Whole foods are the ultimate choice, but there certain healthy frozen meals that can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Frozen meals can be a lifesaver for the active person with limited time, as a recovery meal, or to supplement the diet when weight gain is desired. In addition, healthy frozen meals are superior to most fast food options.
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Active women need protein. A frozen meal should provide at least ten grams of protein. A frozen meal with around 20 grams of protein would be similar to including a small chicken breast in your meal. Plant proteins are a great choice (like beans) because of their cholesterol-free, fiber-rich content.
Eat a variety of proteins everyday
Healthy frozen meals should include a whole grain source and ideally a vegetable serving to boost your carbs and fiber intake. Skip the meals with added sugars, but get the
for an active lifestyle.
Choose a meal that provides between ten to fifteen grams of fat per meal, keeping the saturated fat content low. Avoid meals that contain any trans fat. An active body needs some
Here you want to think about why you are eating a frozen meal. If it is your entire meal, then of course the calories can be higher compared to a meal that is supplementing your intake (and you may be adding a side of fruit or veggie). Choose a healthy frozen meal between 300 to 600 calories, depending on your
daily calorie needs.
A healthy frozen meal need not be excessive in sodium. Daily sodium needs for women vary quite a bit. A low sodium intake for blood pressure control is less than 1500 milligrams (mg)daily, while the upper limit for sodium for the general population is 2300 mg daily. Active women likely need a higher sodium intake to replace the sodium lost during intense and long endurance activities. Frozen meals can contribute anywhere from the 400's to over 1000 mg per meal, so be sure to take a look at what you're getting. Ideally, go for a meal that contains less than 700 mg.
You don't need them. Kashi brand and Amy's brand are examples of the best choices of healthy frozen meals. Brands including Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Smart Ones and South Beach meet many of the health goals, but are full of preservatives.
Example of a Not-So-Great Choice
"Red Box" Mac and Cheese: 2 servings per box (but most people will eat the entire contents) provides 700 calories, 34 grams of fat (14 saturated...a lot; partially hydrogenated oil), 68 grams of carb (but only 4 fiber), 30 grams of protein, and 1840 mg sodium (yikes), and several preservatives. No vegetables or whole grains to be found. Another meal labeled as a "Sports Grill" contains an awful 820 calories, 39 gms fat, 2670 mg sodium, and 79 gms carb in one serving. The sources of calories are not from identifiable food groups.
Example of a Healthy Frozen Meal
"Kashi" (Southwest flavor): 240 calories, 5 grams fat (no saturated, no trans), 32 grams carbs (6 gms as fiber), 16 grams protein, 680 mg sodium, with whole grains evident and no preservatives.
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