Getting fit starts in the kitchen


Health and fitness coaches are wont to say that getting fit does not start in the gym but in the kitchen.

Nutrition plays a big part in one’s fitness journey; the workout comes second. Meal preparation—or meal prepping—is a big factor in losing and maintaining weight as it is a process of planning and preparing meals ahead of time, which gives one control over food portion and what you put into your meals that is appropriate to the body weight one wants to achieve.

Twenty-five-year-old bodybuilder and personal trainer Enrico Valdez has been practicing meal preparation for the past six years. “I meal prep because I was constantly getting sick from my poor diet choices in the past so I decided to make a change. I started meal prepping full time when I was introduced to the fitness world and became a full-time bodybuilder/physique competitor,” he said.

“It was meal prepping that helped me achieve many goals in my fitness career, like winning the annual Dee Clayton Classic for three years straight in the Men’s Physique category. I believe that my body is a reflection of my lifestyle and eating habits. My goal is to inspire and motivate people to live a healthier lifestyle, so I choose to be a role model by staying true to myself and the fitness lifestyle,” he added.

Meal prepping for him means preparing meals for six days and allowing one cheat day or meal per week. “My meals are prepped for Monday to Saturday. On Sunday I will allow myself to have a treat at my favorite restaurant. In addition, meal prepping is done in either short term or long term,” he said.

“Meal preparations in the short-term are usually done by people who are preparing for a photoshoot, beauty pageant, bodybuilding competition or any event that requires your body to look its best in a short period of time. [That’s usually within] three to four months. Meal preparations in the long term are for people who dedicate years so that they can be healthier and pursue longevity,” he added.

The advantages of meal preparation outweighs the disadvantages, according to Valdez. “For one, it is cost-effective. People who meal prep are more likely to save money because they are aware of how much they are going to spend versus constantly having to eat out for lunch or dinner. Two, it is time-saving. Meal preparation allows you to manage your time more efficiently and it is also very convenient for people who are on-the-go. [There is] no need to leave work to go eat out at your favorite diner, [it] saves you gas as you only need one to three minutes in the microwave and you are ready to eat,” he said.

“The best part is you know exactly what you are putting in your food….When you prep your meals, you know exactly how much macro/micro nutrients you consume daily… You know exactly how much salt, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and calories are on your plate because you are in control. The only disadvantage I can think of is having limited choices of food. People meal prep so that they can eat healthier, but there are limits. If you are okay with eating the same kind of food for five to six days straight, then meal prepping will be perfect for you,” he added.

Personal trainer Aaron Tomokane believes meal preparation is not only for athletes or people in fitness but also for regular people.

“It is convenient for people who are working on their feet, away from home, no access to restaurants and for people who work 8-12 hour shifts,” he said. “As a bodybuilder and trainer, I encourage my clients to do this because it they can watch calorie intake for a day. Everyone has a calorie requirement, whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain your weight, so how you meal prep is based on the calories one needs,” he added.

Tomokane believes that taking care of one’s health and nutrition should require a hundred percent commitment. “When people ask me how much nutrition should be put in to be healthy, I tell them its one hundred percent nutrition and hundred percent training. You want to fuel your body for the amount of work that you put it through. Our body is like a car—you’ve you got to keep fueling it. For our body, it has to be the right fuel from the right food,” he said.

“Meal preparation is one factor to achieve fitness goals and the mentality has to be long term. Some see it as a burden like, ‘Oh, I’m so busy to cook food for many hours,’ but people don’t actually know they are saving money and time in the long run and building a healthy lifestyle in the process,” he added.

Tomokane started meal preparation before his career as a personal trainer. “I learned to do meal prep since high school as I was an overweight kid my whole life and this was the first step the led me to changing my body. It takes a lot of commitment and good discipline. Combine the two, it just leads to a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

“One can start meal preparation at any age, especially with children. Parents have a big role in helping a child be healthy and they should take advantage and encourage their children to eat a healthier diet. Good eating habits start at home. As for me, I didn’t just do it because I wanted to; it was my mom who wanted us to eat right and be healthy. Another advice is to surround yourself with people who do meal preparation and don’t be afraid to ask, ” he added.

Once you’ve successfully incorporated meal preparation into your routine, it can be a good habit, said personal trainer Arvin Mettao.

“Depending on how well balanced the meals are, your body functions could improve even without the need for exercise. Maybe even lose unwanted weight because you might be straying away from unhealthy foods…

“Meal prep does not have to be very difficult or expensive. Try and stick to meal prep for a month—there could be improvements in your health, your performance, and your wallet.”

“I tried meal preparation back in 2015 and I saw positive changes in my body image. I wouldn’t say I am doing it for the long haul but there will be periods of time (months) when I would be meal prepping. Not just for the purpose of losing weight but even to gain muscle mass,” he added.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.