How much someone struggles with sticking to a meal plan long-term is directly related to how bland they insist on making their meals and how crappily their food is prepared. Utilizing a handful of products and techniques can turn following a plan from a chore to something you can actually enjoy.
1 – Salt
For a long time, bodybuilding was considered an activity that forced you to eat bland, tasteless food. Thankfully, we know better. There is no reason to follow a low-sodium dieting protocol unless your primary care provider has given you a good reason to. We are active, we sweat, and if we don’t replenish the salt our bodies lose from that process our blood sodium levels drop and it impacts muscular contractile ability. Salt and fats both = flavor, one of them is macro free so USE IT. Just don’t go super crazy and aim for some level of consistency as well.
2 – Soy sauce
For all the same reasons listed above – basically just salt in liquid form with a distinct flavor.
3 – Walden Farms goodies
These products are basically magic in a bottle – zero calorie (not just low carb/low sugar) yummies for all occasions – maple syrup and chocolate syrup (pictured, I use both regularly), but they also have ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressings and more. Typically found in the “health food” or “diabetic” section of grocery stores, or online
4 – Water additives
Especially if guzzling water isn’t your game or is something you need a little encouragement with, these can sweeten the deal a bit. Mio, Dasani, Crystal Light – there are powdered and liquid additives in numerous flavors to help you spice up your water game. Artificial sweetener caveat applies here (may cause cancer and early death, may not….who knows?)
5 – Hot shit
Seriously, anything spicy is a gold mine and most of the stuff is calorie free (check labels, always) – heat can come with or without flavor (I like both of these options shown here for both purposes) and will certainly help turn a boring meal into a bit more of an adventure.
6 – Wholly Guacamole
I stopped buying real avocados some time back when it got to be such a monumental pain in the ass trying to manage my inventory. You go shopping and it’s like “ok I need one really ripe one for today, two that are kinda ripe for a bit later, and a couple that are green and could break windows currently that I’ll need in 4-5 days” – and then you get home and realize that each avocado is perfectly ripe for a period of about 30 minutes, miss that window and it’s mushy crap. THIS stuff is portioned out already, has flavor, is clean, and keeps. Done deal.
7 – Pre-chopped fresh veggies
Seriously, I’m an idiot when it comes to using a knife. Ask me to chop an onion and I can do it but it’ll take about 20 minutes. Our local grocery store here in Knoxville stocks a few different fresh veggies that are already cut and ready to go – shown here is the “fajita mix” (green peppers, red peppers, onions), diced red onion, and an onion/celery mix. Sprinkle some of this in with a protein and some carb and you’ve hit all the bases and done so efficiently!
8 – Zero calorie beverages
For many people, these things are the saving grace of a pre-contest diet – a little slice of normalcy in a low-carb world. Artificial sweetener caveats apply: may kill you, won’t harm your physique.
9 – Slow cooker
If your goal is to end up with edible food and for the path there to be a low maintenance one, this is really the only option. Your mileage may vary on timing, but for me it’s 2 minutes to put the crap in there, 8 hours away from it while it does it’s thing, 30 minutes to let it cool off and another 2 minutes to transfer it to tupperware and refrigerate. Total time actually interacting with stuff in the kitchen: 4 minutes. Chicken is the only thing I mass prep so that’s the “meal prep Sunday” in a nutshell. Shred it by hand and add some of the above mentioned goodies and you’ve got a tasty dish that remains edible (and not rubbery) even after a few days in the fridge when your baked or grilled stuff is starting to turn to rubber.
10 – Packaged pre-cooked chicken breast strips
The downside to #9 is that it does take like 8 full hours to produce something edible from a raw state – so if your forecasting is a bit off you could find yourself in a bind. Enter #10 – I always keep 1-2 of these in the fridge for those inevitable instances when my planning fails and the slow cooker is running late. Also an excellent travel option, just add fridge/microwave and the meal plan can survive a road trip with minimal hassle.