3 of the BEST Food Prep Strategies

To continue our discussion on Food Prep from Steps 1 and 2, let’s explore techniques for quantifying our shopping list.

 

1. Macro Timing Method

One way to shop is to consider each food as its’ primary macro (ie. chicken breast = protein, quinoa = carb, almonds = fat). Compose your meals to contain 1 protein, 1 carb, 1 fat. Just remember that if you cook with fat, this may reach your fat requirement for that meal.

Time your macros for each meal pending your daily goals. You will need carbs before workouts, or if doing keto, some healthy fats (but you have to do keto FOR REAL). You will need as a rule protein and carbs after workouts and more food after work-outs. You should limit fats before working out. If not working out that day or many hours prior, fat and protein is your jam.

No work-out/Rest day

Breakfast = Fat + Protein

Lunch = Protein + Carb

Dinner = Protein + Carb + some fat

Workout before breakfast

Pre-workout = little Carbs

Breakfast = Protein + Carbs

Lunch = Protein + Carbs

Dinner = Protein + Carbs + some fat

Work-out before lunch

Breakfast = Protein + Carbs

Pre-Workout = little Carbs

Lunch = Protein + Carbs

Dinner = Protein + Carbs + Fat

Workout before dinner

Breakfast = Fat + Protein

Lunch = Protein + Carbs

Pre-workout = little carbs

Dinner = Protein + Carbs

You can see your macro demands change pending your activity level. If fasting overnight, your body utilizes fat as energy. Most meals in the am are composed of carbs, which metabolic halt the breakdown of fat. Harness your fat-burning machine and have some fats for breakfast, which will keep you full for a longer period of time. Time your carbs and protein for after work-out to allow building blocks for your muscle growth. With these little tweaks, you will obtain large sum gains.

 

2.  Container method

Another improvised approach is by using containers that are a certain volume to automatically proportion your food. At least ½ of each container should contain vegetables. For instance, for lunch, I utilize 4 cup containers. I know that I need one serving of protein (usually ¼ lb) which will allow for my protein (see below chart) for that meal. The remaining I fill with carbs which are mostly vegetables. This is usually about 3 cups of vegetables. There are 5 workdays in my work week and therefore I need at least 5 x 3 or 15 cups of carbs, which are mostly vegetables. 

You can then translate that amount into your food prep. For instance, each bag of blended Whole foods vegetables contains 4.5 cups. So, you need about 3 bags per week for your food prep. If you are buying chicken and need ¼ lb per lunch meal, then you need 1 and ¼ lb for the week of chicken. Get it?!

Just remember that most nuts, seeds, and cheeses are actually fats. I gave you the below numbers if you are vegan or vege but BE CAREFUL. Remember (MACRO POST), look at what your food is mostly composed of and consider it that food (Nut butter = FAT NOT A PROTEIN).

Food

Serving

Protein (grams)

Meat, Poultry, Eggs

  

Chicken, skinless

¼ lb

28

Turkey

¼ lb

25

Beef

¼ lb

26

Lamb

¼ lb

23

Pork

¼ lb

22

Egg, large

1 Egg

6

Seafood

  

Salmon/Tuna

¼ lb

22

Shrimp

¼ lb

20

Lobster/Crab

¼ lb

16

Scallops

¼ lb

14

Legumes, Grains, Veggies

  

Pino Beans

½ cup

11

Lentils

½ cup

9

Edamame

½ cup

8

Black/Kidney beans

½ cup

7

Chickpeas/Blackeyed Peas/Fava Beans

½ cup

6

Spelt/Kamut/Lima Beans

½ cup

4

Quinoa/Peas

½ cup

3

Spinach

½ cup

2

Nuts, Seeds

  

Soy

1 oz

12

Pumpkin

1 oz

9

Peanut/peanut Butter

1 oz

7

Almond, Pistachio, Flax, Sunflower

1 oz

6

Chia

1 oz

5

Walnut/Cashew

1 oz

4

Dairy

  

Greek Yogurt (2% fat)

1 cup

18

Cottage Cheese (1-2% fat)

1 cup

14

Regular Yogurt

1 cup

11

Milk (2%), Soy Milk

1 cup

8

Mozzarella cheese

1 oz

7

String Cheese

1 piece

6

See our How to Eat Real Food post to allow for complete food-selection optimization.

With a little math and time, the container method will allow you an indirectly direct means of obtaining your foods each day.

 

3.  Precision Method

The next method is the precision method. This is the most exact, and a recommendation when first starting on your journey to health. With time you will be able to approximate food. Yet at first, it will be tough to scrap your misconceptions about food content and value to reach your goals.

You can then look up the nutritional value of most foods online or with your macro tracker and make a plan from there. Use our macro tracker to determine your daily values based upon your height, weight, sex, and age, along with fitness goals.

For example, you are a 5’4’’ 130-pound 36-year-old woman who is trying to gain muscle. That means if you work out 3-5 times weekly. You need 262 grams of carbs, 157 grams of protein and 47 grams of fat daily.

The most precise approach to this macro budget is to divide the macros by the number of meals per day. Or if having in-between-meal snacks, subtract those from the total, then take the total and divide by 3. You can then use a scale to weigh each macro or scan your food into a macro tracker. 

 

Example for our above female athlete:

Snacks

2 protein snack = 20 x 2 grams protein (157 grams total-40 grams snack= 117 grams)

2 fat snacks = 36 grams fat (47 grams total – 36 grams = 11 grams)

Average per Meals

87 grams carbs, 39 grams protein, 3.67 grams fat

As above most protein servings are around 20-30 grams. Include one of these per meals and you may get to add a snack at the end of the day. Ex. ¼ lb of chicken breast is 28 grams of protein 39-28 grams = 11 grams. If you add yogurt, you have reached your goals.

You may also adjust your macros pending food timing and your activity level. For instance, in the am you need more fat and protein. So, have your lunch/breakfast fat intake with ¼ cup almonds and have your protein intake with eggs. You then have more carbs to spend after your evening work-out when you will need them the most. 

If you eat mostly veggies as your carbs (and you should), these are essentially FREE MACROS (ex 1 cup of cauliflower = 5 grams carbs v. 1 cup of quinoa = 39 carbs). If you eat mostly veggies, you get to eat MORE FOOD and who doesn’t like that. Plus, you get phytochemicals and micronutrients as a free bonus. 

Buy veggies that are different colors to get different micronutrients. Follow how to eat real food rules an eat-in season if you can, local, organic.

For your carbs, if you have 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of veggies, you will have an excellent balance of carbs to fuel your day and reach your carbohydrate macros. Then take that amount per meal and multiply by 5 to obtain your weekly shopping needs.

Budgeting fats can be tough. Cooking your veggies in oil will likely get you to reach your fat intake for that meal (see below). Be careful here.

 

Healthy Snacks

During the work, a week I often eat multiple times per day (6-8). It can be hard to reach your macros when you are on the go, so I often pack healthy snacks to reach my nutritional requirements. Some examples as below. 

1 cup of 2% Greek yogurt 18 grams protein

1 hardboiled egg = 6 grams of protein

Protein powder/shake (PROTEIN POWDER) 25 grams protein (1 scoop Iso-100 Whey)

Protein bar (PROTEIN BAR) 12 grams protein for RX bar

¼ cup of almonds or nuts 6 grams protein, but remember it is considered a FAT (18 grams)

Stock up on these to complete your daily macros if you can’t simply sit down and eat a full meal. 

 

Further shopping tips

Remember, your macros can hide. If you cook with oil, butter, ghee, lard, whatever, remember all of these substances are fats. Your fat budget can go quickly and remember to account for these hidden macro calories. When cooking with these things, measure your oils out, so you do not overdo it on fats (1 Tablespoon of coconut oil = 14 grams of fat). 

Sugars also can hide. Basically, anything that is pre-packaged has added sugar in it. Any fruit juice, carbonated (non-water/seltzer) beverage, or coffee from a coffee shop, are loaded with sugar. Sugar = carbs…the simplest of carbs and your body will store this extra sugar as fat. 

Drinking just tea, coffee (limited or no sugar, creamer), water and carbonated water is the way to avoid these hidden carb calories and more accurately control your macros.

Next Food Prep Step 3, Bring Home the Bacon

 

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5 thoughts on “3 of the BEST Food Prep Strategies”

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