Rob Edmond's ultimate nutrition advice
Rob Edmond is known internationally as one of the UK's top personal trainers. A former SAS 'elite army reserve' who regularly appears in the wider media advising on training issues. He puts his wealth of experience to good use working with a variety of people, from the obese wanting to turn their lives around, to elite athletes wanting to go to the next level. He is an expert in fat loss and holds the record for the highest % weight loss as the resident trainer on the UK version of The Biggest Loser TV Show. I had the privilege to support Rob for 10 days on a 680km 'Help for Hereos ' charity endurance event as he dragged a whiskey barrel from a distillery in Scotland to Tedworth House (a famous rehabilitation centre for injured soldiers) in Wiltshire. Working with him daily to keep him in as good nick as possible, I found myself intoxicated by his nutritional approach to healthy living. Mindful of this, Rob was good enough to give me a few tips to share with you:
Nutrition in a nutshell
"Nutrition is not easy, there is so much conflicting information, so many options, so much advertising and so much temptation. Food is cheap and plentiful in the first world and this is a big part of the problem, that and the vested interest organisations which pitch, push and change legislation based on their own agenda.
I am a realist, I socialise, I eat out and takeaways, all often, but where I can, I try and stick to the good stuff. I aim to eat natural where possible avoiding processed as much as I can, especially those labelled low fat and low sugar. I am against some of the common policies put out there, fat is in fact good for you ( including saturated fat), sugar is bad and a lot worse than fat. Better to have high fat than high sugar, but synthetic sweeteners can be worse than high sugar. In 10 – 20 years people will look back in dismay at what the general public have been peddled as good for you, I have been talking about sugar not fat being the problem for decades but it is only now starting to get some traction in the main stream.
Take milk, it is a super food, it is one of the best recovery drinks out there. You are sold synthetic alternatives and if you have milk told to have skimmed / low fat as it’s better for you but then also in the same breath that milk is good for vitamin D. Rubbish !! vitamin D is only soluble in fat, skimming takes away many of the vitamins. Whole milk is better for you as it’s less processed."
" I didn’t eat enough veg when I was young and I find this a major problem with most. Even those which think they eat balanced and enough veg, simply don’t. Most people’s portions of veg belong in a hamster cage. I keep it simple, I juice, not like a fanatic but aim to have one per day. In my one pint (and a half) of juice I have more veg than most have in a week. Aside from fruit / veg with meals and snacks, just in my juices each week I will have something like: 21 sticks of celery, 14 apples, 4 grapefruits, 7 cucumbers, 10 carrots, 2 red cabbages, 5 lemons, 4 oranges, 1 pineapple & horse bucket full of kale (and that is on the low side compared to many who juice)."
Easy things to improve fitness
" More mineral water, less sugar, more fat, less sweeteners, more veg, less processed. Still have good amounts of protein but absolutely hammer the veg. If you are going for function over form then eat carbs, you need them to perform well. There are a lot of people now training hard but in carb deficit which will make them leaner but impact their performance, so if you want to do better then get the right balance. Plus you need carbs to think better so you can earn more money to buy more races / equipment. "
5 Things to promote
Juicing (better than blending – there is a difference): have more veg in a day than most have in a week. Have more around competition and races. If it’s a multiday event try and have juices, within it.
Herbs & Spices: for example, Curries are great if they are made pure.
Whole Milk as a recovery drink: (obviously if you are intolerant then don’t – just as don’t have nuts if you are allergic to them).
Raw Honey – not processed: look it up, it’s a super food with so many qualities including prebiotic properties.
5 things to avoid
Sports drinks before activity.
Trans Fats: Margarine, low cal spreads.
High Sugar & Processed Breakfast Cereals
Highly Processed Takeaways: Better to have traditional fish & chips than burger and fries. Chips are pure potatoes, fries are not!
Nutritional tips for endurance events
" Practice in your training eating and drinking on the move, your body gets used to it. Experiment with what works in practice and not trying something new on the actual event. Ensure your carb intake is good and you are really hydrated in the days leading up the event, avoid sports drinks and high sugar directly before the event especially remaining 2 hours (this will harm your performance not help it).
In the event hold out for the first hour and half before you take in any carbs, you should be fine for going hard for this period then when your body really needs it, take something. Avoid gels where you can especially for long events, better to have natural which sits better on the stomach and doesn’t numb your mouth with the synthetic ingredients.
I also eat fast all the time and I mean fast (most dogs would be put to shame - although I am told to calm down when in restaurants to save family embarrassment). You get used to it and when it comes to an event and are stuck for time, even in 5 mins you can polish off a full meal and importantly be fine to run in a shorter time than others. Within an event if you have a stage break, you will find you can eat a meal and then race when others snack on their nut bars. You put yourself at an advantage. Yes, they say you shouldn’t eat fast but we have been doing it for millions of years before the invention of dinner etiquette. There's always a time and a place for everything eh!"
5 things to promote eating
Fat. A high fat diet – including saturated: you get used to processing it as a fuel better. There is a lot more fat energy in your reserves than glycogen ;-) I like to take fat on the move, fat per gram provides more energy than anything else.
Whole milk with some coco powder: not just for recovery after training but within the event itself if it is a long one (if convenient).
Carbs: don’t be a paleo and neglect them you still need them. Still carb load before an event to make sure you are fully loaded up to the max.
Probiotics: they help stop you getting ill when you are at your peak. A lot are held back with colds, flu etc and lose valuable training time, the immune system is under a lot of pressure when performing at a high level.
5 things to avoid
Synthetic sports drinks with lots of sweeteners and additives(which your body has to try and process).
Too many gels.
Anything with too low calories per volume: you are doing endurance, don’t waste the space.
Apple juice (or stuff with apples in) or milk directly before a race: it makes your spit sticky (although do takemilk within a long race as benefits outweighs this).
Nuts and chewing gum together! Lol.
Nutritional tips when there's nothing left in the tank!
" High energy per gram. Flat coke can bring you round fast, coconut butter, whole milk, tube of butter, peanut butter, trail mix (fat, carbs and protein – homemade bar), high fat salami, hot food is better than cold if you can (requires less energy to process) something like a broth / stew with butter melted into it and bread soaked in olive oil ( I’ve drunk olive oil in the past just to get some high calories in when it was getting desperate). Warm water /drinks if you can, absorbs quicker (unless it’s a hot race). If cooler or cold race, I will put hot water in my water bottles and then by the time I use them they are often still warm or at least not cold. Eat on the move to keep yourself from getting there in the first place. Even in just a pair of running shorts you can slip a 50 gram coconut butter sachet into your inside pocket, this is around 750 k calories, try getting that in there with energy gels. Even when you don’t feel like it because you are so fatigued / exhausted then try and get food in you to keep the fires burning."
A little about Rob Edmond
Name: Rob Edmond !
History of your own training background: Lots of endurance - running, speed marching, A-B over mountains with weight, SAS, Ultra Marathons, Challenges and Multi-day events. Have always kept up with Strength & Conditioning and cross training so kept a reasonable strength and endurance balance.
What is your favourite type of training? For me nothing can beat a good hard run / hike in the mountains on a really sunny day.
What is your favourite type of race / event? Multi-day, carrying weight, running based, where my brain is pushed as much as my body.
What was your hardest event / experience ever? SAS selection. At times you had to just laugh at what they were getting you to do.
What was your favourite event? Help For Heroes Barrel drag challenge – great team, lots of food and being very pampered.
Best advice you can give to improve training? Cross train to avoid injuries and give yourself an edge. Once in a while see how far you can push yourself, just go off the scale, so you can reassess how hard you should and can train.
Rob Edmond offers Mentoring and Personal Training on a 1 2 1, group training large and small, and bespoke entire VIP days. To find out about working with Rob visit www.robedmond.com or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org