Subj: How to Meal Prep to Eat Clean and Get Lean – Bodybuilding meal prep ideas for lean gains.
It’s no secret that nutrition will make or break you; If you don’t get enough of the right stuff and you crash and burn.
Or, eat too much of the wrong stuff and you get fat and sick.
Meal prep is a foolproof way to ensure all your nutritional needs are met perfectly.
Meal prep works for bulking, cutting and anything in between.
Whatever your fitness goal, a meal prep plan can be tailored to your exact requirements.
Although most common for bodybuilders, anyone can reap the benefits of meal prep.
I’m going to assume the Reader is a novice and start from square one. Don’t be scared off veterans, you will learn thing or two here as well.
What is Meal Prep?
Meal Prep is when you cook a bunch of meals ahead of time so they are ready to eat when needed.
This can be 5 meals or 25 meals. It all depends on how often you eat and how far in advanced you cook.
I usually cook enough food for lunch and dinner for 3-4 days.
Anything more than four days old I don’t eat. So that’s all I prep for. But some people do eat food that’s been in the fridge four, five even six days.
The idea is to prep meals that fit your nutritional needs and align with your fitness goals.
Benefits of Meal Prep
Meal Prep was a game changer for me. Lose Fat, Less Food Waste, Lean Gains – the list goes on
Before meal prepping, I was fat and overweight. After meal prepping I lost 30 pounds and got ripped.
It’s also helped me get lean and build muscle at the same time.
In this article I’ll show you the benefits of meal prep and how to meal prep for bodybuilding. I’ll also show you some recipes and tips you can use to jump start your meal prep.
These bodybuilding meal prep ideas can be used for clean bulking or cutting.
Get Ripped with Meal Prep
Meal Prep Builds MuscleSince I started meal prepping 2 years ago I’ve gotten leaner, stronger, healthier and have more energy.
I lost 30 pounds, reduced my cholesterol and got in the best shape of my life. Meal prep played large part in achieving that.
Get Lean with Meal Prep
You must eat ‘clean’ to be lean.
Eating clean means you avoid bad foods and eat ‘clean’ foods.
Clean foods are lean, natural, have no artificial ingredients, are not genetically modified, and are preservative, additive, and hormone free.
Foods that aren’t clean slow your metabolism and sap your energy.
A slow metabolism and low energy means you won’t burn fat and won’t workout. A double whammy that will impede your progress and hurt your health.
Eating clean will give you energy all day, fuel you through tough workouts, and provide you with nutrients to recover and build muscle.
Meal Prep Keeps Your Diet on Track
Not only must you eat clean to get lean, you must eat clean consistently to get and stay lean.
It takes months, even years, to build a great physique. Steady progress made daily is how you get in shape.
For every clean food item there are 100 bad food items. Temptation to eat poorly is everywhere and you will fail to eat clean without a plan.
Meal prep is the best plan I’ve found to get and stay on track with my diet by ensuring I always have a healthy meal ready to eat.
Meet Your Nutrition Requirements with Meal Prep
Meal prep ensures you reach your nutrition requirements.
Your fitness goals will determine your nutrition requirements. If you want to make lean gains (clean bulk), lose fat(cut), or you’re a skinny-fat guy that wants to transform his physique, then eliminate starchy and refined carbs and load up on vegetables and protein based foods.
Muscles require protein to grow. And you should aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of (desired) body weight.
That’s why every meal I prep has a quality protein source like skinless chicken breast or lean beef.
Then I add vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, beans and salad to each meal as well to provide fiber, for gut health, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Meal Prep Saves Time
I’m a busy professional so I spend a lot of time working. I also workout 5 days week and have a girlfriend that lives out of town. I live alone so do all my own chores, maintenance, etc.
My days are busy – I spend a lot of time at work, in the gym, or out of town. Anywhere I can save time, I do.
Meal prep saves me several hours each week and I can use those hours to be productive.
How do I save time with meal prep?
I buy groceries once a week and I cook once a week.
Grocery shopping takes about 45 minutes round trip from the time I leave my apartment. Cooking takes about an hour total with cleaning.
So I spend less that 2 hours total buying and cooking food each week. I know people that go to the grocery store 3 times a week and cook every night. This is very time consuming. That’s a 1-2 hours each day spend buying and cooking meals.
Meal prep saves me at least 5 hours a week. I use those 5 hours to get 5 great workouts done.
Meal prep is great for work too – I take my meals to work and finish it in the time it takes most people to order their food. Then I’m back to work without wasting any time. Or if I have to run a quick errand, it doesn’t cut into my productivity, just my ‘lunch time’.
Meal Prep Saves You Money
Meal prep saves money because I buy groceries on sale and eat out less. Which is great because I don’t overpay and avoid garbage-quality food at most restaurants.
I know people that eat out twice a day. Unless you’re a sales person meeting with prospects you’re throwing money down the toilet.
Each prepped meal is $5 or less. Go out to lunch and you spend $10 minimum.
I spend half as much on food and eat twice as well than most people.
Maybe you spend less but it’s nowhere near the quality of food you cook yourself. Meal prepped food is faster and cheaper than fast food and infinity better for you.
Quality food is a pricier compared to low quality food, but it’s still cheaper than going out. I pay for quality food but look for sales when I can. But if I was on a tight budget I could easily You can meal prep for under $50 a week, have more food, eat better and still make gains.
If you want to go further, you’ll save money on health care cost and increase your productivity by eating better. You’ll show up more often and perform at a higher level.
Don’t believe me? Try this: have a grilled chicken salad for lunch one day and a friend donut the next, then go sit in a business meeting after lunch. tell me you’re not laser focused after eating a salad compared to a fried donut. Extreme example, but you get my point.
Hey, I’m not trying to demonize eating out, I eat out 2-3 times a week – You gotta live a little. I just hope this article is enlightening and gives you some good ideas.
Meal Prep is the Only way to Eat Healthy
You cook everything yourself so you know exactly what you’re eating. All the nutrition is cooked right in. No processed or frozen crap.
Home-Cooked meals are infinitely better than any meal bought from a store or restaurant. If you didn’t cook it yourself, you have no idea what’s in it.
99.99% of foods today are processed, modified or bastardized in some way. The only guaranteed way to eat healthy consistently is with meal prep.
Meal Prep Works with any diet
Meal prep works for any diet and every goal.
Gaining weight, losing weight, building muscle, getting huge, whatever -meal prep will help you reach your physique goals.
You can be vegan, vegetarian, or full on carnivore and prep your meals.
Less Stress and ‘Diet Anxiety’
Work is stressful, being out of shape is stressful,editing can be stressful. Some days are chaotic and when you’re hungry and need something to eat quick, you need a go to option.
Meal preps got your back and is ready when you are so you can relax.
If you don’t have food that fits your diet it can be stressful. If you’re in a pinch and need food you’re more likely to make a poor food decision if you don’t have a prepped meal on hand.
This is where meal prep reduces diet anxiety by having a healthy, wholesome, quick meal ready to eat when you are.
How to Meal Prep
To start meal prepping all you need is ingredients to cook meals and storage containers for your cooked meals.
Go buy all the groceries you need to make your meals. Hardcore meal peppers cook all their meals for the week at once. Sometimes 5 meals a day for each day of the week. This is a ton of meals and will only be necessary for competitive bodybuilders or full-time training professionals.
Busy professionals like me can prep 10 meals per week – 2 meals for each day. This gives me lunch and dinner Monday-Friday.
I found this works best for my fitness goals and lifestyle. I also eat 2-4 snacks or small meals throughout the day.
My Meal Prep Routine
Every Sunday I buy groceries and cook. Sunday’s are great because the food I want is stocked an on sale on Sunday and I want my prepped meals fresh for the workweek.
I buy large 10 chicken breasts, vegetables and stuff to make salad. Pre marinated, pre-seasoned chicken breast is usually on special, so that’s what I get. Or I’ll get plain chicken breast and add seasoning.
After that, I’ll pick up a few other items that make up the rest of my diet and pay for my food then go home and start cooking.
Cook everything you can all at once to save time: Bake chicken breast in a big glass tray and sweet potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. Sometimes I’ll load a baking sheet full of asparagus in the oven and boil a dozen eggs on the stove top.
Set a timer or multiple timers to keep track of everything so you don’t burn the house down.
Bodybuilding Meal Prep Ideas
I’ve meal prepped for a while and experimented with lots of different meals. I encourage you to do the same.
Here are a few of good ones to get you started:
Chicken and Mixed Vegetables
This is one of my personal favorites. It has a ton of flavor and is good for you.
Here’s how you make it:
Ingredients: 4-5 chicken breasts, 6-8 bell peppers, 1 onion, water chestnuts, broccoli crown.
Bake chicken breasts in the oven until cooked thoroughly.
Chop up the peppers, onion and broccoli and place in a big frying pan, pre- heated, with melted real butter or olive oil.
Sauté your vegetables until they are the desired cooked-ness.
I like mine al dente so they have a crunch to them, not all limp and stringy which happens when overcooked.
Cut chicken into chunks and toss in the veggies. Add seasoning or stir fry sauce for extra flavor.
Portion out into meal prep containers and store in the fridge. They will last you 4-5 days.
Chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes: The Trifecta
This is the lean gainer’s meal of choice. (to be perfectly honest, all of these meals are perfect for lean gains or cutting fat).
You’ll notice a trend in my meal prep meals, There’s always a protein source and something green.
Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates and have a wealth of other nutrients that are good for you.
Bake the chicken in the oven like normal.
You can steam or saute the broccoli.
The sweet potatoes you can cook whole or chopped. Just wrap the whole potatoes in tin foil or cover the cookware containing the chopped potatoes with foil. This holds the natural moisture in the sweet potatoes so it gets tender. If you forget the tinfoil, the potatoes will feel like you’re biting into a carrot.
Beef and Broccoli
A.K.A. Greens and Ground (Beef).
This is a simple and delicious bodybuilding meal.
I use 90-95% lean ground beef and brown it in a pan.
When the beef is done, drain the fat and add seasoning. Garlic, salt and pepper should do the trick. Or drizzle some Sriracha or barbecue sauce.
Cook the broccoli and snow peas in a pan with butter or olive oil.
Cooking vegetables in butter does something amazing – it makes them taste hearty, savory and delicious. It brings out their natural, very faint, sweetness.
Oh, you’ll also notice that when you eat clean your taste buds will get extremely sensitive.
When you’re not constantly bombarding them with artificial flavor (chemicals) and refined sugar, you’ll notice subtle flavors like never before.
You’ll start to crave simple healthy foods after dieting a while – almost like you have a new acquired taste.
You can add rice, quinoa or baked potatoes if you need carbs or substitute ground turkey instead of beef if you want to mix it up.
Fish, Vegetables and Rice
Any type of fish will work for this dish. It comes down to personal preference and taste
Salmon is fattier and rich in omega oils. Omega is good for your brain and joints, and cell membranes.
Cod is a white fish with a lighter taste that’s less fatty but still provides a lot of quality protein.
Cod is easier to cook than salmon, and is less expensive so Cod is probably your best bet for meal prep if you don’t want to ring up a hefty bill.
I generally avoid anything farm raised. I only buy wild caught fish from North America.
Stay away from tilapia and shell fish. They are dirty bottom feeders.
I bake my fish in the oven. For Cod, I add garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper.
Fish stays good in the fridge for 4-5 days but I usually only do 3 days with because I get sick of it after three days.
Mason Jar Meals
Mason jars are perfect storage containers for bodybuilding meal prep.
Perfect if you’re on the go. I like mason jar meals because they are durable, leak proof and easy to clean.
I can throw one in my backpack and not worry about making a mess. Mason jars are also cheap, easy to clean, and microwave and dishwasher safe because they’re made of glass.
For a while I was on a Mason jar meal kick. I ate this for lunch for a few months straight while cutting for summer.
Try one of my famous Mason Jar Meals was Beef, carrots, broccoli, beans and rice/quinoa.
You can make salads in the mason jar as well:
Put the dressing at the bottom, add the lettuce, then layer your toppings like cheese, beans and sunflower seeds until you have the desired amount.
Close the lid tight and place in the fridge. These meals stay good for 4-5 days in the fridge.
Crock Pot Meal Prep
Crock pot meal prep is the easiest way to meal prep.
You throw everything in raw, turn it on, then come back hours later and everything is cooked.
Clean up is easy because all you have to clean is the crock pot reservoir. No pots, pans or cooking sheets.
With a crock pot, you can make beef stew, chili, and pot roast super easy.
A great crock pot meal is chicken, potatoes, green beans, carrots and onions.
Seriously any meat and vegetables will work in a crock pot. So go nuts and try all kinds of things.
Throw all the ingredients in the crock pot before you leave in the morning and come home to a hot meal.
Just make sure you get a crock pot big enough to make food for the entire week.
BONUS: Here’s a video of me meal prepping for the week!
Bodybuilding Meal Prep For Lean Gains
You should consider your nutrition needs when meal prepping. Once you lost the fat, you want to keep it off but still gain muscle.
When I’m cutting or clean bulking, I shoot for 200 grams of protein a day. I typically eat 2-3 meals a day, usually lunch and dinner. I’ll have a snack in the morning – 2 greek yogurt, a banana, and sometimes 2 hardboiled eggs if I’m really hungry.
Before my workout, I eat cottage cheese and pineapple.
When it comes to snacks and unplanned hunger, it helps to have a few staples on hand – I always have the following items in my kitchen:
- Eggs (many dozens)
- Greek Yogurt
- Tuna Fish
- Natural Peanut Butter (High quality peanut butter will change your life).
- Almonds, cashews or peanuts
- Beans – Kidney, black or garbanzo
- Cottage Cheese
I keep almonds at work in case I need a snack as well as cottage cheese and pineapple in the work fridge and eat it before I hit gym around 5 or 6 PM.
I keep the foods listed above around because they are healthy and give me options when I have a taste for something different.
My freezer always has frozen fish filets, ground beef and more chicken for back up. I also have real butter and extra virgin olive oil for cooking.
Do not buy anything processed or refined and never trust a food label. Only trust the ingredients listed on the package. A ‘good’ food is one that has ingredients you can read easily.
The fewer ingredients the better. Too many ingredients or ingredients with ‘x’s’ and ‘y’s’ or numbers should be avoided. Additives and preservatives are hard to metabolized and wear you down from the inside out making you feel tired.
Meal Prep Tips
I’ll also eat snacks and breakfast throughout the week so I buy other things as well. (I have a Meal Prep shopping list shown later in this article).
Add Some Flavor with Seasoning and Sauce
Always have condiments and sauces like Sriracha sauce, tabasco, barbecue sauce, mustard, and stir fry sauce.
Have some spices and seasoning in your kitchen like garlic, salt, pepper, and any spice blends you might like.
Keep it simple
Keep meal prep simple: pick a protein source and a carb and veggie for each meal. Easy, wholesome, healthy.
The idea is to eat clean and save time. Simplicity is key when planning your meals:
I have a protein source like chicken, beef or fish and vegetables like broccoli or asparagus. Sometimes I’ll add starchy carbs like rice or quinoa but I rarely do any more. I’ve been cutting down on carbs including potatoes.
Do All Your Bodybuilding Meal Prep at Once
Go shopping once. Cook it all at once. Clean it all at once and be done with it so you can take care of business all week and not worry about what to eat.
Buy in Bulk
Stock up on meat and can goods when there’s a good deal. You’ll save money in the long run. If it’s a great deal on can or dry goods that are non perishable I will stock up big time.
For example I bought 20+ cans of tuna for 50 cents each. It lasted a long time, saved money and I always had a protein-packed snack on hand.
Meal Prep Works For Flexible Dieting (IIFYM)
If you count macros, meal prep will ensure you reach your nutrition requirements. It also makes it less of a hassle because you don’t need do constantly research your food.
Once you make a meal you know exactly what’s in it every time you eat it. Just measure it on a food scale.
The point of IIFYM is to be a flexible diet and eat anything you want, and you can, but meal prep can ensure you get at least 1-2 meals a day as a nutritional foundation.
Meal prep works for getting lean, just put yourself in a calorie deficit. If you want to bulk up, you should be in a calorie surplus.
You should also eat healthy and get the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs to achieve the body composition you’re looking for.
Bodybuilding Meal Prep Supplies
Comes with batteries. Great if you count marcos. I use mine every week for meal prep to portion out my meals.
These are microwavable and dishwasher safe. Very convenient.
If you’re a six-meals-a-day kind of guy, this is for you. Carry all your meals in cooler like this one. Also stores your protein and shaker cups.
Never underestimate the power of good cookware. Clean up is easier when food doesn’t stick to cookware. Spend a few bones on quality cookware. It will last you forever and make your life easier.
Easy to clean and non-stick. that means no need for added grease or fat.