Top diet tips from people with extraordinary careers


In 1993, approximately one in seven UK adults was clinically obese. Today, it’s one in four. Obesity is the leading cause of diabetes and puts people at risk for stroke and heart disease.

The way we work doesn’t help. A male middle-aged office worker in the UK sits around for more hours in the day than a retired seventy-five-year-old. As automation takes on the world’s more strenuous tasks, this deskbound lifestyle will only become more common.

We can’t all head off to become a surfing instructor in Bali (though wouldn’t that be nice?). But in saying that, what can we learn from the careers where food and exercise are key parts of the routine; where what you eat is as important as what you do? We’ve explored the weird, the wacky and the truly extraordinary to bring you food ideas you can start putting in to your fridge freezer this evening.

Did you know? In the UK, only 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 6 children eat five or more portions of fruit and veg a day.

Look out for Fiona Hunter’s expert insights further in. Fiona has seventeen years’ food experience as a writer, consultant and broadcaster and previously worked for the NHS as well.

Marathon runners

Eat clean, eat right

At 39, Meb Keflezighi captured Boston Marathon gold in 2014. 5’5”, razor-thin and with a soft-spoken edge, he had one key to success outside of his obvious commitment to training.

“Nutrition”, Meb told Runners World shortly after recording a time of 2 hours and 8 minutes and 37 seconds over 26.2 miles.

“My thinking is, ‘Eat because I need it, not because I want it.’ We always have too much access,” he laments. “It’s a fine line. I tell my wife it’s fine if the kids have cookies, but I don’t want to see it, because if I see it, I’m going to grab it.”

Meb flipped food from a crutch to a source of fuel in his thirties when he began to put on weight. His attitude to food is now: strip away the marketing, the adverts, the bright lights and see it for what it is: energy for a combustion engine. He eats plenty of healthy carbs and five servings of fruit a day. He also eats the same thing before every race (spaghetti with meatballs) and always gets protein to repair his body after a race.

What does a marathon-running diet look like?  

Breakfast: Wheat toast with almond butter

Lunch: Scrambled eggs with fresh meats and vegetables; avocados are especially good

Post-run: Peanut butter protein bar

Dinner: Whole-wheat spaghetti, meatballs and tomato sauce

Snacks: Five servings of fruit throughout the day, including bananas, oranges, blueberries

Alcohol? In moderation.


  • Ask Fiona: what are the advantage of cutting out alcohol?
“Moderating or cutting out alcohol is important if you’re watching your weight [something marathon runners need to do to improve their time].
Two large glasses of wine (175mls) contain around 178 calories, which is about the same as two chocolate digestive biscuits.
But it’s not just about calories – it’s a well-known fact that willpower dissolves with alcohol and studies show that after a few drinks you are much more susceptible to over eating and making poor food choices. Added to that, regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week can cause liver damage and increase the risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease.”