Meal Prepping for Muscle: How Tilapia Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals
Building muscle is one of the most elusive health and fitness goals. Most of us know that it requires dedication, gym time and a well-balanced diet, but the specifics tend to evade the best of us. We know what needs to be done, but aren’t entirely sure where to start.
Protein is one of the three primary macronutrients that your body needs and therefore has an impact on every move you make. When your body engages in resistance training, for example, amino acids (which are comprised of protein) work hard to repair and rebuild your muscle tissue—and ultimately help to retain muscle mass. Of course, lifting weights at the gym isn’t enough. Eating protein-rich food is an essential part of the equation and Tilapia might be the ingredient you’ve been missing.
How Much Protein Should I Eat?
Daily recommended amounts of protein are different for everyone—it depends on your fitness goals, gender, height, weight and lifestyle. Use a calculator like this one to find out how much you need.
What Should I Eat?
The stereotype that all lean athletes and bodybuilders primarily feast on chicken, protein shakes and greens is just that: a stereotype. High-protein foods come in all shapes and sizes and many athletes, including bodybuilders, eat a variety (think nuts, eggs and Greek yogurt) to ensure they’re getting enough nutrients and vitamins on top of their protein fix.
Another go-to source of protein is lean fish like Tilapia. Just one serving gives you major bang for your buck—a four-ounce Tilapia fillet contains 21 grams of protein, one gram of fat and only 90 calories. It’s this high-protein, low-fat composition that renders Tilapia a staple ingredient for those aiming to shed weight and gain muscle.
Meal Prep Tips for Gaining Muscle
1. Find Your Go-To Meals
There’s no need to get super-elaborate when meal prepping, even if you do have specific nutritional goals in mind. Once you’ve decided what your protein and macronutrient intakes should be, find (and work on perfecting) a handful of recipes that can help you hit these daily goals. Our Tilapia Enchiladas are a great addition to your meal-prepping routine. The recipe is chock full of protein thanks to a healthy serving of fish, black beans and Monterey jack cheese.
While flavor and variety are important, having just a few basic-yet-tasty dishes can help you optimize your meal prep. Plus, you’ll learn plenty of tricks along the way, like chopping and storing bulk quantities of veggies, boiling a dozen eggs at a time and freezing a batch of healthy options (think muffins and breakfast burritos) that you can reach for on an especially busy day. Efficiency is key when it comes to making a plan and sticking with it.
2. Fill Your Freezer with Tilapia Fillets
It’s easy to stick to a new diet when you have healthy ingredients, like frozen Tilapia fillets, on hand. This can keep you from making impulsive or last-minute trips to the grocery store, and ensures you always have something for dinner. Just remember to thaw them ahead of time. Fillets should be moved from the freezer to the fridge 24 hours before cooking.
If you forget to defrost your fish before dinner, try this hack to speed up the process: put fillets in a resealable plastic bag and then submerge it in a bowl of cold water for 20 to 60 minutes. You can also cook Tilapia straight from the freezer—steaming, poaching or roasting will work best.
3. Keep High-Protein Snacks On Hand
Building muscle with regular resistance training is bound to get your metabolism moving and your stomach grumbling! Keep a variety of high-protein snacks in the fridge and pantry, and in your car or bag at all times to ensure you don’t reach for something less nutritious out of desperation. Hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, edamame and hummus are great snacks to have on hand, but you can also prep easy-to-freeze meals (like pecan-crusted Tilapia) ahead of time.
Cooking meals with specific fitness goals, like bulking up, doesn’t have to be complicated. By streamlining your meal-prep process, eating Tilapia and other protein-rich foods, and making sure healthy snacks are accessible, you’ll build muscle in no time.
Hungry for more meal-prepping ideas? Check out these protein-packed lunch recipes.
Photo Credits: Chudovska / Shutterstock Inc., Regal Springs, Magrig / Shutterstock Inc.
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