The Importance of Meal Planning For Natural Bodybuilders
Meal planning and preparation is so important, not only for bodybuilders, but for anyone interested in changing their body! The fact is that these days for too many people reply on others to prepare their meals; they eat out far too often or eat on the run and they spend very little time preparing their own meals because they ‘don’t have enough time’!
Well, if you’re serious about building muscle fast, losing weight or improving your sports performance, then meal preparation and planning has to become a higher priority in your life. By doing so, you can be assured that your nutritional habits will go a long way towards helping you achieve your physical goals.
Since nutrition plays such an important role in achieving any physical transformation, optimizing your nutritional habits means you have a much greater chance of success. When it comes to meal preparation and planning there are several points you need to keep in mind. They are:
- You must know what foods to include in your meals
- You must be aware of the correct portion sizes
- You need to have the foods available to you
- You need to make the time each day to prepare your meal
Now, let’s consider each of these points:
You must know what foods to include in your meals
It is obvious that you must include healthy foods in all of the meals you prepare, but the definition of ‘healthy’ varies so much from person to person. In summary, when you’re meal planning each meal should be comprised primarily of whole foods, which means they have had minimal processing, i.e. fruits and vegetables are good examples of whole foods. Fries or chips, which are highly processed versions of potatoes do not fall into this category.
Of course, you can allow yourself to have lightly steamed or baked vegetables, but common sense must prevail. Fried foods, packaged or highly processed foods are simply not conducive to helping you achieve your physical goals no matter whether you want to lose weight or build muscle.
All of your meals must contain a portion of all 3 macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). Protein is particularly important because it provides the building blocks for muscle tissue. However, this doesn’t mean you should neglect the other two macronutrients. Fats provide a range of essential functions in the body, as well as help to boost muscle building hormones like, testosterone. It also helps to curb your appetite, slows down the absorption rate of carbohydrates, and provides your body with a good source of energy.
Carbohydrates are necessary for providing your body with energy as well as acting as a very good ‘cell-volumising’ agent for your muscles. This means they increase the fluid stored in your muscle cells, contributing to your muscle size.
When you’re meal planning, here are some examples of good foods for bodybuilders to use:
- Protein foods: steak, chicken breast, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, seeds, cottage cheese, protein powder
- Carbohydrate foods: rice, oats, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peas, corn, fruits, milk, yoghurt, sauces
- Fat foods: oils, butter, avocado, nuts, seeds
You must be aware of the correct portion sizes
Being aware of your correct portion sizes is also important when meal planning so you provide your body with enough food to ensure optimum body functioning, maintenance of your muscle tissue and avoidance of hunger until your next meal. Correct portion sizes also prevents you from having too much food, resulting in greater storage of body fat.
Your appetite immediately prior to meals is a very good gauge as to whether your previous meal was a suitable size or not. If your previous meal was too large you are likely not to feel hungry at all. However, on the other hand, if the previous meal was too small you will probably have been feeling hungry well before the meal!
You need to have the foods available to you
Correct meal planning and preparation means that the food is on hand and available for you to prepare. Whilst this sounds obvious, it does mean that you’re going to have to go and get your food from the supermarket or store on a regular basis. Therefore, part of your meal planning and preparation involves knowing what you need, knowing approximately what quantities you need, and then going and getting it!
Then, when you start preparing the meals themselves all of foods you need are available, making the process much easier and less time consuming.
You need to make the time each day to prepare your meals
The people who get the best results when it comes to body transformation, whether that be, building muscle or burning off body fat, are those who create the habit of consistent, regular meal planning and preparation. This means that they have set aside time each day, and generally the same time each day, when they will prepare their meals.
Plus, most of their meals throughout the day vary very little; they eat the same foods day in, day out! Of course, occasionally they may go out for dinner or lunch or they might decide to try a baked whole fish for dinner instead of the usually steak/ chicken with vegetables, but generally, there is an amazing amount of consistency with the foods in their meals.
Even though some people may find this approach to eating boring, if you seriously want to build muscle and get the best possible results it is something you must do! Plus, if you enjoy the foods you are eating and include the occasional treat, there is no doubt that it can become a long-term habit that will not only see you achieve outstanding results, but will also go a long way towards improving your health and well-being over the course of your life.