I Tried Kettlebell Kitchen's Meal Plan for Muscle Gain and I Don't Want to Go Back to Cooking
I had personalized meals essentially placed in my lap and I still managed a nutrition fail.
I'm in a committed relationship with intuitive eating, but I've considered side flings with the IIFYM lifestyle. I find the math behind bulking, shredding, reverse dieting, carb cycling, etc., intriguing but ultimately not worth the effort and restriction. So when I was invited to try the meal delivery service Kettlebell Kitchen, it seemed like the perfect chance to eat like a bro for a week without the hassle of having to calculate my macro allowances, plan meals, and you know, cook.
KBK has several types of meal plans to choose from, or you can order à la carte. Plans include paleo, keto, vegetarian, and Whole 30 options, one for endurance athletes, and one for weight loss, and they're easy to pause or cancel. I went with a "Build" plan, which is crafted to promote muscle building. The food is free of gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugar across the board. (Psst: Try adding these muscle-building foods to your diet for more definition.)
After signing up, I input a few stats about myself: my goal weight, current weight, workout regimen, dietary restrictions, and whether or not I want to count calories. I decided to have my meal chosen for me via an auto-populated option. But there were enough options that I could've opted out of certain meals without having repeats. I also went with the options that sent me three meals for six days, which costs $177.30, or $9.85 per meal. (Here are more food services that make healthy meals a breeze.)
The following week I picked up my food at a CrossFit box that serves as one of the company's pickup locations (home delivery for a fee is also an option). I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the food. All of the meats were really juicy, not dry, and everything tasted fresh. There were a few misses-zucchini and waffles are never good reheated-but nothing major. (Related: I Had Keto Meals Delivered to See If Sticking to the Diet Was Any Easier)
Another bonus: Every subscription comes with a free 30-minute consultation with a Kettlebell Kitchen nutritionist. (P.S. Here are just some of the reasons you should consider consulting a nutritionist.) When I chatted with a nutritionist named Kim and discussed my goals two days in, I found out that-plot twist-I was doing it wrong. I should've been eating an extra 400 calories outside of the meals to stay in "maintenance mode," or even more if I wanted to gain muscle. Oops. She emailed me some 400-calorie snack ideas, and suggested I try those for a week, then tack on at least another 250 more calories for a few weeks following to support any new muscle growth. It was only then that I bothered to read through the PDF guide that's emailed with the Build meal plan, which gives tips on how you should be snacking, along with other pointers. If I didn't already feel like the service was like trying a diet with training wheels, I did now. Having a complete guide and someone to bounce all my nutrition questions off of definitely made the program feel user-friendly.
Throughout the week, I noticed how the meal plan compared to my normal diet. The biggest difference was the amount of meat. I was eating way more than usual, with a hearty serving at every meal. I also ate smaller amounts of fruit and veggies than usual, though that extra 400 calories left room to play. I also noticed that the meals gave me a sustained satiety rather than feeling super full then super hungry, which could've resulted from getting a balance of carbs, protein, and fats that I don't normally have in my meals. I wasn't on the plan long enough to evaluate its efficacy for muscle gain. Six days isn't long enough to see a difference there, so I didn't bother to step up my workout routine during the week. (I did some spin classes and moderate weight training.) Bodybuilders typically lift heavier when bulking in hopes of gaining muscle. But I can say that the meals seemed on par with typical bulking macro ratios from what I know, containing some fat, a lot of protein, and even more carbs (and an overall calorie surplus once I added snacks).
IMO signing up for Kettlebell Kitchen is worth it in two scenarios: You want to eat healthy without cooking or you want to make sticking to an eating plan easier/less complicated. It's easy to dip in and out if you're a non-dieter like me. So yeah, if you're on the fence, I'd say go for it, but with one warning: Even if you only last a week, going back to grocery shopping afterward will suck.