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Meal Prep Sunday #7 - A High Protein Hit

Chicken and eggs are a great way to get a hit of protein in your diet, but it can all get a bit boring.  Until now!...

A high protein diet is without a doubt THE most effective way to achieve your body composition goals and achieve that aesthetic look.  I'm sure you know by now that chicken is a great source of lean protein and that eggs are a good blend of protein and fats.

Both foods have pretty much no carbs and therefore make a good choice for those of you seeking to up your protein intake without having a boat load of tag along calories you didn't really want.

But that search for high protein foods leads to dull food choices.  Chicken with sweet potato, chicken with brown rice and broccoli.  Yawn!  And the egg recipes get worse!  Omelettes and plain hard boiled eggs are about as far as the imagination is stretched.

With this week's Meal Prep Sunday blog, I wanted to to show that it doesn't have to be that way.  There's lots of variety you can bring to these two great ingredients without trashing your macros and blowing your calories for the day.

This week, I've got two recipes for you that I know your taste buds are just going to go crazy for.  For starters, who doesn't love scotch eggs.  An entire egg wrapped in sausage meat and dipped in breadcrumbs.  Delicious.  But not exactly macro friendly.  Well the first recipe I've got for you turns that on it's head, with a scotch egg made with chicken rather than sausage meat.  That's going to give you nearly 40 grams of protein!

The second recipe is for those of you that are watching your fats.  I'm taking the humble egg white and raising the bar with an egg white omelette with trout, on a bed on toast and cottage cheese.  It sounds delicious.  And you'd be right!

I'm sure you'll love these two recipes, so........

Let's get cooking...

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Meal Prep Sunday #6 - Beef Up Your Protein Intake with these 2 Recipes

Last week we covered chicken and rice, but you can branch out from those bodybuilding staples with these 2 dishes.  It's time to 'beef' up your meal plans...

Unless your a vegetarian, you've gotta love a nice juicy steak, right.  It's HAS to be one of my favourite dishes of all time.  Actually, scratch that.  It IS my favourite dish of all time.  A gorgeous slab of rare beef with all the trimmings is my idea of heaven.

And my love of beef extends beyond a a t-bone or Chateaubriand.  Who doesn't love those home cooked comfort foods like cottage pie and spaghetti bolognese?  And there's definitely zero reason why you can't include these dishes in your meal plans.

These days you can get a plethora of different varieties of beef that are much more macro friendly than they used to be.  Take beef mince as an example.  You can get beef as lean as 5% fat.  Perfect for being able to keep you tucking in to Mum's old recipes every week.

This week, I've got two recipes for you that I know you'll love.  There's a Classic Bolognese, which is a perfect high protein meal.  I've purposely left out the pasta in the dish, so that you can be flexible with what suits you and your macros.  If you want to pile on the carbs, then cook up your favourite pasta and make a big batch for your meal prep.  Alternatively, you can swap the pasta for courgette (zucchini for those across the pond) noodles as a low carb option.

The other dish is mini meatballs and chorizo.  The chorizo really elevates the flavour of the sih.  It's simple to make and reasonably low carb for those of you that need to squeeze it in to your macros.

I'm sure you'll love these two recipes, so get yourself in that kitchen and rustle up something that Mum would be proud of!

Let's get cooking...

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Meal Prep Sunday #5 - 2 Twists on Chicken & Rice

Tired of opening that Tupperware at dinner time and staring at plain chicken and rice, AGAIN!?  Well weep no more...

Chicken and rice has become synonymous with fitness and bodybuilding these days.  It seems to the dish that springs to people's mind when they embark on a fitness programme.

"Do I have to eat chicken and rice 4 times a day?" is the usual question that gets asked.

The answer is no.  Of course you don't.  Setting up your meal plan properly should mean that you have lots of flexibility to enjoy those foods you love and still make progress.

I think that the plain chicken and rice crew repeat that same meal out of convenience, laziness, an inability to cook, or a combination of all 3.  And I'm guilty of being in that posse for a time, but thankfully I've branched out into other dishes.  And when I do have chicken and rice, it's not the plain and boring kind.  Frankly I don't think I could get it down my throat without gagging.

Dry chicken, dry rice, and dry vegetables has no appeal for me.

If you're looking to get out of the chicken and rice rut, then this is the blog for you.  Don't get me wrong, chicken and rice is a great dish.  Lean meat and a good source of carbs.  It's perfect for hitting those macros.  But you and I both know we can do better than boiling everything.

Let's bring excitement back to this bodybuilding staple.

I'm sure you'll love these two recipes, so get yourself in that kitchen and rustle up something to reignite those taste buds!

Let's get cooking...

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Meal Prep Sunday #4 - 2 Chocolate Treats That Won't Ruin Your Macros

Everyone loves chocolate!  When it comes to fat loss it's often the first thing that gets discarded from the kitchen cupboards.  But does that really need to be the case? 

Whatever time of the year you start your new regime, it's common practice that all the food you enjoy gets cast aside into the depths of the bin.  A tornado-like frenzy blasts through the kitchen, stripping the cupboards bare of everything but the vegetable and rice.

If after a few weeks you're still 'lucky' enough to be sticking to the plan, in your heart of hearts you probably know it's only a matter of time before you crack and end up succumbing to the temptation.  In a similar frenzy to the time you threw all those goodies away, you scratch and crawl to the back of what was the treat drawer, like that scary girl crawling out of the well in the film, The Ring.

Finally, you stumble across that one chocolate bar you saved in case of emergencies.  This is one such emergency!

Before you know it you're face is smothered in milk chocolate like some weird milky brown face mask.

The truth is that a well-constructed meal plan makes this scenario a thing of the past.

Your meal plan shouldn't be a thingyou dread looking at everyday.  When you're trying to lose weight the last thing you want is to have to worry about cravings and the fact you're generally miserable with the foods your coach is subscribing.  All the chicken and rice will count for nothing if you can't stick to it for more than a few weeks.

Adherence is king.

And that's one of the fundamental things you should have in mind when creating your plan.

With all Iron Paradise Fitness meal plans, I focus on sustainability.  Having a meal plan that you can stick to on a long-term basis is my priority.  I base every meal plan around the individual.  Whether you like chocolate, bread, ice cream, or have a weakness for a tasty burger, I pride myself on taking the time to build those things into your plan.  There might have to be some sacrifices in other areas, but so far I've not yet been defeated by a challenge (that's opening myself up for failure right there...hahaha).

It's also important to learn how to flex and adapt your nutrition plan, so that the randomness of day to day life doesn't completely throw you off track.  And this is all part of the process I go through in my online coaching.

In this week's instalment of my 'Meal Prep Sunday' blog series, I've got a couple of really easy recipes for you that will mean you can easily fit some chocolate into your diet, totally guilt free.  No binging required.

I've chosen these treats as they are super easy to make and require zero cooking whatsoever.  Just a small amount of prep time, then whack them in the fridge and enjoy as a snack or as part of a nice dessert with your favourite ice cream.

I'm sure you'll love these two recipes, so get yourself in that kitchen and rustle up something to satisfy those chocolate cravings.

Let's get cooking (or chilling in this week's case)...

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Intermittent Fasting Blog Pic

Intermittent Fasting - Fact or Fad?

Is Intermittent Fasting what you need to lose more fat and build more muscle, quickly?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least that what they tell  us. Intermittent Fasting has gained popularity in recent years and is bringing that notion into question. So, is it still the case that your bowl of Sugar Puffs in the morning is the most critical food that will pass your lips all day. Or was The Honey Monster wrong all along? And is Intermittent Fasting the meal timing strategy you need to get those big results?

To answer that question, this article is going to pick through the detail and confusion for you. Because you're going to find out all the information on Intermittent Fasting you'll ever need.  Now, some of you will know about the concept already. But for others it will be an alien concept that requires further explanation.

Without doubt, when I first heard about the idea of Intermittent Fasting (IF for short) I was immediately sceptical.  Going without food for a lengthy period of time and then 'feasting' for a fixed period of time sounded like just another fad diet approach, pedalled by some celebrity.

However, my initial scepticism may have been misplaced.  Because there is evidence to show that it might have some legs.

What you'll discover in this article

This definitive guide to Intermittent Fasting is my way of giving you the answers to those burning questions. Ultimately, I'm aiming to help you decide if Intermittent Fasting is something you want to try for yourself.  Because it might not be for everybody, but it could be the nutrition strategy you've been looking for.

Here's what we'll cover:

  • What the whole Intermittent Fasting concept actually is.
  • What the weight / fat loss benefits associated to Intermittent Fasting are.
  • If there are any additional health health benefits with Intermittent Fasting
  • How to figure out if Intermittent Fasting is right for you.
  • When you should and shouldn't you use Intermittent Fasting

Let's get right into the detail and find out if Tony the Tiger was right.  Is breakfast really "ggggggggrrrrrrrrreat"?

Intermittent Fasting Blog - Frosties Cereal

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Meal Prep Sunday #3 - 2 Great Tasting Alternatives to Boring Rice Dishes

Does your meal plan consist of dull and boring carbohydrate sources?  Plain brown rice with no flavour?  Dry and tasteless food choices day after day that leave you uninspired and unmotivated?

In this week's instalment of my 'Meal Prep Sunday' blog series, I've got a couple of really easy recipes for you to liven up your carb intake for next week.  I've chosen these dishes so that you can match them with your favourite protein to add some much needed flavour into your Tupperware containers.  Throw in in some chicken, fish, or whatever your favourite choice is and you'll have a complete dish that will slot nicely in to your meal plan.

Your meal plan need never be that dark cloud that looms over your head again.  You should be able to look forward to the meals and snacks you've lovingly prepared at the weekend.

With all Iron Paradise Fitness meal plans, I focus on sustainability.  Having a meal plan that you can stick to on a long-term basis is the holy grail.  But that holy grail shouldn't been as hard to find as some form of Indiana Jones style crusade.  It should be something that is straight-forward and easy to understand.  It's also important to learn how to flex and adapt your nutrition plan, so that the randomness of day to day life doesn't completely throw you off track.  And this is all part of the process I go through in my online coaching.

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Photo by Josh Hallett

I'm sure you'll love these dishes, so get cooking and be sure to let me know what you think.

Let's get cooking...

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#THEDAILYGRIND 013: To Cheat or Not to Cheat?

"Hi.  I'll have 4 meat samosas, the chicken korma with Pilau rice, and a Naan bread.  Oh and could you add in 5 poppadoms.  Oh and could you add in 4 bottles of beer.  Don't worry, it's my cheat day."

Sound familiar?  That single takeaway order just weighed in at a whopping 3,330 calories!!!  That's more calories than I'm currently consuming each day on my bulk!

I get it.  It's Friday night.  You've had a long week at work.  You've been hitting the gym hard all week, your diet has been on point, but you're absolutely out on your feet.  You just can't face cooking another meal.  Tonight you just want to rest.  Someone else can do the hard work for a change.  So you ransack the drawer in the kitchen that's hiding the one takeaway menu you'd secretly hidden for emergencies such as this, and you start dialling.

This is all ok isn't it?  It's all part of the plan.  It's that little (or not so little in this case) treat for all that hard work during the week.  It's a mental break from having to count calories and worry about macros.  You tell yourself it'll be beneficial in the long run.

But is it?

Could this small indulgence be the one thing that's holding you back from achieving your weight and fat loss goals?

Let's find out by starting with the basics first.

The simple truth is that a cheat meal (and definitely a cheat day) can put your progress off the rails and have it careering into oblivion if you're not careful.

But it need not be the case.  You can have your cake and eat it (I never understood that phrase, what's the point of having cake if you can't eat it?...).

In this article, I'm going to guide you through the do's and don'ts of cheat meals and how you can build the concept into your meal plans without worrying about the negative effects to your weight loss and progress.  I'll teach you how a second on the lips need not mean a lifetime on the hips.  All it takes is a few simple tips and a little application.

So why not sit back, put your feet up, grab that tub of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream and a large spoon.  And tuck in while I show you how to make sure you can enjoy that indulgent treat and feel good about it at the same time.

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Meal Prep Sunday #2 - Omelettes & Pancakes

Omelettes and pancakes are common place in lots of meal plans these days.  The omelette is a breakfast staple, while pancakes are seen as that little treat for all your hard work.  But let's look at breathing new life into these standard dishes.

In this week's instalment of my 'Meal Prep Sunday' blog series, we're taking on some popular dishes for bodybuilders and fitness types all over the world.

Egg-based breakfasts have been part of my own meal plans since I saw Rocky drinking his way through a glass of raw eggs before a cold run through the streets og Philadelphia.  I confess that I even stuck to that regime for a period of time in the early days of my training.  At the time, I was convinced the process of eating the eggs raw would mean I'd get so much more of the nutritional benefit.  And for that I was willing to make every morning meal a complete misery.

I'm happy to say that my own diet (and cooking skills) have moved on significantly since those early days.  Although the work ethic remains the same.  I still love my eggs in the morning.  That high protein is a great way to start the day.  It's especially good when on a cut as it gives you that fuller feeling for longer.

As for those pancakes, they're often tagged with the label of being a 'cheat meal'.  Something you can only have when you stray off your diet in some sort of uncontrollable fashion.  I'm sure you've seen the pictures of bodybuilders with a stack of pancakes a foot high, with lashings of syrup, ice cream and fruit drenched all over them.

But proper control of your macros means they don't always have to be associated with an uncontrolled binge or splurge.  And with today's recipe, I'll show you a great tasting alternative pancake recipe that you should pretty easy to fit in your macros, so that means you can enjoy them or more than just one day of the week.

With all Iron Paradise Fitness meal plans, I focus on creating a nutrition plan that you'll love.  I don't want you to feel like it's something restrictive.  Your plan needs to be something that you look forward to on a daily basis and also allow you the flexibility to chop and change foods as and when the mood takes you.

I'm sure you'll love these dishes, so get cooking and be sure to let me know what you think.

Let's get cooking...

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#THEDAILYGRIND 010: How To Make Good Food Choices

There are no good or bad foods!  There are no miracle foods.  There are only foods that work for YOU!

Ok, that might be a gross over simplification of the subject, but the statement still holds water to a degree.  I get asked on a regular basis whether a particular food is healthy and ok to eat.  Often it might appear as a text message or physically placed under my nose for approval.  My answer is always the same...

One food type or specific meal is, in itself neither bad nor good.  It's more about how that food or meal sits in the overall context of what you ate (or plan to eat) in the day.

It goes back to the fundamental principle of good nutrition.  And that's energy balance.  Calories in vs calories out.

If your goal is to lose weight, then you need to be eating less calories than you burn (calorie deficit).

Flip that around if you want to gain weight for the purposes of increasing muscle mass, ie eat more calories than your burn (calorie surplus).

If you make this mindset shift in how you think about food it can unlock your potential to succeed in your fitness goals.

Think about this for a second.  It's lunchtime.  You're out and about in town, rushing around trying to get all your shopping done and your starving.  You haven't brought any food with you and you haven't got time to sit down for a full meal at a restaurant.  Out of the corner of your eye, you see those golden arches.  You wouldn't normally do it, but you decide to dive in and get in the queue.  You know that McDonald's has some healthy choices these days, so you're going to be good and stick to the 'boring' side of the menu.

As you're standing in line, you glance up to the display boards all brightly lit with their perfect photography of succulent burgers stacked high on seeded buns.  You're now at the front of the queue.

What do you order?...

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#THEDAILYGRIND 008: Why Testosterone Boosters Are Worthless & What You Should Be Doing Instead

Google the phrase 'Best Supplements for Muscle Growth' and you'll be hit with a myriad of companies claiming their product is exactly what you need...  The truth is they're probably just bullshitting you...

And it's not just the supplement companies.  The same can be sent of online websites that have poorly researched articles giving mediocre advice.  Either that's just pure laziness or there's some inherent link back to a supplement company they're surreptitiously promoting.

Where does that leave you in your quest to find out what you need to be doing to optimise your training in the gym?  You're putting in the hours in the Iron Paradise and you want to make sure that you can squeeze every last drop of growth from your efforts.  That's totally understandable.  I'm the same!

But the search for the silver bullet that's going to bring you huge gains in 2017 has the danger of leading you down totally the wrong path.  Listen to the advice in the articles from those first few Google hits or the glossy marketing of supplement companies and you'll be mislead.  The promise of 'packing on muscle' will never live up to the hype.  The sad reality is your desire for gains is only really going to lead to gains for supplement companies.  In the form of YOUR hard-earned cash lining their pockets.

What you'll be left with is a face of bemusement and frustration as you're 3-6 months down the line and wondering where all that muscle you had been promised is hiding, because it certainly isn't on your body!

How do I know this is the case?  Because I've been there.

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