Losing weight is never easy. It's a lifestyle commitment with no real shortcuts. We talk a lot about finding the right exercise equipment and setting realistic goals. But advance meal prep can be one easy and practical weight loss life hack. It's a simple concept: plan and portion your meals for the week ahead of time. How does this help with weight loss? It puts you in control of your calories and portioning.
The only way to lose weight is to run a caloric deficit. You need to eat fewer calories than you burn over the course of the day. The exact number varies based on height, build, gender, age, and other factors, but typically, a caloric deficit means eating between 1200 to 1500 calories a day. But what do 1500 calories even look like? Are you going to count your calorie intake every time you eat?
When you prep a batch of meals for the week ahead, you already know exactly how much food you'll be eating. You'll be in control of what you eat and how much.
By itself, meal prep won't cause you to lose weight, but it's the most convenient way to control your portions. You'll have the exact amount of food you need in the fridge—no more, no less.
Here are some practical meal prep tips to help you on your weight loss journey. And as a bonus, we've thrown in a great, low-fat diet meal prep recipe.
Don't Cheat on meal prep!
The whole point of meal prep is to help you control portions. When your meals are already prepared, you don't need to buy or cook more food. Discipline and consistency are a big part of successful weight loss, so don't cheat. Just enjoy the portions you've prepared, then take your mind off your plate.
Be Smart About Portion Control
Yes, you will gain weight if your meal portions are too big. No, you won't have to count calories every time you eat, but you will need to create reasonable portions during meal prep. Measure out portions to reach your target caloric intake. If that's 1500 calories, for example, don't make 3000-calorie portions.
Make sure your meals include plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. Limit red meat, carbs, and fat. Load up on veggies, fruits, fowl, and fish. Even if you're a classic junk food lover, don't worry. There are plenty of tasty, low-calorie entrees even you will love. Check out one of our favorite meal prep recipes below.
Quinoa Burrito Bowl Meal Prep Recipe (Good for 7 servings)
- Quinoa (2 cups)
- Garlic (2 cloves, minced)
- Olive oil (1 tbsp)
- Kidney beans (2 cans, drained)
- Chili powder (1 tsp)
- Cayenne pepper (1 tsp)
- Lime juice (1/2 cup)
- Shredded lettuce (2 cups)
- Rinse the quinoa in a strainer, then drain.
- Add the quinoa and two cups of water to a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for 20 minutes with the pan covered.
- While the quinoa is cooking, saute the minced garlic in a separate pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil for 2 minutes.
- Add the kidney beans, 1/2 cup of water, chili powder, and cayenne pepper to the pot with garlic. Bring the pot to a boil, then let it simmer until the beans thicken. Stir in the lime juice and add salt.
- Once the quinoa's fully cooked, use a fork to fluff it. Then season with salt. Divide among seven bowls.
- Top each bowl of quinoa with 1/4 cup of lettuce
- Top the lettuce with a portion of the beans
- Add any combination of salsa, grated cheddar, sour cream, or hot sauce on top. Make sure you've accounted for these condiments in your overall calorie count.