Thursday, 10 November 2016

Nutriton for MMA, Boxing & Combat Sports Workshop - 27th November!


Sheffield - Sunday 27th November
Cost - £149 - includes full day's workshop, testing and all meals on the day
Limited places on each day

UPDATE - Over 50% of places have been sold already as of 12th October 2016.

With the sport of MMA growing in the UK at such a rapid rate there has never been a better time to be involved with the sport, which is one of the key reasons i have recently began working with MMA fighters again. With more money than ever coming in to the sport and a real possibility of hitting the highs of the UFC and the subsequent money and fame which comes with it, fighters are looking for the competitive edge in order to advance as quickly as possible.

Nutrition plays a huge role in developing athletes in all sports, however nutrition is now often considered to only be factor for making weight, with little emphasis put upon actually improving performance markers. When combined with scientifically backed evidence, it can deliver results to improve all aspects of performance, as well making the weight cut easier.

As well as offering a full consultancy service i have put together a full day workshop for both coaches and fighters with the ultimate aim being for those that attend to leave understanding more about setting up their nutrition plan and implementing key strategies to improve performance across all Boxing, MMA and Combat sports disciplines.

The full day workshop includes the following:

  • Fundamentals of combat nutrition - meal planning and macro requirements
  • Assessment tools - how to know if what you are doing is working. What data you need to be collecting
  • The psychology of making weight and what to look out for
  • The sensible approach to making weight, how to eat for fat loss whilst improving performance
  • Improving performance and utilising different nutrition strategies throughout a training cycle/camp
  • Smart Supplementation - what works, what doesn't - how to use what does
  • Same day weigh in and next day weigh in protocols and case studies - a look at how much can be lost and the effects on performance
  • The week of the fight - depletion in to dehydration and through to rehydration - and why so many get it wrong

    In addition to this you will undergo a series of testing for body fat levels and a dietary assessment.

    Spaces will be very limited due to the fact the day will include a lot of base testing, questions and feedback relevant to those who attend and to be able to give you a plan to take away with you, but also the practical elements too.

    The cost of the day will include all meals, some supplements to get you through the day and make sure you're recovered and able to train the next day if needs be as well as a take home bag including sample plans and guidelines for putting your own plans together. You will also get the chance to join our private online coaching group at a discounted rate. Total cost will be £149 per person for the full day.

    Limited places means we will assess all of those who contact us to attend, i will be looking to take this workshop across the UK, but i also want to help those who it will make the biggest difference with, this is not a first come first served, but a process whereby those who will benefit the most will be picked to attend.

    The workshop will be held on Sunday November the 27th in Sheffield.

    To book one of the limited places please email me

    Saturday, 20 August 2016

    How i got in to working with elite Boxers and MMA fighters

    Despite the fact i've never wanted to be pigeon holed as working within one sport, it's fair to say that most people who know me through my nutrition work will do so from the work i have done with professional boxers. I have however worked with athletes across many professional sports, including: football, rugby, cycling, triathlon, long distance running, powerlifting, bodybuilding and probably  few others i've forgotten about (which reminds me, time to take my Omega 3).

    With this in mind and considering i have been happy to let my public profile as a performance nutritionist take a back seat whilst i focus on developing and growing Nourish, i am still contacted for advice and consultations regularly by a wide range of people. I have however mainly focussed my limited time on working with boxers of late. The main reason being, that only having a small amount of time for client work i wanted to take on work that not only challenged me, but i could also get excited about. Work that made me want to read more journals, speak to more industry professionals to share ideas and work that i knew i'd be happy to work through the night for, to get the job done. Which is exactly what is required when working with professional boxers.

    The reason for writing this article was this past week i was asked again how i got in to working with boxers and how i saw my role within the support team and more specifically what my main role was as nutritionist. The answer i gave to the latter in terms of the most important parts of my role was  "setting a diet plan, implementing performance improving strategies and weight manipulation for making the weight" Those 3 aspects cover the core of what is expected of me from a client. However, most boxers when asked will first mention the making the weight aspect, it has become the most important aspect in their minds of the nutrition plan in recent times, with fighters draining weight to fight in lighter categories than they naturally should be.

    But this doesn't answer how i ended up working in this area, considering i've never fought professionally. Whilst at University studying for my nutrition degree i had already achieved a certain amount of success working with bodybuilders, again despite never competing myself. Bodybuilding is a strange sport, it is extreme, it requires the competitor to be completely self centred and yet push themselves to very dark places emotionally, they may not be getting punched  in the face but it is still a brutal sport for those who actually want to win. There is also an aspect of making a weight as they compete in weight (or height) categories. It was at this point i started to really look at the intricacies of making weight and how the body responded, i was also really getting in to nutritional biochemistry too, which helped me join a lot of dots up but also understand the 'why's' behind certain protocols success and others failures. Bodybuilding and boxing are nutritionally quite similar (thought they shouldn't be), if a professional boxer is getting nutrition advice from their coach these days they are missing a trick, the diet to make weight from my experience will be geared to weight loss, whilst ignoring performance improving strategies, while bodybuilders know they will sacrifice performance in the gym to cut weight. Many boxing coaches diets simply resemble an old school bodybuilders 'cutting' diet. My first task with a new client is always to break down their preconceptions about fat loss and show them how we can improve performance whilst still losing weight. Show them how it should really be done.

    It was during my time at University that i took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I had done a bit of Thai boxing for a couple of years and thought i'd try a new discipline. Again this was a sport where making weight was a factor of competing and whilst speaking with the BJJ coach i offered to help out the guys competing and pointed out a few issues i had overheard. Again what i discovered were guys using very outdated methods, some with no real science behind them or even logic in some cases. What i also realised was there was a culture of dismissing just how important a factor to performance this aspect could become. If you don't make weight the right way, you cannot expect to fight and perform to the best of your ability. Guys were spending hours each day the week of a competition in the sauna, whilst loading on salt, going for runs in sweat suits and thinking that this was the only way to make the weight. After working with a couple of guys who were competing and explaining to the coach how he should implement a culture more focussed on the nutrition aspect, my details were passed to an MMA coach in London to help with his fighters. Through this i began to get work with different coaches helping them set up and implement basic strategies to help their fighters make weight along with going along and overseeing the weight making process too. At the time MMA was a sport that was growing rapidly, but like today there's still very little money in it at the bottom, but the fighters fight because they love the sport and they want to improve in anyway they can. This was a perfect environment for me, being around people who wanted to learn and who appreciated having professional advice on board. I found the coaches i worked with to be very forward thinking too. Whilst there are ego's aplenty, the coaches are often specialist, so they respect what others can bring to the table. Whilst i was travelling around working with different coaches and their fighters the money wasn't great and whilst this has never been a factor for me, my main money source was coming from working with athletes within the growing physique type competitions as well as bodybuilders, at this time i was very much cherry picking who i worked with, because i could. This was an area i found very easy to work in and it's fair to say unless i was working on a huge transformation or with someone expected to win a competition it didn't really challenge me enough.

    At this stage i began to work with a few amateur boxers, one's who were looking to turn professional through a coach i had been introduced to at an MMA event. I had already worked with a couple of UK professional boxers at the time and my network and contacts was growing and it was then i met a coach from America who had brought his MMA fighters over to the UK to train with a couple of fighters i'd worked with. I was fortunate to be introduced to him and from there my details were passed to a couple of boxing coaches in America. I then began advising boxers in both the UK and America and soon picked up a couple of clients in Europe too, throughout this my links all came from recommendation by coaches and fighters i had worked with, rather than a social media presence. It was a time where the importance of nutrition was filtering down to boxing, a sport which does seem to be a good few years behind when it comes to sports science. A perfect example of this is the lack of education coming from the british board of boxing control in comparison to say the football or rugby associations, who heavily invest in education.

    It was in 2012 when i began working with Kell Brook, at which point my profile and the subsequent boom in social media meant i became more recognised for my work in boxing. It is fair to say that if you know and understand boxing you would be aware that Kell was known for struggling with making the weight, but whilst working alongside and S&C coach the process, once adhered to yielded excellent results both in terms of improved performance and recovery and as Kell was well on his way to becoming what he is today there was the obvious press interest, of which i wasn't always happy about (face for radio) but cannot deny it helped my profile. Since finishing working with Kell in 2013 i have worked with a number of boxers from amateurs to professionals, from all over the world too and have been involved on many different levels, some require more work than others and the service i offer very much comes down to what i feel is required to meet the clients expectations. What i always ensure is that i work a way in which i am happy with. Nutrition is a huge passion of mine, as is helping people, but i have found the quickest to lose passion is to work a way in which doesn't suit me. I happily admit i'm not suited to working with everyone and not every client relationship has ended happily!

    When studying nutrition my intention was always to go down the public health route, i wanted to be able to work in an area that could help as many people as possible, but as this became near impossible due to government cuts when i was graduating, i found myself able to make a positive difference in sports i had a huge passion for. Combining my passion for nutrition and interest in these sports has been something i am immensely proud of, as are my achievements in nutrition, considering when i begged my way on to my nutrition degree my only scientific studies had been GCSE level.

    I simply fell in to working with boxers and MMA fighters, i never set out with a plan to work in this field, but my natural enthusiasm, professionalism and ability to make a positive difference are what kept me progressing as a nutritionist and within the sports. Overall there have been many positives and some negatives too, but it has also been very satisfying to see the positive impact i have made.

    As for the future, it is likely i'll focus more time on Nourish, pick my jobs and clients wisely and maybe even look at focussing more time on clients within different sports again. But one things for sure, i'll still always be following and working with MMA and boxing.

    Thursday, 4 August 2016

    Nutrition for combat sports & making weight workshop


    There has never been a bigger demand for correct nutrition practices within combat sports, with more money than ever the allure of reaching the top of the sport is huge. What has subsequently been created is sports with competitors who will take any competitive edge they can get, with a key area being their nutrition and strength & conditioning. This has brought about many dangerous practices as well as many poor nutrition practices. It is fair to say that these sports are generally far behind when it comes to sports science.

    All levels of combat sports require some understanding of nutrition from improving performance and recovery to making weight the correct way. However there seems to be no signs of governing bodies stepping in for the safety of competitors to educate them. Much of the advice around is old science taken from other sports which do not take in to account the importance of physical performance. There remains many bad and potentially dangerous practices within making weight protocols used even at the highest levels and there are still many boxers and MMA fighters failing drug tests for banned supplements.

    Having worked directly with nearly 100 clients helping them to make weight i have developed my own nutritional methods to ensure they always make weight and do it the safest way possible. More importantly all of my clients have had their post weigh in nutrition overhauled to enable them to be better in the ring or cage come fight night, after all this is a performance based sport and not making weight competition! My clients have ranged from amateur through to world level and come from all corners of the world in many different sports. I have decided to put all that i have learned in to a workshop, one that will give you the skill set to understand your clients requirements, how to asses them and how to get them on weight but at peak performance too.

    During this workshop you will learn the following:
    • Basics of nutrition and health
    • Fundamentals of combat nutrition - meal planning and macro requirements
    • Assessment tools - how to know if what you are doing is working. What data you need to be collecting
    • The psychology of making weight and what to look out for - Keep your client keen!
    • The sensible approach to making weight, how to eat for fat loss whilst improving performance 
    • Improving performance and utilising fasting, carb back loading and other specific nutrition strategies through a training cycle/camp
    • Smart Supplementation - what works, what doesn't
    • Same day weigh in and next day weigh in protocols and case studies - in depth look at how much can be lost and the effects on performance
    • The week of the fight 
    • The all important aspect of dehydration and dropping the final bit of weight
    • Post fight and setting up the next training camp
    As well as these key areas we'll look at working with other coaches and the tools you'll need to ensure you get the best out of working with S&C and boxing/other technique coaches too. 

    Outcomes -

    You will be shown real case studies and walked through what works and why and how to effectively plan a nutrition programme for a training camp.  At the end you will be expected to understand the athletes requirements, how to meal plan, what nutritional strategies and supplements to use and when and how to ensure your client stays focussed and motivated.

    Places will be limited in order to keep the group interaction high. This will be a full day workshop. For more information email

    Dates will be released at the end of August.

    Thursday, 17 March 2016

    The Sugar Tax is a smokescreen

    In the past few days we've had the budget which brought many 'Sugar Tax' supporters out in joy at the Conservative's announcement of the introduction of a Sugar Tax which will come in to play from 2018, delayed until then to give the company's enough time to change their damaging mixtures, or find a way around the tax.

    Let's just dwell on that point for a second. The Government are admitting there's a problem with sugar and that something drastic needs to be done, highlighted by the fact they said they didn't want any new taxes only a few months ago and that David Cameron really didn't want this tax, but are not willing to take immediate action. They will protect the financial interests of these companies and put their profits OVER the public's health. In no other situation can i see how the authorities would take this stance. "we know what you're doing is bad, but we'll let you carry on until you figure out how to change so as not to damage your profits."

    Whilst many will argue that a sugar tax is a positive step, the reality is that this is simply a smokescreen and deflection tool aimed at pacifying people in order for the government to be able to show they are doing something at least to protect and positively influence the nations health, whilst implementing many more damaging cuts to welfare budgets affecting many of societies most vulnerable.

    This week i have also sat in on meetings where the focus was public health, nutrition, poverty and food issues. What i have come away with feeling is that no longer can we as individuals or communities afford to rely on the government to protect us or even look after our health. I have a genuine worry for the nations health. Obesity rates are only heading one way as are diabetes. In addition to this 'lifestyle diseases' which covers many more health issues including cancer is on the rise. The NHS is crippled, on it's knees and is now destined to live out the rest of it's existence merely funnelling funds in to profit driven organisations. If you think of getting ill and your first thought is to think how a hospital will look after you or the NHS is your safety blanket, then you really need to wake up. The NHS is now a lottery with very few winning tickets, do not entrust your health with this organisation. Sadly it is still full from the bottom up with people who want to help and make a difference, such as junior doctors forced to strike due to poor pay and working conditions, as well as many nurses now stretched from working in smaller teams. Let us also take this chance to look at the food on offer in hospitals, if you are unlucky enough to find yourself staying over in a hospital you'll need to be fed, if you are ill and weak your body is crying out for good nutritious foods, that will support recovery with the right vitamins and minerals. But no, what you will likely get is nutritionally poor food made with the focus clearly on costs and keeping them low. As a nutritionist, this absolutely disgusts me. It sickens me that we sit back and allow this. We allow the sick and elderly to be fed food which is not fit for purpose, it does not aid recovery and it certainly does not taste great. At the very least if you're going to eat poor quality food you want some flavour from it.

    Anyway, back to the sugar tax. The expected revenue generated from this will be £520m per year. A sum of money most people can only dream of and could probably never really comprehend, but it is a very small drop in the ocean of a near £16 BILLION industry. What the industry has been really worried about though is that a sugar tax will lower consumption, this is what really hurts profits. Therefore, expect more than a fight from the companies, more corners will be cut and more artificial sweeteners with effects we'll not be able to find out about to be rushed through for use by the big companies.

    The increase in sugar consumption over the years has played a huge part in the current obesity crisis, to deny this is flat out stupidity. Some senior members of suspect boards will however stand firm on the main issue being calorie consumption, whilst they ignore that it is way too easy to over consume on sugary products than it is fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrate sources, pulses and beans.

    If we are to put a dent in the major health issues there needs to be more done than just taxing sugary drinks. There needs to be a strong and robust plan to follow through on this, it needs to be a spring board for action and not token gesture. Public Health England has proposed that weaning the nation from it's sugar addiction would save in the region £15bn and almost 80,000 lives in a generation. Those are huge figures. The £520 million generated from the Sugar Tax per year doesn't look all that impressive now does it.

    Ultimately this post is not about the problems we are facing, but the actions we need to take. The actions you the individual need to take. The chances are if you become ill you will not be looked after to any decent standard, you are now just a number, a report, a case and a statistic. Do not be fooled in to thinking the NHS, your GP or Public Health bodies have the resources to keep you alive, keep you well and support recovery from lifestyle diseases. If you are lucky enough however you'll drop on an individual with enough fight and energy left to help you through your problems, but are you really willing to take that chance with your health and life? The reality though is longer waiting times, less consultation time, less time with your GP, increased pressure on staff meaning slipping standards (they are human after all) and ultimately a system where the people it serves become the ones which suffer. All in the name of money. If the government can magic money out of thin air for wars to send troops to then why can't they simply magic some funds for the war on a much bigger killer than terrorism, lifestyle diseases?!

    Do not wait to fight illness until it comes to you. Your fight should start now with an improved diet. Eat more fruit and vegetables, drink enough water, cut down on sugary snacks and foods laden with trans fats. Become a conscious eater and care where your food comes from. You would not put red diesel in a Ferrari so why fuel your body with junk. You only get one life and watching it pass you by whilst you are out of breath, sat on the sofa, unable to sleep and addicted to junk food is not living. It is existing to pay taxes to a government that does not care about you. Exercise is key too. Give your body a reason to live; move more, find an activity you enjoy and push yourself on a regular basis.

    The Sugar Tax is a start, but unless there's more to come it is nothing more than a smokescreen. Your health is in your own hands and you only have yourself to blame if you don't look after it.

    Wednesday, 3 February 2016

    Canelo Alvarez Vs Amir Khan - How much difference will the weight make?

    It's fair to say that not many people saw this fight coming, but like many it is definitely one i am excited about. Having become, like many other boxing fans, quite despondent over the direction of Khan's career especially in light of his refusal to grant the UK fight fans the fight we all really wanted to see against Kell Brook, i can now say that i am firmly back on the Khan fan train and i would love to see an upset against Canelo.

    However, there are some real issues and concerns regarding this fight as boxing can be quite a brutal sport. The key questions relate to the weight difference and what the affect of that could be with Canelo known for coming in up to 20lbs heavier than what he officially weighs in at. There's also the power difference too, Canelo showed against James Kirkland he can really bang and that was against a natural middleweight too. Can Khan really stand up to that power? Well with his questionable chin many believe this will be an easy night for Canelo and will be over as soon as he connects with any real venom.

    Compare this to Khan who's power is questionable as well as the fact he is really coming up from light welterweight having only ever fought at 147lbs against Collazo the only true welterweight and then Alexander who was really a light welterweight and Algieri who again was really a light welterweight. This shows how big a step up this is for Khan and whilst there were concerns about him making light welterweight himself and growing in to the 147b division the question remains as to whether he can really hang with a powerful big hitting guy at the heavier weight, so far that has been left unanswered and what a fight for him to have to answer all of these questions!

    Some will argue that Mayweathers speed and agility/reflexes made Canelo look flat footed, even lacking ideas and at times easy to hit but Khan is not Mayweather and he's also not shown the consistent discipline needed to strategically beat an opponent with many advantages over him. Khan's speed will no doubt be his key advantage but as with any boxer moving up in weight and going from 147b to 155b is a big jump then Khan will lose some of his speed.

    From a nutritionist point of view Khan will not have to endure the lengthy dieting which can seriously affect a boxers performance, with his nutrition being more focussed on performance aspect such as strength, fitness and recovery it's fair to assume Khan will enjoy this training camp a lot more. It would be expected though that his nutritionist and S&C team have monitored him enough to be able plan out and measure progress to ensure he's not slowing down with the extra weight, the blueprint of speed being key against Canelo is there from Mayweather, Angulo and Lara. Khan's team need to ensure that he carrie more power but his speed remains. You would also expect that Khan will come in at the weight easy without the drying out process. Whilst many boxers with a good drying out protocol under the guidance of a nutritionist should not feel any negative affects from dropping up to 8% of their body weight to make the weight those who struggle or think once they've made the weight they can eat what they want are the one's who will suffer come the second half of a fight. The weight draining undertaken by Canelo has been questioned as a reason for him sometimes labouring through the final rounds of a fight.

    Having worked with many boxers and understanding the key aspects of making weight the safe way as well as knowing of many who make it the wrong way my belief is that if there is a check weigh in requested from the Khan camp for the next day then Canelo may in fact slow down in the latter rounds. If Khan can keep on the move in the early rounds, make Canelo miss and catch him with counters then take control with his superior speed and conditioning in the latter rounds then he may just be able to win.

    So from a nutritionist point of view this fight makes for very interesting viewing, with 13 weeks to go i'm sure their nutrition and S&C teams already have their plans in place. Ideally Canelo will make the weight comfortably and regain the weight sensibly from drying out and Khan's speed and conditioning will be improved through a less restrictive diet and we, the fans will see 2 of the best fighters around at their peaks come May 7th.

    We are either going to see Canelo steamroll and KO Khan who struggled to adapt with the extra weight early or Khan will make it interesting and take Canelo in to the late rounds to see if he can hang with real speed and counters for 12 rounds.

    For British fight fans i'd love to see Khan take this one and set up the fight against Brook, someone who surely only has a handful of fights left at 147lb himself.