Information on Foods and Supplements

We realise that some less common foods and nutritional supplements referred to in the meal plan text may not be familiar to many people, so we have brief information on relevant products here, to help you understand their use in the meal plans.


Basmati Rice
Basmati rice is a long grain rice available in polished (white) and unpolished (brown) varieties. Both types provide slow-released carbohydrates, but brown types are higher in fibre and B vitamins.

Chapatti (chapati)
Chapattis are a type of bread made from either white flour or a mix of white and wholemeal flour. It is a dish commonly eaten in parts of Asia as a staple food. Salt and water are added to the flour which is cooked in a pan, and ghee (clarified butter) may by glazed on top.

Chickpeas are a pulse which can be eaten with salads or stewed. They are high in protein, starch, dietary fibre, zinc and folate.

Couscous (kuskus)
Couscous consists of spherical granules which are made by rolling and shaping moistened course durum (semolina) wheat and coating with finely ground wheat flour. It can be home-made, but it's more common to buy it ready made to serve as a starchy carbohydrate part of a meal and it is medium on the glycaemic index.

Daal (dal, dahl, dhal)
This is a dish of pulses, most commonly lentils, which have been stripped of their outer hulls and spilt, then incorporated into a thick spicy stew with spices. It is a dish commonly eaten by Asian and Middle Eastern cultures by both Hindus and Muslims.

Granary Bread
Unlike wholemeal bread (which itself is a nutritious bread), granary bread is low on the glycaemic index and provides slow release energy. It is a browny coloured bread, made from granary flour containing malted wheat grains. This gives the bread a fresh, nutty appearance and texture. Granary bread is tasty as a sliced loaf, toasted, as rolls or as a baguette, and can be included in healthy diets of sports enthusiasts, weight reducers and those just looking for a healthy diet.

Green Tea
Green tea originated from China. It is an infusion which is higher in antioxidants than traditional black tea. One constituent is catechin which, not only is a powerful antioxidant, but is also thermogenic and may help speed up weight loss. Green tea is available as tea leaves or in tea bags, often flavoured with lemon, mint or other blends, and should be brewed in a similar way to black tea, but it's recommended to let it infuse for longer and do not add milk.

Huel is a nutritionally complete powdered food that contains all protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre that your bodyb needs. Some people consume Huel for one or two meals per day, some people consume nothing else apart from Huel.

Hummus (houmous, humous, hummous)
Hummus is a dip made from chickpeas, sesame seed paste (tahini), lemon juice and garlic. It can be consumed as a dip, spread on breads and biscuits, or simply eaten with a spoon. It is a high protein nutritious food, which is high in soluble fibre and iron. It is a good protein good for vegetarians and vegans.

Linseeds (flaxseeds)
Linseeds provide flaxseed oil which is high in monounsaturated and essential omega 3 fatty acids. Linseeds must be ground using a pestle and mortar or a blender in order for us to obtain the benefit of the essential fats. They can be added to cereals, salads or smoothies.

Oatcakes are in fact, not cakes but biscuits! They are typically found in the cheese-biscuit section of supermarkets and are a round, rectangular or fan-shaped biscuit based on oats. High in soluble fibre and slow released carbohydrate, they are a great, healthy convenient snack on their own or with other foods. They are available in different varieties including plain, cheese, fruit and ginger.

Pumpernickel Bread
Pumpernickel is a type of bread originating from Germany made with rye flour and whole rye berries. The flour is course and the bread has a long baking period, giving it a dark colour. It is a low glycaemic bread, ideal for slow release carbohydrates.

Quark (also known as Topfen) is a type of curd cheese made by letting lactic acid bacteria ferment milk. It is a very high protein food, principally casein, suitable for vegetarians and is also high in calcium and phosphate. Quark can be purchased from any good supermarket or health food shop, and as it is quite bland in itself, it is often flavoured with herbs and spices or fruit. It can be spread onto breads and biscuits, blended with other ingredients to make smoothies or simply eaten with a spoon.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)
Quinoa is a seed which is eaten as a grain, like rice. Historically it was a staple food in South America and is a great source of carbohydrate, ranking low on the glycaemic index. It also has a relatively high protein content and contains appreciable amounts of all essential amino acids. Quinoa is gluten free, easy to digest and also high in phosphorous, iron, magnesium and fibre. Boiled quinoa is very easy to prepare, though the seed is best soaked for a few hours, then like rice is simply boiled in water until a light fluffy texture forms.

Quorn is a brand name for a popular mycoprotein food. Mycoproteins are protein-rich foodstuffs made from processed edible fungus with an egg white binder. Quorn is an alternative to meat enjoyed by vegetarians and is available in a variety of different forms including fillets, cubed pieces, sausages, burgers and mince.

Rice Cakes
These are a puffed rice biscuits formed by rice being heat-treated so it expands and then pressed into a disc or square. They are very low calorie and are gluten free. They can be made from just rice, though some include salt or there are varieties with sesame seeds or with flavours. They can be eaten on their own or with sweet and savoury toppings.

Soya Milk
Soya milk is manufactured from soya beans and is consumed as an alternative to cow's milk by vegans or people who do not tolerate dairy products. Soya milk is available as standard or calcium-enriched which contains the equivalent calcium to that of cow's milk.

Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a filling food, packed with carbohydrates and low on the glycaemic index. They can be baked, dry roasted or sliced and grilled.

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
TVP is also known as Texturized Vegetable Protein or Textured Soya Protein (TSP). It is a meat substitute made from defatted soya flour, a by-product of making soyabean oil. It can be 'shaped' into mince, burger, flake or granule form as an appropriate ingredient. Most commonly it is a mince alternative for vegetarian and vegan recipes. It is quick to cook, high in protein, and low in fat.

Nutritional Supplements

Casein Protein
Casein is a milk protein which is he other end of the spectrum to whey protein; it is a very slowly digested protein which forms clumps in the stomach. It is an ideal protein supplement to have at bedtime or when there's going to be a long time before the next meal. Sometimes casein is one protein in a protein combination formula of three or more sources, which may include casein, whey, milk, wheat, soya or egg, for example.

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance, which is used as a sports supplement as an energy replenisher and also helps to volumise (add water into) cells. There is considerable evidence indicating that supplementation with creatine will help improve performance in certain sports. The most commonly used form is creatine monohydrate.

Dextrose is simply glucose, the simplest carbohydrate. It can be purchased commercially as a supplement, used for energy or refuelling after a workout. It is available as a flavoured or unflavoured powder to be added to drinks.

Flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil is the oil extracted from linseeds. It is high in monounsaturated and essential omega 3 fatty acids, and is an ideal source of these for people who do not eat oily fish. It is available in bottles, but it is imperative to ensure that the oil is kept out of light and heat and consumed in a few days, or the benefits of the oil will be lost.

Isotonic Drinks
Isotonic drinks are specially formulated drinks to help ensure adequate hydration during exercise. These formulas contain electrolytes and a small amount of glucose in order to help replenish lost fluid. These drinks should be sipped before, during and after hard exercise and not gulped or they may cause stomach discomfort.

Maltodextrin is a synthetic complex carbohydrate, used by a range of sports people to help meet the high-energy demands of intense exercise. Although structurally it is a 'complex' carbohydrate the chemical structure is such that it is open to rapid breakdown, so it is digested and absorbed very rapidly, in fact faster than sugar. Its main uses are for additional energy, to help bodybuilders gain quality weight and for refuelling after exercise.

Meal Replacement Powders (MRPs)
Meal replacement powders are 'complete' nutrition commercial formulas containing high protein, moderate carbohydrate, essential fatty acids and all essential vitamins and minerals. They are an invaluable aid to the athletes and bodybuilders as they can be used to substitute one or more of the many meals he/she has to consume in a day. MRPs can be made up with water only or skimmed milk, and quality can vary between brands with many have additional ingredients.

Although they are called 'meal replacements' they are not a substitute for all food, and no more than two or three per day maximum are suggested, replacing smaller meals rather than main meals. Most come in portion sachets, but some are available in tubs.

Probiotics have a favourable effect on the population of the 'good' bacteria that reside in our digestive systems. They are a supplement or food containing micro-organisms in sufficient numbers to alter the microflora of our intestine and to exert beneficial health effects.

Weight Gain Drinks
Weight gain powders are bodybuilding supplement formulas aimed to help the user gain weight. They vary from ridiculously high calorie crash weight gain formulas full of sugars and fats to moderately high calorie, high protein formulas, typically around 600 or so calories. They can be mixed with water or skimmed milk. Weight gain formulas are not necessary for every bodybuilder, but very useful for the skinny newcomer who struggles to eat enough food to put on quality weight. They are not a substitute for good food, and are there purely to add in extra calories and protein.

Whey Protein
Whey protein is one of the proteins found in milk. It has a high biological value and similar amino acid profile to that of human muscle tissue, as well as being digested, absorbed and taken up by muscles quickly.

It is available in powdered supplements which can be added to water, milk or recipes, these supplements are of varying quality, but, in general a whey protein concentrate from a reputable brand will be a suitable choice (Note: MuscleTalk have done a round-up review of the best whey protein powders which is worth a read before you make a purchase). However, for some people with sensitive digestive systems or for elite athletes, a whey protein isolate formula may be better tolerated.