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Hitting Macros During Food Shortages – COVID-19 March 2020

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Hitting Macros During Food Shortages – COVID-19 March 2020

The Issue

Amidst the panic caused by the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, many of us are visiting the supermarkets to find shelves bare of basic necessities (fed up of hearing about toilet paper yet?). While most are making a beeline for long-dated food items, baby formulas and… toilet roll… even beloved bodybuilding staples such as chicken and beef mince are fast becoming a rare find.

There are more important things at stake here than body composition goals, we understand that, but there’s no shame in wanting to stick to your plan. After all, if nothing else, this has taught us all how important maintaining good health as we age is!

Here at Predator, we’ve got you covered. While we’d recommend sticking to a fresh wholefood diet for the most part, supplement companies have really stepped up in recent years to formulate alternatives with great shelf lives at excellent value and convenience for you.

We never envisioned this being the scenario in which we’d be needing them, but as they say, adapt and overcome!

Hitting Your Macros

The smartest approach here is to have an easy list of sources of each macronutrient (protein, carbs and fats) that you can choose from. In this article, we will give examples of each, some of which can be found here at Predator Nutrition! 

Macronutrients

Protein

As someone trying to build and maintain muscle mass/tone, adequate protein intake is essential. Protein is more satiating and has a higher thermic effect (expends more calories to digest) than carbohydrates when dieting. When looking to gain size, the amino acids that make up protein are needed to recover from training and build new muscle tissue.

How much?

First, you should determine roughly how much protein you need per day. Assuming that you are an active individual, who has a higher recovery demand and more lean body mass than somebody who does not work out, your needs will be greater than what is recommended for the general population. Shoot for around 1g/lb of body mass, this might work out to 30-50g protein per meal (for example, a 200lb male might consume 5 meals per day containing 40g of complete protein each). 

What should you look for in a good protein source, whether it be food or a shake?

1. Complete spectrum of amino acids

A complete protein contains all essential amino acids. Complete proteins include chicken, beef and whey, whereas an incomplete protein would be something like rice.

2. Digestibility

When on a high protein diet, digestion can become an issue. Foods like cheese or eggs may not sit well with you. If we cannot break down and assimilate food, we cannot get the full benefits of it either. For this reason, we’d generally suggest a whey isolate or hydrolysate around workouts. These are almost zero lactose, fat and carbohydrate, making it a superior choice to a cheaper whey concentrate. A whey isolate is perfect to have on hand to make into a meal with oats or cream of rice, or you could add ingredients such as banana, honey and peanut butter to make a balanced shake.

These two factors are more important that whether the protein comes from a food such as meat or soy, or a supplement such as whey or casein. ‘An attempt should be made to consume whole foods that contain high-quality (e.g., complete) sources of protein; however, supplemental protein is a safe and convenient method of ingesting high-quality dietary protein (Campbell et al., 2007)’.

When considering the current situation, we’d advise looking at a mass gainer, meal replacement shake, liquid egg whites or a protein bar to easily top up your protein intake for the day on a budget.

Protein Supplements

Mass Gainer – Predator Mass

Our newest weight gaining shake is Predator Mass, but don’t be scared away by the name. Coming in at just under 400 calories per serving, this could just as easily be used to replace a balanced meal (coming in at around the same macros as a bagel and a small serving of chicken).

Meal Replacement – Quantum

Hydrapharm’s all-in-one shake Quantum can be used as a recovery shake or to replace a small meal. With higher protein and less carbs per serving than Predator Mass, this is a great lean option. Quantum comes with added ergogenic ingredients such as creatine and HMB to maintain strength and muscle if forced to work out from home short term!

Bars – MRE bar

Redcon1 MRE bars are a rare product in that they don’t use a dairy source of protein. Instead, you will find protein from sources including chicken, salmon and beef. Not to mention, they taste great!

redcon1 MRE Bar

Cost of Proteins

To get 30g of protein from following sources: here is how much it costs and how much of each product you will need. Remember, meats are in cooked weight, and carbs are in raw weight.

Food Amount Needed Cost for 30g Protein
Whey Protein 1 scoop 61p
Whey Isolate 1 scoop £1.13
Casein 1 scoop 83p
MetRX Meal replacement 1 sachet (72g) £1.83
Predator Mass 3 ½ scoop (100g) 80p
Amazing Grass Protein Superfood 1 ½ scoop £2.45
Amazing Grass Protein Glow 2 scoops (45g) £2.80
Hydrapharm Quatum 1 ½ scoop (75g) £1.30
5% fat beef mince 140g £1.99 per 250g pack. So 85p for 30g protein
Chicken breast fillet 130g 76p
Tesco fusilli pasta (1kg bag) 100g uncooked contains 5.8g of protein. So you would need 800g of pasta for 30g of protein!!
Basmati Rice 100g uncooked contains only 3g of protein. So you need 1kg of rice for 30g of protein.
Burgen Soya and Linseed Bread Each slice is 6.7g protein! For 30g of protein you need 5 slices!
Quorn Meat Free chicken pieces 200g £1.10
Cottage cheese 300g 80p
Arla Protein Yoghurt 1 ½ pot £1
Eggs 300g 80p

 

Carbs

Thought your carbs were safe? Nope, supermarkets are even being cleared of pasta! Not to worry, there are plenty of options that can be stored.

  • Bulk bags of rice
  • Oats
  • Frozen bread (yes, you can do this!)

Alternatively, supplement sources of carbs can be great, especially around training or if you struggle with appetite. The mass gainers/meal replacements listed above would work great, or you could use a carb powder for a single macro source.

Carbs – Cyclic Dextrin

Cyclic dextrin is an easily digesting carb powder that doesn’t have the stickiness or sweetness of other sources such as dextrose. Simply add EAAs or protein powder to top up your carbohydrate intake for the day.

Foods – Protein Flapjacks and High Calorie Bars

Protein flapjacks are a great calorie dense source of protein that pack more carbs than your regular bar. For example, Big 100 Colossal Bars come in at a heavy 50g with 30g protein.

Fats

Easy fat sources to stock up on from the supermarkets (if you can) include coconut oil, nuts, nut butters and hard cheeses. Or, save yourself the hassle and find the following online.

Oils - Macadamia Oil

Macadamia nut oil is an excellent source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that can be drizzled over just about any meal to improve the taste and nutritional profile. Macadamia oil is high in monounsatured fats and vitamin E which is great for immune health, read all about that here.

Omegas - Fish Oils

A good quality fish oil supplement is a great way to get EFAs into your diet if you are not consuming a lot of fatty fish due to cost or availability. The benefits of supplementing fish oil include reduced inflammation, less joint pain and improved cognitive function. We’d suggest Orange Oximega which has a great panel and are enteric coated to avoid nasty ‘fish burps’.

Macadamia Oil

Micronutrients

Concerned about not being able to store fresh fruit and veg? Frozen or canned (if fruit, just make sure it is in natural fruit juice and not syrup) can be just as good, if not better. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are processed as soon as they are picked, which might preserve some of the nutrient value as compared to fresh fruits and vegetables which have to be transported as is and may be left on store shelves for days before consumption.

One study found that ‘The nutrient status of frozen peas and broccoli was similar to that of the typical market-purchased vegetable and was superior to peas that have been stored in-home for several days. The nutrient status of frozen whole green beans and frozen carrots, with no loss on freezing, was similar to the fresh vegetable at harvest. Frozen spinach also compared reasonably well with the harvested fresh vegetable and was clearly superior to all market produce (Favell, 1998)’.

As compared to storing ‘fresh’ fruit and vegetables at ambient temperature for days on end, it has been concluded that ‘depending on the commodity, freezing and canning processes may preserve nutrient value (Rickman, Barrett and Bruhn, 2007)'.

Another great thing to have on hand to top up your micronutrients, is a greens powder. Generally, we will gravitate towards a select number of fruits and vegetables that we enjoy, are affordable, or are in season. A greens powder combines some of the most nutrient dense sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to ensure that all bases are covered!

Greens – Greens Powder

We would suggest shopping our Amazing Grass range or checking out Glaxon Super Greens. Ingredients in these that you might not normally consume, such as spirulina, have been used to stimulate antibody production and anti-inflammatory responses.

Greens Powder

2000 Calorie Meal Plan 

While you might personally be on more or less calories, this is how we would personally set out a diet for someone eating around 2000 calories a day with the goal of building lean muscle. 

9am Breakfast - 1 serving Predator Mass, 1 serving greens, AM health supplements (393 calories, 32.5g protein, 50.1g carb, 6.6g fat)

12pm Pre-Workout - 50g oats, 30g Predator Whey, 20g Predator Peanut Butter (423 cal, 34g protein, 34g carb, 16g fat)

Intra-Workout - BCAA/EAA, 25g cyclic dextrin (95 cal, 24g carb)

2pm Post-Workout - 1 serving Quantum, 1 bagel thin (267 cal, 41g protein, 56g carb, 3g fat)

3pm Late Lunch - 150g (raw weight) chicken breast, spinach or iceberg lettuce, 5g macadamia oil (200 cal, 36g protein, trace carb, 5g fat

6pm Dinner - Chicken Tikka Performance Meal (350 cal, 42 protein, 17.5 carb, 10.5 fat)

9pm Supper: MRE Bar (260 cal, 20g protein, 29g carb, 9g fat)

Other tips

  • This might not be the best time to confine yourself to a meal plan. Be open to taking a macro-based approach to diet. White fish can easily be swapped for egg whites. Potato can be swapped for rice. Avocado can be swapped for nut butter. This flexibility will allow you to continue to adhere to your plan in the long run.
  • There has been no better time to take a critical look at how your current diet helps or hinders your health and longevity. While no one supplement or food will make you indestructible to illness, now is a great time to start making some positive changes to look after yourself. Pick up a vitamin C supplement, some greens powder and a bag of frozen fruit today!
  • Remember that, while you might be a fit and healthy individual, others are not. Don’t play the hero and continue going to work and the gym if you feel at all unwell. A 14-day self-isolation is NOT long enough to lose muscle. Only some glyocogen and ‘pump’.
  • Follow guidance from the government at all times. Stay on top of hygeine practices and try not to panic at this stage.

Safe Shopping 

Ordering online is a great way to avoid the crowds and risk of contamination in spaces such as supermarkets and shopping centres right now. At times like this, going to supermarkets is extremely risky as you could pass on a virus from person to person, without you even displaying symptoms. Even picking up a product that someone who had the virus has picked up and left, couldn’t leave you with catching it. Online shopping not only for your protein sources, but for essential vitamins and minerals reduces your contact with people who could have the virus as well as stopping you from passing on the virus to other people! Remember, a lot of people will NOT have symptoms of COVID-19. Unlike online supermarkets who are currently giving delivery times of up to 3 weeks, we can have your order with you as soon as the next day.

References

Campbell, B., Kreider, R., Ziegenfuss, T., La Bounty, P., Roberts, M., Burke, D., Landis, J., Lopez, H. and Antonio, J., 2007. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), p.8.

Favell, D., 1998. A comparison of the vitamin C content of fresh and frozen vegetables. Food Chemistry, 62(1), pp.59-64.

Rickman, J., Barrett, D. and Bruhn, C., 2007. Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(6), pp.930-944.

About the Author

SAVANNAH WESTERBY

Savannah is part of the team here at Predator. Her qualifications include a degree in Sport and Exercise Nutrition alongside a background working in the supplement industry. She has also been an active bikini competior since 2016. 

Social: @SavannahWesterby


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