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Interview with Performance Nutritionist Ben Coomber30/09/2016
As you probably know:
The health and fitness industry is awash with scores of “experts” from diet, nutrition and weight training.
With this over-saturation, it is incredibly difficult to stand out and make a huge impact.
We managed to catch up with Ben Coomber – one of those rare social media icons that has managed to cut through the noise with his no bullsh*t approach to all things health and fitness.
Ben Coomber is someone who has continually impressed me with his vast scientific-backed claims that are both insightful and practical to implement.
Without further ado:
Let’s begin to pick his brain and see what gems he can offer us!
Hi Ben, thanks for chatting with us today.
For anyone who is not familiar with you, could you give our readers a brief introduction?
I’m a performance nutritionist (BSc, ISSN), educator, public speaker and writer.
I run Body Type Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company that also runs a multi-level, online nutrition course, the BTN Academy.
I currently have the UK’s #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes ‘Ben Coomber Radio’ with regular Q&A’s and expert interviews.
Not only this:
I also own Awesome Supplements, a brand offering clarity in the confusing world of supplements.
- Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got involved in health and fitness?
I got into health and fitness as a result of my journey from obese to slim.
At the time I was going to be an actor, but I knew I couldn’t be successful as an actor being overweight, so I went on a weight loss journey.
This journey was so powerful for me that I ditched the acting career and went into fitness.
As a result, I ended up focusing on nutrition as I felt that’s where the true power lies, and thus today, I am a nutritionist and have been for the last 10 years.
- What is your approach to nutrition and what does your diet generally include or exclude?
My diet doesn’t exclude anything, not carbs, alcohol, junk etc, all the things people typically think you have to exclude to be happy and healthy, largely because doing so isn’t sustainable.
I’m just like anyone, I like a drink here and there, some junk food in places, and as for carbs, well I eat plenty of them cause they are good for us and essential.
My diet is very good 90% of the time, lots of fruits and vegetables, proteins, good fats and carbs, generally just good honest food.
Because that’s what the human body is designed to eat and that’s what makes me feel good.
So as a whole, I advocate a whole food approach to nutrition, with a little bit of what you want moderated in a way that you don’t overeat (bad food is easy to overeat), and be happy and healthy with it so it’s sustainable.
- From your point of view, what is the biggest misconception in the health and fitness industry at the moment?
That low carb diets are more effective than high or normal carb diets.
It’s still the most talked about thing “no carbs before marbs”, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reality is, people get fat because they eat too much, end of.
So whether you cut out carbs or not, to lose weight you need to eat less than you burn, a very unsexy message that even the government has been telling us for the last 20 years.
But that message doesn’t sell, hence magic diets are always the talking point in the media.
- Given the amount of conflicting information available, in your opinion, what is the one thing people often overlook which can pay huge dividends in optimising performance in bodybuilding, sport or otherwise?
In terms of optimisation, simply eating enough.
To fuel the body and mind, you need to match energy intake with energy output.
If you’re trying to perform to the best of your ability, both in life and in training, you need to consistently eat enough: that’s where the most benefit comes from.
Either way, ensure you are eating lots of high quality nutrient dense food.
Eat junk, feel like junk!
- What were some of the biggest mistakes you made as a beginner when you started out on your health and fitness journey? What did you do to correct your mistakes?
The biggest area of regret, or area I wish I had optimised sooner was understanding and appreciating the value of calories more.
I spent years at university training really hard to get stronger, bigger, more athletic, and I simply didn’t eat enough.
I ate good food, which was a great start, but I was under-eating all the time and had binge cycles when I went out and ate food with friends.
If I had been more consistent with my calorie intake, alongside all the hard training I did, I would have made far more progress with my body than I did.
What did I do to correct it?
I got to a point where I asked myself:
“Why am I not getting the results I expect?”
And thus, upon reflection, I needed to know more and optimise things and my progress did indeed improve.
- What does your training schedule look like? Are there any exercises or training day splits you prefer from others?
I play rugby, so the gym work matches and compliments what I do on the field.
Generally speaking, however, my training is split by:
Lower body posterior chain focused training session largely focused around the deadlift.
Upper body work before rugby training,
Another lower body focused session around the squat,
A little upper body session again before rugby, then rest
Unless I had minimal game time for some reason, I might do some light exercise depending on how I feel.
- How do you recover from a gruelling workout? Are there any post-workout supplements in your cupboard at the moment?
Yeah, I never go without Awesome Supplements’ Recovery Spray!
It’s the one thing that has a profound affect on how I feel in terms of localised muscular recovery – love the stuff!
As well as this, I just keep on top of my needs from a health standpoint with my Magnesium, Omega-3 and 6 Fish Oil and Vitamin D intake by taking Daily Dose.
Otherwise the rest is done in my diet, eating enough, sleeping enough, getting plenty of carbs in alongside active recovery practices.
- Having coached thousands of people online and around the world, what is the biggest problem faced by many and what do you have them doing in the next 24 hours or the next 52 weeks in the year?
Not being clear enough on their goals.
Most people are externally influenced with their goals, rather than being internally influenced.
I get them to go away, go deep, ask why, and get really clear on what it is they want to achieve and WHY.
- If you could only live on one meal and beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Probably a roast dinner cooked by my girlfriend’s mum, alongside Fiji water. Amazing.
Whilst I would love to say beer, not sure how long I would last haha!
- Other than your own, what 3 books do you consider a “must read” on diet, nutrition or fitness?
Functional Sports Nutrition Magazine – Not a book, but essential for the geeks
- Do you have any final pearls of wisdom you could offer our readers?
Pave your own path, know what you want, know why you want it, and work everyday to achieve it.
More from Ben Coomber
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Did you like this interview? Have a question for Ben?
Let us know in the comments section below!