There's no denying it, meal preparation is an essential part of achieving the physique and performance you desire.
Failing to prepare to your food for the day or week ahead is likely to leave you rushing around for convenient and often not-so-healthy alternatives.
It is complete b****hit that eating little and often helps increase your metabolism and therefore enhances fat loss, however, eating frequent meals does help with satiety and the prevention of unwanted cravings.
Go more than 4-5 hours without food and your motivation to cook a healthy home-cooked meal will drastically disappear, instead, temptation to nip to the nearest tesco express and grab a packet of your favourite biscuits will cast over you like an evil shadow.
As many of our members will tell you, we offer tailored meal plans, but I am not an enormous fan of them. Yes, everyone wants to receive black and white instructions on what to eat, when to eat it and why, however in my opinion, they're unsustainable.
I know myself better than anyone... yet i am not 100% sure of what foods I will fancy tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.
What happens when you go to prepare Monday's food late on Sunday evening and you realise you're missing an ingredient or two....
"sh*t, the shops are closed! Disaster! Oh well, I'll start again next week".
What happens when you oversleep and in a mad panic to get to work you forget your food and leave it in your fridge at home?!
We've all done it. It's inevitable. We're human.
I provide meal plans as a template. An example of how best to structure means and supplementation in and around training, however, I think the most valuable tool to offer our members is education...
More specifically, education on how to respond when the sh*t hits the fan and you fail to prepare your meals.
Im no robot... I understand that you've got a life to live outside of the kitchen. You've got kids, family to visit, emails to reply to... oh and tonnes of articles to read on the Cheshire Barbell website!
I don't expect any of our members to spend endless hours in the kitchen preparing food. It might look very impressive on instagram but its boring, unnecessary and unsustainable.
Results come from developing better habits and performing them consistently over a period of months, if not, years.
Eat a tonne of sh*t once a week for months and you're going to look... well... like sh*t.
You shouldn't expect to see results instantly just because you had a sudden surge of motivation and cooked a week's allocation of chicken and broccoli. It takes time, and therefore you need to develop habits that you know you can sustain for months, years, if not, life!
Convenience foods receive bad press. Rightly so. Whilst there is nothing wrong with carbohydrates, most convenient foods tend to be very dense in sugars and extremely low in protein and essential nutrients.
That being said, there are a tonne of foods out there that are cheap, available almost everywhere and contain the relevant macronutrients to help you remain on plan.
Have a Plan B
I don't believe in excuses. Not because I expect perfection from everybody, but because I believe that you should always have a Plan B for when the inevitable happens.
In this case, you should have a lost of go-to foods that you can purchase from nearby shops whether it be that you've failed to prepare your meals or you're stuck in traffic on the m6 and need to pull into a service station.
It is wise to prepare way in advance by packing some items in your car... rations... foods that don't need refrigeration and can be stored in your boot for emergency use. Examples are:
Pre-portioned oats that you can mix with boiling water
A jar of cashew or almond butter to put in the oats or spread on a stick of celery
Quest or Cliff Protein bars
A tub of protein powder
Bag of nuts: almonds, cashews, macadamias, brazil nuts and walnuts.
Couple bags of beef jerky or biltong (try to get unflavoured or those not containing MSG)
Research your local area and locate food stores. There's either a supermarket or small food shop such as a co-op or tesco express within every 5 square miles. Here, you have a tonne of options at hand. You can typically pick up a pre-prepared salad and purchase some cooked meat or fish to add to it yourself. If you're in need of carbs you could get a packet of microwavable rice (you can still eat this cold). If you need extra fats, add some feta or goats cheese to the salad.
Motorway service stations are pretty low on choices unfortunately. If you're lucky, there may be an M&S store within the service station. If that's the case they always sell sushi and a variety of salad options. If not, there is always a WH Smiths that will see Cheese String (pictured). No, it may not be the most nutritious of snacks, but the macronutrients are surprisingly impressive: 28g Protein and 24g fat / four sticks. It's much better than a snickers! If you need carbs, there is always a McDonalds you can pop in to and purchase a portion of porridge oats... just stay away from the Big Mac!
If you find yourself near a major town or city and have a few minutes to spare, you can almost guarantee you'll find a meal-prep cafe somewhere. There are tonnes of these stores opening up all over the place. They're full of great options and some even provide the macronutrient information!
If you are working away from home, maybe staying in a hotel or eating out in restaurants you must remember that you are a valuable customer... as a result most hotels and restaurants are very accommodating when it comes to requests. For example, most hotels serve breakfast... go a la carte and request specific items such as a vegetable omelette made of 3 whole eggs and 3 egg whites. On the rare occasion when this is impossible, go to the back of your car and mix some pre-portioned oats with whey powder and snack on a packet of nuts.
If ordering at restaurants, stick to lean fish, meat and vegetables. Unless they're serving up microwave meals there is no reason why they cannot make adjustments to the meal by removing sauces by request. Again, you're a valued customer. If the waiter/waitress kicks up a fuss, throw in the allergy card, they'll soon tweak it for you.
There is genuinely no excuse to eat crap just because you failed to spend your evening in the kitchen. You just need a couple of 'Plan Bs' and you'll find sticking to your plan easy and sustainable.
Make these lifestyle and mindset adjustments a habit and you'll see amazing results in no time at all!