When I speak to Scott Baptie, 37, he’s been writing poetry using artificial intelligence.
So that he has a few verses prepared for his book launch, he asked ChatGPT to come up with something and, apparently, the chatbot delivered.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to hear the finished result, but I wonder what they found to rhyme with protein?
That food group is the focus for this Aberdeen-based nutritionist, fitness expert and author, who has 140k followers on Instagram and runs a Food for Fitness website, where he offers meal plans and more books. It has an accompanying YouTube channel so he can demo recipes, and a podcast, with previous guests including Wim Hof.
His new read, The Ultimate Protein Handbook, does what it says on the tin. Presumably, it also helps readers to avoid those expensive and revolting shakes. Baptie is keen to share the benefits of eating this buzzy foodstuff.
“Having a higher protein intake is going to obviously help you recover from exercise and that doesn't need to be intense. It can just be a long walk,” says Baptie. “It’s also amazing for helping you to feel fuller for longer and lots of studies have looked at the effect of protein on satiety. If you have it at breakfast, you're more likely to have better eating habits throughout the day and will feel more content after food”.
The book’s chapters include Breakfast & Brunches, Light Meals, Healthy Snacks and Main Meals and the 80 recipes include smoked salmon and chive omelette, Cullen skink, za’atar chicken kebabs, black cod with sesame noodles, raspberry yoghurt muffins and the breakfast smoothie that Baptie says he has 90 per cent of mornings. There are ‘fakeaway’ options, like a Chinese-style chicken curry, as “they’re really popular right now”, as well as lots of veggie dishes
“Soy beans and pulses are typically going to give you the highest amount of protein from plant based sources. So that's why chickpeas and lentils are part of a curry in the book. And then there's tofu,” he says. “Eggs are obviously an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. So there's a tortilla smash. The thing is variety and trying to eat as many different foods as you can when you have a restricted diet”.
His favourite creation is a medley of chicken, sausage and chickpeas.
“It's just a super warming Mediterranean-themed dish that has all the flavours you associate with Spanish cooking in one pan”, says Baptie, who did much of his book research through watching cookery and travel shows. “My three year old tries to steal the extra chickpeas from my plate. She loves that one”.
Baptie is an advocate for resisting food fads, and thinks that you should be allowed a little of what you fancy. He is a big fan of Turkish food and knows a couple of good Aberdeen restaurants serving that style of cuisine. Despite this, he says that he doesn’t keep many temptations in his cupboards at home.
“We do have a fully stocked wine rack and beer in the fridge. And I have a buttery on the weekend”.
It seems that the author’s life has changed a lot over the last decade or so.
Back in 2010, he was still working in IT Project Management, and started blogging about his 12-week fitness journey, calling it The Lean Files, where he posted recipes, meal plans and workout advice. This became hugely successful – “so many people were asking me to help them out with their nutrition and training” . In 2012, he went part-time in his computer job and started modelling for magazines, which had always been his target and resulted in him appearing twice on the cover of Men’s Fitness, as well as a raft of other publications.
Does he have those pictures framed on his wall at home?
“We do have the covers and my granny used to keep copies permanently underneath our coffee table to show them to guests, but they've never been framed,“ he says. “My best pal did get one blown up as a huge cardboard cut–out but it didn’t make it into our house”.
After that flurry of interest, Baptie started his business in 2013 and went back to university in 2015 to get an MSc in Applied Sports Nutrition.
He’s quite happy to be out of the IT game. “I don't regret my time doing it, but it was never my passion. This is a hobby and a passion and I’m fortunate that it pays”.
Baptie now has a partner and two daughters under four years old to influence his cooking style and nutrition advice. Thus, the recipes in the new book are designed to be as easy, with no obscure ingredients, as they are family-friendly. Practicality is key.
“Ten years ago, I was young, free and could easily go to the gym five times a week and think nothing of it,” he says. “When I first started lifting weights, I wanted to win at going to the gym, but I've got different priorities now and health and fitness has a different meaning for me now rather than having a six pack. We've got screaming kids and they’re tired, we just want to be able to eat healthily, so what's the simplest meal that I can make and that everyone's gonna like?”
The Ultimate High Protein Handbook, £20, Harper North, out now