WORLD champion bodybuilder Jon Clark is an expert at helping people to step up in size – but now he’s using his skill to help them shed the pounds instead.
Sheffield-based Jon and his wife Rachael Hayes, also a professional bodybuilder, have joined forces with chef Andy Burns to develop a menu of dishes, all balanced and each containing under 200 calories.
That makes them perfect for anyone who’s following the 5:2 or ‘fasting’ diet, fad of the moment, which involves eating fewer than 600 calories on two days a week. The project is the idea of Forum Café Bars founder Kane Yeardley, who trains at Jon’s Evolution gym in Westfield.
“Everybody seemed to be going on this fasting diet – coming in and saying ‘I’ve only eaten a banana and a cup-a-soup’. But you still need to eat a balanced diet, so I asked Jon if he could come up with some suitable dishes that we could put on the menu.”
Jon is an expert on nutrition, knowing the exact quantities of protein, carbohydrate and fat needed to hone his physique and give him the energy he needs for weightlifting and triathlons. He also trains other local professionals including boxer Clinton Woods, superbiker Karl ‘Bomber’ Harris and ice hockey player Brett Chapman.
But much of his food comes in the form of dietary supplements – flavour and presentation are not high on his list of priorities – so he was happy to team up with Forum group’s executive chef.
“Jon’s not a chef and I’m not a dietician, so we bounced a few ideas off each other and gradually it came together,” says Andy Burns. “It’s very important that the dishes should be tasty as well as healthy, but we’ve managed to get the flavours in. There’s nothing bland on there.”
He was surprised to find that foods he thought were healthy were also packed with calories, including oatmeal, cranberries and almonds.
However, by substituting lower calorie alternatives – such as polenta, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts – he could create a lighter but still tasty dish.
There is a choice of four options for each meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alongside the expected fruit medley, salad and soup, calorie counters can tuck into crispbreads with ham, pineapple and maple syrup (195kcal), falafel and aubergine rolls with tahini yoghurt drizzle (197kcal), chicken and fennel cassoulet (193kcal) and grilled chicken with wilted spinach and toasted pine nuts (195kcal).
“Healthy eating doesn’t need to limit your options,” says Jon. “This is a sub-200 calorie menu, with a balance of protein, carbs and fats, but it’s not just for dieters, it’s a healthy meal.”
The new ‘fitness & fasting’ menu is available, alongside the regular menu, at the Forum café bar in Devonshire Street.