Phil Holmes BA (Hons), PGCE, Adv Dip.Nut MRSPH

We’ve just bought a puppy. A tiny fluffy thing that looks like its just spent 30 minutes inside a tumble dryer. We’ve been given strict instructions on how and when to feed him. Here’s the thing, lots of people in this position follow these guidelines to the letter. We’ll do it for a dog yet we won’t be as structured for our own family. Strange isn’t it?

And now we’re in Lockdown we need to be a little smarter. We are naturally going to be more sedentary, less active. Adults will move less, have no evening training sessions and no calorie burn in a weekend game. Children have break time football removed, and no PE lessons. Several school and club sessions a week evaporated overnight. How do we eat well enough to retain strength and growth but without adding unwanted bulk?

Work on the basics

We are looking for foods that will help us feel fuller longer (avoid snacking), provide good nutrients and not cost a huge amount. We, therefore, want complex carbohydrates (they release energy more gradually), healthy fats and protein to help us repair any muscle damage and limit the loss of muscle, mass and strength caused by being less active. For carbohydrates go for porridge oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice, pasta. Healthy fats are found in nuts and seeds. Also look for omega-3 fats, from salmon or mackerel (tinned). Protein is a key part of the plan due to a lack of opportunity to work out with maximum intensity. Avoid protein bars; they carry too many hidden calories for an inactive part of the season.

Invest in Youth

Follow the Cumbrian sides, Heavy Woollen area and Newcastle in reaping the rewards of a good youth development programme, particularly on a limited budget. With our adolescent athletes we need to ensure skeletal growth is covered. Calcium, Vitamin D, zinc and phosphorus must be on the teamsheet. Milk is an obvious source and should be used as a regular drink for teenagers, stir in Nesquik if you have to – flavoured calcium preferable to not enough. Encourage dark green veg such as spinach (a mild taste and great in smoothies), fish, nuts and eggs. Vitamin D tablets are the one supplement I would always advocate.

Perform like Georgia Roche or Danielle Anderson

Look at these two and you see outstanding skills and work rates. Female athletes need higher levels of iron due to menstruation. This means a loss of red blood cells and therefore a lack of oxygen transported to the working muscles when you need it. Red meat (especially liver) or fortified cereals such as bran flakes and Weetabix are good sources. Liver as a dry curry enhances its appeal. And Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron so squeeze lime juice over the curry to combine the two. Girls, you have to nail this aspect if you want to be elite.

Coach like Ian Watson

Budget is an emotive theme. From the foods mentioned here, all are available at the two discount supermarkets. Work to what you do have rather than wish you’d the spending power of Super League’s top four teams. Use own-branded items where possible. Frozen berries are brilliant. Drink water or squash, not sports drinks. It is possible to get great results without marquee signings.

Use the full squad

Always aim to make more than you need at dinner time. Freeze the excess. This saves time for future meals, eases planning and, crucially right now, means less trips to the supermarkets to reduce the virus spread.

Stick to the gameplan

Protein with every meal or snack. Wholesome carbs rather than sugary white ones. Lots of fruit and veg. Water rather than fizzy or sports drinks. Throw veg into omelettes. Cook stir-fry or fajitas for easy ways to include veg for the family. Drink smoothies for extra fruit intake.

If nothing changes, nothing changes

Some of this advice will be a major change. Adopt an elite mindset (hence the Jamie Peacock inspired sub-heading here). Fuel smart and you can come out of the Lockdown in good shape. Be positive and make real gains on the opposition.

Any questions, please email