The motivation to get up, get out and go for a run is really tough right now. And the temptation is real to snack or pop fish fingers and chips in the oven.
Despite the lockdown, we all still lead busy lives and the time to sit down and cook healthy, nutritious meals doesn’t always exist
You might be one of the fortunate ones who is able to find the enthusiasm to stay active and exercise. But if your diet isn’t lined up, then you’re not seeing the full benefits.
We had a chat with chef to the stars, Omar Meziane, Omar is arguably the #1 chef in the sporting world, working with the England football team, Chelsea FC, Fulham FC, Harlequins rugby, England Cricket and many more. He’s even worked with the Spice Girls!
Meziane has teamed up with his good friend and Head of Performance Nutrition at English Institute of Sport, Michael Naylor to launch Tweakd. Their aim is to deliver pre-prepared meals straight to your door, inspired by the same meals that have been cooked for the elite.
“I’ve worked with some of the leading names in sport” says Omar; “Feeding the England football, cricket teams, rugby players and yes even the pleasure of closely working with the spice girls. It’s more than just cooking delicious food; I have learnt what foods are needed to compliment certain activities and the nutritional requirements of the elite.”
“Nutritionists like Mike are the heartbeat of every meal any professional athlete eats. They tailor plans to support the athlete’s goals – be that weight loss, gain, muscle building, recovery from an injury etc.”
“What people don’t realise is that it’s easy to adopt areas of the elite lifestyle, by eating the right food groups and supplementing it with regular exercise. The trick is to pick the right foods to stay focused, active and maintain peak levels throughout the day.”
Below are some of the key things Omar has picked up throughout his career of feeding the best in British sport, that could be of use to us all.
A healthy balance at the right time
“To feed a Premiership Rugby side like Harlequins, I would order in roughly 50kg of chicken a day and around 300kg of fruit and veg. Don’t worry, you don’t need that much, but life is about a balance of good quality protein and carbohydrates.”
“Requirements will differ – if you exercise more, then your intake will need to increase, and if you exercise less, or not at all, then decrease your intake of calories to support weight loss – or at least combat weight gain!”
“Chicken is naturally high in protein, very lean and goes well with most things on the plate. But don’t be afraid to weigh up the options and consider a nice oily fish which is full of protein and healthy fats and oils, rich in Omega 3 and the perfect light dish after a heavy workout.”
“Some food that you might not think about include broccoli which is a great source of Vitamin A, E, C and K or Beetroot which can help with endurance performance by supporting oxygen delivery – so Mike tells me!”
Yes, it’s possible to be Vegan and active
“If I had a penny for every time someone told me that Vegans can’t be elite athletes. I mean, Seriously?! Of course they can. Admittedly, removing meat and animal products from your diet can lose some of the natural nutritional benefits required – but there are alternatives. It just means more graft.”
“At Tweakd, one of my personal favourites (and I’m not even Vegan), is our Nut-Free Vegan Chicken Satay. It’s delicious. We use a product called ‘This Isn’t Chicken’ and it’s ideal for helping Vegans hit their protein goals, whilst also supporting with muscle mass and recovery.”
“Yes, it’s harder work to reach your protein goals as a Vegan, but it’s very achievable.”
Healthy food isn’t a chore and can taste great.
“On average, people eat up to 3,500 meals a year and every time you eat, it’s an opportunity to improve your body.”
“To get the most out of these meals, it’s crucial to understand your goals. Do you want to lose weight, gain weight etc.? From there, adjust your plans and pick the right foods.”
“Remember, everything is fine in moderation.”
“People always associate carbohydrates such as rice and potato negatively, but it’s a staple of pretty much every meal I cook for the elites. Carbs are crucial for supporting immune health and energy.”
“Right now, our bodies are battling not only to avoid illness, but also to keep going at our makeshift home offices every day. Just accompany increased carb intake with amplified exercise.”
“Steak, chicken, fish, rice, lentils, falafel, hummus, sweet potato – all of these things are delicious and offer so many nutritional benefits. It’s not all hard work. An example of one of our Tweakd meals is below:
Massaman Duck with Freekeh, Puy Lentils, Roasted Red Onion and Lingonberries.
“Our delicious slow cooked duck breast tastes like it has been confit (cooked in duck fat) but it hasn’t. It’s delicious and falls apart with incredible flavours of tamarind, lemongrass and cinnamon and coupled with the perfectly cooked freaked grain with Puy lentils with fresh orange, soy and lime and then topped with lingonberries that add a tart but slightly sweet flavour to round the dish off.“
Be open to help and don’t dismiss frozen
“At Tweakd we want to create a positive change in people’s attitudes to the way they eat and help people enhance their lifestyles. We know that despite the lockdown, people are still struggling to prepare nutritious and healthy meals.”
“That could be down to a lack of time or motivation or whatever. Regardless, we have made it easy and decided to change the narrative on frozen food.”
“The majority of frozen pre-prepared meals are mass produced and don’t taste nice at all. But Tweakd is different. We cook the same meals that have been served regularly to these sports stars, and using our science freeze the food, locking in the great taste and nutrients – delivered to your door and easy to eat in minutes.”
Tweakd is set to launch in the coming weeks, so please sign up to receive updates and give us a whirl: tweakd.uk