Do want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy? You may eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. That’s what works for you and your family (when it comes to time and convenience). But you probably realize it’s not working great when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
You want better health. You want to eat better and you don’t want the extra calories, fast food and junk food as much anymore. And you DO want to save time and money.I get it! I am here to help you.
I have a simple strategy that I’m more than happy to share with you. It will help you to plan and prepare healthy meals for the week. Now, you don’t need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you. As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again.
Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system, and how this can work for you.
I work 40+ hours per week and I prefer to do my meal planning on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes and choose a bunch to make that week. I have recipes I print and keep in a recipe book but most often I go to my Pinterest boards to find the recipes I’ve saved.I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this. I bookmark the pages and write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge.
Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy. I know the layout of my grocery store so I write down the ingredients in the order that they will be in the store. That makes shopping a breeze.
If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient already, consider buying a “backup” one just in case. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was a bit short of what I actually needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating. I keep most of my staple ingredients on hand and I have a list for when I go to Costco.
Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready.
If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double the amount you buy from the grocery store.
Once you have your handy-dandy grocery list ready, hop on over to the store and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too. My favorite containers are Mr. Lid. I love these because the lids never get lost.
If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.
Since you’ve already chosen your recipes and have your groceries, let’s get started on prepping some of the ingredients.
I like to book off 1-2 hours one afternoon for this. Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music (if you’re so inclined).
At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze. It’s really up to you, because the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.
AWESOME MEAL PREP TIP
There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy.
I cook up a bunch of hard boiled eggs on the weekend and I bake a tray of bacon. That way each morning I just need to grab two eggs and two pieces of bacon and I’m all set for breakfast. When I get tired of hard boiled eggs I make egg salad and eat them up that way. Another great way to have easy breakfast is to cook a frittata and divide it up in individual servings.
With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and eat real food.
This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know.
One of the most frequent questions I get is, “What is ketosis?” The human body amazing. We can get energy from more than one type of nutrient. We either use glucose for energy or we can use fat for energy. For me personally, ketosis means I’m in a state where my body is burning my stored fat and I feel fantastic with increased energy, clearer thinking and weight loss. But I sense that people want a more scientific answer. I made a quick video to explain what ketosis is. If you would rather read about it scroll down below the video.
I see so many people making keto complicated and it doesn’t have to be that way. I thought I’d write about some of the ways I make it easier for myself. This is my 3rd month on keto and I’ve lost 16 pounds so far.The best part of it all is that I feel great.
Dinner: My family is not eating keto so dinner is more variable. The easiest is when we have meat and veggies. (i.e. steak and asparagus, pork chops and greens or other combinations). I will add some sort of healthy fat to that like grass-fed butter, avocado, or coconut oil. If they are having something that is not on my eating plan I will modify. For example if they are having spaghetti I will have some meat sauce over zucchini noodles. If they have burgers I will eat mine without the bun. There’s always a way to modify. If all else fails I’ll scramble up some eggs with cheese.
Adding a cheat day or a cheat meal is one of the ways people try to stay on track with their nutrition plan. We tend to give in to the feeling of deprivation and “reward” ourselves with food that we miss. Everyone has to decide for themselves but I’m going to share with you why I choose not to include cheat meals or cheat days.
One reason I don’t cheat is that I’ve realized over the years that the only person I’m cheating is myself. Allowing junk food back into my eating plan has undermined my success over and over. Not only is it a slippery slope for me, it leads to increased hunger and cravings. I worked hard to kick my cravings and I have no desire to fire them back up again. Cheat meals feel fantastic in the moment however there are consequences.
Eating foods with poor nutritional value and unhealthy ingredients causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a major contributor to many chronic diseases. It affects your gut health and your mental health. It can also feed any food addictions you may have and can be a starting point for a relapse with subsequent weight gain.
We cheat for various reasons:
The list could go on and on but you get the idea. Next time you are tempted, ask yourself what’s really going on.
When you have cheat days on keto you have an additional set of consequences. You run the risk of knocking yourself out of ketosis. If you have been on a ketogenic diet for long enough you are fat adapted which means you are a fat burning machine. If you are not close to your goal I don’t recommend jeopardizing that fact. Cheating can cause an insulin spike and messes with your stabilized blood sugar. Eating junk food can increase hunger and re-ignite cravings. If you are hungry for certain types of foods I recommend that you find a keto friendly recipe that will help satisfy your craving with ingredients that won’t sabotage your progress. Sometimes it’s just about staying the course, getting used to eating real food, and learning a bit of something about our relationship with food. It’s OK to be uncomfortable and not give into temptation. There’s room for serious personal growth in those moments.
If you do cheat OWN IT. Remember you never “have to” cheat. Don’t play the victim Learn from it. Move on. Don’t use it as an opportunity to continue down a spiral of giving up on your goals. Anticipate the fact that you may feel some negative effects from it and you may be hungrier than usual. Forgive yourself. Don’t dwell on it. Set yourself up for success. Focus on creating better habits over time.
Since my body is burning fat for fuel now I can go longer periods of time without needing to eat. I am doing intermittent fasting. We all fast at night when we sleep. Extending that fast until later in the day has all sorts of benefits. I do what’s called a fat fast meaning I have some fat in the morning in my coffee but no other food. I eased into this gradually I started by keeping my feeding times down to 8 hours (fasting for 16 hours). So I was eating for the first time at 10 a.m. and stopping eating by 6 p.m. This past week I worked on lengthening the fasting window to 11 or 12 hours. I actually went until 1:30 one day when I was busy at work.
You can do intermittent fasting along with any nutrition plan. I am doing it along with a ketogenic diet (keto). Keto helps my body prefer fat as fuel and doesn’t stimulate insulin spikes. Since insulin is a fat storage hormone this helps me stop the continual gain and begin to lose fat.
I also love the flexibility of intermittent fasting. I don’t have to follow a strict schedule. It’s all about finding what works for me. As for right now I’m fasting 16+ hours a day during the weekdays. On the weekend I’m planning to eat breakfast with my family so my fasting window will be shorter. One thing that challenged me at first was wanting to snack near bedtime. I used to do this every night. In the hour before bed I used to have cheese or nuts or some other snack. I wasn’t hungry. I just did it because I wanted to. Purely out of habit. Now I’m mindful of my behavior and I distract myself when I feel the need to snack at night. Or I just go to bed.
Well, I used to think this too. I taught it to others for years. I thought that my body would go into starvation mode and I would do more harm than good. The funny thing is I believed that this was true while carrying around 35,000 extra calories stored right on my own body. Now I am allowing my body to burn those extra calories for fuel. And the result of that is that I’m losing weight and I feel great doing it. I’m enjoying delicious food along the way.
If you’re interested in learning more about intermittent fasting I recommend you watch Dr. Jason Fung on YouTube. This is a good one to start with:
He also has a great book called The Obesity Code that goes into detail about this concept.
One important part of eating a keto lifestyle is to know what macros you’re aiming for. There are many different ways that people calculate their macros. Below is my favorite way to calculate protein. I find that some of the online macro calculators allow for too much protein. Too much protein can stall your progress (more on this in a future article).
This protein calculation is based on an estimation of your ideal body weight and so it is based on your height.
45.5 grams for 5 foot tall
Add 2.3 grams for each inch over 5 foot
(subtract 2.3 grams for each inch under 5 foot)
50 grams for 5 foot tall
Add 2.3 grams for each inch over 5 foot
(subtract 2.3 grams for each inch under 5 foot)
Example – For a 5’2” female
45.5 + (2.3 x 2) = 45.5 + 4.6 = 50.1 grams of protein per day
You will aim for 20 grams or less of carbohydrates. Especially starting out. Later you can experiment with how many carbs you can handle without getting kicked out of ketosis. Most of your carbohydrates will come from low carbohydrate vegetables. These contain so many important nutrients so yes, eat your veggies. There are two ways to count carbs. The first is total carbs and the second way is net carbs. Net carbs are calculated from subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols from total carbs. To start out with I recommend that you just stick with total carbs until you get the hang of this.
Now comes the easy part. You will eat fat to satiety. Aim for eating at least as much fat as protein but on most days aim for twice the amount of fat.
I am 5’7”. My macros are 20g carbs, 64g protein and 152g fat. I am pretty good bout keeping my total carbs under 20 and I usually get close to my protein goal. My fat usually comes in around 100 grams because I’m just not hungry after that point.
You don’t need to stress over calories. I’m not going to go into detail here – that will be the subject of another post. Just trust me. Stay under 20 grams of carbohydrates, get close to your protein goal, and eat fat to satiety. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. You won’t go into “starvation mode.” Your body will begin to use your stored body fat for energy as it was designed to do. That’s the beauty of this whole way of eating.
Need help with your macros? Comment below and I can help.