The Fighter

Nikki Bradley

The Fighter: The importance of nutrition with Lisa McDevitt

Lisa McDevitt in competition.

Lisa McDevitt in competition.

NUTRITION and training go hand in hand and you will discover this for yourselves quite easily if you do some research. That being said, it can be difficult to stick to a healthy diet.

I will be honest, I am terrible at times. It is the preparation that gets me. I train in the mornings then shower and go straight to work, which means I don’t usually eat anything until about 12pm. This isn’t intentional and I know it is unhealthy yet I seem to find myself in this situation more times than I would like. 
In 2011 my GP recommended that I start following a gluten-free diet as my small intestine wasn’t absorbing Iron. I had been having issues with my stomach for years before this and had been tested for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) among other things.


I was pleased to finally have some sort of answer although it wasn’t a definite diagnosis. I was preparing to travel to Australia at the time so I agreed to follow a gluten free diet while I was away to see if it made a difference.

You have to be on the diet for a few months before you begin to notice any big changes but I was willing to give it a go. It worked very well for me and the bloated feeling I had disappeared quite quickly. I missed eating things like bread at first but over time I just forgot about it.

I could eat it the odd time and still be OK so it was fine. It changed my way of thinking about food and I began to enjoy finding gluten free recipes which I still use today. 

I spoke with fitness instructor and competitor Lisa McDevitt this week who has answered some questions to help us stay on track.

What type of nutritional plan do you try and stick to yourself?
I don’t follow a certain diet. I’m not Paleo, Atkins, low carb, low fat etc.
I just eat clean while avoiding foods that don’t agree with me, I eat to fuel my training and to nourish my body.
My daily diet is usually high protein, high fat with moderate clean carbs. I try to drink over 3 litres of water a day. I eat 5 or 6 times a day and don’t listen to the “no food after 8pm” rule 😉

Are there certain foods we should stay away from while in training, apart from the obvious burgers and chips etc, are there certain types of healthier foods that could still slow us down?
A lot of people believe brown bread and brown pasta is good for us. It’s not the case, these foods are still heavily processed and full of gluten.
Processed foods slow us down.
Milk is another one. Milk simply isn’t the same as it was 100 years ago, it’s now full of hormones and chemicals. Unless you have a cow in your back garden! Marketing leads us to believe we need milk for calcium, there are much better calcium sources out there.

What would you recommend we eat before a workout?

Some fats or carbs depending on what your individual body responds to better. Listen to your body’s cravings and you will pick up on what you need over time.
A handful of almonds or peanut butter on rice cakes are good choices. I personally eat a bowl of gluten free oats with whey protein and water.
Some days I might have a few rice cakes with almond butter and a handful of mixed berries.

And after a work out?
You should generally always get carbs into your body after a hard training session to replenish glycogen levels in the muscle, otherwise next time you train you will have zero energy.
A lot of people make the mistake of avoiding carbs after training and then wonder why they have no energy the next day.
A good post workout meal for me is white rice, chicken breast and lots of raw vegetables.


Is it OK to have the odd drink while training or should we avoid it completely?
Alcohol has serious affects on the body. It would be naive of me to say “just don’t touch any alcohol” and expect everyone to listen.
I do believe in everything in moderation, although in saying that, if you have a fitness or health goal in mind then you need to cut out the alcohol completely for at least 4 weeks.
Since my last show in May I’ve been having a few drinks with dinner most weekends, I won’t lie! For the next three months I won’t touch one drink.
It’s all about discipline, knowing when you can and can’t. Aside from health reasons, Our liver metabolises alcohol before fatty acids, postponing the fat loss process down (if fat loss is one of your goals)

Are certain foods better than others for providing energy?
Definitely! You will always find energy in good fats – nuts, nut butters, coconut oil, whole eggs.
Clean carbs – sweet potato, quinoa, rice.
My favourite energy booster is a vegetable juice made from raw beetroot, alfalfa sprouts, apple and lemon. It’s amazing pre training to boost performance.

What would be your main piece of advice for people trying to follow a healthy diet?
Keep it simple. Don’t give in to all the fancy but honestly, awkward recipes like – Sweet potato lasagne, coconut bread etc!
Start with simple clean foods and basic meals. Once you are comfortable then start playing around with recipes.
If you keep good food in your fridge, then that’s all you will eat.
Don’t give in to pressure from those around you when eating out. It’s YOUR body, you can do whatever you want.
Drink a TONNE of water, herbal teas and try keep a positive attitude to life. Everything is easier when you smile 🙂

Lisa McDevitt

Lisa McDevitt

Lisa is competing as a fitness model in the WBFF Europeans in London this November. She currently train from her studio in Letterkenny as well as Raw Muscle Gym in Derry where her boyfriend, Ruairí trains her four days a week. If you would like to keep up to date with Lisa or join one of her hugely popular classes, search ‘Lisa Dee Fitness’ on Facebook. 

Last week I wrote a personal column detailing my experience with seeking help while I went through treatment in 2003. I decided to upload a video after the article was published to explain why I spoke out about such a private subject. If you search ‘I Want To Hear From You, Nikki Bradley’ on YouTube you should find it.

The video provoked a positive response from everyone which I was delighted about. It also got people talking about the subject. I was invited to speak on BBC Radio Foyle last Wednesday which was fantastic as it allowed me to go into more detail on why I have decided to open up about such a personal time in my life.

I was very nervous uploading the footage as it is hard to predict how these things will be received. I hope my honesty has encouraged some of you to take the plunge and follow suit. Talking is the best way to get through difficult periods in our lives and I still speak to professionals from time to time if I feel I am struggling.

There is absolutely no shame in admitting this and although it took me a little while to realise that, I am so glad I did. I have appealed to the public to contact me if they have an issue they want to discuss. I think by openly talking about little things that are bothering us we will in turn open the gates for more serious issues to come through. 

Nikki Bradley is the founder of Fighting Fit For Ewing’s, a campaign to promote awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Nikki is sponsored by All Sports in Donegal Town. Support her campaign by giving ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’ a LIKE on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @nikkibradley59

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