Looking Back on the Nutrition Challenge
Guest blog by Ben Lauder-Dykes
Our 6 week Nutrition Challenge has come to an end. The final leaderboard is up on the whiteboard, and we can see the great progress made by all those involved. These guys set clear goals and made objective changes and decisions throughout the process based on training and nutrition to achieve weekly and/or monthly progress. These are all things we have focussed on this year, with a couple of great blog posts from Rusty about setting clear goals and Manage, assess and adapt, alongside an understanding of the basic principles of training and nutrition outlined in my Fuelling Success presentation and from Sal about keeping a training journal to monitor your progress and results.
During this period, I was fortunate to work individually with some athletes in the box, personally overlooking their nutrition and setting strategies to help them achieve clear goals. This was a great experience as each and every one of them outdid themselves each week and thoroughly deserved the results they individually achieved. In addition to their scoresheet, these individuals also completed a form with information regarding their nutritional habits and intake for me to monitor each week. We measured their total bodyweight weekly and did measurements to assess body composition using the Jackson-Pollock formula. We used these measurements to assess the behaviours and application not only in the scoresheet about their levels of activity but also their nutritional habits. This information allowed us to look at the previous week and see what had been done to hit these achievements, whether positive or negative, allowing us to work out why we had reached a certain outcome and what adjustments needed to be made.
I would like to share and celebrate their success and achievements with you
After already achieving some very impressive weight loss by herself, Carmen had reached a plateau. She had been putting a lot of effort in over the last couple of months, but was not seeing the results she wanted or she deserved. We assessed what she was doing and improved a few aspects to better adhere to those fundamental principles of body composition change and set a plan to create a more measured and consistent negative energy balance to create that downward trend in total bodyweight again. Losing a total of 3kg over the 6 weeks, Carmen reached a new milestone: she is now at her lowest weight. She also improved her body composition by 10% with some considerable changes in her skin fold measurements and body shape.
Sarah lost a total of 4kg total body weight and improved her body composition by 10% with the majority of her skin fold measurements reducing by 50%.
“When the 6 week challenge was announced I couldn’t wait for it to start. I’d had surgery on my ankle in October, and despite initially great eating habits, after Christmas I’d carried on indulging and gained about 4kg and was getting frustrated with my deteriorating physical state. I couldn’t train with the same intensity while I recovered from surgery, and I knew nutrition and diet would be crucial, but needed something like the challenge to kick myself back into good habits. After all – the last thing a healing ankle needs is to carry more fat around! I was concerned I’d be restricted from eating certain things, but that wasn’t the case at all. Instead the process gave me a deeper understanding of how to structure my meals to include the right macronutrients, and how to achieve my goals while still allowing “normal life” to go on! This was probably the biggest educational takeaway for me that I’ll carry on beyond the 6 weeks. The process was easy to manage and fit in with a busy lifestyle, and being able to get regular feedback to make adjustments was ideal. I’m incredibly happy with dropping the weight I have, and changing my body composition. I feel great, I’m stronger, and I’m looking forward to seeing what more I can achieve”
Chris lost a total of 2kg total bodyweight, improving his body composition by 5% gaining lean mass and reducing body fat whilst still improving performance.
“Prior to taking up the nutrition coaching with Ben, I had bounced around many diets/eating approaches. There is such a huge amount of (mis)information available, particularly on the internet, and it was very easy to become polarised as to a “right” and “wrong” way. I had recently seen a trainer and followed a strict “no processed carbs” approach and had great results in a very short period; so when Ben suggested there is no right/wrong way and that processed carbs were not off-limits, I was wary. However, given that I was struggling to sustain the strict approach (lack of willpower when entertaining clients/investors), I thought I would give it a go. The process has been great. I have been surprised with the results and the flexibility in Ben’s methods. I never felt like I was on a diet (still had the occasional burger/pizza and beers), but just adjusted my eating over a few days and training a little to suit. Whilst “fat loss whilst maintaining athletic performance” was my goal, I think my biggest result is the increased knowledge that Ben has imparted. There is no need to be brainwashed by the latest “expert” and his/her often polarising views; rather there are “many ways to skin a cat” and maintain a healthy (and social) lifestyle. Yes, you must remain somewhat disciplined, but there is flexibility involved with that discipline too”
Corey’s main goal was fat loss, especially visceral fat with a holiday coming up. We again focussed on firstly controlling his energy balance to create a deficit and then manipulated his intake to try maximising fat loss. One of the biggest components of any diet should be personal preference and the individual’s ability to comply, we found that Corey was struggling to meet the original requirements recommended so we changed it to better suit his personal preferences and his ‘real world’ whilst still applying the overall principle of creating that negative energy balance for fat loss. Corey lost a total of 3.3kg total body weight whilst having noticeable improvements in performance with his training and improved his body fat percentage by 5%.
“After I had tried most exercises and diet fads to get rid of the “Tyre” around the belly I decided to try a nutrition course which was offered by Ben. I was slightly skeptical about how much I thought could really be changed as I am generally a healthy eater! After putting some simple tasks and monitoring practices in place I started to see results within weeks and started to realize how my body was reacting to different foods. In 6 weeks my body fat has dropped to 7% from 12%.”
“For me, learning how to monitor my diet has been the key element. I haven’t seen this much of my abs for thirty years and my belts are all on the smallest notch… Put me on a good track”
James lost a total of 3kg total bodyweight and improved his body composition by 3%.
Matt’s goal was mainly focussed around performance with him starting training for an Ultra Endurance event coming up this summer. We had to pay particular attention to meeting his energy requirements due to his high amounts of training to promote ample recovery but most importantly maintain good health. The types of activities he was performing and the intensities that he was working at meant we had to go into more detail about nutrient timing around his longer and more intense training sessions to improve availability of fuel sources for performance and also nutrition for recovery and proper hydration. Matt improved his body composition by 3% losing body fat and gaining lean mass.
“Training has been fantastic had a couple of people in the box comment on how I’ve improved cardio and strength wise…”
Jack set a clear goal of improving performance as his main goal whilst also looking for a positive change in body composition. This meant that we had to be more flexible with his intake to meet his energy requirements at times when he was training to improve performance but then also try to create a small deficit to achieve fat loss without affecting his ability to recover. Jack improved his body composition by 2% from 13-11% whilst actually gaining total body weight and muscle mass and seeing huge improvements in performance.
Ren’s goal was to reduce total bodyweight and body fat to improve her body composition. She mentioned she had tried a lot of different methods to achieve her goal but never felt that the amount of effort she put in matched the results she achieved. She was making a lot of effort to make really good food choices but was unfortunately not controlling her energy balance. Once we set her total calorie intake and changed her food choices she consistently lost 1kg per week and improved her body composition by 4%.
After a period of intermittent training due to injury and illness Steph was keen to place focus on meeting her energy requirements for performance and improving her lean muscle mass and improve her overall health to fight off frequent illness. We saw a very quick improvement in her performances in training, she maintained total body weight and her body composition improved by 2% based on her skin folds and the improvements were very visible to see.
These are all great results and are just a small selection from the people I have been fortunate to spend time with. I have seen a lot of improvements from those others who were taking part in the challenge
Now the challenge is over we want you to take the positive points that you have learned and keep setting goals (short-term or long-term) and applying the principles.
As a coach, I work with many different people, but the results I have seen over the last 6 weeks have been up there with the best and it has really motivated me to push myself. Thank you to everyone that took part and congratulations on all your results.