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Single ingredient foods

10 Food Preparation Tips For Muscle Gain and Fat Loss

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A lot is of people ask what I eat everyday, so I tell them. The most common follow up question is ‘how do you get time to make all that? The answer is not very long at all. The most time consuming part of consistently eating a diet that optimised for muscle building, fat loss and overall health is the prep time. Here’s what I eat every day and how long each meal takes to prepare;

Meal 1: Eggs + Kale – less than 5 minutes to scramble

Meal 2: Tuna + Spinach + Avocado – less than 5 minutes to open the Tuna and cut the Avocado

Meal 3: Chicken + Sweet Potato + Broccoli – difficult to say, Sweet Potato takes about 8 minutes total to microwave and cut, Broccoli is eaten raw, Chicken is cooked in advance

Meal 4: Protein shake/Protein Bar/Beef Jerky – 0 minutes

Meal 5: Varies – roughly 15 minutes to cook meat and vegetables from fresh, carbs usually microwaved for 2 minutes

Meal 6: Protein shake + oats – 2 minutes

Extras: Almonds/Peanut Butter/cold cuts/tinned mackerel – 0 minutes

 

So roughly half an hour each day of food, discounting the grilling of the chicken which is done in advance. This doesn’t sound like a lot to me, but it it does to you, then maybe you need to reevaluate your priorities and allocate the time you spend playing Candy Crush/watching Eastenders/scratching your nuts to something that’s going to help you achieve your goal.

So here are ten tips for getting your food prep done as quickly and efficiently as possible

1. Eat the same thing over and over

Sounds boring right? Maybe. But what do most people eat everyday? Cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch; sound familiar? A bodybuilding/fat loss diet is not that different variety-wise than the average person’s. With that in mind, you might as well eat stuff that’s going to make you look, feel and perform better.

Eating the same thing over and over also means you don’t even need to think about what to prepare, you just do it on auto pilot. You don’t even need to weigh your food forever because, after a while you’ll instinctively know what 100g of rice looks like.

Also, it needn’t be all the same, as you can see one of my six daily meals changes all the time (though it is just a variation on a theme: usually red meat or fish with rice or lentils/beans and mixed veg).

Of course if you have the patience there is plenty of room for variety and creativity while still remaining within the confines of a diet that will help you build muscle and burn fat, it just takes a lot more time.

Eat the same food everyday
2 meals I eat pretty much everyday

2. Cook in batches

Do you want to be cooking chicken every night? Course you don’t, then cook it in batches. If you know you’re going to eat 1Kg of chicken per day, then cook 7Kg in one go to last you all week. Put it in the fridge and heat in the microwave or eat cold when you need it. Simple.

Cook chicken in batches
Cook food all at once to last you a few days, shove it in the fridge and use when you need it

3. Use the Microwave

Baking and boiling is great for Sweet Potatoes, but it’s much easier to stick them in the microwave for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size).

4. Eat Veg Raw

Any veg I eat during the day (Broccoli and Spinach) is simply eaten raw. This means absolutely no cooking time, and you can be confident that the veg retains all its nutrients. Coating Broccoli in Olive Oil actually makes it a lot easier to eat raw.

5. Use Your Hands

Cutting you Chicken and Broccoli into equal bite-size pieces might look great, but it’s an unnecessary drain on your precious time. Just use your hands to tear/rip. Same outcome, less time.

6. Shop in Bulk

Everyone hates food shopping, and it can seem easier and cheaper to do it weekly rather than for several weeks (or even a month). Make the effort to do a bulk shop. If you’re trying to gain muscle, you’ll need to eat a lot, which means you’ll run out of food quickly, which’ll get on your nerves if you’ve only brought enough for a few days.

On another note, the cheapest place to buy protein (the most expensive macronutrient by far) is at a Butchers, independant supermarket, or wholesaler, if you’re lucky enough to have one of those close to home, well screw you, If not, you’ll save petrol and time by buying in bulk every so often (plus you may get a discount). Keep the fridge stocked.

Fully stocked Fridge
Slightly embarrassed that this makes me look like a vegetarian

7. Bake meat Instead of Grilling

Grilling meat takes quite a long time, and requires attentiveness as it needs turning every so often. If you bake chicken in the oven you can leave it for 30-40 minutes while you do something else. I personally like the flavour of grilled meat so I take a bit more time to grill, so this comes down to preference.

8. Utiilise Whey Protein Effectively

Take this one with a pinch of salt, because I think there’s an epidemic of over-reliance of protein shakes among gym-goers. The problem is they’re seen as some kind of miracle formula for building muscle. A lot of people seem to think there’s some secret ingredient over and above protein that magically packs on slabs of muscle.

This simply isn’t the case, whey protein is basically a quick, easy, cost-effective method of getting extra protein in your diet. For me, and I’m sure many others would agree, it’s nutritionally inferior to a ‘real’ foodstuff containing an equivalent amount of protein, but that’s by-the-by, we’re looking for convenience here, and whey provides that. As long as the majority of your daily intake comes from ‘real’ foods, a extra helping hand from some whey isn’t a huge issue.

Use it when you’re most time-restricted, e.g. after you leave work for the gym

Reflex Instant Whey
Reflex Instant Whey

9. Be smart post-workout

I used to have a protein shake post-workout. Then I waited until I was hungry again before I ate my evening meal (which totals around 800 calories, so it’s a pretty important one). In hindsight, this was stupid, I was just wasting time waiting around between getting home from the gym, and cooking my evening meal.

After the gym, get home as quick as possible and have your biggest meal of the day, because that’s when you’ll benefit most from it.

10. Minimise Ingredients

For an optimal diet, you don’t need a larder full of herbs spices and other useless shit, stick to the basics. Meat, eggs, nuts, complex carbs, and veg. This lot will provide 99% of your nutritional needs. I probably have a maximum of six ingredients in any given meal. Most have just 3-4.

 

Single ingredient foods
5 Single ingredient foods that can be used to make a great tasting muscle building meal

Cooking, prepping and eating will have a huge influence on your body composition, but it needn’t take up a lot of time, plan ahead, cook in batches and sticking to the ¬†basics will help you keep your nutrition in check 24/7 without having to think twice about what you’re eating and when.

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