Marathon Monday: Bodychef Review

This post has been sitting in my to do list for ages – just waiting for me to get back on track. Unfortunately I’ve been injured for a couple of months now, seeing the physio to try and get it fixed.

I’ve a build up of scar tissue on my left calf, meaning that I can’t run above 5k, my calf gets tight and painful and I’m usually left with a chilly mile or so to walk home. I’ve been told it’s close to a pull, which could put me out of action for weeks, so I’m babying it.

I’ll admit, this worries me. Manchester Marathon is now 3 months away and edging closer. And I’m still not mended. I’m becoming resigned to the idea that the marathon might have to be deferred to next year. This particular race, the one on home turf, is continuing to prove my nemesis.


Time for plan b.

So, it’s been a while, but I’m going to return to a half marathon distance. I intended to do Fleetwood half again, but I’m involved with a project that climaxes (apt word, believe me) that weekend. So I’ve balloted for the Great North Run and should I fail to get in, I’ve got my eye on a couple of local half marathons around September.

Given that the last time I had to put off Manchester it was at short notice and after 6 months of training, I actually feel happier about letting this one go. I just need to push everything back 12 months, which isn’t so bad.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Meantime, let’s move to the other issue. I along with everyone else indulged a little too much over Christmas and even though, given my injury, I didn’t go overboard with the treats, I still ate a little too much, drank a little too much and did too little exercise.

So, to try and drop these pounds, and get myself down to my distance running weight, I’ve been trying out Bodychef – in fact, as I write this, I’m enjoying today’s snack from the package.

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The idea is simple. Pick the diet that suits you – there are 15 to choose from, so you can easily find something that suits you. I selected the low carb diet, as I know when training I need more protein than normal and I know that it suits me. Protein is not only good for repairing muscle damage done during exercise, but also is the key to filling you up for longer. The high protein selection is also low GI, so the carbohydrates you do take on are slow release, perfect to keep you going.

Moving onto the next page, you can pick your target – so if you want to lose weight, they can tailor the calories to suit. Pop in your height and target weight and it does all that calculating stuff for you.

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You then have the option of removing items that cause allergies, or you simply don’t like.

So far, so good.

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The packages arrive well packaged, on specific days, so it’s just a case of suiting a date to start that suits you and each seven day plan will involve two deliveries, to ensure your food is as fresh as it can be. Each package is individually labelled with what meal it relates to, the calories and the best before date, so it’s terribly well organised.

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My week began with Tuesday, lunch and dinner and will end with Tuesday’s breakfast this week. For those of you who follow me in Twitter or Instagram, I’ve been tweeting pictures of my meals during the week. Each day you get a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and snack all labelled ready for you. Some items require heating in the microwave, others like the quinoa needed cooking on the hob and some were eaten cold.

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Now, whilst food is a personal choice, not just for flavours and tastes, but for what suits your body and lifestyle, I thought it would be useful to cover a couple of the bests and worsts.

Best breakfast:

2015-01-09 08.57.19Egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon and cream cheese. Plenty of high fats for energy, the salmon providing good fats with lots of omega 3, and I didn’t notice lunchtime approaching at all. In fact I skipped my mid morning snack.

Worst breakfast:

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Fresh fruit salad and cheese on toast. Both delicious, I love cheese on toast almost obsessively, but by 10:30am I was desperate for something else to eat. Nowhere near enough protein to keep me happy.

Best lunch:

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Chicken breast, crispbread, fresh coleslaw and a salad with honey and mustard dressing. Filled me up, tasted fresh and delicious.

Worst lunch:

I don’t think there was one. The only small grumble I’d have was that one box was all oatcakes, the next all crispbread. Variety over both would have been great.

Best teatime:

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This stir fry with cashew nuts and chicken was gorgeous and the crisp sugarsnap pea and grated carrot salad, was a fabulous contrast in texture.

Special mention:

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The oatbran galette with yoghurt and blueberries. I loved this. I need more oatbran galettes in my life.

Obviously as with any eating plan there are pros and cons. What I liked about this plan was it was easy, everything was beautifully organised, there was a good amount of variety and, the best bit, someone else did all the working out for me.

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On the downside, I’m a bit of a control freak, so having everything chosen for me was a bit strange. And there was no flexibility as you’d have if you did it yourself, but it may be that you need that restriction to help you stick to it – I know for me documenting everything on an app works perfectly for me and keeps me on the straight and narrow.

Perhaps the other thing that would worry me a little is that if you follow this plan, have all your meals delivered and the work done for you, you may not really be tackling the issues you have with food. There are tips and articles on the Bodychef blog, but if you had emotional eating issues, or even just basic knowledge about what to eat and when, you might have to hunt around for it. I would worry that for some coming off the plan would then mean then returning to old habits and the weight returning.

The final downside to this plan is the price. The low carb option is £19.98 a day. If I were to work out my average days food on a similar basis, my breakfast (Greek yoghurt, granola and berries) works out at around £1.34, my lunch (oatcakes, tuna, fresh pepper and beetroot) around £2.09, dinner (Thai style stir fry with vegetables, chicken and coconut sauce) £3.20, and snack (almonds) around 60p, do it yourself is only £7.23. Even add in a protein shake or two before and after training and I’m nowhere near hitting the cheapest diet menu at £17.98.

*all worked out using Tesco online prices, no offers included.

2015-01-09 12.14.42But, and it’s a big one, no offence to Tesco, or other supermarkets, but the quality of the food from Bodychef is much better than you’d get doing a standard shop. It’s evident in the sheer density of the chicken, and the smoked salmon is beautiful. Of course, as with any reheated meal, you get some overcooking of vegetables, but this isn’t too bad at all, I’ve certainly eaten worse from other diet brands in my time.

So it could easily work if you wanted to give yourself a kick start for a week or so, rather than do it for an extended period of time.

As with anything, what it comes down to is this:

Will it help you lose weight, train or maintain? Yes.

Will it help you keep the weight off? Not really. You still need to fix what’s making you overeat or eat badly.

Can you afford it? Maybe. It depends how much your time is worth.

Most importantly, is it for you? Only you can answer that.

This seven day trial was sent to me to review by Bodychef.

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