Here's How Chef Brendan Pang Changed His Diet While Training For a Half Marathon - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Here’s How Chef Brendan Pang Changed His Diet While Training For a Half Marathon

Plus, his best tips for cooking healthy in winter.

Remember this before you start training for a marathon: 42km is a really long way, and the last thing you want is a stomach churning like a washing machine while out on the road. Gobbling the wrong grub is one of the main issues runners face. Fortunately, for Masterchef alum and Mazda ambassador, Chef Brendan Pang, his love and fitness mean he has a slight advantage when it comes to doing exactly that.

“I recently ran the Perth Half Marathon. It is a community event conducted by the West Australian Marathon Club Inc. with the proceeds being donated to the Lions Save Sight Foundation,” explains Brendan. “The course was quite flat and stretches along the Swan River. Prior to this, I’ve not actually run a half-marathon before so I was very excited for this one especially given I have been training so hard for it.?

We sat down with Brendan to find out more about his pre-marathon diet and training plan.

What does a week of exercising and nutrition look like for you?

The way I work out and eat is constantly changing and evolving depending on where I am in my life. I have been on the road a lot recently with my Mazda and have been travelling the country touring with the Good Food and Wine Show. Regardless, I am consistently active and exercise 1 – 2 times a day. I enjoy attending gym classes that fit into my busy work schedule such as S30 for weights and Bike Bar for cardio (spin). I also run twice a week with my running pal Ella. I try my best to eat clean during the week, cooking my own meals at home and on the weekends, I am not as strict and enjoy my time off. Nutrition can be difficult to manage for me given I am constantly around food for work, but I’d like to think I am good at finding a sense of balance!

How did your diet change ahead of the half-marathon?

I have been eating a wide variety of healthy foods whilst training for the run including good carbs such as brown rice, veggies, legumes; lean proteins like salmon, and a whole bunch of healthy fats. I’ve also increased my calories slightly and maintain a high level of hydration to help fuel my body for the increased amount of training I have been doing.

Brendan Pang and his running partner, Ella.
Brendan Pang and his running partner, Ella.

What about the day of?

The race was in the morning so I didn’t look at changing my usual routine. I usually wake up, have a coffee and perhaps a banana or some quick carbs before I exercise, so I did the same on race day. The night before, I was a little stricter with my diet, eating simple white carbs such as white rice and avoiding anything high in fibre.

How did you train in the lead up?

Ella (my running partner) and I have been training for 12 weeks in the lead up to! We alternate between short/tempo intervals and longer runs each week, and over time have added on to our longer runs. Sometimes we head out further (in my Mazda of course) to try out different running tracks. 2 weeks ago we hit 21km (the half marathon distance) on our long run which felt incredible! Aside from running we have also kept up with our strength training at S30 where we both train at, and I cycle on the side too!

What are your best tricks for cooking healthy in winter?

Eating healthy in winter is challenging. I know how easy it is to turn to comfort food in the cold; however, this doesn’t have to be unhealthy. My top tips would be to head to the markets or your local grocer and to purchase seasonal produce to cook with. There’s some great vegetables in winter such as swiss chard, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts etc. all of which you can do so much with. Soups, curries or stews are all great but one of my favourite things to make is a one tray bake with veg, chicken and lentils – served with some yoghurt or hummus. And if you do feel like comfort food such as a pasta bake or burger or pizza, try making it yourself at home.

What about keeping active?

I believe that if you have enough sleep, eat well and stay hydrated, you will have enough energy and motivation to exercise during winter especially when you need that extra push when it is cold, dark and rainy. The winter blues can kick in but make the most of the sun when it is out even if you have a 30 minute window to walk your dog, take it! I also rely heavily on indoor gym classes when it is cold and rainy. I find it helpful to have a coach or instructor push me and you are sheltered from the weather in these classes. All you have to do is get there!

By Nikolina Ilic

Nikolina is the former Digital Editor at Men's Health Australia, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she has written for Women's Health, esquire, GQ and Vogue magazine.

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