When you’re invested in working out, you’re likely also invested in properly fueling your body. Whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle or go faster or longer, eating right plays an important role in the process. To obtain the right nutrition to fuel performance, athletes need to frequently eat high-quality meals and snacks.
Making meals and snacks to fuel training each day could be a full-time job on top of work, daily tasks, working out and enjoying life. Luckily there are several kitchen meal-prep hacks to help you save time.
Athletes rely on good staple foods and tend to grab bananas, nut butter, eggs and oatmeal on a daily basis. Make your favorite fitness foods easier to consume by following these hacks:
- Bananas: To keep your bananas from browning too quickly, wrap the stem in foil or plastic wrap.
- Eggs: Stop struggling with removing eggshells from your hard or soft-boiled eggs by adding a splash of vinegar to the boiling water.
- Nut butter: To avoid stirring that natural nut butter for days, simply store it upside down.
- Oatmeal: Instead of making oatmeal each morning, bake a batch (with plenty of fruit, nuts and seeds) in a muffin tin for perfect on-the-go portions.
Create an environment to simplify and speed meal prep by outfitting your kitchen with gadgets to get the job done. Instant Pots are great for turning 40-minute brown rice into 12-minute brown rice or a 6-hour stew into a 45-minute stew. You can even hard-boil eggs in 3–5 minutes and all of this is done without tending to a pot on the stove. Another speedy gadget is a mandoline. This helps slice veggies in equal thicknesses in seconds, an otherwise tedious task. Invest $10 in a milk-frothing wand. Even if lattes aren’t your thing, this gadget is great for mixing sports drink powder into water.
There are several easy, nutritious items that can be prepped in advance and made ready to grab and go for low-stress fueling. Overnight oats can be made in individual, customizable jars for ready-to-grab meals. Simply add all the dry ingredients to jars and store in the pantry. Fill one jar with the liquid of your choice and place in the fridge each night for next morning’s breakfast. Making large pots of chili, soup or stews is a great way to have meals all week long. Whenever baking, toss extras in the oven (like sweet potatoes and peppers) to have cooked and ready to add to any meal. Burritos can be stuffed (think beans, rice, salsa, chicken), wrapped in foil and frozen to grab one at a time when you’re in a rush.
A great rule of thumb for meal prepping is, anytime you’re making one item (sandwich, stir-fry, stuffed pepper …) make another one (or make as many as you have ingredients for). This act saves time and takes the stress out of future meals!
Smoothies are a simple way to get nutrients and get out the door. Instead of peeling bananas and measuring protein powder each time you go to blend, do a little meal prep to make the next few smoothies much easier. When making one smoothie, line up a few freezer-safe ziptop bags and place everything (except the liquid) you put in the blender in the bags.
Next time all you have to do is grab a bag from the freezer, add liquid and blend. Another way to save time is to forget the bags and blend a large batch of smoothie. Pour your serving, then pour the rest into silicone ice cube trays and freeze. The next time you need a smoothie, just grab a few cubes and defrost or re-blend. That last trick also works for iced coffee, too.
Use your smart device to help with your healthy eating. From logging food on MyFitnessPal, to skipping the grocery store hassle and ordering food online, to making a grocery list of healthful choices in Tasks, to simply using your calendar to schedule reminders to eat after workouts, there are endless ways to make your smartphone work harder so you don’t.
Get a little help from subscriptions that can take the stress and guesswork out of eating. Options like Daily Harvest can stock your freezer with oat bowls and smoothies that make excellent pre-/post-workout fuel in minutes. Meal delivery services like Sun Basket and Purple Carrot help boost the quality of your meals with health-forward, fresh dishes that need minimal effort to get on the table. Beyond meals, you can select sport nutrition with a subscription from The Feed which offers gels, bars and drinks to help you power through your workouts.
At the end of the day, you need to eat a quality diet that includes frequent small meals and snacks to fuel your body for high performance. Using these hacks can help remove the struggle from your diet so you can put more effort into your training.