Chef Robert Irvine's high-protein-diet tips — and why he eats every 2 ½ hours

Chef Robert Irvine's high-protein-diet tips — and why he eats every 2 ½ hours
  • Robert Irvine is a busy chef but makes time to eat every 2 ½ hours to stay fueled.

  • He said he didn't get in shape by dieting and recommends eating plenty of protein and carbs.

  • His meals include oatmeal, a lot of chicken, fish, and veggies, and protein shakes or bars.

The celebrity chef Robert Irvine is famously jacked, and he didn't get there by eating "rabbit food."

The Food Network star and Royal Navy veteran told Business Insider that he ate an average of 4,000 calories a day, and up to 6,500 when he's particularly active. To get there, he keeps to a strict schedule of having a meal every 2 ½ hours.

And he definitely doesn't want to hear about the latest calorie-cutting fad.

"The first three letters of diet are 'die' — that means you're not going to enjoy it. But healthy eating doesn't mean that you have to eat garbage," Irvine said. "There are many ways to make things taste good, but you have to plan."

The busy chef said his rigorous meal schedule helped him keep his metabolism strong and fueled his seven-day-a-week workout routine, even while he's traveling 345 days of the year for various shows, brands, and other projects.

His secret to eating nutritious meals on the go? Irvine plans out a week's worth of meals every Sunday, relying on staples such as chicken, fish, potatoes, greens, and oatmeal, he said. Here's his typical day of eating, which has an emphasis on unprocessed foods and fresh flavors for delicious, healthy meals that are convenient enough for his travel schedule.

His morning meals focus on carbs and protein

Irvine's typical breakfast includes carbohydrates for energy in the form of oatmeal and dried fruit, he said.

His next meal, an egg-white omelet, is high in protein to promote muscle growth and recovery.

Carbs, particularly from high-fiber sources such as oats and fruit, and protein are both helpful for keeping you full, dietitians previously told BI.

Getting enough protein and carbs is also crucial to fueling active people like Irvine, who hits the gym daily to lift weights, regardless of the time zone he's in.

In the afternoon and evening, Irvine switches to veggies with chicken and fish

Irvine eases up on the carbs as the day goes on, he said, often enjoying an early lunch with staples such as rice and potatoes. His primary protein sources are chicken breast (he eats two portions a day) and fish including tuna and salmon. Irvine said he used to eat a steak every day but got a bit bored, so now he keeps it to once a month.

After noon, he loads up on veggies — broccoli, carrots, spinach, and, a personal favorite, cabbage seasoned with black pepper and citrus. Acids such as lemon juice or vinegar are a major flavor enhancer, he said.

He supplements with protein shakes or bars but no more than 2 a day

To round out his nutritional needs, Irvine said, he has a protein shake or bar between meals — typically from his own brand.

However, he tries to rely mostly on whole foods, limiting himself to no more than two shakes or bars a day, at least one with greens added.

Eating so often throughout the day may seem tedious, Irvine said, but he's found he has more energy than when he would eat three huge meals a day. The consistent meals also provide a boost to the metabolism, he said. Research suggests digestion burns energy, known as the thermogenic effect of food (though it's been found to have a relatively small effect on metabolism overall).

"I tell people to eat more and they laugh at me," he said. "If you start eating every two hours, the first week would be a nightmare, but then you'd get used to it."

Read the original article on Business Insider