Ask any fitness guru worth their salt and they’ll tell you a workout is as much about the nutrition as it is about what you do at the squat rack. The thing is, no matter how much you think about your macros, your workout moving from the gym to the living room is undoubtedly going to mix things up.
No matter how good your home workout is – and if you’re following our best home workouts they should be pretty stellar – advice on the other side of things is always helpful. So we wanted to ask some experts: how do you make sure that, in a state of self-isolation, you can adapt your nutritional regimen to fit your new fitness routine?
“I typically find that we do less work because we do not have the same resources available,” said Jonathan Dick, Equinox Tier X’s personal training manager. “Yet we will tend to eat as normal without making any adjustments.” This is both about your training and also just about life in general: we’re burning fewer calories in every scenario, so we need to consume fewer than normal. “One easy fix I like to make is to focus on eating lean protein, vegetables and healthy fats through the day and push my carbohydrates to solely around my workouts.”
Dick recommends making sure your fridge is stocked with a healthy selection of foods so that you actually can make the right choices for yourself. “Now that we are all working from home, many of us – for the first time in years – actually have more control over our nutrition than ever before,” he added.
For breakfast he recommends eggs, spinach and avocado for a lean start to the day. For lunch? “Sardines with a big salad of leaves, peppers, spring onions, beetroot. Whatever veggies you like, really.” Then an hour before your workout, he suggests a little greek yoghurt with a piece of fruit: “an apple, some berries or two to three dates”. Once you’ve trained, have a post-workout dinner. He recommends a tray bake of chicken thighs with rosemary and thyme, tomatoes and sweet potato. If you’re vegan, you can also check out our vegan meal prep guide.
This all might seem hard to muster. After all, you’re at home, in an unchanging room, with fewer distractions – sometimes it seems impossible to not just think about what’s in the kitchen. That’s why it’s important to focus on having more healthy options than bad around the house and also making sure you keep a routine.
Dr Kianoush Missaghi, training specialist at Leading Fitness App Freeletics, agrees. He recommends making sure you follow all the food advice under normal circumstances: avoid overly processed food, plan out your meals at the weekend and batch cook everything, stashing it away in individual portions. “Try to eat a balanced diet consisting of single ingredient, foods such as whole grains, single source proteins, whole fruits and veggies,” Dr Missaghi recommended, “and aim to stick to water, coffee and tea and avoid soft drinks and juices if your goal is weight loss.”
With that in mind, both Jonathan Dick and Dr Missaghi recommend making sure your entire routine is healthy to make sure your eating doesn’t suffer because of bad sleep or bad hydration. If you don’t want to track calories, says Dr Missaghi, just make sure you make sure you leave each meal feeling comfortably full. “Eat when you are hungry, not when you think you have to – listen to your body more carefully,” he said. Also, prepare your meals around a “protein first” principle, which leads to “better satiety, takes longer to digest and is less caloric than fat”. With protein as your priority, then focus on vegetables and fruits, then whole grains and lastly healthy fats.
In case you need a couple of suggestions of things you can whip up to keep your nutrition strong while also relying on some pantry staples, here are a couple of recommends from Dr Missaghi…
Recipe one: roasted carrot and lentil salad
A perfect meal for when there’s still a lingering chill in the air, this salad forms a base to which you can add other seasonal vegetables, nuts and even fruits.
100g puy lentils
3tbsp coconut oil
1tbsp white balsamic vinegar
A handful of coriander
Preheat the oven to 220C. Rinse the lentils, boil them in a pan, then simmer gently for around 20 minutes before draining and setting them aside.
Cut the carrots into pieces of medium thickness, around three centimetres long. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and pour over the carrots, ensuring that the carrots are entirely coated in oil. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with chopped coriander stalks and a pinch of salt. Roast in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the carrots have softened slightly.
After removing from the oven, transfer the carrot mixture to a bowl and mix in the lentils, vinegar and coriander leaves and mix until well-combined.
Add seasoning to taste and serve with wholemeal bread or a sprinkling of pine nuts.
Recipe two: eggplant and chickpea salad
Salads don’t always have to mean copious amounts of green leaves; a salad can be anything you want it to be! In this recipe, eggplant and chickpeas form the base, while fresh tomatoes add extra healthy goodness.
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
1 can chickpeas, drained
140g Greek yoghurt
5tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp ground cumin
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small garlic clove, grated
600g plum tomatoes sliced into 0.5cm rounds
70g pomegranate seeds
40g fresh coriander leaves
A pinch of salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 200C. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, brushing both sides with olive oil.
In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Sprinkle over the aubergine slices, along with the drained chickpeas.
Bake the eggplant and chickpea mixture for around 30 minutes, or until brown and tender, flipping part way through. Add the tomatoes for the final five minutes.
In a bowl, combine the yoghurt and garlic and season with salt.
When cooked, combine the eggplant, chickpeas and tomato in a dish. Drizzle some oil over the salad and garnish with pomegranate, coriander and seasoning to taste. Serve with the yoghurt dressing.
The great thing about warm salads is that you don’t have to rigidly adhere to a recipe to guarantee a great taste. Fancy some extra protein today? Try adding chicken, turkey or tofu. Want a vitamin booster? Add berries or apple slices. Need something more filling? Add a handful of nuts or seeds. The possibilities are endless when it comes to warm salads. For even more healthy, nutritious recipes, download the Freeletics Nutrition app now.