Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscles, you probably know by now that what you eat can make or break your workout goals.
If you don’t want to follow strict diet plans like Atkins, Keto, Paleo, or other low-carb diets, these 10 healthy meal plan tips should be enough to do wonders to your workout results:
1. Plan ahead.
Making a menu may seem like a lot of work, but it’s a worthy endeavor. Every time you cook a healthy meal you love, add this to your “forever menu,” which you can mix and match for future menus.
A menu helps you save:
time: It is easier to create a grocery list with a menu. There are even apps that convert menus into grocery lists automatically.)
money: With a menu, you can avoid buying ingredients impulsively.
And lastly, menus help you stay within your diet requirements.
2. Pick your Soup Properly.
If you have aching muscles from your workout, choose your soup to help you rehydrate or get back to 100%.
Black bean stew, lentil soup, or your grandma’s chicken veggie soup are all great protein-rich options that would help with muscle repair, shoo away the flu, and fill you up with a ton of vitamins.
Plus, soup is comfort food. You wouldn’t feel food-deprived eating soup if you’re on a diet to lose weight.
And the best thing about soup is you could make stock ahead and just cut some veggies and meat into the pot whenever you feel like it.
3. Learn how to use herbs and spices
Healthy meals shouldn’t equal bland meals.
When you’re planning a healthier menu, make sure you read up about spices (what veggies go with which spice, or what herb goes with what recipe, and so on).
When you’re ready to cook, experiment with which ones you like best and incorporate them more regularly into your meals.
The best thing about spices and herbs is that they are almost zero calories, so seasoning your food won’t be detrimental to your fitness goals.
4. Prep and Pre-portion food
Once you go home from the market or grocery, prep them for the week’s menu.
Slice, cut, store in the ref.
When you pre-portion food, this removes any possibility of over-eating.
These two techniques not only save you time cooking in the middle of the week but also encourage you to grab already-cut celery or carrot sticks for snacks.
5. Take advantage of your slow cookers and instapots
You won't be able to use being busy as an excuse for healthy meal preps ever again if you invest in an Instapot or any slow cooker. These gadgets give you a hands-off cooking experience without removing the much-needed
6. Carb alternatives work.
You don’t have to go overboard with carb restriction. I understand. Bread is love.
But suppose you can alternate some of the carbohydrates you’re used to eating with healthier alternatives. In that case, this decision can be life-changing, especially if you have serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
- Junk food = kale or aubergine chips
- Mashed potato = mashed cauliflower
- Burger buns = BIG portobello mushrooms
- Noodles = spiralized carrots and zucchini
- Pita Bread = lettuce wraps
- Rice = grated and stir-fried broccoli or cauliflower
7. Avoid too much oil.
Yes, there are healthy oils, but they could quickly add up if you don’t keep your oil consumption in check. Don’t make it complicated. Just buy an air fryer for cooking with no oil. It will dramatically cut your oil consumption to over 70% of what you used to cook with.
8. Add themes to your menu
I know everyone has different tastes and fitness goals, so find one that will work for you.
- Meatless Monday
- Leftover Tuesday
- Hearty Wednesday
- Pita Friday
- Sandwich Saturday
- and so on
Make sure the meals you do follow your diet restrictions.
Or if these meals are for your cheat day, then portion them properly to avoid overeating.
9. Fast, if you can.
This technique is perfect for people with little time to do food preps.
Intermittent fasting (or any kind of fasting) can help you achieve your workout goals faster. And because this essentially means you’d be skipping 1 or 2 meals at a time, you’d be able to focus on that 1 big healthy meal allowed for feasting.
10. Incorporate Tech into your meal planning
If you get overwhelmed with planning, don’t worry. You can incorporate a meal planning phone app, email-based subscription, and other similar tools, which have hundreds of recipes you can get inspiration from, save into your menu, and even turn into a grocery list.
Planning healthy meals is an open secret of workout enthusiasts around the world. If you follow most of the tips above, you’ll be able to reach your fitness goals more easily.