Think eating healthy is more expensive? Athletes spend half as much on food as couch potatoes

Diet of junk food costs over £7,000 more than that of an athlete


Achieving an athletic physique with a well-balanced healthy diet will also shave pounds off your food bill, in some cases by as much as half, according to a new study of comparative diets by money-saving website

The study, which calculated the annual cost of a number of eating plans, including the ‘before’ and ‘after’ diets of former self-confessed couch potato Sebastian David, who is now a renowned body builder after ditching his junk food diet in 2013. He had previously spent up to £247 a week on his unhealthy eating habits but his weekly outgoings today on food and supplements now stand at less than half at just £117 per week.

The study finds that that anyone with a similar diet of convenience foods and takeaways to Sebastian will double outgoings, with a costly annual food bill of £12,844, in comparison to just £6,084 he now spends on a five-meal-a-day diet that includes chicken, potatoes, beef, rice and white fish.

If the junk food diet is compared to that of a fitness model, the savings are even higher, topping £7,000 a year. Eating six planned meals a day at an annual cost of £5460, these male athletes embrace healthy meal choices, such as a mid-afternoon snack of brown rice, lean red meat, vegetables and an apple. The expenditure was compared to Sebastian’s pre-2013 diet, which includes a mid-morning snack of two Greggs pasties, a jumbo sausage roll and a two-litre bottle of fizzy drink.

The eating behaviours of other professional athletes, including a body builder, a professional strongman and a St Helens RFC rugby player were also analysed for the study. Over a 12 month period they undertook diet regimes developed for athletes alongside MyProtein, the British retailer and manufacturer of sports nutrition products. Even the most expensive professional athlete, the rugby player diet, came in at nearly two-thirds of the couch potato cost at £7,332.

The results may come as a surprise to many, as healthier diets are often cited as costing far more when compared to readily available convenience food. UK Country Manager Shane Forster stated, “Consumers are often told that convenience foods are better value but this study suggests otherwise and that there are huge savings to be had by buying, preparing and cooking healthy food.

Of course, it would naive to believe that living by these diets alone would bring similar results in terms of body-shape or physicality, but the costs of living by these kinds of diets is surprisingly low when the price of healthy eating is often viewed negatively.”

Body builder and reformed junk food addict Sebastian David said: “My main motivation for getting into shape was a health and lifestyle choice, however many people are completely unaware just how much cheaper it can be to adopt a lifestyle like mine. Even just a few small healthier changes can make a big difference to your waist measurements and your bank balance.”

Myprotein spokesperson and nutritionist Jenny Watt said: “A major factor and key characteristic of an athlete’s diet that is key for supporting heavy training regimes whilst keeping costs to a minimum, lies within the fact that everything is planned and freshly prepared in advance at home, which not only allows the individual to consume key nutrients at key times but also actively cuts out the costs of buying pre-packed ready-made food or somebody else doing the food prep. The initial cost of supplements may put some people off beginning this style of diet, however when put into the context of the nutritional value and number of servings per purchase, it becomes clear just how affordable these additions really are, especially in comparison to the former diet of somebody such as Sebastian David.”

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Eating Like an Athlete

Our blog post relating to this piece can be found here.