The Fitness Chef - How to shop for lean & healthy food

You are what you eat in the sense that the right foods will increase energy levels, increase detoxification and lead to a greater energy output during exercise. Heavily processed foods that have little nutritional value will have the opposite effect - an increase in toxicity, decrease in energy and most likely an increase in fat storage, given their often unbalanced macronutrient make up. I work a lot in the realms of body composition; helping ordinary people lose body fat, increase strength and train for specific sports. Optimal health, energy levels, immunity to disease, function and well-being are often determined by the food you eat. 

Well, the good news is that there are thousands of healthy wholefoods out there that are rich in lean proteins, non refined carbs and healthy fats to keep you lean, whilst the same foods also have vitamins and minerals to keep you internally healthy. The foods I've picked out and listed below vary in their levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate, but all have two things in common - they are unprocessed, fresh whole foods that will fuel you and fill you up and they contain other beneficial nutrients to keep you energised and healthy. 

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My top picks for your shopping basket: 

WHOLEFOOD PROTEINS

Lean mince, free range chicken, turkey mince, turkey breast, lean steak, tuna steak, all white fish, salmon, mackerel, eggs, natural yogurt, chickpeas, whey protein.

WHOLEFOOD CARBS

Sweet potatoes, wholegrain rice, quinoa, spelt, kidney beans, black beans, lentils oats. 

WHOLEFOOD FATS

Oily fish, avocado, almonds, cashews, peanuts, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nut butters.

VEGETABLES

Spinach, kale, broccoli, onions, garlic, avocado, green beans, carrots, celery, cucumber, asparagus, herbs, chilies, parsnips, aubergine and anything else you like!

FRUITS

Peppers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, Gobi berries, lemons, bananas, pineapple, blackberries, apples, watermelon, strawberries.

SNACKS

100% nut butters, rice cakes, oatcakes, nuts, 70%+dark chocolate, greek yogurt, hummus, goats cheese, cottage cheese, biltong.

My advice to you is simple. Assess what is in your fridge/ cupboards and simply replace any processed foods with the above. How do you know if it's processed? If it has been modified to contain different ingredients or the appearance is radically different to the original food then you know it's one to avoid. For example – potato waffles instead of potatoes, a ready-made fish pie instead of a fresh fillet of white fish or any pre-packaged ready meal instead of something you’ve prepared at home from fresh ingredients. Whilst it’s still important to monitor how much you eat, the more you eat quality wholefoods, the fuller and better you will feel. As for any food that comes in a packet, box or jar, you should follow this protocol:

#1. Check the ingredients on the label – Do you recognise the ingredients? Can you even pronounce them? If not I’d reduce/stop intake of this product.

#2. Check the nutritional information on the label – how much protein, carbs, fat, sugar, fibre does it have? Then correlate this to the ingredients you see on the label. For example: If it’s got 22g of fat per 100g and the fat source in the ingredients is from avocado, nuts or fish oils then that’s good, but if the 22g fat is mostly made up from vegetable oils, trans fats and nasty preservatives, I’d swiftly avoid.   

#3. Ignore the marketing agenda. Companies know that a large portion of the public want to eat healthier foods, so they pray on this to a degree. Always question just how ‘low fat’, ‘low carb’, ‘no added sugar’, ‘high protein’, ‘healthy’ the product actually is by checking the label. You’d be surprised at how little the difference is between the ‘lower in’ versions and the originals. Additional additives/preservatives may also be added to the ‘healthier’ product. 

At the end of the day, food is food and it’s how organised, clued up and consistent you are which will determine your progress. You can 100% enjoy ALL the foods you like.

Having all these fresh wholefood ingredients is one thing, but making recipes out of them is another. So here’s a cracker to get you started!

 

MONKFISH MASALA

monkfish masala

 

Prep time: 15 minutes   (serves 2)

Ingredients:

400g fresh monkfish (cut into cubes)

1 can/carton chopped tomatoes

½ a jar meridian foods masala cooking sauce

4 tbsp curry powder

2 tbsp cumin

4 garlic gloves

100g chopped sweet potato

1 chopped bell pepper

Handful of spinach

Basil

Black pepper

1 tsp coconut oil

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a large wok/pan and add the monkfish cubes, curry powder, cumin, masala cooking sauce & chopped tomatoes. Whilst this is cooking for 5 minutes cut up your sweet potato into small cubes and microwave to soften for 3-5 minutes.

Then the softened sweet potato, chopped pepper, spinach, basil & black pepper to pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

It’s that simple! If you prefer meat you can use chicken or turkey breast instead of monkfish and keep the rest of the recipe exactly the same!

Check out more of my healthy recipes!

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