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Ten Minutes: Food Prep or Exercise?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Read a short article in the Globe and Mail yesterday which summarized a pretty large study correlating time spent on food preparation with time spent on exercise.

Conclusion: people who spend more time on food prep spend less time exercising. Minute for minute . . . 10 minutes more cooking translates to 10 minutes less movement.


We know that eating pre-fab packaged or fast foods is not very good for us: salt, fat, sugar.

But what if doing so creates more time for exercise?

I know for myself: I don't fuss much over new recipes or new techniques of preparing food. I want to think of food as fuel, not an array of new and creative and tempting taste sensations!

I do eat pretty much the same things every day. But I prepare 'em myself, fresh: oatmeal or omelettes; salads and chopped fruit; soups and berries with yogourt. Don't get bored with it either.

But I'm pretty fast, because I've had lots of experience with this basic items. And this means that I do spend minimum time on food prep, consistent with not eating prefab "non" foods.

So: do I spend more time exercising? Not really. But enough time, I think.

Better get myself to bed now (almost 10 pm) since the alarm will ring at 5 am to head to the gym!! GROAN. But I'll be glad that I did it: when it's over!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love cooking but most of it is stuff I should not be eating! I wish I had a chef to cook for me!

    1798 days ago
    Definitely agree this was not written about a mum with young kids! I prep food for baby, food for two boys, then food for myself... Too often it would be easier and quicker to just put up with what the kids are having, but if I do that, too often by the end of the day I will find that someone else's demands on my time were more important than my need to exercise. However, if I take the time to chop up the veggies and scramble an egg just for me, adding things the boys don't like or the baby can't have, like mushrooms, that simple act of taking time to value what I I put into my body makes me more likely to seek out that extra half hour I need to workout, so in my experience at least, 10 minutes extra food prep translates to 30 + minutes of exercise LOL
    1798 days ago
  • JLITT62
    You can't out exercise a bad diet, so I think food prep is time well spent.
    1799 days ago
    I have mixed feelings on this one. I tend to agree with Slenderella61. And I think you have to look beyond what they are doing and include why they are doing it. It might not be so much that they are spending time preparing the food but have other less obvious factors that play into that as well. Interesting point though and I'll have to see if I can access the article.
    1799 days ago
    The cooking is not the problem; washing dishes and keeping the kitchen clean is the big problem. I prioritize exercise over housekeeping, but I'm afraid that it shows. Even retired (but doing child care over 40 hours per week) there are only so many minutes in the day. Luckily, food in its rawest state is often very healthy food. To exercise!!
    1799 days ago
    I think people will use any excuse they can to be 'too busy' to exercise.
    I'm with Racheal Ray- I can put a great healthy all from scratch meal on the table most nights in 30 min or less most nights of the week.
    My dh (hates exercise) will spend 2 hours cooking a meal.
    1799 days ago
    I don't enjoy cooking so I do whatever I can do to make healthy stuff that's also quick. Lots of yogurt! The first thing I look for in any recipe is the number of ingredients. If it's a long list, I turn the page.

    1799 days ago
    Interesting - I'm looking forward to the days when I can take more time to prepare my meals, but for now - more time is spent in exercise...
    1799 days ago
  • KANOE10
    I cook in big batches and eat leftovers. I love to try new recipes but it does not interfere with my exercise.

    I am a 5 am exerciser also. Hope you have a great morning.
    1799 days ago
    I read this study and thought it was hooey.

    I cook new and exciting recipes when I have time, and when I don't, I rely on the basics and standards.

    Exercise is in the morning, food prep is later in the day. Where's the conflict?
    1799 days ago
  • NANCY-
    I didn't read the article but agree with DEBRA0818. Blanket statements end up out there. Cooking for a family is different than cooking for oneself.
    Enough hooey!
    "Eat a variety of nutritious food and Move!" is what needs to be out there. Come on... how long does it take to peel a banana then go for a walk.

    Hope you enjoyed you time at the gym.
    1799 days ago
    I don't think they meant people following a healthy llifestyle. I think they meant the general public. I know it does take more time to prep homemade meals and fresh food but I never felt it took away from my exercise time. I think you have to plan time for both. If you batch cook and prep, you may spend awhile doing that in one sitting but then it is ready to go for the entire week. Interesting study.
    1799 days ago
  • DEBRA0818
    These "studies" crack me up; a new one comes out each day with some correlation that proves zip. However, they are entertaining. I am also from the simple, quick food prep way of life. Both of us like plain food -- grilled meat, chopped salads, soups and stews I make in the crock-pot. Tasty but easy to prepare. As fat as I've ever been, I don't really care about food that much (a lucky thing for me now that I've given up bingeing). It makes sense to me to avoid highly processed foods, too. Why consume ingredients you can't pronounce!
    1799 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Right there with you. I eat the same basic meals all the time. Fruit shake for breakfast, raw veggies and Greek yogurt for lunch an egg white and cooked veggies for dinner. I never get bored with it either, I just like them so much!! So I have more time to exercise, especially because I gave up TV watching and online games (with a rare exception of Netcell)
    Some things are so much more worth it. Exercise feels so good!
    Keep up the great work!!
    1800 days ago
  • KEEPFIT2013
    I think it really depends how you feel about either activity. I love cooking and love exercise so make time for both. Do I love cleaning? No....so this goes out the window in favour of a walk or creating an interesting meal.
    This study seems too simplistic to me....I'd be interested in whether they rated people's expressed interests in both activities against the time used.
    My 2 cents
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1800 days ago
    Yep, caught that same article. My solution? Big batch cooking and having enough home-cooked food at my disposal to get through the week with no muss or fuss. No cooking during the week, just fresh veggies and heating up stuff I've already made. Oh, I guess sometimes I'll do breakfast for dinner and toss an omelet together. Yep, food is just fuel and I very much like it that way!

    1800 days ago
    I wonder whether they made a distinction between someone with a large family vs. one with only 1 or 2 eating? I spend much less time cooking now than I did when the kids were home or if we're having company. I can be fast with familiar recipes. I don't tend to make those which require hours in the kitchen.

    I'm TOTALLY with you about loving the way I feel AFTER exercise! I often wish I could stop in the middle, but rarely do because I like the benefits it produces. Have a great workout tomorrow! (it's only about 7:30 pm here.)
    1800 days ago
    Thanks for this practical point to ponder. Part of me says, okay, but I'm determined to break the norm in many areas! I could spend more time than an average person does, making fresh food, AND more time exercising, IF...IF....I spend LESS time than average on TV, gossip, computer banalities, and other lower-payoff tasks.

    Granted, for a while, it's taking longer to prepare wholesome food, but I'm getting faster at it.

    When I first started reading your blogs, I balked at your concept of repetitive menus. But I'm finding out how smart you are (were, have been) to do it that way. And I'm getting more and more that way myself!
    1800 days ago
    I deal with this compromise by buying things that don't take much prep time but are still fresh: bagged lettuce, baby carrots I don't have to peel and strip, for example. Yogurt. And I pre-package lunch things on the weekend so assembling lunch and snacks for work takes less time. And yes, I do *some* prepackaged stuff.

    But I had noticed this correlation myself. If I'm training, I'm not cooking... time spent elsewhere.
    1800 days ago
    I think many of us develop healthy but fast cooking options to make for meals - whether it's stocking a fridge at work for lunches or snacks, or batch cooking for a week, or freezing batches for no-time days - whatever, we figure it out, share ideas and recipes.

    I was a big fan of grilled chicken, fresh vegs, pasta - all in one bowl. Fast, easy, tasty, nutritious!

    On the other hand, dinner was sometimes a big bowl of Cheerios!
    1800 days ago
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