Meal Prep 101
Meal prepping for bodybuilders is life. It’s crucial. It will make or break you. It takes time, dedication, commitment, patience and it’s certainly all about attention to detail.
Learning how to meal prep & committing to getting it done can be tough; but once you get in the hang of things it actually becomes enjoyable!!! And I don’t know about y’all but I’ve actually saved money by prepping food on my own rather than eating out all the time.
Meal prepping starts with a strict outlined diet plan made up of allotted protein, carbs, and fats. Whether you made this plan yourself or your savior (your coach) has made one up for you, either way it’s very time consuming and thought out. It is a specific plan that you as a body builder must follow to the T.
You ask why is this so important? Well because bodybuilding is all about the combinations of those proteins, carbohydrates and fats that we then use to fuel our bodies. That combinations is what we use to build our bodies into the master pieces we desire. A little tweak here and there could change a body completely and what works for me will not necessarily work for everyone. Some people’s body’s react well to high carbs, others react well to high fat, others react well to change every day, every week, etc. it is all about finding out what works FOR YOU and then dialing in even more to EXACTLY what works for your body and coming up with a specific plan.
People ask how long prep lasts for. Well in my personal opinion I believe there are phases of prep and that this is a LIFESTYLE.
Everyday life prep: following the meal plans and choosing healthy options that are within my carb, fat and protein ranges.
Building/bulking prep: larger meals, higher protein, maybe raise the carb or fat intake which all adds muscle onto your body aka GAINZ
Lean prep: shocking the system and getting ready for competition prep
Competition prep: 8-14 weeks of a stricter dialed in meal plan which gets harder and stricter and weans you down for competition day!
Reverse dieting prep: reversing everything you have done leading up to Show day as to not mess up your metabolism and make you gain access weight super quickly.
Etc, etc, etc.
So what I’m trying to say is that I may not always be in competition prep, but as a Bodybuilder I do believe that I’m always in some sort of “prep” mode.
And yes you get cheat meals. Well what is a cheat meal? Again it’s something that either you and your coach have planned or something you have planned that’s within your F, C & P intake. That could range from pancakes, to pizza, to burger and fries (my fav!!), etc. The frequency of those cheat meals is truly on how your body is reacting to prep and the personal progress you have made. Again EVERYONE is different. You might not get a cheat meal as often as someone else, you might not get one right away, but hang in there because you will get some!!! This is how it works. You have been eating clean for however long, your body takes those clean meals and drives them to the places your body needs which is your muscles to recover them which leads to growth. When you have a cheat meal your body is prepared for that meal to be clean so what’s it going to do? That greasy, sugary, simple carb meal gets dumped right into those muscles, fills them out and shocks your metabolism to fire up!!! Next day you go back to clean eating and your body doesn’t know what to do other than to keep burning and driving that food to your muscles. It’s a constant burning lean mean eating fighting machine!!! So just some food for thought, literally!
So let’s chat about HOW to meal prep. After you get that meal plan I take a day and I go to the store and buy enough food to last me for 4-5 days (you can buy for the whole week whatever works for you). I buy large packs of chicken, steak, fish, turkey, multiple bags of frozen broccoli and asparagus, bags of lettuce, containers of oats, etc. I then either pick that same day or the next day to prep all of my food. I cook it all up and I put them into huge containers in my fridge. Each night before bed or first thing in the morning I put together my 6 meals for that day. Now some people have room to actually meal prep for the entire week (6 meals a day for 5 days) I not only don’t have the room in my fridge for that but I don’t have enough Tupperware containers for that!! So do whatever works for you. I bring all of my meals with me each day. I do this so that there is no way for me to have a reason to have to get take out or stop somewhere aka straying from my meal plan; it’s always right there with me!! And disclaimer: weighing and measuring your food IS A MUST, NO EXCEPTION, NO EXCUSE!!! Eye balling foods could make you come in under or over your allotted C, F & P and that could be the difference between you losing weight or gaining weight when your not supposed to be. Honestly it could be the difference between 1st and 2nd place, so yes it is that important.
I threw a lot of information at you, but I wanted to write this out in the most simplest of terms so that everyone could understand, relate, and see what they are getting themselves into. It’s not easy, no one said it would be, but NOTHING worth having in life comes easy. I will tell you it is rewarding, probably the MOST rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. To be so in control of your body, your fitness, your health, is such an amazing feeling. I was hooked after one show, three more later in the time span of a month and a half; I am a Nationally Qualified NPC Bikini Competitor and an OCB Pro!!! I couldn’t be happier with my first ever show season and I cannot wait to see what show season brings!!!
Thanks for reading, check me out on Instagram @officerashleysmith and on my website at www.officerashleysmith.com