Cheating and missing meals are the two biggest ways that bodybuilders sabotage their goals; here’s the four ways can prevent that by making sure you’re always fully fuelled.
When your primary goal is to transform your physique, it’s essential that you remain hyper-disciplined with your nutrition program. Staying vigilant with your diet no matter your environment involves many different things. These range from saying no to junk food, to remembering to prep your meals ahead of time, to consuming the right quantity of all nutrients at the correct time every day.
Another very important dieting rule is to never miss a meal. For years I have preached that missing a single scheduled feeding interval can knock your progress back by an entire day. This is a rule I have drummed into celebrity clients, as well as to the countless followers who use my programs on a daily basis.
Before I share my four most valuable tips to ensure that you never miss a meal, it’s important to justify the importance attached to the primary rule I just mentioned. When you miss a meal, your muscle protein synthesis levels are prone to falling. That then reduces your ability to recover and build muscle. Whether you’re dieting or aiming to gain size, this is a problem because your metabolically active tissue must be constantly supported with an influx of nutrients to maximize progress.
Another disadvantage that comes with missing a meal is that your blood-sugar levels are far more prone to crashing, which leaves you hungry and low on energy. From a performance perspective, this is not desirable because it’s likely that your training will suffer. That then causes you to burn fewer calories, further reducing muscle stimulation during workouts. Adherence is a huge part of successful dieting. When you’re hungry that likely means your blood-sugar levels have plummeted, and this can leave you extremely vulnerable to cheating. More often than not, the food you’ll turn to in this state will be laden with sugar, which you’re craving to “fix” the crash.
For these reasons, you should commit to never missing a meal if you want to optimize your results. Below you will find my four most important suggestions to help you stay on track.
Assess your schedule
Most people have a routine that doesn’t vary much from day to day, especially during the week. Take stock of your average timetable and look for holes where you frequently struggle to consume the right foods. First, you should implement a fast solution for any window of the day that is a constant challenge. This could be as simple as always having a protein shake at the ready to fill a gap before your next whole food meal.
Second, you need to build your meal-prep habits around your typical schedule. For instance if your daily schedule requires that you take three meals with you, then you need to ensure that you’ve cooked this amount of food no later than the night before so you already have the next day’s food ready. Also, make sure to divide it into the proper portions and prepare it to be taken with you. This eliminates the chances of falling behind schedule, forgetting to eat, or any other excuse that you tend to use that hampers your progress.
If you know that there are one or two days each week where your routine changes, then you should make adjustments in your meal prep to account for this. For example, on the weekends I often spend time hiking in the mountains so I need to carry extra meals with me. If I am travelling to India on tour, I have lots of transitions between airports to consider, so I adjust my meal prep accordingly.
Stock your freezer
This is something I have done for years, and I keep telling people to do the same: You should always have an adequate number of meals that are appropriate for your diet cooked and then frozen. In addition, you should always have a cool bag available in your kitchen so that at a moment’s notice you’re able to fill it with ready-made frozen meals and head out.
Doing this allows your pre-prepared meals to naturally defrost during the day, while keeping them fresh at the same time. Never let your freezer run low – this is all about planning for the unexpected! The great thing about this meal-prep hack is that once you do it, this food will last for a very long time. Alternatively, you can buy healthy prepped meals and keep them in your freezer. The key is to be prepared for when something unexpected occurs.
Carry Emergency Supplies
Even when you have all of your regular meals taken care of, you should always have fast options on your person because you never know when an emergency will occur. I’m not talking about serious problems – just the small schedule disruptors that happen to all of us. You never know when a meeting will come up (or last far longer than expected), you’ll get stuck in traffic, or life will throw a curveball at you.
No matter where I go, I always carry whey protein isolate packets and a bottle of water so, at the very least, I’m able to get my protein in when needed. For fats and carbohydrates, I recommend that you always have rice cakes, dried fruit, almonds and trail mix on hand. Add these to your “day” or “man” bag, and carry these snacks with you everywhere you go.
Research ahead of time
Pre-trip research is something I probably wouldn’t have suggested even five years ago, especially on a grand scale. However, in 2019, there is almost always somewhere in your vicinity that serves healthy meals if you’re willing to spend the time looking on your phone or computer. You can quickly search for the eateries in your current locality that prepare nutritious foods. This is great because it gives you another option when you’re caught off guard.
Sometimes this requires you to get a little creative. For instance, you can request that a restaurant not include sauce or oil with their chicken breast selections. Keep in mind that there are many options available today when it comes to healthy “fast food.” And it usually takes minimal time and effort to locate it.
You should always familiarize yourself with the area you live in – even some convenience stores sell items such as boiled eggs and ready-to-drink protein shakes! Get the big picture on what’s available where you live. This becomes even more important when you’re traveling and not familiar with nearby shops and restaurants that are able to accommodate your nutrition needs. Search for these before you leave home, making it part of your travel itinerary! Then you can make adjustments on the road, traveling for long periods and not able to prepare your own food.
Think Before you Eat
With equal amounts of discipline, planning and knowledge, you’ll find it exponentially easier to stay on your nutrition program. Due to the fact that health and fitness has become more mainstream in recent years, it’s much easier to find quality food that’s acceptable for your program, regardless of where you are. This helps you avoid missing a meal, no matter the circumstances.
Despite these options, you should never bank solely on finding food in a pinch. That leaves you open to variables and poor solutions. Always take control of your nutrition in the environment where you find yourself rather than be controlled by it. Use these hacks to make sure you’re prepared and able to stay on your diet wherever you go or whatever circumstances you encounter.