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Getting in Shape? 5 Ways Meal Planning Can Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals

Recovery Foods

Recovery Foods

Are you tired of feeling sluggish? Sick of resenting your reflection? With a two-prong approach, you can reach your body composition goals at lightning speed. By swapping out processed junk foods for nutrient-rich snacks and committing to a routine fitness regime, the muscle-mass-boosting benefits of each lifestyle choice will work in tandem to help you achieve your desired body composition. 

Ready to spring into action? Unfortunately, achieving your fitness goals isn’t as simple as sprinting to your nearest gym, protein shake in hand. With mandatory quarantine procedures hampering twice-daily gym visits, adopting an innovative approach is critical. While many facilities have reopened post-COVID-19 closures, many patrons have chosen to postpone their return or reduce their weekly visits and keep a hybrid fitness routine of at-home and in-gym workouts. 

While joining a gym allows you access to a wide variety of amenities and professionally-led fitness classes, they often attract crowds of fellow fitness fanatics, which can spike your risk of contracting the virus. If keeping your regular gym schedule doesn’t feel like a safe option, it may be worth it to invest in a few pieces of at-home equipment, like a treadmill or an assault bike, to maintain a healthy hybrid workout schedule. 

However, while working out is an excellent way to get in shape, you won’t reap the benefits of maintaining an active schedule without fueling your body with the right nutrients.

One way of maintaining a healthy diet is meal planning. As meal planning has become a more lauded method of staying healthy in the fitness community, those who may not be familiar with the concept can feel overwhelmed at planning out an entire week’s worth of meals once per week. 

However, meal planning isn’t the elusive practice that only a few can succeed at, as some gym sharks in-the-making might initially assume. In addition to eliminating stress from your week, meal planning yields many benefits, like saving time, reducing your typical amount of food waste, and helping you eat a healthier and broader variety of foods. By ensuring that your body is taking in the fuel that it needs, you’ll be able to achieve your fitness goals in a quicker and more balanced way.

Saves money

Food is one of the budget categories most prone to overspending. Whether you’re splurging on date-night meals out at a restaurant or spontaneous food deliveries in between Zoom meetings, dropping a pretty penny on to-go meals is incredibly easy to do without a second thought. By having your meals already prepped for the week, you’ll feel less inclined to buy food or meals spontaneously. Saving that extra money means you can put it towards your gym membership or purchase at-home equipment for workouts, helping you achieve your fitness goals more cost-effectively.

Saves time

Often, half the battle of cooking is trying to decide what to eat. With the internet at your disposal, there is a wealth of recipes and meal options at your fingertips. Not to mention, with the help of meal planning strategies, you can slash the time spent heading to the grocery store to buy ingredients in half. By planning out your meals for the week ahead of time, taking a single trip to the grocery store to purchase what you need, and cooking all your meals at once, you’ll save precious time during the week. With more free time at your ready access, you can squeeze in an extra work-out or relaxing.

Lowers stress levels

As if the stress of choosing what to eat wasn’t enough, the cooking process’s bubbling pressure can overwhelm amateur cooks and refined chefs alike. With tedious prep involved every step of the way and a conscious desire to prevent burning on the brain, cooking meals every day creates unnecessary anxiety and pressure you can avoid.

Cooking in bulk once a week relegates that stress to a few hours, leaving you stress-free when it comes to making meals during the rest of your busy workweek.

Avoids unhealthy options

Meal planning makes choosing healthy alternatives to processed foods a breeze. Knowing that there’s always a meal waiting at home can help eliminate the temptation to swing by a drive-thru for dinner. That’s not to say that meal planning means you can’t eat at a restaurant or pick up takeout. Still, meal planning helps you stay more mindful of your eating habits, encouraging you to think about what you’re fueling your body with and strive towards an optimal balance between home-cooked meals and restaurant food. Overall, having nutrient-rich meals stored in your refrigerator is the best way to ensure you’re making healthy choices.

Controls portion sizes

Part of eating right doesn’t just include what food you’re making, but also how much of it you’re eating. If your goals are weight loss driven, meal planning can help you control your portion sizes, keeping you from overeating while still fueling your body properly. Regardless of your fitness goals, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet, ideally with every meal. 

Keeping this dedication to clean eating in mind as you’re meal planning ensures that you won’t have to worry throughout the week about whether you’re getting all the nutrients you need.

The bottom line

Whether you’re meal planning to bulk up or slim down, taking the time once a week to keep those goals in mind and plan your diet accordingly is well worth the effort, and much less of a daunting task than you might think. Take it one meal at a time, and soon enough, you’ll be meal-prepping like a pro.

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