Are Meal Delivery Services Worth It To Reach Your Fitness Goals?

We live in a very busy world; one that doesn’t afford us much in the way of free time to invest in practices and behaviours that could benefit our health.

The reality for many is that they can barely find time to exercise, never mind engaging in all the other behaviours and habits that will further their health. This is especially true for those borderline elite level athletes who may be training once, if not twice a day at their local Crossfit box. Never mind when they sleep; when do they eat!?

How we fuel ourselves is arguably the single most important contributor to a healthier life and better performance. However, with less and less time, finding time to exercise, manage our stress, get adequate sleep and cook balanced-healthy meals is becoming an impossible task.

Performing, looking and recovering like an athlete requires more than just exercise however; that one to two hour window, as perfect as it may be, will not fix a broken rest of the day before the next session.

While working with a professional nutritionist service can help you design an approach that best fits your busy lifestyle, navigating the journey between optimal meal choice and planning to executing on a consistent basis, utilizing a meal delivery service may offer an alternative, yet perfect, solution.

Having exploded in popularity over the past decade, covering virtually all forms of dietary practices, these services could be exactly what you need to ensure that you’re living your healthiest life while meeting the ever-increasing demands of it.

Read Also: CrossFit Strength Training Program And Workouts

How Do Meal Delivery Services Work? 

We understand that athletes and health enthusiasts are incredibly guarded about their practices and what they’ll invest in / incorporate into their lifestyles. The first step towards trusting something new is to understand how it functions.

Meal delivery services are simply that; a service which offers to deliver pre-made meals to your work or home. Not only saving you time (and often money) but also allowing those of us who are more health conscious to continue to preserve, and even improve, our state of health.

Throughout the years, meal delivery services have become increasingly more tailored and customizable to fit virtually any need and or lifestyle; whether your diet be keto, paleo, vegan, whatever, you can rest assured there is a meal delivery service focused on your dietary practice.

While most work off of a subscription-based service, there are companies who now offer “a la carte” options; a sample menu for you to trial for a short period of time. Companies will often allow you flexibility with your subscription, enabling you to pause, freeze and cancel when you so wish. 

They want you to trust in them because they know they can deliver (literally) a service to help fuel you to be at your best, perform, recover and not compromise on your diet.

Homemade Keto Chicken Meal Prep

Keto meal

First consider the diversity in meal delivery services

Meal delivery services will also often offer both fresh and frozen pre-made meals, each offering it’s own unique contextual benefits. Some will even provide a meal delivery kit allowing you to be your own home chef, should have the time and a love for cooking.

Related Read: 5 Best Frozen Meal Delivery Services

There are also a diverse range of companies on the market with some having particular specializations for a given dietary practice and others being more of a “jack of all trades”; with menus curating for dieters who follow practices from gluten free to vegan, keto, paleo and beyond, there truly is a meal delivery service suitable for everyone.

Related Read: Best Gluten Free Meal Delivery Services for CrossFitters and Athletes

Service companies will also typically offer a range of options for users as well; from multiple dishes a day with snacks to snacks alone or even one dish a day, the best companies keep their service customization as dynamic as their menus. Speaking of a dynamic menu, meal delivery services will mostly allow you to customize your meal plan, being able to choose which dishes you’d like to be included in your delivery that week so as you aren’t having to eat dishes which you may not like or become bored with the same old, same old every week.

Whilse diversity is one element to highlight, the fact you can also be as rigid as you like will also benefit certain groups; bodybuilders, for example, tend to be highly regimented. They thrive on and desire consistency. In fact, claim to not even enjoy the foods they consume!

Meal delivery services may be able to knock down two (or even more!) birds with one stone here for the bodybuilding community. Not only can you construct a consistently rigid meal plan (of either prepped or non-prepped foods), but one that you can be confident in with the nutrient content accuracy and even recapture that love of food again from the infusion of flavour; a win, win!

Are Meal Delivery Services Worth the Money? 

This is a tricky question to answer because truthfully, whether a meal delivery service (or any product, service or whatever else) is worth the money depends entirely on the context surrounding that consumers choice.

Now, what happens when we consider more athletic populations? Well, if anything, that freedom of time decreases (due to the intense exercise and training regimes) and the demand for adequate nutrition increases. In fact, and this is an important point for those who struggle with this, it’s been shown that meal prep can increase dietary adherence and consistency.

So, and this is not just for the general public, but for athletes particularly, when you objectively look at the service itself, it’s certainly worth investing in; carefully curated meals (often created by a team of expert chefs) delivered fresh or frozen to your work or home from a customizable menu specializing in your dietary approach of choice (and saving you a hell of a lot of time!)

Read Also: Trifecta Nutrition Review in 2020 (After 8 months)

While we believe it’s clearly worth the money, the question is, is it a financially viable option for you and what side of the meal delivery service requirement fence are you on: the side with expendable income but a restriction in time or the side who has abundant time but financial restrictions?

If it’s the latter then the service itself may contribute to the very issue they’re aiming to assist with, stress. Except, in this scenario, the stress induced is not caused by issues around food but rather the stress of investing in something which you simply cannot afford.

Read Also: Freshly Meal Service - 2020 Review

muscular man workout with barbell

However, what if you’re somewhere in between? If you have some expandable income and some free time to invest in your diet, are these services still worth it?

This again ties back into context and more so on you as a consumer and your preferences. Ask yourself;

  • Do I want to spend the free time I do have figuring out what constitutes a healthy balanced diet based on my goals and choice of dietary practice?
  • Do I want to go out and search for groceries and spend time doing this?
  • Do I enjoy cooking?
  • Would it help or hinder my progress to have meals catered for me?
  • How secure are my finances in the long-term and will my free time allowance ever change?

Read Also: Keto Diet For Beginners - A Comprehensive Guide

These are important considerations to make for those who are on the fence (in terms of having free time to invest in purchasing, preparing and cooking food as well as enough expendable income that they could easily afford a meal service subscription).

It is also important for you to consider whether you want to invest in a meal prep delivery kit or a meal prep delivery service; to have the ingredients delivered for you to prepare on your own terms (perhaps a useful tool for bodybuilders) or to have the meals fully cooked and prepped and simply requiring a quick blast in the microwave / oven (the most time effective option that would perhaps be of benefit to the athletes training frequently and or for long periods of time e.g. those within the Crossfit community or collegiate sports).

Another important point to make in all of this is how committed you are to a service; many believe they have to have their whole lives invested into a meal delivery service once they chose to have a subscription.

This is absolutely not the case and furthers the argument for their affordability. We often forget that the subscription option you choose can be just as flexible as the meals you wish it to include; you don’t have to go for the most expensive subscription option, most companies will offer more affordable variants.

Read Also: Best Paleo Meal Delivery Services To Match Your Fitness Goals

This will allow those who may benefit from, but may not always be in the most secure financial position to do so, to still utilize a meal delivery service. This opens the door for collegiate athletes as well as full time professionals who are engaged in Crossfit, bodybuilding, sports etc.

Many of these companies are compassionate to their customer’s needs; never be afraid to ask a question to ensure you trust, are confident and feel secure when choosing to invest in a meal delivery service subscription. You never know; if you have a large enough media following, especially those in the Crossfit space as these companies are exploding in this space, they may also consider sponsoring you too!

Pros and Cons of Meal Delivery Services?

There are aspects of meal delivery services which create both an argument for, and against, using them.

Here are some of the reasons why you would consider using one of these services;

  • It will save you time
  • They deliver fresh and frozen meals to your door or work (for example, Freshly)
  • There are also companies who deliver fresh groceries and recipes to your door or work which are easy for you to follow as a home chef (for example, Blue Apron)

Read Also: BistroMD 2020 Meal Delivery Service Review

  • They are often curated by expert, professional chefs
  • Meals may be catered to a specific dietary approach
  • The ingredients are usually freshly sourced and of the highest quality
  • The nutrient and calorie content are usually included making it easier to know exactly what you’re eating and how it fits into your diet
  • Menus are often customizable so you can pick and choose which dishes you’d like
  • Many companies offer flexible subscription packages and options meaning there are various pricing structures and capabilities to pause, freeze or cancel subscriptions
  • Comparatively, they’re typically cheaper than restaurant and or fast-food meals whilst also being healthier
  • There will be minimal food waste
  • It may also encourage your family and or loved ones to eat at home more and together. High level performance can be quite isolated at times; incorporating these companies services or products can help create a more secure social eating environment for you.

Read Also: An Athlete's Guide To Intermittent Fasting vs. Multiple Smaller Meals

Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid using one of these services;

  • Money; the rough estimate for meals purchased through meal delivery services or meal kit companies would fall somewhere between grocery store purchases and going out to eat. In this sense however, the ingredients you’d be investing in may be of higher quality than grocery bought alternatives and so it is really the additional labour of having meals and foods sourced and or cooked (as well as the time saving component attached to this) that has to be taken into consideration.
  • Excess packaging in some cases
  • For less flexible subscription services you may not like every meal that is delivered
  • Delivery options may be limited depending on the company

As you can see there are plenty of things to consider before investing (or not investing) in a meal delivery service and or kit delivery company. At their core, these companies are designed for those who are time restricted and hoping to achieve a balanced, healthy diet.

The biggest hurdle to universal use of said companies is the financial demand; affordability and security of finances will always play a major factor in any product / service-related decision.

Conclusion 

The question of “Are meal delivery services worth it?” is a difficult one to answer. The answer for one person may not be the answer for another and it all has to do with the context of the services use and that person’s individual circumstances.

For athletes, there is certainly a greater push to invest in these companies. When we consider how time-pressed the health-conscious average joe is, just imagine how much narrower these margins get when you have someone training like a professional athlete with even greater demand for nutritional perfection.

Meal services and meal kit delivery companies can be a perfect solution for both those looking to generally keep on top of their health to those who would fall into that elite level athlete bracket; both groups simply lack the free time required to source, prepare and cook great food. Whether that be because of their busy professional lives and or the demands of their gruelling training and recovery regime, the value for money associated with these services increases in tandem with the increased demands of your life and or exercise/ training program.

There is a vast spectrum of companies on the market to explore, each with their own unique offering and appeal. Weigh up the pros and cons, whilst considering your own situation, before investing in a company. If you do ultimately choose to explore using a meal delivery service, then we’d advise you to trial a number of them.

We implore athletes to give these companies a try. Find which suits your ethos, taste and goals best, just as you would be as particular in choosing how you exercise, the gym you train in or the equipment you use, you should be just as particular in choosing the company who helps you achieve your healthiest diet and to perform at your best.

Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright

Jamie is a registered nutritionist and REPs recognized personal trainer with a MSc in Nutrition and BSc in Sports and Exercise Science. He runs his own nutrition and exercise coaching company, OUTWRK, and has authored a number of books of which include HealthyHer and FitHer. He has contributed on a number of external organisations nutritional guidance educational notes/booklets aimed at recreational exercisers/dieters to elite, internationally competing athletes. Additionally, Jamie has worked with this spectrum of clients in the past and just released his new program Everyday Athletes aimed at recreational exercisers/dieters. Reach out to him on his website for nutrition advise or consulting.

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