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YAF Youth for Youth Meal Prep

There are all sorts of theories out there about what kinds of foods you should include in your prep. Here’s a simple framework to follow. Feel free to make substitutions as needed if you follow a diet that’s raw, vegan, gluten-free, pescatarian, etc.



  • Protein — EVERY meal you eat should have an adequate amount of protein. Compared to carbs and fat, gram for gram protein is the most satiating macronutrient out there. Protein also helps build lean muscle, burn fat (through thermogenesis), and replenish your muscles after an intense weight-bearing workout.12 How much you’ll need depends on your caloric requirements and performance goals, but for most people, aim for at least 15 grams per meal. Great sources of animal protein include chicken, beef, pork, seafood, low fat cottage cheese, and whey protein powders. Use our guide for a complete list of protein foods, including the top options for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Veggies — Vegetables (and fruits) are some of best foods you can put in your body. Hydrating, vitamin-rich, and loaded with antioxidants, they’re packed with nutrients that heal the body after a hard workout and boost immunity to prevent disease. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, bok choy, fresh parsley, cilantro, collard greens, and tons of other veggies are fantastic choices. Also don’t be afraid of non-green veggies like bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, etc.

  • Whole-Grain Carbs — What would a meal be without starchy carbs? Whole-grain, fiber rich starches are absolutely essential to your meal prep and maintaining energy levels throughout the day. They’re also satisfying and taste pretty darn good. Go organic when you can, and look for starches like brown rice, whole-grain pasta/bread, quinoa, bulgur, barley, oats, and other fibrous carbs.



Of course, there are other foods that you can include in your meals. Nuts, seeds, avocado, and other healthy fats all play a role in your meals. The difference is they’re calorically dense and play a much smaller role. Usually you’ll use oil to cook your food and that will be more than enough fat for a meal. Don’t treat fat as a frenemy — just realize that you only need it in moderation.

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