Introduction

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Hello,
My name is Kevin Beasley and I’m a performance nutritionist. I have worked with inter-county Gaelic football teams (male and female) at both senior and underage levels for the past eight years. I also have vast experience of working with clients from a variety of different sports.
If you are someone who enjoys working out but can’t get to the gym now because of the current lock-down, you may be fretting over your nutrition. You may be unsure over what you should be eating due to reduced training intensity or frequency. However, there are some easy steps you can take to remain in good shape, maintain a good body composition and most importantly remain healthy.

Introduction

The past three posts have looked at basic nutrition information and dietary recommendations for different types of training. However, knowledge of this is not enough! You need to be able to execute it and put it into practice!

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started out as a sports nutritionist was that I assumed that if I told someone to do something, they would do it. I quickly learned that was not the case. People found it difficult to execute my meticulous nutrition plans for a variety of reasons:

  • Work/life balance – too much going on in their lives – training, playing, work or college, personal relationships.
  • Education/knowledge – not sure why they should be following a particular strategy. Not sure what types of foods they should be eating.
  • Dis-organised – couldn’t find the time or didn’t have skills to be organised.
  • Culture – were raised eating certain meals or foods that might not be compatible with optimal nutrition.
  • Palate – liked certain types of foods and disliked others; not willing to try new foods that might be beneficial.
  • Environment – didn’t have access to adequate cooking facilities; lived with people who frequently consumed treat foods or less healthy meals (e.g. pizza).
  • Cooking Skills – didn’t have cooking skills to prepare nutritious meals.

Over time, this led me to realise that my role wasn’t giving orders and expecting people to carry them out, but to identify barriers to good nutrition and find ways to overcome these. For the rest of this blog, I will look at some of these barriers and ways to overcome them.

 

Shopping

Shopping List

The best way to eat a healthy diet is to have healthy food available when you need it. In order to do this, you need to develop the habit of shopping on a regular basis and ensuring that you don’t run low on healthy food.

Looking at shopping I break it down into three categories:

  • Perishable Items – items that go out of date quickly. Examples include:
    • Fresh fruit and vegetables
    • Certain meat, fish and poultry products
    • Dairy – milk and yogurts
    • Fresh herbs

You will probably need to shop for these weekly or bi-weekly.

  • Non-perishable Items – items that don’t go out of date quickly and that you might consume frequently. Examples include:
    • Rice, pasta, noodles, quinoa
    • Nuts, seeds
    • Tinned food (e.g. tinned fish, beans)
    • Frozen food (e.g. frozen vegetables, frozen fruit)

These items can generally be bought in bulk and will keep for months in the cupboard or freezer. Depending on usage, you may only need to buy these types of foods every month.

  • Small Use Items – these are non-perishable items that we only use small amounts of and last a relatively long time. These might include:
    • Seasonings (salt and pepper)
    • Spices (e.g. cinnamon, paprika, curry powder)
    • Cooking fats (coconut, olive or rapeseed oil)
    • Dried herbs (e.g. Herbes de Provence)
    • Sports supplements such as whey protein

Checking your fridge and cupboards, and making a list before you go shopping will ensure that you will always have healthy ingredients at hand to make healthy and nutritious meals. I have created a shopping list template that might give you some ideas. This list is tailored to the recipes I give my clients (and I eat myself). Yours might be different but the goal is to have a checklist to make it easier when you go shopping.

Your shopping list should be based on your training for the coming week:

  • Do you need more carbs on certain days or more protein on other days?
  • Have you included healthy snacks that you can eat between meals if your feeling peckish?
  • Do you have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables for their fibre, vitamin and mineral content?

Write out your training schedule for the coming week and write down what you might eat on a given day. This will help you to decide what you will buy.

In the shop

COVID-19

In this era of COVID-19, here are some tips for you when shopping to prevent risk of exposure to or infecting another person with COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask if possible.
  • Use a cloth bag or bags – these can be washed.
  • Sanitize your hands on entering and leaving the store.
  • Wash your hands before going shopping and upon your return.
  • Limit your shopping trips to once a week if possible – you will be minimizing your risk of exposure.
  • Commit before you touch food. Don’t handle food unnecessarily as it will increase the risk of infection for someone else if you have COVID-19 (you may be asymptomatic). Look at the food, decide which one you will choose and only then touch it.
  • One person goes shopping – limiting exposure to infection or decreasing risk of passing on infection.
  • Pay electronically if possible.

Further detailed advice is available here.

Non-COVID-19

Here are some further tips when shopping:

  • Shop around the edge of the supermarket. While not ironclad, most of the healthier foods are found around the perimeter.
  • Check the labels – a processed food generally comes in packaging and has a label. The label will contain information on ingredients and a nutritional breakdown. As a rule of thumb, if a processed food has 5 or more ingredients then you should not put it in your basket. Also, look at the ingredients and if there are lots of ingredients you don’t recognise, it’s probably best avoided. As an example, a plain yogurt will have one ingredient while a low-fat, flavoured yogurt might have 10 ingredients.
  • Minimize processed foods – consumption of processed foods is linked to increased risks of certain health problems and weight gain. If a food has bright and shiny packaging and is marketed in print or screen media, chances are it’s a processed food. One of my favorite sayings is – “Real food comes from a farm, not a factory – eat more real foods”. Most of your shopping basket should contain real food. You can look at infographics here and here to give you an idea of how to identify processed foods.
  • Support local business – buy your meat and poultry from your local butcher, your fish from your local fishmonger, your fruit and vegetables in your local fruit and veg shop. As well as supporting local jobs and businesses, you will also be helping the environment as the food will not have far to travel.

Other Shopping and Organisational Tips

Some other tips that will help when shopping:

  • Shop when you have time – it’s best to do your big shop at the weekend or during times when shops are quiet (e.g. late at night). You will have more time and be less stressed. If you are stressed, you will be more likely to forget something.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry – if you do, you might end up buying treat foods that you normally wouldn’t for a quick “hit” or “fix”.
  • Keep a list on your fridge door and write down immediately something runs out – otherwise you might forget.
  • Always make sure you have food in your fridge and cupboard to make quick and easy nutritios meals. Examples:
    • Chicken, frozen stir-fry veg and noodles for stir fry.
    • Frozen fruit for smoothie.
    • Natural yogurt and museli.

Value for Money

Most people think that eating a healthy and nutritious diet is expensive…it’s not! It actually saves money over time and is better for your health. Why most people fall down is that they lack the cooking skills or are not adventurous enough to cook and prepare new meals and recipes. There are many great online resources that I will share with you next week to get you cooking new meals for the whole family.

Conclusion

  • Look at your training week and based on what you are doing (more carb based meals some days, more protein based meals and snacks other days), plan out a rough meal schedule for the week.
  • Check your fridge and cupboards and prepare a list.
  • Follow the guidelines for shopping during COVID-19.
  • Support your local smaller shops including butchers, fishmongers and fruit and vegetable stores.

Join me again next week as I will be looking at cooking skills and will share suggest some excellent resources for you.

If you have any questions, please email me at: kevin@metabolise.ie

Check out my website and my YouTube channel which I update regularly with cooking demonstrations and recipes. I also have videos from Kerry footballing greats discussing the importance of sports nutrition.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and get a notification every time I post a new video.

Follow me on Twitter: @metabolise

Finally, check out my blog for further posts on sports nutrition related topics.

Stay safe everyone, wash your hands regularly and practice physical distancing!

Kevin