If there’s one thing all fitness people have in common – whether they’re powerlifters, bodybuilders, CrossFitters, marathon runners, or bikini competitors – it’s that we all love food. Food in massive amounts. Healthy food and not-so-healthy food. It fuels our workouts, helps us recover, and generally makes us happy!
Some fitness people look forward to their epic cheat meal like most look forward to Christmas, and there is nothing like eating a massive meal after a hard workout. I still remember how that plate of fish, chips, and mushy peas gave me life after running the Manchester Marathon.
I try not to separate food into good and bad, though I do try to focus on creating meals from scratch using mainly vegetables, fresh meat and wholegrain carbs. However, I love the thought of going wild on food with no associated guilt every so often, and that’s exactly what I did this past weekend at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival!
Though I have protein snacks pretty much on-tap at work (okay, in a vending machine) I still like to know exactly what’s in my food, so I really enjoy creating meals and snacks from scratch. These protein energy bars have are easy to make, are no-bake, low-sugar, and you can chop them into however many portions suit your macros!
I was first given this recipe by the lovely Laura, though I’ve modified it to suit my dietary requirements. It’s perfect for pre-workout or as a snack throughout the day, and it feels like a treat although it’s highly nutritious. Read on for the super simple recipe.
High maintenance is not a phrase I’d use to describe my beauty regime. My nails are bare, I wear as little make-up as possible – though eyebrows are a non-negotiable – and I let my hair air-dry. The last beauty technique is a risky one, as you never know how it’s going to turn out, especially after going to bed with a soggy head!
This isn’t because I think I’m naturally stunningly beautiful; it’s just because I’m lazy. If I’m not at work or in the gym I want to be doing pretty much nothing other than eating or laying still on the sofa, so my beauty regime maximises the time spent doing this.
I still want to look healthy, though I’m aware the natural look takes a lot of effort to look just that – natural. However, since I started working in sports nutrition and I’ve tried out more goodies, I’ve found some supplements provide surprising benefits other than sports performance.
Working in town with loads of healthy food choices (and not-so-healthy for those kind of days) meant I never really had much of a need for meal prep. Sure, sometimes when money was a little tight I’d cook a few days’ worth of meals and take them to work, but I never really enjoyed eating re-heated chicken and rice when I knew Barburrito was just around the corner.
Now I’m leaving for work at 7am and getting home after CrossFit at 9pm, and the thought of chopping vegetables makes me want to weep when all I really want to do is shower and hop into bed. I’ve been preparing meals in advance for dinner, and I think I’ve just about cracked what works for me.
Everybody knows they should be eating more vegetables, in particular leafy greens, but it can be difficult to stomach green stuff on its own. It’s worth it, though; as well as being full of iron, they also have high levels of vitamin K to prevent age-related conditions developing, can reduce cholesterol, and have more protein per gram than meat. The more bitter a green veg is, the more calcium it contains, meaning it’s perfect for keeping bones strong. The jury’s out on whether greens help to prevent cancer, but as some studies indicate yes it’s in our best interests to aim for a couple of portions a day.
Lots of green food is classed as a superfood, too – chlorella, spirulina and wheatgrass are words you’ll oft-hear in health circles, and for good reason. They contain the most concentrated levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, as well as having their own unique benefits (did you know that studies have shown that spirulina can help control blood sugar levels? Now you do!). It can be difficult – and expensive – to get enough leafy greens and green superfoods into our diets, so I thought I’d share my strategy for getting as much green is as possible.
You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of Natural Balance Foods. Along with the wellness revolution, over the past couple of years Trek and Nakd bars have boomed in popularity with those seeking a sweet yet healthy snack – in fact, when I met the guys behind Natural Balance at Be:Fit (How good is his t-shirt? They should sell them!) I was told that for years they got away with putting Nakd bars in their kids’ lunchboxes, duping them into thinking it was chocolate!
To be honest, with goodies this tasty there’s really no need for sugary snacks. My favourites have to be Trek bars, so I was lucky that Natural Balance kindly sent me a box of mixed protein flapjacks* so I could try the full range. They were originally made as a snack for those out trekking to stick into their pockets, so they’re well-balanced with oats as a slow-released carbohydrate and 9-10g of protein each. This combination is very filling: when I work 11:30-8:30 I’ll typically have a bar just before my shift with a coffee and this keeps me going until my lunch at 3pm. The bars are naturally sweetened with dates and some have a dark chocolate coating, making them perfect for an evening snack also, quietening those late-night munchies.
As well as training my legs, heart and mindset for the upcoming Manchester marathon, I’ve also been training my muscles to hold more energy and figuring out what’s best for me to eat whilst on long runs. My marathon is now four days away (ARGH! But also.. OOOH!) so it’s now time to make a decision on what nutrition to take with me to get me through those 26.2 miles.
This post is called Fuelling My Marathon for a reason – nutrition for your long runs is a very personal thing and something I believe should be tried and tested whilst you’re training. I started out trying out gels and energy blocks, but I hated them; I hated the texture and the funny after taste, besides I was finding myself getting really hungry which those sugary things didn’t help at all with. Then I went with healthier options: bananas, cereal bars, homemade energy balls. They didn’t give me enough of an energy boost and they were really difficult to eat with the dry mouth that long runs give you.