A short but comprehensive guide to meal prepping to gain muscle or bodybuilding
Meal prepping is not just a technique used by people to lose weight and save costs. It can also be used to gain weight — by promoting muscle growth that is. If you are looking to build muscle, whether for a better physique, strength training or as a professional bodybuilder – more often than not, meal prepping will be an essential part of your overall fitness plan.
In fact, one can argue that meal prepping is indispensable. Eating the right food at the right time can make workouts more effective and allow you to see more results much faster than before. Moreover, it provides you with enough convenience and variety of food that staying healthy is so much easier.
But, where to begin? What are the steps you need to take to meal prep for muscle gain effectively? We’ll be looking into those very details below.
4 easy steps to meal prepping for muscle gain
It is always amazing to hear of people rejecting meal planning due to being difficult to do and costly to implement. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Meal prepping is a simple practice that provides us with ready-made food for the week. It also saves us money by ensuring we only eat the right portions, minimizing spoilage.
And, of course, let’s not forget about the health benefits. Skewed towards being more conducive to muscle growth, the following are just 4 easy steps to engaging in meal prepping:
We begin in the planning part of meal prepping. Ideally, you would be doing this well before going grocery shopping. This is when you determine the meals you’ll be eating in the future and they need to be meals that facilitate muscle growth. Some considerations you need to make at the start of meal prepping includes:
- The recipes you intend to cook and the ingredients you’ll need to buy to make that possible.
- The scheduling of each of meal through the days and weeks including the meals you have pre- and post-workout.
- Know your working budget. Meal prepping and eating the right meals should also be tailored to how much you can afford on meals a day.
Note that for muscle gain, you will want to prioritize meals that have a higher calorie count than usual. They should be high in protein too since protein is essential to muscle repair and enlargement.
Let’s say you have already planned your meals out and bought them. Now, it’s time to chop them up and portion them out. It would help if you had a food tracking app since you’ll want the overall meal to have the necessary calorie count.
For example, you’ll want meals with a little more carbs and calories on days you intend to lift. You would also want high-protein meals when you’re resting. At the same time, you also don’t want to overeat. The worst thing about trying to gain muscle weight is finding out that the weight gain was actually due to fat!
Know that it pays to be honest with yourself at this stage of the meal prepping. If your cooking skills aren’t great, then ask a friend to help you or just play it safe with easy-to-make meals.
Instead of cooking each meal individually, which will take a long time, cook in large batches. Big and bulky dishes are made and divided into smaller portions for different times in the week. You can cook similar meals together and mix them up with different sauces or spices.
Once the meals are cooked, store them in an organized manner in your fridge. If the dishes have sauces, pack the sauce separately on the side to avoid the food getting soggy.
It helps if the container the meals are stored in are microwave or oven friendly. Proteins are better reheated on stove-tops to prevent them from drying out. Use salt and/or garnish to open up the flavors once the food is reheated.
Counting macronutrients for muscle gain
The fastest and easiest way to build muscles is by counting your daily macronutrients. These are your main source of calories and their correct portions have a large impact on the success of your workout routines. The three macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
This is the most essential of the macronutrients because it is the building block of the muscles. A high protein diet promotes muscle growth and increases your lean mass.
These are providers of energy and should be eaten with the express intention of burning it off later. They also supply the energy the body needs to facilitate muscle repair and, by extension, muscle growth.
Fat provides more long, lasting energy without as much volume. That being said, a fat surplus is easily stored in the body. So eating this must be done in moderation.
From your meal prepping, it is best to focus on a high protein meal with some healthy fats for good measure. Eat carbs on workout days to give you that much-needed energy boost.
Pre and post workout eating
As stated before, your pre-workout meal should be energy packed. It should be a heavy meal with a good balance of carbs and protein and should be eaten at least 2-3 hours before the workout. This will give the food enough time to digest and boost energy levels.
If you’re the type who works out early in the morning, try to get a snack at least — a snack that has quick-acting carbs and sugars.
After your routine, you’ll want to consume protein. You can also add little carbs into the mix to give you energy for everything else you have to do in the day. Avoid or eat only minimal amounts of fat.
Ideal foods and meals for muscle gain
Below are some recipes that are easy to prep, delicious, but are conducive to muscle gain:
- Salmon Toast or Salmon Eggs Benedict
- Meal Prep Breakfast Burritos
- Breakfast Casserole
- Protein Yogurt
- Protein Chicken and Waffles
- Salmon Grain Bowl
- Grilled Pesto Chicken Sandwich
- Thai Shrimp Noodle Bowl
- Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
- Steak Kabobs
- Healthy Stir-fried Noodles
- Steak Gyros
- Butternut Squash and Chicken Pad Thai
- Healthy Bolognese
- Lean Pulled Pork
Dessert & Snack Options
- Protein Shake
- Avocado Egg Salad or Sandwich
- Chicken Salad
- BBQ Chicken & Sweet Potato Toast
- Apple Pie Quinoa Bowl
- Black Bean Brownies
- Chocolate Protein Lava Cake
- Pumpkin Chia Pudding
Some of the recipes, and buying groceries in bulk, might seem to be pricey. Sometimes, investing in being healthy is made difficult by the constraints of our limited income. Let’s attack one of the most common reasons why people shy away from meal prepping: the cost.
The average person pays about $8 a day for food. Meal prepping entails going grocery shopping for food that’s good for a week. This could be anywhere from $60-$100 depending on where you do your groceries.
Now let’s place a scenario where you spend $80 on groceries for food that’s good for 7 days. That’s 21 meals.
$80 / 21 meals = $3.81
Now, compare $3.81 a day to $8 a day and you’ll know that meal prepping is actually a money-saving tool. Multiply those daily numbers by 356 days and the savings you would make from meal prepping start to become more significant.
Does meal prepping help you to stay committed?
Sticking to a fixed regime of food might not be the most romantic idea for the average person. It might seem redundant, and at times you will definitely miss eating at restaurants or having fast food. Though following a diet does not have to mean never eating these kinds of foods ever again, you will need to have them much less than you’re used to. This is the price you pay long-term for health and fitness.
Meal prepping is a way to provide you with such a variety of different foods that you don’t ever think about missing fast food. The fact that they’re ready-made and only need to be reheated also gives you the same convenience as fast food or restaurants.
If you struggle with sticking to a diet and not seeing the results you want, then meal prepping may be the answer you’re looking for. You are essentially taking the steps to ensure that you stay healthy without going hungry.
And that was the most important things to know about how to meal prep for muscle gain. Though by no means easy, it does not have to be an uphill battle either. With a little practice and some planning, you can meal prep like the pros. If you know what to eat and when to eat it, nothing is stopping your workouts from giving you the results you always wanted. With this knowledge and some hard work, we hold no doubt that you’ll show results on the weighing scale in no time!