Bodybuilding meal prep means preparing a healthy meal in advance for the days ahead. Having your meals prepared in advance is very convenient for people with very tight schedules. Efficient meal prepping helps a bodybuilder in many ways, let's discuss how can this help you.
It saves time, ensures proper calorie intake for effective muscle growth, reduces meal portion sizes, and can help track food shopping budgets. Meal prep also helps us avoid taking meals from unhealthy sources. Having pre-prepared meals enables a muscle-builder to pay much more concentration on gym workouts to gain muscle.
Why nutritional knowledge is important?
If you are on the journey of building muscle then you should have at least basic nutritional knowledge. A good understanding of muscle-building foods helps us get the best result from bodybuilding meal prepping. A perfect combination of macro and micronutrients ensures healthy meals to build muscle optimally.
Some of the basics in nutrition that you need to know are protein, carbohydrates, and fats together are known as macronutrients. Nutritional experts recommend people eat a proportion of macronutrients. Up to 55% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 15% fats for better health benefits and optimal muscle gain.
As we know that calorie intake is an important part of gaining or losing weight. We should take into account that the daily ideal calorie intake depends on a bodybuilder's age, weight, height, and lifestyle. It ranges from 1500 to 3500 calories per day.
During a bulking phase, a muscle builder needs to add 250 to 500 calories to his daily calorie intake to boost muscle mass. However, in a cutting phase or muscle maintenance period, one has to decrease their daily calorie intake. The proper calorie count is key to effective bodybuilding meal prep.
The following step by step guide explains everything you need to learn for practical bodybuilding meal prep:
- Making a meal plan
- Selecting the right muscle building foods
- Choosing appropriate meal prep recipes
- Going grocery shopping
- Following a convenient method of meal prepping
- Cooking/preparing muscle building foods
- Storing and preserving prepared meals
- Reheating portioned meals before eating
Make a Meal Plan
A clear meal plan will help you in a variety of ways, by keeping everything organized in your meal prepping activities. When your time is limited, you can schedule things in the shortest time possible. Additionally, you can calculate your required daily calorie intake with accuracy. It also helps you determine what to eat for each meal of the day, such as breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner.
Besides this, having a meal plan plays an important factor in helping with discipline eating which is necessary for controlling cravings. Having a set time for eating can also develop a pattern for better meal preparation habits.
You can prepare meals once or twice a week. Those who prepare meals twice a week find Sunday and Wednesday convenient. These simple meal planning activities will make your bodybuilding meal prep process super easy.
Select the Right Muscle Building Foods
Gaining muscle is nearly impossible without consuming the right muscle-building foods. So, selecting building foods is a crucial part of meal prep activities. Make sure all of your required macro intakes come from healthy sources.
Eating the right mix of macronutrients will give you the energy needed to complete heavy resistance training and make it easier to build muscle. Healthy carbohydrates are a vital source of fuel for our bodies. High-quality protein, healthy fats, essential amino acids, and omega-3 fatty acids are critical for optimal muscle growth.
You can safely select the right muscle building foods from the following list for your meal prep:
Carbs rich foods
Whole grains, brown rice, mixed berries, oatmeals, sweet potato, bread, banana, apple, broccoli, spinach, etc.
Chicken breast, turkey, lean beef, salmon, tuna, sardine, eggs, quinoa, beans, almonds, tofu, tilapia, cod, etc.
Fat rich foods
Avocado, coconut oil, peanuts, nuts, walnuts, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, seeds, etc.
There are some dietary supplements that muscle-builders use to boost muscle growth. Protein powders (like whey protein), creatine, beta-alanine, branched-chain amino acids, caffeine, and beta-hydroxy beta-methyl butyrate (HMB) are popular supplements.
Whey powder is a good source of protein that helps build and recover torn muscle tissues after a heavy workout. Being easily digested and fast-absorbing, it helps build lean muscle. You can use several dietary supplements in your muscle-building meal prep to reach your calorie intake goals.
Choose Your Appropriate Meal Prep Recipes
Preparing a meal from scratch can be daunting and time-consuming. So by having pre-planned recipes on hand is a convenient way to make the meal prep process effortless.
This recipe is divided into three sections:
- the list of items you'll need
- their proportions
- and step-by-step instructions for preparation
A bodybuilding meal prep recipe is slightly different than any other ordinary recipe. In our case, a muscle builder has to pay attention to the calorie counts of the ingredients to follow the meal plan goals.
Using several meal prep recipes allows us to bring variation to our meals. Thus, a bodybuilder can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals to maximize muscle building. In comparison using a single meal recipe for a whole week will be boring, monotonous, and tasteless.
Now once you are prepared for your meal prep recipes its time to go shopping.
Go Grocery Shopping
Collecting healthy muscle-building food items from healthy sources is an integral part of bodybuilding meal prep. Sometimes grocery shopping can be complicated and time-consuming. Being a little bit organized you can reduce time spent and make your shopping task easy and comfortable. Try to make several lists according to food categories or supermarket departments.
Make sure you collect everything to meet your recipe requirements and the calorie target. When you get home from shopping, organize your food so that you can find it quickly. It saves time and you can always find what you're looking for. Following these simple steps, you can make your meal prep super easy.
Follow a Convenient Method of Meal Prepping
Preparing meals in advance simplifies accurate calorie intake in the days ahead. There are several methods of muscle-building meal prep. These include individually portioned meal prep, batch cooking, make-ahead meals, and ingredient prep. You can choose one that best suits your lifestyle and schedule.
Individually portioned meal prep
This is the most popular meal prep method among muscle builders. In this method, we prepare our meals according to the recipes and then store individually portioned meals in single-serving containers. This method is very convenient for busy people and ensures the required daily calorie consumption accurately and precisely. It also allows us to enjoy colorful and delicious muscle-building foods.
In this method, large batches of meals are prepared and stored to eat in the days ahead. It is convenient for feeding several persons or even a large number of people.
This meal prepping method is super convenient for those muscle builders who find little time to spend in the kitchen during weekdays. In this method, all meals are prepared and stored in the refrigerator. One needs to reheat his meals every time before consumption.
Getting ingredients ready in advance to use in cooking later. Those who like to cook meals just before serving find ingredients prep handy. The activities include chopping, slicing, dicing, mixing spices, and the like.
Cooking / Preparing Muscle Building Foods
To get started with your bodybuilding meal preparation, make sure you have all the things ready you will use during cooking. Among other things, like the kitchen equipment, utensils, and other cooking equipment are essential to start a cooking journey. The kitchen scale helps you weigh the ingredients and portioned meals size accurately.
Get things well-organized beforehand to make your meal cooking process easy, comfortable, and enjoyable. Cooked foods are vital to the quality of a meal. Ensuring you have the right temperature ensures that your food will be delicious every single time. It's vital for high-quality cooking that you know what temperature is best for each type of dish. For example, cooking meat at 165°F (75°C) is ideal as it kills harmful bacteria.
You can cut down your kitchen time by doing several things simultaneously, like, cooking rice, baking chicken breasts, and chopping vegetables. Add your favorite spices to your cooking to make your muscle-building meals delicious and enjoyable.
Some foods that are often eaten by bodybuilders, like greek yogurt or cottage cheese, do not require cooking and can be eaten as is. You can either prepare these yourself or collect them ready-to-use from shops.
Storing and Preserving Prepared Meals
Now it is time to store and preserve your prepared meals in the right way for the days ahead. It's an essential step in getting started with food prep. Having the right storage containers can save so much time and energy. You can choose from several options.
There are containers made of stainless steel, glass, or plastic. Stainless containers are popular and highly recommended for their convenience. You can easily use these containers in the microwave oven to reheat your portioned meals before eating. But if you like eating cold meals, a glass container is the best choice for you.
To store foods like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, you can use mason jars safely. Mason jars keep your muscle-building foods healthy for a long time. You can also use these jars to keep protein powders.
Keep the meals you'll eat in the next few days in the fridge, and freeze any extra for later storage. Also, keep your refrigerator and freezer at the proper temperature, 40°F (5°C) and 0°F (-18°C). So the shelf life of your prepared muscle-building foods lasts longer.
Reheating Portioned Meals Before Eating
Reheating refrigerated and frozen meals is an integral part of bodybuilding meal prep. You must eat your refrigerated meals within 3 or 4 days. Otherwise, the meals will become unhealthy. Reheat your meals at 165°F (75°C) to make them bacteria-free and healthy.
You can eat frozen meals within 1-3 months. It is safe to reheat and eat a frozen meal within 24 hours of defrosting. Reheating a pre-prepared meal once is recommended. Reheating the same foods many times can cause food poisoning.
We hope this simple step-by-step meal prep guide to building muscle will provide all you need. Though every bodybuilder is uniquely different, this guide should help you reach your desired goals. if you find it difficult to cook meals then you should consider buying ready-made cooked meal preps.
We recommend that you combine regular workouts, a proper diet, and enough rest for muscle recovery for a successful long-term muscle-building goal. Never compromise the quality of your muscle-building foods. Prepare your meals diligently.