy week to concentrate on daily tasks and also ensures that you can use the food that you purchase in the most effective and cost-efficient manner.  I hope everyone had a wonderful summer break!  With kids being back to school. It is especially important to meal plan and prep to ensure that they get the required nutrients that their bodies and brains need to function properly at school and play.  While meal planning may seem daunting and too rigid, it actually frees up energy through the busy week to concentrate on daily tasks and also ensures that you can use the food that you purchase in the most effective and cost-efficient manner.

Sundays are meal prepping day for me.  As I train for my upcoming figure fitness competition, it is imperative that I have the food that my hard working body and muscles need.

Part of Sunday each week for me is cooking my food for the upcoming week.  I cook up my meat and freeze it in appropriate serving size packages that are labelled so I just need to grab out the correct serving for the meals the following day to unthaw.  I also steam up green veggies that will last me for a few days as well as cook my quinoa, oatmeal, and lentils for a few days as well.  The items that are stored in the fridge are only ever prepared about three days in advance as they begin to grow bacteria, even in the fridge, if stored for longer than that.  I then just warm the meal up in my toaster oven as I do not own nor promote the use of a microwave.  There are lots of great sites that give seven day meal plans on the Internet.  Google some, have fun with it, and get creative!  Meal plans can be created for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

When planning meals, it is important to ensure protein with each meal and snack throughout the day.

Protein is the building block of our muscles and also helps to keep you satisfied until your next meal.  It is important to include vegetables from the rainbow of colours each day so your body gets the widest range of nutrients possible.  Some fruit is ok and is great for desserts, especially, instead of having sugar-laden items.  That being said, it is also important to have treats once in a while.  Once in a while means at most once a week.  Remember, we want to create a healthy living lifestyle that is sustainable for life!  Healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocadoes, and nuts and seeds such as chia, hemp, and flax are essential for proper cell formation as well as proper brain function.  Fat does not encourage fat storage, sugar does!  For complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, etc., it is best to consume these earlier in the day as well as to eat them about two hours prior to activity.

One of the things that I am learning through my competition training as well as my studies to become a personal trainer is that it is important to eat for the activity that you will be doing in the upcoming two hours.  We have been taught that it is important to eat for the activity that we just did, but this isn’t the best strategy.  With respect to complex carbohydrates, it is important to eat them earlier in the day, as previously mentioned, because they can then be utilized as energy for your upcoming activities instead of stored as fat.  If you will be doing intense exercise in the evening after dinner, go ahead and have your complex carbohydrates with your dinner.  If you will be doing endurance and/or intense activities early in the morning, you can also consume your complex carbohydrates with your supper to help fuel that activity.  That being said, if you are looking to reduce fat stores, it is best to consume your complex carbohydrates early in the day and then do fasted cardio early in the morning before you eat your first meal of the day.

Another important concept that I am learning is to eat often.  When we consume 5-6 meals per day, our body relaxes, knowing that it will continue to be fed the nutrients that it needs, and therefore, feels safe to release fat.  Ideally, every 2-3 hours is best.  Consume the amount of calories that your body will require for the upcoming activity in that next 2-3 hours.   This applies to folks attempting to build more lean body mass (muscle) and those attempting to release fat.

I eat 6 meals per day.  Eating 3 meals with 2-3 snacks is also an effective way to eat.  With respect to snacking, as I already mentioned, be sure that your snack contains protein.  Some great snack ideas include an apple with nuts or seeds (or butter versions of these) if your child’s school or your workplace do not allow nut products.  I like to cut up and apple and dip it in almond butter.  It’s yummy and satisfying.  Other examples of great snacks include hard boiled eggs, celery and nut or seed butter with raisins (otherwise known as ants on a log), carrots and hummus, homemade puddings made with chia seeds, etc.  Try making homemade hummus that uses a variety of type of beans, for example, black bean hummus is yummy and nutritious.  Have you had protein balls?  They make great snacks!

Google some recipes for inspiration.  Here are a few that I found!  The following ones are some protein ball examples:

http://www.superhealthykids.com/chocolate-orange-energy-bites/

http://www.superhealthykids.com/no-bake-mixed-berry-snack-bites/

These make great snacks and are tasty too!

One site that I came across with some great snacking options to test out is:

https://draxe.com/high-protein-snacks/.

Here are some fruit and veggie chips that would make amazing snacks, especially when paired with some protein.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/robertbroadfoot/these-fruit-and-veggie-chips-will-satisfy-your-chip-cravings?utm_term=.grQJkRrAx#.hyl3dgKm1

Here is a great snack that feels like a treat!

http://thebigmansworld.com/2017/06/08/healthy-no-bake-peanut-butter-cup-breakfast-bars-vegan-gluten-free/

Here’s a great zucchini recipe that would make an awesome accompaniment to some nice sockeye salmon or other meat dish.

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250306/zu-canoes/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=etg_518254207

I also love these packets that you can grill up.  Be sure to get wild-caught salmon!

http://lifemadesweeter.com/2017/08/mediterranean-salmon-foil-packets/

These would make great a great meatless Monday meal!

https://www.simplyquinoa.com/tex-mex-quinoa-burgers/

Here are a bunch of freezer slow cooker meals that you can prepare and then just cook!  http://www.superhealthykids.com/10-quick-healthy-freezer-slow-cooker-meals-no-prep-cooking-needed/

A recent breakfast discovery that I made was overnight oats.  These tasty breakfast meals are highly nutritious and taste great too!  The sky is the limit with possible variations!  Here are a few recipes to spark your interest and get your creative juices flowing!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaboyajian/these-overnight-oats-are-make-the-perfect-grab-and-go?utm_term=.vm1e3VpoJ#.qqD0PBJ41

If you enjoyed this information and would like more or you would like to take on your health and walk that journey with me, please contact me at tracy@pathsforhealing.com or 613-540-4515!