“I am a bachelor. I stay away from home. I have never cooked before in my life. How do I follow a diet then? I can’t live on a protein shake or eating raw paneer all my life. Am I doomed?”
Does any of the above sound familiar? If yes, then read on; if not, still keep reading, you might learn something valuable towards the end.
Let’s get started. First of all, look around at the options you have. If you have a kitchen with a gas connection or an induction cooktop in it, then more than half of your job is done already. If you live in a PG/hostel, consider buying a few electronic gadgets for cooking; an electric kettle, induction cooktop, electrical cooker, electric grill will go a long way. Be on the lookout for the availability of gadgets that will help you cook most of your preferred foods (hello electric cooker!). Some PGs allow its residents to use the kitchen during certain hours of the day. Just saying!
That brings me to my next point: Proteins. Protein is derived from the word “Proteos”, meaning “the first” making it the most important macronutrient of all. Make a list of all your available options. Getting a Whey/Casein protein supplement is a no-brainer. Eggs, chicken and fish can be poached, boiled or grilled. Learning to use spices, condiments and all the different kinds of dressings and toppings will help you in the long run (Chicken salad anyone?). Proteins are also the easiest to count. A scoop of whey gives you about 25gms of proteins. You can buy chicken, eggs and fish on a day-to-day basis and get it weighed in the required quantity while buying. Add in some boiled veggies and nuts, top them with a good salad dressing and you are set for the day. Have a blender? Blend water, psyllium husk and casein for 5 minutes and your protein fluff is ready. Is there a microwave in your office? Use it. Bake eggs in it, top it with cheese and spice it up. Voila! Your diet isn’t boring anymore.
If you live in an apartment with your friends, you can buy a kitchen scale and weigh every grain you want to eat before you cook it. This won’t be possible if you stay in a hostel/PG. Don’t worry, here’s a solution to that. You might have a rough idea of the number of rotis or the servings of rice you have every day. If you want to lose fat, remove one phulka OR cut down on that last serving of rice from both meals. If the curry is loaded with oil, cut down on that too. Complete your daily fiber intake with Isabgol/Psyllium husk. If you’re looking to put on some serious mass, then do the opposite. Tracking the rough quantity of the food you consumed wouldn’t hurt either.
Of course, you won’t look like your favorite fitness model with this intuitive approach, but you will certainly move closer towards your goal physique, albeit at a slower pace. Let the changes in your physique dictate the diet adjustments.
Learn to cook. Period. Not just to complete your macros, but because cooking is an important life-skill. Cooking, as a skill, gives you more flexibility in terms of introducing variety into your diet. As mentioned before, you can’t live your whole life eating just boiled eggs and gulping down protein shakes. That’s a life filled with torture and fitness should be far from that. Start with the basics first and then progress slowly towards cooking the more technical, more difficult dishes, just like your workouts (progressive overload). Unassisted pull-ups are better than the assisted pull-ups, similarly, cooking your own food is better than relying on the woman of your life to do that!
Conquer the kitchen, rule the gym!