Eat Right For Your Exercise Regime
What you eat and drink before and after exercise is just as important as the exertion itself. We all know guys who think 45 minutes of wheezing five-a-side as a rolling substitute or nine holes of seriously sub-par (ie, seriously over-par) pitch and putt gives them carte blanche to tuck into a burger and five beers in the bar afterwards. At the other end of the spectrum are borderline obsessives who scoff supermarket chicken breast straight from the packet after a workout or who drink foul-tasting pond sludge all afternoon in order to get their mega-greens. Don’t be either of those guys. There is a happy medium. You can eat right and still enjoy it.
We’ve paired the fine-dining expertise of Michelin-grade chef Mr Mark Sargeant with the nutritional nous of ex-professional rugby player and diet coach Mr Alex Ferentinos to create six healthy dishes that will help your body, whatever your fitness goal, but also taste good. Because the two need not be mutually exclusive.
Best for cardio nuts
The haute-grade oatmeal
Whether you’re training for a marathon or a long bike ride, or you’re running the assault course of an all-day work conference, you need something to keep you going. This super bowl has all three prime components for your pre-distance breakfast: oats for slow-release carbohydrates to give your muscles plenty of fuel to burn; good-fat loaded almonds to facilitate the transfer of energy to muscles; and seeds and berries to provide a range of vitamins to aid post-exercise recovery.
Prep time: 5 minutes (plus overnight soaking)
Start your prep the night before.
In a bowl, stir together the yoghurt, almond milk, protein powder, seeds and cinnamon.
Mix in the oats and leave in the fridge overnight in an airtight container so that the seeds and oats expand and release their energy-giving compounds.
Just before you tuck in, sprinkle with the almonds and blueberries. If you’re used to breakfasting “al desko”, it’s far better and tastier than anything you’ll get from that chain coffee shop next to your office.
Best for weight loss
The fat-burning curry
If you want to fire up your fat burn, ditch the salad in favour of curry. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Studies have shown that the spices used in Indian and Asian dishes are a great weight loss tool. This curry is a powerful all-rounder: it’s got cinnamon to increase metabolism, cumin to abolish fat cells and turmeric to prevent the regrowth of those fat cells.
Prep time: 1 hour
- 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 clove
- 1 star anise
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 10 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated
- 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp ground fenugreek
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, bone in and skinned
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or a balti dish (too thin a base means your delicate spices will burn) and add the cinnamon, clove and star anise. Fry for 1 minute until they release their oils – basically when you can smell them. Add the onion and fry for 10-15 minutes or until softened and golden brown.
Stir in the cumin and garlic, and fry for another 2 minutes, then add the chilli powder, fenugreek, turmeric and salt and fry for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes until they start to break down. Add the chicken and stir everything together, then cover the pan with a lid and cook for 45 minutes, adding a splash of water if it starts to stick to the bottom. Stir in the vinegar and sugar and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes.
Best for yoga freaks
The super-quick superfood salad
This vegetarian dish is a well-balanced and potent combination of meat-free protein, amino acids and nutrients to keep your muscles strong, joints supple and concentration sharp for the next time you want to nail that crow pose. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for your body to function.
Prep time: 5 mins
- 1 bag pre-cooked red quinoa
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 5 sprigs tenderstem broccoli, cut into chunks and blanched
- Handful of kale
- Half a bunch of coriander, chopped
- Half a head of romaine lettuce, shredded
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Hot chilli sauce, such as sriracha (optional)
This one requires virtually no cooking at all, which makes it quick and easy to throw together and means you retain all the vegetables’ nutrients. Just mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and season well with salt and black pepper or a little hot sauce.
Best for bulking up
The key to muscle #gains doesn’t just come down to how much you can bench press – it’s what you eat that holds more weight. Sink your teeth into this two-course menu, packed with the right proportion of protein, good carbs and healthy fats for muscle building.
The protein-packed pork loin
Eating the right stuff at the right time is key when building muscle. Always try to eat your main meal within 30 minutes of training, when your muscles are at their most receptive. Pork loin is a lean source of protein that’s full of flavour. The slow-release carbs of the sweet potatoes mean you don’t get the insulin spike that comes with their white cousins. Insulin causes your body to store sugar as fat.
Prep time: 1 hour
- 1 medium-sized pork loin, cut into 2in steaks
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp Chinese five-spice, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 bird’s-eye chillies, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- Handful of bok choy
- 4 sprigs tenderstem broccoli
- Handful of cashews
- Handful of coriander, chopped
- 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, cut into chips
- Olive oil
Start by marinating the pork. Mix the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame seeds, five-spice, brown sugar and lime juice in a bowl and add the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to marinate in the fridge for as long as you’ve got; an hour’s ideal, but 15 minutes is OK. Fry the pork and marinade in a wok for about 8 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Add the chillies, garlic and a splash of water so it doesn’t stick. Turn the heat down and cook for another 5 minutes. Add a little more water then mix in the bok choy and broccoli. Cook for another 5 minutes, then sprinkle on the nuts and coriander.
Meanwhile, place the sweet potato chips in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on some Chinese five-spice and mix with your hands. Oven bake at 200°C for 20 minutes, turning halfway.
The muscle-building mousse
This chocolate mousse has no added sugar, no gluten and very few carbs – plus it’s easy to make. The avocado here is the key: it is one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fat, which is the main fatty acid in our diet and exactly what you need for weight training and building muscle.
- 2 large, ripe avocados
- 2 handfuls semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips (at least 70 per cent cocoa)
- 3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
- 200ml almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 scoop Bodyism Clean And Lean Body Brilliance Shake
- Pinch of sea salt
Just put all the ingredients in a blender and pulse for a minute. Dish it out and eat: easy.
Best for post-exercise
The recovery burger
When recovering from contact sport or repairing muscle fibres after a hardcore weights session, harness the magic of mushrooms. Their antigen-binding lectins are like heat-seeking missiles for free radicals, the cells that cause soreness and stiffness. Turkey deals with lean muscle repair and tomatoes have the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which is key for blood oxidation. Stacked together, this healthy burger will help alleviate aches and pains like an anti-inflammatory.
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 2 slices turkey breast
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 Portobello mushrooms
- 4 leaves iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 2 gherkins, chopped
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 6 Brazil nuts, grated
- 2 thick slices beef tomato
- Quarter of a bunch of coriander, chopped
Start by seasoning the turkey slices with sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Turkey is the leanest meat and should be your go-to option if you’re serious about building muscle and cutting fat.
Fry in the coconut oil – a healthier source of fatty acids – for about 6 minutes until cooked. Remove and keep warm.
Cook the mushrooms in the same pan for 2 minutes on either side until soft and juicy. Remove and keep warm with the turkey. The mushrooms will form your burger “bun”.
Mix together the lettuce, gherkins, spring onion, mustard, mayonnaise and Brazil nuts, then begin to assemble in this order: mushroom, lettuce mix, tomato, turkey. Repeat until you’re out of ingredients. Finish with the final mushroom and hold together with a skewer.