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What is Meal Prep?

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Our lives are busier than ever, and our schedules are full. One way to help maintain a healthy diet and control your food intake is by combining meal preparation with the results of your resting metabolic rate test or RMR test. An RMR test takes 20 minutes and tells you the exact number of calories your body burns at rest. The results also tell what your body uses as a fuel source, either fats or carbohydrates. Knowing these numbers is important because a diet with your exact macronutrients can be set for weight loss. Everybody is different and their resting metabolic rate results will be different. Some individuals need 1400 calories, and some individuals only need 1000. There is not one number of calories for every person. Meal preparation is just that, preparing meals. It can be (1) preparing meals for five days or just one, (2) preparing each meal in its entirety, or (3) preparing separate ingredients (i.e., cut vegetables and cooked lean protein) to speed up the cooking process later. The idea of meal preparation is to ensure you have time to properly consider that your food intake is within your caloric deficit and create meals you will enjoy.

Why meal prep?

Meal preparation allows you to eat your favorite meals while pre-determined portion sizes ensure you don’t overindulge. Having a collection of well-balanced meals that are within your RMR results, or caloric limit, on hand will help you regulate what you eat and help you stay on track with your personal diet goals.

If the health benefits alone have not convinced you to consider meal preparation, consider the financial gains. Having food prepared at home will help you save money as it prevents you from eating out. Along with this, meal preparation gives you complete control over ingredients, giving you the ability to selectively shop for groceries that fit your personal dietary needs. With proper planning, you can prevent making unnecessary food purchases, saving you money, and reducing food waste.

What size containers to use for meal prep?

The right shape and size container for you depends on the food you make and how you want to store it. Containers can be made of plastic or glass. Glass is better at keeping food fresh for longer and preventing any chemical or bacterial contamination. Some tips for finding the perfect container is to make sure they are microwave safe, dishwasher friendly, freezer friendly and stackable. They may or may not have divided compartments. It all depends on the foods you make and your preference for storage. If you cook meals properly, food will be perfectly safe in the container to eat within seven days. However, by day five, it might not be as tasty.

How many meals to meal prep?

While you want variety for your meal prep, you should limit your recipes to two or three per week, and for five days ahead of time max. Being prepared is great, but you also want to make sure you're eating meals with fresh ingredients even if prepared ahead of time. With simple recipes in hand, decide what you’ll cook for the week and schedule the days of the week when you want to enjoy your meals.

What foods to use when meal prepping?

Use your RMR (resting metabolic rate) test results as your guide when meal prepping. The results of your RMR will give you the exact number of proteins, fats, and carbs you can consume in a day and lose weight. This number is exactly what your body needs. Weight loss success comes from being consistent. Consistently eating not only the same things everyday but the same amount of those things every day. To keep your metabolism high, get all your protein each day. Your body can absorb between 25-35 grams of protein every 90 minutes. Protein repairs cells and is needed for many body functions. Always choose lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish and/or egg whites. They are easier to digest and have less fat than red meat proteins. Plan your day around your protein. Depending on your RMR results, some individuals need 4 servings of protein while others need 7. Protein shakes, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt are all high in protein and count as servings of protein. After you’ve planned your protein for the day, plan your meals for meal prepping. Start simply by meal prepping dinner or lunch for 5 days. Carbs and fats are the body’s energy sources. When planning your meals, stay within your caloric limit for carbs and fats. Extra carbs and fats in your diet will be stored as body fat. Your RMR results will have the exact number of carbs and fats you can consume. If you don’t reach those numbers each day, that is okay. However, do not go over your daily allowance of carbs and fats. It has been proven that individuals who track their food lose weight. Using the Metabolic Testing & Weight Loss Center app for tracking your food makes you mindful of what you are consuming and keeps track of your exact macronutrients for the day. If you are eating the same things every day within your caloric limit, weighing weekly, tracking your food, drinking your lean body mass in water in ounces, and working out, you have a basis to track your progress. If you are not progressing the way you would like or as fast as you would like to, make some changes. However, if you are eating too many different foods each day to begin with, it's hard to know what to change; there are too many variables. Being consistent is key.

You can meal prep any food that holds up well in storage and tastes palatable to you after a few days in the refrigerator. When choosing recipes to meal prep, be sure that the caloric count is within your RMR results so that you aren’t overeating. This means weighing your portions so that you can track the correct number of macronutrients and calories. Cooked lean meat, roasted vegetables, soups, sauces, nuts, and sturdy raw vegetables make good bases for meal prep recipes. Keep it simple to start so you don’t waste food.

Schedule time for meal prep

You can’t meal prep without prep time. Schedule one to two days per week to prep your meals. If you can multitask a little (use your oven and stovetop to prep more than one food at once, for example), you’ll cut down on time even more. Using a sheet pan to roast big batches of food can also cut down on prep time. While some people meal prep for the week on Sundays, there’s no single rule. If it works better for your schedule to cook on Monday and again on Thursday, go for it. The best meal prep schedule is the one that works for you.

Serving size and ingredients matter when trying to lose weight. When prepping food be mindful of the results of your RMR test. Keep your macronutrients within your caloric limits so you don’t overeat and consume too many calories. Use your RMR test results as a guide when choosing recipes and ingredients for meal prepping.

Whether it’s planning for 3 or 5 days of meals, meal preparation can ease your stress and help you stay on track with your health and weight loss goals.

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