When we as trainers advise clients to clean up their diet, they generally think we mean kick out all of the nice, naughty and tasty stuff and resort to drinking ‘green’ smoothies, water and eating chicken rice and broccoli 3 times a day! What we (or I mean) is try to eat more wholesome ingredients, dial back the intake on refined products and try to introduce some colour to the palate… Almost without doubt the first argument I have to manoeuvre my words around is cost. ‘Eating well costs a fortune!’. Naturally (for those who know me) I will disagree, and go on to say that eating junk food is so cheap, and the quality of the products reflect directly on either athletic performance, your waistline or even both! I could walk down any given aisle at the supermarket and pick out two for ones or multi-buy items that will fill my cupboards, my fridge and my skin for little expense. The good stuff is seldom ‘on sale’ or sold off in bulk buy deals.

I actually shop locally (or as locally as possible) in farm shops and small independent businesses (just like BP is) because I get to enjoy the produce from my surrounding area. My butcher can tell me where his latest cuts of meat are from, or where his potatoes have been sourced. The supermarket provide your with a stamp or a code which means nothing. Similarly, the farm shop I frequent only sell seasonal stuff, and because it’s seasonal it’s dirt cheap! And it’s so fresh there’s still dirt on it. The high prices generally come with products that are reliant on sophisticated and fancy distribution chains. How fresh is your orange juice? Even if you squeezed the oranges yourself it wouldn’t be fresh. Spanish oranges are picked, packed, stored, transported, stored again and probably shelved before you get to it in the shop.

The thing I like most about the way I shop for food is that there isn’t a plethora of ‘naughty’ treats that entice me to indulge in frivolously, but what I’m ALWAYS presented with are sweet and savoury items made from wholesome, organic and real ingredients. Fresh fruit and veg, lean cuts of meat ALL naturally low in fat, (even high fat meat is lower in fat than low fat sausage!) low in calories, low in expense (compared to supermarkets) and high in nutrients which translates to an affordable, healthy diet.

A typical weeks shop for me would be 3 x Chicken breast, 2 x Sirloin steak, 3 x Pork loin steak, 1lb of lean mince (500g), 2 x Broccolis, 2 packets of green beans, 5 carrots, a 5kg bag of potatoes, 1 pack of celery, as many mushrooms I can fit in a single use bag, 1 bell pepper in every colour and a large pot of olives would last me an entire week. When prepped up properly this created 16 balanced meals which I could cold store or freeze. This costs between £35 and £40 due to the variation in weights and sizes of produce etc. Even if I could rival this price at a supermarket I would choose the farmers shop or local sources just because of the quality. You don’t stick biodiesel in a Ferrari, and this day and age we all want a maximal outcome for minimal input, it just doesn’t work when it comes to the ‘Human’ body. The reality is you have to provide your body with the protein, carbohydrates and fats it requires to function at its best!

To summarise, better quality ingredients contain less calories than poor quality ingredients. The ingredients are more complete, meaning your body has to use calories to break them down. Even though the calorific content is less than poor quality ingredients, the energy return is far greater, meaning you eat less food overall to provide your body with nutrients required, and create a big energy deficit in the process allowing you to lose weight effectively, or you eat bigger portion sizes and boost energy to power your long constant efforts (runners & cyclists).

Set yourself a challenge. Find your local supplier outside of a supermarket chain, and see what you can get for the same money you would spend in the supermarket.

If you would like to try the farm shop I purchase from:

 Parkside farm shop – Sheffield Rd, Hoyland, Barnsley S74 0EA. tel: 01226 747335