Our guests on this week’s podcast are boxer Carl Frampton and Professor Stuart Phillips.
1. The more active you are, the more protein you will need.
Stuart spoke in detail about how to calculate how much protein to eat each day. The recommended amount in the UK, USA and Canada is about 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. Stuart suggests the ideal amount is double that for an active person, so 1.6g per kg. If you are an athlete and really pushing yourself, this number can go up to 2.2 grams of protein per kg for those of you training especially hard.
2. Protein is not like carbohydrates or fat.
One of the first and most insightful things Stuart said is that protein is not like carbs or fat – our bodies cannot and do not store it. Stores of fat can be used by the body at a later date but protein and amino acids cannot so we must include protein in our daily diet.
3. Keep taking care of your nutrition as you get older.
Our optimal weight to perform at our best changes as we get older, but our need to consume protein and feature weight training in our exercise regimens does not go away. Eating well and continuing to train can help us stay independent and comfortable as we age.
4. Protein maintains and builds muscle.
Endurance athletes also have elevated protein requirements. We need sufficient protein in our diet to maintain the muscles we use to run, ride or swim and to recover after training too. Our ligaments, bones and muscles all require protein to function. We tend to think of strength athletes when discussing protein requirements, but it is important to consume protein for all sporting disciplines – even if you are less active than an elite athlete.
5. Do not be afraid of carbohydrates or water.
Carl admitted that he spent much of his earlier career in a state of dehydration for fear of the scales. Not drinking enough water makes us tired, struggle to focus and fail to perform well. In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to kidney damage and other health problems. Don’t be afraid to hydrate!
James has been analysing the diets of athletes for almost 20 years. Athletes used to need help optimising their protein intake – now, they often under-consume carbohydrates instead. James does not believe it is possible to be an elite athlete on a low-carb diet. Carl backs this up, evidenced by him being in a much better condition than when he was following a paleo diet.
6. Consistency is king.
Boxers go through an 8 to 12-week training program in the lead-up to a fight. Twelve weeks of training is a great amount of time for anyone to commit to good nutrition and exercise. It is long enough to see a difference mentally as well as physically. Remain consistent even when you are not training for a particular event – with a balanced diet all year round. Especially for younger athletes, maintaining a solid foundation leads to better performance all around.
7. Include protein throughout the day at every meal.
The window of time to consume protein after your training is much larger than you might think. Carl and Stuart both talked about the importance of spreading protein intake throughout the day. Eating protein at every meal makes it easy to hit your protein targets. Charlie and James also talked about how consuming protein before bed can be beneficial when you are training hard for something specific. In Charlie’s case, this was Ironman. This is a tip she learned from Hugh Jackman’s preparation for the role of Wolverine!
8. Keep it simple.
You don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to keep your body and mind in good condition. Boxing gyms tend to be the most basic and stripped back places to train, and yet they are home to the fittest and most dedicated athletes. This is a timely reminder while many gyms remain closed and we find ourselves training at home or outdoors without machines or equipment.
Synergies Podcast #1, Managing Weight & Mindset ft. Geraint Thomas
1. Fuel for the work required and know your body. Champion boxer Carl adjusts his fuel intake each day depending on how tough his sessions are. He shared that knowing at which age to move up a weight class in boxing allowed him to fuel his training better and to continue feeling comfortable training hard as he gets older. He is now able to train for technical development as well as just to ensure he makes weight before competitions.
2. Maintain a healthy relationship with food. Carl includes an occasional ‘reset day’ on a Sunday, that has been approved by his nutritionist. For Carl, this means fasting until dinner time and consuming his daily calories in one meal – a Sunday roast. This feels indulgent and sets him up to stick to his regimented eating plan for the rest of the week. Enjoying food is important and training is more enjoyable when your nutrition is on point, too.
3. You will perform best with a coach. This also reinforces our first takeaway – get to know your body. Carl has been working on his nutrition plans with a coach that knows him and how his body works and feels like he is in the best shape of his life.
4. Plan ahead. This is key for all athletes, but especially for those eating all or mostly plant-based proteins. It is absolutely possible to hit your protein goals on a vegetarian or vegan diet but the planning element is even more important here to ensure you eat sufficient amounts of protein and sufficiently often. While animal proteins are easier to consume a lot of, plant-based athletes gained the same amount of muscle as omnivorous athletes in a recent study Stuart participated in.