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I did it. I finished a THM Fuel Cycle without spending extra time in the kitchen or making a special trip to the grocery store!
Did I love it? No. Do I recommend that YOU try it? No.
But do I now realize that I was making Fuel Cycles harder than they needed to be?
I don't necessarily recommend doing a Fuel Cycle this way, but I CAN tell you that the meals I ate during this Fuel Cycle were fairly simple, very easy, and used very few special ingredients. This is a great way to do a Fuel Cycle on a budget, and hopefully it will inspire you to simplify your next Fuel Cycle!
Want a free printable THM Fuel Cycle packet?
If you want my free Fuel Cycle packet, I have one for you at the bottom of this post! Not one for doing a fuel cycle the hard way, but a printable packet that makes a fuel cycle as easy as possible, including instructions and prep ahead ideas (the way I wish I'd done this last fuel cycle).
What is a Fuel Cycle?
Fuel Cycles are super weight-loss boosting ways of eating on the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle. It's eating full days of THM meal types in a particular order to benefit your body. You may want to try one if you've been on plan for three months with no weight loss.
Quick side note: I mean REALLY on-plan. If you've been dabbling in the plan but not losing weight, I recommend sticking to the plan 100% first before trying a Fuel Cycle.
But why would I do it the hard way?
Here's the thing about Fuel Cycles – prepping ahead, even just a little, can be a total lifesaver. I'm a big fan of prepping ahead on THM. As a Certified THM Lifestyle Coach, I teach my coaching clients to have a plan, and then have a backup plan. I'm all about the prep – normally.
This time, a unique set of circumstances came into play. First, I had a coaching client who wanted to do a Fuel Cycle (I'll start abbreviating it to FC for the rest of this post), but wanted to do it with a buddy.
I was willing to be the buddy, but while she'd rearranged her schedule a bit to make the FC work, I couldn't. I have five kids, I homeschool, I'm a single parent, and I work a LOT – I have three jobs, and I take more clients on for my non-THM jobs as often as I possibly can to make ends meet.
My schedule was packed, I didn't have time to go to the store or prep ahead, even though NORMALLY I try to stay on top of that.
Why did I do the Fuel Cycle this way? Well, I wanted to support my client, and really, I was curious – I'd always put so much time and effort into my fuel cycles. Could I do it without the time? Was it really going to be a big deal?
How I Did It
It's not glamorous, but the #1 key for me was my well-planned kitchen (lol). I should say well-STOCKED kitchen, because that was what saved me!
I had gone grocery shopping about four days before, so I had plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, a rotisserie chicken, and some deli meat. It is DEFINITELY preferable to make a FC menu and shopping list, but I was working with what I had!
Aside from that, I relied on what I keep in my pantry and freezer to really make this a success.
Every week, I set aside 20% of my grocery budget for stocking up, and usually that means buying meat on sale. I spend $120 per week for the six of us, including toiletries, so that means I usually spend about $90ish on meat when it's on a GREAT sale. Occasionally I use that 20% to stock up on a variety of sale items like paper towels or cheese when it's on sale, but meat is my top choice when there's a great sale.
I had bacon (Deep S), lean ground turkey (Deep S, E, or FP), chicken thighs (Deep S), and lots of chicken breasts (S, E, or FP).
I also had a ton of frozen veggies (all FP) – diced okra, green beans, cauliflower, and cauliflower rice.
Fruit was an absolute lifesaver during this FC, and I had tons of frozen fruit – cherries, mango, and berries. I always pre-portion my fruit into single serving sizes when I get it home from Costco, so I had a whole bunch of little baggies all lined up and ready to grab from my freezer.
My pantry was also well-stocked – I had microwaveable brown rice (E), diced tomatoes (FP), beans of all kinds (E), sweet potatoes (E), and lots of diced chiles.
Even better, I always keep the following THM ingredients on hand:
What I Ate
I kept it SO simple. A Fuel Cycle is 2 weeks long, and I just made one week's worth of meals and then repeated it the following week.
For Deep S days:
- Breakfasts: bacon and eggs
- Lunches: salads with chicken and olive oil-based vinaigrette (I figured out that the salads were more flavorful if I dressed the lettuce leaves with oil, salt and pepper and tossed it really well, then added a few splashes of vinegar and tossed again).
- Dinners: Baked meat (chicken thighs or breasts) basted in butter and seasoning, with a large serving of buttered veggies on the side.
- Snacks/Desserts: Bacon, Skinny Chocolate, Bacon dipped in Skinny Chocolate (SO GOOD), Tummy Spa Ice Cream, page 361 of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook
For E days:
- Breakfasts: oatmeal
- Lunches: Burrito Bowls (brown rice, black beans, chicken breasts, and salsa), sweet potatoes topped with ground turkey seasoned with taco seasoning, 0% yogurt and salsa
- Dinners: Quinoa with 1 tsp butter, salt, and pepper with chicken breasts, Cowboy Grub, page 59 of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.
- Snacks/Desserts: fruit with collagen tea, baby carrots with lean deli meat or chicken breasts, Collagen Chocolate Milk, leftovers
For FP days:
- Breakfasts: egg white omelets
- Lunches: Big salads! Italian FP salad: lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, grilled chicken with Italian seasoning, olive oil vinaigrette with under 5 grams of fat. Taco Salad: lettuce, ground turkey with taco seasoning, salsa, 0% Greek yogurt
- Dinners: Joseph's FP Pizza, No Special Ingredients Chicken Tacos in Wonder Wraps with 0% Greek yogurt
- Snacks/Desserts: berries with collagen tea, Collagen Chocolate Milk, deli meat smeared with Light Laughing Cow and rolled up with a pickle inside, fresh cut veggies (I ate a lot of cucumber slices)
There is nothing fancy there! I felt like I didn't spend more time in the kitchen than I normally did. I was working at home for the full two weeks, but had I needed to eat out I would have had an FP no matter what day I was on, like a restaurant salad with only FP ingredients (no cheese or nuts) topped with salsa and skipping the dressing altogether.
Had I needed to meet with a client or go into one of my employers' offices, I would have packed whatever transported the best.
Should you try a no-prep FC?
Not necessarily! 😉 This WAS challenging. What I WOULD like for you to do with this information is to use these super simple meal ideas for an easier Fuel Cycle should you choose to do one.
I've learned that I overcomplicated every Fuel Cycle I ever did. I can say that doing the FC with no notice really helped me simplify my meals, and showed me how easy it can be!
Free Fuel Cycle Prep Ahead Instructions:
Sign up here for your free prep-ahead instructions! I'll walk you through making five THM Fuel Cycle staples in about 45 minutes. 🙂