Pack Your Meals! Tips On How To Succeed

containers-stacked-for-storageAnyone who knows me well is aware of the fact that I am consistent about packing clean meals and toting them around with me throughout the day. It can be cumbersome to pack food, especially when I know I will be out of the house for most of the day, but by doing so I have peace of mind knowing that I will be able to stay on track with my meal plan no matter what. Competitors and fitness professionals practice this habit and can attest to the power of clean eating in maintaining a sculpted, muscular physique.

However, I realize that many of you who do not compete or have an involvement in fitness may be wondering if there is any point to packing meals if you are an average person. There are a multitude of benefits to be gained from packing meals for the day:

• Portion Control – If you measure and weigh your portions before placing them into containers, you will have full control over your intake.

• Cooking Method – Steaming, baking, boiling, grilling and poaching are easy cooking methods which also enable you to prepare food without adding unnecessary fat.

• Save Money – By purchasing food at the grocery store and preparing it yourself, you will save a significant amount of money.

• Maintain A Low Sodium Diet – Restaurants often add significant amounts of sodium to enhance the flavor of their dishes. If you are trying to keep your sodium intake low, you are better off preparing your own food.

• Accommodate Medical Dietary Restrictions And Food Allergies – Restaurant meals may add ingredients which are forbidden from your meal plan due to medical conditions or food allergies. Instead of taking a risk, you are better off preparing your meals and packing them with you.

When I worked the Arnold Sports Festival Expo in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I made sure to drink plenty of water, filling up my one liter container 3 to 4 times each day. I also brought my Hot Logic Mini with me ( and had meals from Icon Meals ( with me, and I made sure to consume a meal every 3 hours to keep my energy levels up. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, you will find ways to stay in line!

I always recommend tempered glass storage containers over plastic, since heating up ingredients in most plastic containers carries a risk of deranging the plastic and releasing harmful chemicals into the food. I make an exception with BPA-free containers, and recommend the types which have locking lids to prevent leakage of food.
The BEST meal packing system out there is made by Six Pack Bags:

By adopting the habit of packing your meals, you will be on the road to better health!

Consistency (Updated Post)

As a physician, I am as much a therapist as I am a physical healer, and am well aware of the vital connection between mind, spirit and body. I have also seen how closely linked emotional stress is to development and exacerbation of physical ailments. What concerns me is when people abandon healthy habits during times of adversity, because it is at those times that some structure would provide balance to their lives.

A common question I hear from patients, clients, and strangers I meet is, “How can you maintain a regular exercise schedule and pack your food all the time with your busy careers?”, to which I respond, “I just do it.” Working out and eating right are as essential to me as sleeping and brushing my teeth. It never occurs to me to abandon healthy habits during stressful times. I recently went through a particularly difficult month during which I took a rigorous board certification exam, went through a residential move, and traveled to four destinations (two for my medical career, two for fitness and bodybuilding) over a two week period. Though I didn’t work out my usual six days per week, I did manage to train four to five days per week, every single week. The regular workouts gave me structure and balance which helped me to burn off some of the stress I was under, regulated my sleep cycle, and just plain felt good. In addition, I traveled with clean foods and lots of water, packing them and making sure I stayed on track.

Why would I push myself like this? Because I know that consistency is key to maintaining balance in one’s life. When I am consistent with my workouts and food, I maintain structure and focus and do not allow excuses of an insanely busy schedule to deter me from my mission to live an optimally healthy lifestyle. I know that if I were to deviate from a healthy lifestyle, I wouldn’t have the energy to push through my to-do list, and I certainly wouldn’t be very happy either. No matter whether I am traveling, working, or enjoying a rare free day for myself, I make sure to invest in myself every single day.

When I worked the Arnold Sports Festival Expo in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I made sure to drink plenty of water, filling up my one liter container 3 to 4 times each day. I also brought my Hot Logic Mini with me ( and had meals from Icon Meals with me, and I made sure to consume a meal every 3 hours to keep my energy levels up. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, you will find ways to stay in line!

If you make an investment in yourself by being consistent with your exercise and meal habits, you will be rewarded with greater balance in your life and better health. Don’t you deserve that?

I Love My Six Pack Bag Mini…

If you don’t have a Six Pack Bag to carry your meals around in, you really should get one! I have had the Innovator 500, the Innovator 300, and I also have the Innovator Mini. I ran the Innovator 500 into the ground from using it constantly over the span of several years. I love the Innovator 300 and use it when I travel, but the Innovator Mini is absolutely perfect for my daily needs. It’s compact, yet it holds everything I need for a day. I put my alkalizer in one beverage chamber, my BCAA’s in the other chamber, and also have three full meals neatly packed on the shelves inside the bag. The bag is lightweight, and has a thick, cushioned strap, so it won’t dig into your shoulder when you cart it around.

You can check out the review I put together when I first got the Innovator Mini right here:

Yes, I Really DO Eat Clean Year-Round

A couple of my fitness friends have recently noticed that I continue to eat clean, almost as if I was in prep for a contest. One of those friends IS in prep, so I guess she expected a stark contrast between what she has been consuming and what I eat on a regular basis. Basically, I continue to eat seven meals each day, and my protein intake these days is around 150-170 grams per day. I don’t pig out on forbidden foods, but I am not fanatical about eliminating all fat and carbs. On low carb days, I allow myself a bit of healthy fat, usually in the form of avocado, olive oil, or nuts. I have two high carb days, and I make sure that my weekly cheat meal falls on one of those days. Every once in a while (perhaps every three weeks) I may indulge in something like a nonfat mocha from Starbucks, a slice of gluten free zucchini bread, or a bowl of chicken pho.

Out of the 49 meals I eat each week, only ONE meal is a dirty cheat meal. Because I follow clean eating the majority of the time, I have been able to maintain a reasonable off-season weight. I compete at 117-119 pounds, and my weight has hovered between 119 and 122 pounds for quite a while now without even trying. I know I could always pack on more muscle, and my body fat is up a bit (around 15-16% right now), but I am happy with where I am at. My abs come out to play every now and then too, which is something I always welcome. They aren’t super chiseled and ripped, but I don’t need to walk around like that.


The Value Of Having A Meal Prep Service

As a competitor and fitness professional, I follow a clean meal plan throughout the year, regardless of whether I am training for a competition or just going through an off-season maintenance or growth plan. I am very familiar with the hassle of earmarking an entire Sunday afternoon to prep all my food for the week. For the past few years, it had become such a ritual that I planned my weekend around it, despite the fact that it cut into my time significantly.

Thankfully, there are meal prep services which do all the prep, freeing people from the shackles of the kitchen. Some people complain that such services are expensive, but when the costs of buying pre-measured and prepared food from one of these companies is compared to the costs of buying all the ingredients and spending half a day cooking them, the difference isn’t that significant. Ordering from a meal prep service takes the guesswork out of planning clean, healthy meals, and it is an incredible timesaver!

Check out MAW Nutrition Inc. for a completely clean meal prep service which offers protein, carb and veggie options a la carte so that you can fully customize your meals! This is great if you carb cycle or practice a certain degree of variation within your meal plan. For example, I will alternate between turkey loin and beef loin for one of my meals, and I have two days during the week when I spike my carb intake.

When ordering, enter the code NAITO10 at checkout for 10% off your order!

Check Out The Six Pack Fitness Bag Collection!

6 Pack LogoThis collection is growing next year too, with a whole line of luggage! Please make sure to enter my discount code DRNAITO1014 If you order within the next day, and code DRNAITO1114 if ordering after that. You will receive 15% off your order.

I have used other brands of meal bags, and I honestly love Six Pack bags the best. This company has come a long way, and now they not only have Meal Management Bags, they also have Backpacks, Duffels, Briefcases, Women’s Bags and Accessories to help you keep everything in perfect order. They are top quality, fuctional and stylish. Get one!

6 pack  Elite
6 pack Expert

What a great meal bag option for the fashionable gal!

What a great meal bag option for the fashionable gal!