As you already know: a great deal of preparation goes into weight loss. From the work of preparing to make a diet change, to selecting the right diet and exercise plans for your needs, to the actual meal prep for each meal…just getting everything set up for success can be a challenge.
Meal prep has become a popular weapon for folks who want to stick to their weight loss goals and make or sustain big changes. What, exactly, is meal prep? If you’re on social media, you may have seen friends or neighbors who post beautiful photos of their meal preps in neatly aligned containers each week (either they are on a weight loss plan or they are trying to maintain a healthy weight), and, at first glance it may seem overwhelming.
In this article, we’ll explore what meal prep is, how it helps weight loss, what the benefits are, what are the cons, and, maybe most importantly: what are some options for folks who simply don’t have the time, or patience, or both!
What Exactly is Meal Prep?
What is meal prep? Ask 20 people to define meal prep and you’ll end up with 20 different answers.
Meal prep can mean many different things to different people: for some, meal prep is going to the grocery store. For others, it’s planning out a week’s worth of meals and a shopping list. For others, however, it’s a powerful tactic for weight loss.
For people who are using meal prep to help achieve weight loss goals, it typically means the following:
- Planning individual meals based on nutritional values and calories
- Preparing a shopping list based on the planned meals
- Washing and preparing, in advance, as much of the meals as possible
Usually, the ultimate goal of meal prep for weight loss is to help eliminate some of the daily time commitment by front-loading it all on one or two days of the week (such as on the weekends).
How Does Meal Prep Help Weight Loss?
Meal prep helps with weight loss goals because it removes barriers that get in the way. A significant barrier for many folks who want to make positive health changes is simply the time required that goes into ensuring the meals we eat are both nutritionally sound and helping us to achieve our weight loss goals. For others, it’s the stress and legwork of having to figure out what to eat, what to avoid, and how to prepare it all.
When you have access to meals you don’t have to think about beyond what you’d like to eat for dinner, it makes it a whole lot easier to avoid making decisions that derail your weight loss and health goals….why order a pizza or opt for fast food when your fridge is full of delicious options? Meal prep helps you to avoid overeating, or skipping a meal and then overeating later.
Don’t just take your friend on Instagram’s word for it: recent scientific research shows that meal planning has a positive impact both on the nutritional quality of your meals and on keeping your weight healthy.
What Are the Pros of Meal Prep?
Meal prep empowers people to commit to a sustained diet change. Instead of thinking of just eating one healthy meal at a time, the conversation is changed to eating a week of healthy meals, or even a month. Meal prep is a commitment — not just to actually doing the prep work but to making healthier choices over a period of time.
What’s easier to achieve: climbing a small mountain that doesn’t require a whole bunch of specialized gear...or climbing a mountain that requires the right shoes, the right backpack, the right training, and so on? Weight loss and health changes aren’t all that dissimilar.
As we discussed above, meal prep eliminates some barriers to health and weight loss. Some examples of barriers to weight loss are daily life issues such as working late, needing to make it to the soccer game on time, trying to fit in the gym to an already hectic day, trying to manage specific health needs, and so on….When you can fill your refrigerator with grab-and-heat healthy meals that you literally don’t have to think twice about, you’re far more likely to follow and achieve your goals.
What are the Cons of Meal Prep?
So, meal prep is a powerful tool for making lasting health and weight changes. If it’s so powerful, why aren’t far more people doing it? It has its cons.
First con? Meal prep is time consuming: to really tackle meal prep, you have to devote significant time to it. For some people, Saturday is for planning out a week’s worth of meals using online tools such as Pinterest, making a shopping list, and then actually going shopping. Sundays are for actually prepping the meals and cooking them….that’s not to mention doing the dishes.
Maybe meal prep sounds good on paper, but in practice...life happens. For most people, the practice of meal prep simply isn’t sustainable.
You may end up starting off with plans to really make big dietary changes, and end up with a fridge full of foods you had planned to prep...and nothing that’s actually easy to eat after a long day of commitments.
What Meal Prep Options are Available?
Good news: if you want the benefits of meal prep and you just don’t have the time, you have options. As more and more people want the health benefits of meal prep, services such as Pure Plates here in St. Louis offer real solutions.
For example, we’ve found that for our customers who want to achieve and maintain weight loss, a service like ours truly makes the difference between actually losing the weight and not.
What is our service? We’re a meal plans provider local to St. Louis — so if you’re in the St. Louis area, you’re in luck. If you’re not living in the greater St. Louis area, don’t stress: there are more and more companies offering services similar to ours, all across the country so hop on Google to find one that is similar (and check out this article on how to determine if a meal prep service is quality...or not).
We consistently hear from our customers that using a service such as ours has helped them move mountains, for example:
“I was able to save time and stick to my clean eating plan, which helped get me closer to my own personal goals!”
We offer fully prepared meals for our customers...with a variety of different options. Want to do the Ketogenic (Keto) diet? We offer meal plans specifically for those who are on the Keto diet. Are you diabetic and want to choose the best meals to help manage your condition and achieve your health goals? We offer diabetic meal plans. Want to jumpstart your weight loss such as committing to a five-day or 30-day meal plan? You can choose from meal plans that include snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Our meals fit easily into your fridge, and are served in BPA-free and 100% recyclable containers. We deliver directly to your door (or office, or whereever you happen to be) or you can pick up your meals at one of our many locations in the area.
To sum up, meal prep is a great choice for folks who want to make positive health changes, lose weight and keep it off! You commit to making the change and then you stick to it. There is, however, a considerable time commitment that could get in the way of your success, both long-term and short-term. If you need some help with meal prep, a service such as Pure Plates can help take the heavy lifting off your shoulders so that you can focus on other things and all you need to do is worry about which delicious meal you’re going to eat.