Performance Chef: Diet & Mental Health?

We're always excited to meet talented individuals within our industry and it was great to virtually meet Alan Murchison. A Michelin-starred chef and champion athlete who now cooks for British Cycling's elite athletes.

Whilst we are all at home it's giving us plenty to think about and this is why we were so interested to speak about welfare, both physical and mental.

A good diet won't make a sub-standard cyclist into a world beater, but a poor diet can certainly make a world class or any ambitious cyclist sub-standard. However, an optimised diet, whatever your potential, will help you reach your own personal performance goals. 

Performance Chef ( is run by Alan & Vicky, who offer bespoke food & nutritional plans for athletes of all abilities, from beginners to Olympic champions. 

Alan and Vicky are both reasonable athletes themselves, both ex international runners and now competing in time trials. 

Vicky is current national 100 mile & 12hr champion also winner of the BBAR (Best British all rounder) in 2019. 

Alan is the self styled second best cyclist in his own house! In 2019 he won his age group at the National 10 & 50 mile TT champs and has a 10 mile PB of 18.36, Alan has a severe cycling sock addiction! 

Predominantly working with endurance athletes with main focus on cycling, triathlon and athletics and we take a no nonsense approach focusing on making food accessible and real. Alan is the author of ‘The Cycling Chef’ which recently won the Best Cookbook in the World at the Gourmand Book Awards (sports category) and we've been told it's a best seller on a popular online store here


Challenging times

Keeping your shit together is probably the key thing to do at this challenging time for everyone and we are all in unchartered territory with regards to mental health, overall fitness and well being, especially in light of all these so called experts on social media advising us all what we should be doing. 

In reality you have to find what works best for you if that is spending all day in your pyjamas having chocolate for breakfast then just do it. Alternatively if you feel the need to lift weights in your back garden helps no one is stopping you, you have to find what works.  

Over the last 5 years we've worked remotely (unless we are on a sunny training camp somewhere exotic under the guise of ‘work’) and probably best to comment on how to work from home whilst not wanting to throttle your other half/partner/kids/pets… etc


Practically speaking what should we do?


1) Track your metrics. Have a plan around your daily training, we all need some sort of structure. I use Training Peaks & Myfitnesspal to keep an eye on food intake and training. Also recently started using a Whoop band to track sleep and overall daily stress which seems to work well

2) Ask yourself ‘What are you training for?’ Sanity? that end of season goal? To be able to still fit into your best jeans post lockdown? With this in mind set realistic goals

3) Make a daily plan, I do like a good list as it is very easy to spend the day in your pants on social media whilst raiding the fridge. Having a ‘to do’ list gives you something to work towards.

3) Learn to chill. I have set up a coffee shop on my doorstep, I like to chill in the coffee shop as ‘normal’. Try to still do the little things that are important to you.

4) Treat yourself, even in these challenging times it is good to enjoy your food. Anything you eat now won’t affect any key performances later in the year. Bake and enjoy yourself

5)  Keep getting outside, never been a better time to develop a love of the outdoors (within guidelines obviously)

6) Look into supplements. There is a good chance that your diet might well be a bit hit & miss at the moment. I am taking Omega 3, Vitamin D, Probiotic & a multivitamin, from either Healthspan Elite or Science in Sport. Use batch tested products if you plan on putting a number on at any time, this is quite important.

7)  Cook more and learn some new skills, hugely satisfying. Lots of exceptional chefs posting ace content on social media at the moment.

8)  Read more, now is a great time to broaden the mind. Top cookbook authors that I would recommend - anything by Richard Bertinett, Jack Monroe or Tom Kerridge, these books will all enhance your repertoire.

9) Top head space books - How to Support a Champion by Steve Ingham, The Cycling Mind by Dr Ruth Anderson, Performing under Pressure by Dr Josie Perry, Orthorexia by Renee McGregeor.


Recipes, yes that's right!

Now we have sorted out some daily tips and good reading material, here are a few Frugal Food recipes to get you started. A post training treat, breakfast, soup for lunch and a cracking dinner.
Chickpea & chocolate mocha brownies
Makes 25 x 30g bars

cycling recipes chocolate protein brownie
Ideal snack as quite rich so you don’t need to eat too big a portion, can also be chopped into chunks & have with some natural yogurt.

Snacking with protein thrown in, good for them vegan types as no coconuts were harmed in the development of this recipe.

These are the essential bits to make the base…
400g chick peas, strained gives you about 250g
250g dates
120g nut butter
90g coconut oil, melted
50g cocoa powder
Optional bits… freestyle it best you can.
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
2 teaspoons good quality instant coffee
30g cocoa nibs (optional)
60g nuts (optional)
Handful of chocolate chips, optional but highly recommended
• Add into a food mixed on paddle attachment, the chickpeas, dates, nut butter, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt. Beat until fairly smooth
• Gradually add the cocoa powder, coffee & cocoa nibs until your mix forms a paste
• Last minute add the walnuts and mix for 20 seconds max to make sure you still have the texture of the nuts
• Into a lined tray & in the fridge to set for 60 minutes, then cut into 30-50g pieces. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks but highly unlikely they will last that long
Cherry and almond baked oats
Serves 2

cycling socks uk rolled oats
Perfect breakfast to set you up for the day. Works well with pretty much any frozen berries.

100g rolled oats
300ml boiling water
200ml vanilla soya milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 ripe banana
Cherry flavours.
80-100g frozen cherries (see below)
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 tsp vanilla
Whatever you fancy to customise your base bakes oats.
Frozen cherries, raspberry, mixed berries, dried apricots, raisins, chopped up apple.
Spices, cinnamon, vanilla, all spice.
Seeds n shit, chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower
Any old nuts
• Pre-heat oven to 190c
• Put the oats in a ovenproof dish, pour on the boiling water, leave for 10 mins not a second more
• Stir in milk, banana & honey and the flavourings your fancy
• Into the oven for 20-25 mins
• Leave to sit for 10 minutes so that you don’t melt your tongue
Roast curried cauliflower & potato soup
Makes 4 decent portions

400g cauliflower
1 tbsp olive oil
100g peppers/onions
450g potato
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp curry spice
1600ml stock
Wee sprinkle of caraway seeds
• Chop up your cauliflower/potato
• Trusty soup pan on and add the olive oil and cauliflower and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes
• Add the onions/potatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes
• Add the curry spice and turmeric, cook for 2 minutes
• Add your stock and simmer for 40 minutes
• Allow to cool for 20 minutes and liquidise until smooth, season and serve
Stretch beef & lentil bolognese
Makes 6-8 portions depending on whether you are feeding feral teenagers/athlete types or ’normals’

Ok so this is a great way to make your limited supply of meat go further, no bad news here as means we eat less meat, it is cheaper, increased fibre & less calories all for the same full on flavour.

500g 5% fat beef mince
1 teaspoon olive oil
250g red lentils
Chicken stock cube
2 small onions, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic puree
500g passata or chopped tomatoes
• In a large saute pan add the mince & the olive oil, colour for 8-10 minutes until golden brown
• At the same time place the lentils in a sauce pan & add 600ml chicken stock, simmer for 10 mins until the lentils have obsorbed the liquid
• Add the onions and garlic to the mince & cook for a further 3 minutes
• Add the passata and lentil mix to mince & season well, simmer for 10 minutes
• Serve with pasta of your choice

So there you have it, some great tips to stay motivate, and from one (if not the best) on how to stay fuelled up and ready to head out in some your best cycling socks!

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