By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
One of the main reasons people struggle to maintain success with a nutrition plan is lack of preparation. Although there are healthy options to be had on the go, it is very tough to tell exactly which options provide what we truly need. Many foods at restaurants, pharmacies, etc., tend to have additives to increase flavor, such as sugar, salt, and other preservatives. The best way to know for sure you are getting what you need is to take matters into your own hands.
Preparation is the key aspect on any solid plan, nutrition based or not. Going into an endeavor without planning is the first step to feeling overwhelmed and falling off track. In order to make sure this does not happen, the effort needs to be put in before our hectic schedules get the best of us.
Meal prepping sounds challenging. Not many people want to waste their hard earned free time cooking loads of protein. However, there are many benefits to meal prepping that people do not typically acknowledge including:
- Reducing cravings and time spent dealing with them
- Increased bonding time with family and loved ones
- Greater understanding of nutrition
- Saving money
Meal Prep Guide & Tips
Healthy Meal Prep Tips
Here are a few suggestions to help you meal prep effectively, even with a busy lifestyle:
Choose a Day to Prep That You Can Stick To
- Typically, meal prep will take a few hours
- Choosing a day during the weekend or a day where you are off from work during the week is a great time to get the shopping done and prep as well
- Use the time wisely, because this will also save you time preparing lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the week
- This is precious time that adds up, even if you don't notice it immediately
Make a List Before Going to the Store
- Having a list before going in will save you time and even money
- By focusing in on the things you need and keeping out the things you don't, you will navigate the supermarket more efficiently and buy less "craving" food
Buy Food in Bulk That You Can Keep in the Freezer
- Certain foods you will have to buy 2-3 times a week, including fruits, vegetable, and other perishable foods
- With protein, frozen veggies, and other freezer friendly items, try to stock up. Being able to take this food right out of the freezer and defrost while at work is a great way to save trips to the grocery store
Buy Large Containers of Healthy Snacks
- Investing in a large bag of healthy snacks can make eating throughout the day manageable
- Healthy fats to buy in bulk
- Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews
- These foods maintain well, have good fat and fiber, and will keep you full
- CHECK SERVING SIZE! These foods are calorically dense and need to be measured out
- Healthy protein snacks in bulk
- Low sugar beef jerky
- Wild caught tuna packets
- Vegan/whey protein tubs
- Low sodium cheese sticks
- Healthy carb snacks
- Some whole fruits (apples, oranges, pears)
- Steel cut oats packets
Buy Container Sizes
- Buy various containers for lunches, dinners, and snacks
- Portion out your meals and snacks in their respective containers
- Label them as "lunch, dinner, snacks" to make them easy to grab
- Ziploc bags help quite a bit as well for packing snacks like fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruit
Buy Loads of Spices!
- Load up on garlic salt, adobo, cumin, paprika, Himalayan sea salt, pepper corn, or whatever flavors you enjoy!
- This will help keep your food flavorful and help you avoid monotony
Make It a Family Thing!
- Family time, or time with a spouse or friends, cannot be overstated
- Get the whole family involved
- Not only will it save you time, but it can also get everyone on-board with this very necessary, healthy habit!
Healthy Meal Prepping Ideas & Recommendations
General Guidelines: Low Glycemic Meal Prep
- 5-7 pounds of lean protein
- Skinless chicken, lean ground turkey or chicken, whole roasted turkey, fish (salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna, WILD CAUGHT)
- Ground chicken and turkey can be made into meatballs, burgers, meatloaf, or for Mexican style bowls (lettuce, guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, black beans)
- 1-2 pounds of 3 different fresh vegetables
- Squash, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, Brussel sprouts
- Be sure to cook down the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage to avoid GI distress
- Large bags of organic spinach, kale, arugula, cabbage mix, and spring mix
- Healthy fats (choose 2-3)
- 4-6 avocados
- 1 large bottle of olive oil
- 1 large package of unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
- 1 jar of natural, no sugar added peanut or almond butter
- 1-2 dozen free range organic eggs
- Turkey sausage (all natural)
- Seasonings and additions
- Himalayan salt, pepper, paprika, adobo, mint, etc.
- 5-6 lemons or limes (great for adding flavor to chicken and vegetables, use rinds as well)
- Red wine vinegar
- Stone ground mustard
- Hummus and guacamole (good for dipping)
Additional Guidelines for Whole Food Nutrition (Moderate Glycemic)
For those consuming energy dense, moderate to low glycemic diets, the following recommendations can be followed in addition to the general guidelines listed above:
- Moderate to low glycemic index carbohydrates (1 or 2 to keep variety)
- 2-4 pounds of sweet potatoes
- 1 bag of organic quinoa (1 cup usually makes 2 to 3 servings)
- 1 large bag organic brown or wild rice
- 2-4 pounds of fresh fruit
- Apples, oranges/clementine's, bananas, berries
- 1 package of certified organic, certified gluten-free steel cut oats
- 1 tub plain Greek yogurt
Additional Guidelines for Keto Style Meal Prep
If following a keto plan, limit your lean protein to 3-4 pounds, compared to the recommended 5-7 pounds for low and moderate glycemic plans. Try to limit to no less than 50 grams of carbs from vegetable sources a day to maintain ketosis.
Additionally, you can choose 3-4 healthy fats, instead of limiting it to 2-3 as the low and moderate glycemic plans do. Organic coconut oil and unsalted ghee/butter can be used as additional sources of healthy fats within the keto style meal prep.
Low-Glycemic vs Whole Food vs Keto – Which One Should I Choose?
Low-glycemic plans is ideal for individuals trying to lose weight, manage prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, as well as prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease .
Whole foods (moderate glycemic) plans follow most of the same guidelines as a low-glycemic plan, but allows for a little more flexibility of additional carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, and organic brown or wild rice. It eliminates the risk of processed foods, and helps you feel full longer.
Keto meal plans are often used for individuals trying to bulk up. It has been found to be effective in weight loss, since it forces the body to use fat instead of carbs are a source of energy. There is evidence that a low-carb keto diet can reduce body mass without the negative impact on strength and power .
The above guidelines are based on general recommendations of popular meal plans. For custom, individualized meal plans contact your nearest Cenegenics location to discover how Cenegenics can help you live well, longer.
Choosing The Right Meal Plan For You – In Conclusion
Choosing the right nutritional plan is truly dependent upon your individual goals, medical history and current lifestyle. Cenegenics is focused on treating the individual and helping to optimize overall health and wellness.
Our physician and clinical team will perform a comprehensive health evaluation, including analyzing key biomarkers to determine if any deficiencies exist. Customized nutrition plans are then formed to help ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs to function optimally, both now and in the long term.
If you are interested in learning about nutrition and meal prepping beyond the basics, contact your nearest location today.
Next Steps to Receive Individualized Nutritional Plan
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About the Author
Joshua D’Alessandro - MS, CSCS, CISSN
Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City
My name is Joshua D'Alessandro and I am an Exercise and Nutrition Counselor for Cenegenics in NY. My passion for fitness began at a very young age and has manifested into a career filled with possibilities. The countries largest epidemic, and quite possibly the root cause of most issues, is diminishing health. In my career, I hope to do everything and anything I can to improve the well being and lives of the people around me!
This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT
Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.
Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS
Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.
 Augustin, L. S., Kendall, C. W., Jenkins, D. J., Willett, W. C., Astrup, A., Barclay, A. W., . . . Poli, A. (2015, September). Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An International Scientific Consensus Summit from the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26160327
 Greene, D. A., Varley, B. J., Hartwig, T. B., Chapman, P., & Rigney, M. (2018, December). A Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet Reduces Body Mass Without Compromising Performance in Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting Athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30335720
* Disclaimer: These are general recommendations based on popular nutrition plans. If you are interested in plans specific to your goals, please contact Cenegenics to learn more about our individualized programs.