First, Three Assumptions
- You like food. And you prefer it to taste good.
- You're busy, but you'd rather not get fat eating the usual foods of convenience.
- You train hard and you want to build some muscle.
Is that you? Then this is for you. Not you? Go away, weirdo.
1 – Riced Veggies
"Ricing" just means to grind certain foods up into little bits. Riced cauliflower trended during the low-carb craze as an alternative to regular rice, but making it was a pain in the ass. You either needed a really good food processor (and motivation to clean it up afterward) or you needed to spend a lot of time with a cheese grater and a stack of Band-Aids.
Luckily, frozen bags of riced vegetables are now available everywhere. Riced cauliflower, sweet potato, broccoli, carrot, and various blends are sitting right there in your grocery's freezer. Most of them are made to be steamed in the bag, but if microwaving plastic turns you off (and it probably should), you can just use a pan.
Riced cauliflower, for example, is a blank canvas. Toss it up with grilled onions, peppers, beans, and whatever herbs you have handy. Add an egg as it cooks and you get "fried rice." Really, you can't tell the difference.
You can have riced cauliflower every night of the week and it never has to taste the same. Bonus: It's very filling, great for your diet phase.
2 – Hot Sauces
Not sure why, but when serious lifters and competitors go on diets they seem to want to suffer more than they have to. Every meal is dry chicken breasts and broccoli. What's missing? Flavor. Variety. Joy.
That's unnecessary because you can add tons of flavor and variety with store-bought sauces, many for just 5 calories or less per serving. Those are calories well spent. (And you'll burn 5 calories shaking the bottle, so relax.) Hot sauces are usually very "clean" and might even give you a little calorie-burning boost with their heat.
All you need to do is check the ingredient list. If it contains sugar or oil in any form, skip it. Just about anything else is good to go.
3 – Frozen Bananas
Head to the freezer section of the store. Right near the frozen berries you'll find giant bags of pre-sliced and frozen bananas. (For some reason, these always seem to come in big 4-pound bags.)
Frozen bananas have been called "one ingredient ice cream" because the taste and texture is pretty close. Yeah, you can buy them fresh and slice and freeze them yourself, but these big bags are convenient. Blend them up with protein shakes, add them to oatmeal, or just pop a few in your mouth when a sweet craving hits.
4 – Quality Protein Powder
Protein powders – at least the good ones not sold at strip malls and Walmarts – have come a long way. High-end proteins can now do things that whole foods can't do when it comes to helping you build muscle. And that goes beyond mere convenience.
Plus you can make things with protein powder besides shakes. Some of them, like Metabolic Drive® Protein, are designed to be used in shakes AND added to foods. Try out a few of these protein powder recipes.