How do I eat quality meals when I work insane and unpredictable hours at work?
I’ve heard this thousands of times from athletes just like you. The answer is so simple it often throws people into a state of cognitive dissonance. You don’t.
End of blog post. (only kidding)
No, but really, it’s a difficult task. Balancing high quality foods in combinations that are actually good tasting with avoiding the processed foods in the vending machine and cafeterias. The answer honestly is you don’t eat meals. As strange as it sounds, the reason those processed foods appeal is they’re quick and you don’t have the time or really the patience to sit down and focus on eating a meal. Stressing over it makes it worse and not eating deprives your body of the nutrients it needs to keep you a bad ass in the gym and an awesome professional.
So, avoid meals and build your foods into smaller snacks that you can eat in about 1 to 2 minutes. You’ll still food prep during the week as your normally would, but you’d have smaller portions and a ton more meals. Let’s use me as an example (prior military Officer working up to 22 hour days, sleeping at the office). I need about 2550 kcal a day to maintain my current weight. Broken into 9 snack sized meals I’d need about 200-320 kcal per meal.
I’ll give you a sample day based on this:
Meal 1: (1) Large hard boiled egg, 4 oz grapes, 0.75 oz almonds
Meal 2: 4 oz Sweet potato baked & cut into small squares, 3 tbsp Hummus, 4 oz chicken breast cut into small bite sized pieces
Meal 3: (1) Star-Kist Albacore tuna in water pouch, 0.5 cup Quinoa, 1 cup spinach cut into pieces
Meal 4: (1) Large Honey crisp apple, 2 Tbsp peanut butter
Meal 5: 4 oz Chicken breast cut into small pieces, 0.25 cup Long grain wild rice
Meal 6: 2 oz Pork Loin, ½ cup Chili beans, 4 tbsp Guacamole
Meal 7: 0.5 cup Oatmeal, 1 scoop Casein protein powder, 0.5 cup frozen blueberries, 1 tbsp cinnamon
Meal 8: (1) large oranges
Meal 9: 6 oz Yam cut into small cubes, 4 oz Chicken breast cut into small pieces, 2 oz olives
I chose the foods I did based on how quickly they can be eaten, how long they’d keep in a standard lunch bag, and meeting my caloric/macronutrient needs fairly closely. Based on your food preferences, allergies, and other dietary restrictions your mileage may vary. However, this provides a starting point for you to build your own meals. If you’re wanting a more customized approach feel free to reach out and I’ll see what we can do!