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Sport and Fitness

How meal plans are key to leading a healthier life

Words by Nathan Irvine

Pumping iron is just one part of it.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in incredible shape at the age of 47. So too is Sylvester Stallone who’s still rocking a muscular physique at 72 years young. The list of celebrities that still look like they’ve been chiselled out of marble in their advanced years goes on and on. And while a large part of that comes down to multiple hours grunting in the gym, there’s a much-overlooked area that has led them to the physiques we see now.

Nutrition is the key. Eating right not only helps to build a muscular body, it also has a positive impact on your overall health and fitness levels. It can even make you more alert and able to focus on tasks instead of where your next sugary fix is coming from. That’s why these superstars have a team of chefs and nutritionists looking after every macronutrient that goes into their body.

While you might not have the Hollywood lifestyle of these people, you can almost certainly afford the same attention they have to their diet.

Meal plans are becoming increasingly popular for those that are time-poor. They’re a quick and easy way to get meals prepped, cooked and delivered to your door every day. It’s convenient and – gasp – cheaper than heading to your local restaurant, café or fast food joint for sustenance. Oh, and it’s a much healthier, too.

Dwayne Johnson wearing yellow T-shirt with 'Hardest worker in the room' on it and Under Armour headphones.

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Under Armour Just out of shot: plates piled high with nutrient packed food.

Weight watcher

I’m no stranger to meal plans and have tried a lot of different options here in Dubai. But by far, the most complete – and tastiest – I’ve sampled is Fuel-Up by Kcal. The difference is both in the quality of ingredients, customisations you can make to the menu and nutritional advice and analysis that’s provided for each customer.

Following a consultation with Kcal’s on-site nutritionist, a plan was set about to help rid me of some unwanted love handles. After all, the work in the gym was only going to get me so far with my goal if I was continuing to eat fried chicken for dinner.

I had meals set for five days per week and would fend for myself at the weekends. Two deliveries arrive Sunday and Wednesday morning before I set off for work. The handy bag (sold separately) with compartments for the food trays, snacks, and even protein shakers and more means you don’t have to worry about your food sloshing about in a rucksack.

By signing up I’d instantly taken my first steps towards being as fit and healthy as The Rock. Sort of.

Kcal Nutritional Director Lauren Jacobson

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Supplied Kcal Nutritional Director, Lauren Jacobsen

Kcal’s Nutritional Director, Lauren Jacobsen explains why meal plans have become more popular. “Nutrition is the first thing to suffer when you lead a fast-paced life.” Jacobsen continues “Not being in control of your nutrition can lead to a lot of issues- weight gain, overeating of sugar and salt in processed foods, not to mention the toll on your finances.”

That last bit is crucial. At AED 3,260 per month, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s a bit pricey. As did I. But AED 163 per day – for all my day’s meals and snacks – was less than the average AED 180 I was handing over each day for breakfast and lunch.

As I said earlier, I’ve tried a fair few meal plans before with varying results. Questionable ingredients and repetitive menus were the killer for me with each of them, but neither of these are an issue with Fuel-Up by Kcal so far. We asked Jacobsen how they manage to keep the menu so fresh.

“We take a number of variables into consideration when planning new dishes and menus…”. Jacobsen goes on “…food trends, availability of ingredients and popularity of current dishes. Then we sit down to expand on the ideas. We’ll invite our core brand ambassadors to share their input when it comes to new dishes and regularly have menu sessions to stay ahead of the nutrition curve.”

Fuel-Up by Kcal male ambassador wearing Fuel-Up vest and carrying branded bag while looking at Ain Dubai.

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Kcal Like Mary Poppins' bag, but full of delicious meals.

Food, glorious food

The meals are delicious. Everything is rightly seasoned or marinated as you’d expect in a sit-down restaurant setting, which is no mean feat.

In four weeks, there was only one dish that I didn’t like – the beef burgers. But rather than fear it turning up again in future deliveries – as is the case with most food plans – I hopped on the Fuel-Up by Kcal website and switched them out. Easy.

Every delivery really is a treat. From the moreish Mexican shredded beef and roasted vegetables to the chocolate chip cookie dough protein bites that taste too good to be healthy, every dish is on point.

My initial goal was to lose some fat and build lean muscles, and that’s exactly what has happened. A visible difference can be seen. And I put this down to the nutritious meals that I’ve been receiving as much as picking up and putting down heavy things at the gym.

But more than this, I feel more energised, less stressed and, well, slightly richer thanks to this Fuel-Up by Kcal plan. I might not be pulling in the roles of The Rock and Sylvester Stallone any time soon, but at least by current diet is a blockbuster to be proud of.

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