What do professional chefs eat on a diet?

How do you diet when your job is all about creating flavoursome food?

As the old saying goes, 'never trust a thin chef'. It's not especially funny or modern, but actually, it's not even that pertinent to the realities of a professional kitchen. 

As the late Anthony Bourdain wrote (in his inimitable tone) in his 2010 book 'Medium Raw':

“If you’re comforting yourself with the dictum “Never trust a thin chef,” don’t. Because no stupider thing has ever been said. Look at the crews of any really high-end restaurant and you’ll see a group of mostly whippet-thin, under-rested young pups with dark circles under their eyes: they look like escapees from a Japanese prison camp—and are expected to perform like the Green Berets.”

Professional kitchens are often small, always hectic and during service, filled with a number of highly-stressed people, constantly coming and going. They are hot, pressurised places to work and highly demanding of the people working in them. It simply doesn't make all that much sense that the majority of chefs would be especially overweight. As Bourdain pointed out, the image of the rotund chef is a total anachronism and few modern chefs are anything other than the lean, taut cooking machines they need to be! This is certainly the case now in 2020, as people in all walks of life become more focused on things like health, fitness and (in our social media age) body image.

The Chefs Dilemna

But chefs looking to diet are presented with a very obvious dilemma. How can you lose weight (or at least maintain) when your day to day work has you tasting and testing everything you cook before it leaves the doors of the kitchen to a paying dining room? Also, how can you last long hours, running back and forth with barely a sit-down and keep your concentration and energy levels up, without constant refuelling? In higher-end western restaurants, proteins and veggies are often finished in plenty of foaming butter. Sauces are heavily reduced until they are rich and delicious, again, often finished with a technique called 'monte au beurre' - whisking cubes of cold butter into a sauce right at the end to thicken and to add a rich flavour and a shiny gloss to the finished sauce. Cream and cheese are commonly used and added liberally. 

The answer to this dilemma for chefs lies in a low-carb diet and a regular exercise regime. The exercise side of things has been covered very well by others before, so we'll focus on the dieting aspect. 

A low-carb diet requires keeping your daily intake of carbohydrates to around no more than 80g. So, to keep eating white carbs (bread, pasta, pastry, rice, white potato) and sticking to a low-carb diet would be very difficult indeed. But what you can eat plenty of are proteins (meat or plant-based), non-starchy fruits & veggies, pulses/legumes, nuts and various fats (ideally healthier fats - quality dairy, olive oil, fat from well-reared animals, avocado, etc etc). You can also eat all the Lo-Dough products, but more of that later... 

Refined carbohydrates may not just be a problem for people on weightloss diets. When eaten in excess, they can become damaging to our health. Gemma Shorter (Nutritionist BSc MSc ANutr) explains more in her blog. 

Low-Carb Dieting in Action

One such chef who famously followed a low-carb diet alongside a strict training regime was 2 Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kerridge, at one time a rare example of a very overweight modern chef. He ultimately lost 12 stone. Alongside his exercise regime and quitting alcohol, he went on a low-carb diet and has stuck to it since. For him, it was the only diet that could work alongside his job. In an interview with www.goodfood.com.au, Tom chatted about his low carb lifestyle:

"It takes a bit of willpower and it takes commitment but you're not going to feel hungry. You have to want to go on the diet, but this one is a lot easier to maintain because you're enjoying it ... and you're not counting calories."

As for eating out, Tom continued: 

"What you do is order clever, so if you're having Chinese, you have the stir-fried vegetables and a piece of steamed fish and no noodles. You just avoid things cooked in batter or sweet sauces. So socially ... your lifestyle doesn't have to change."

Asian-inspired duck & watermelon wrap

Check out our Asian-inspired duck & watermelon wrap - click for the recipe

Tom isn't the only one. Paul Ainsworth a Michellin-starred friend of Tom's also spoke recently of his low-carb diet on 'The Nightcap' podcast (a podcast favourite amongst chefs), again alluding to the fact the low-carb diet was the best and possibly only feasible choice on offer for him as a chef.

The point is this. Fat = flavour. It has a flavour all of its own, it carries other flavours and it subtly coats the palette when eating it, creating pleasing 'mouth-feel'. If you are looking to keep your food as tasty and as indulgent as possible (as expected by highly regarded professional chefs) and looking to lose weight, the most suitable option to choose is the low-carb diet. With this you can enjoy rich and delicious food, bursting with flavour and variety and with no need to compromise on taste whatsoever.

How Does Lo-Dough Fit In?

At just 2.2g of carbohydrate per base, the Lo-Dough range fits into this diet perfectly, giving you the chance to enjoy pizzas (check out our umami bomb pizza below!), kebabs, crumbed chicken, wraps, toasties, brownies, cakes, and other typically high-carb foods - all as full of flavour as ever, but with a fraction of the carbs in every single case. 

Umami bomb pizza