How I helped
Ben Price is an elite level duathlete. His goals at the start of our relationship were to lose a bit of excess around his stomach, cut out the binge eating and for food to be less on his mind.
Working with Ben
I started working with Ben initially because he just wanted some guidance on the type of foods he should be eating for elite sports performance. Ben was really knowledgable himself and was happy with the fact that I was limited in the depth of work we could do together as I would be working in my capacity as nutritional advisor not a nutritional therapist.
Like many semi-professional athletes, Ben is extremely dedicated. He manages to work a full time job and fit his training and competition around his working week, although I’m sure he would say that he has a very understanding employer.
Ben’s main issue was understanding the right balance of macronutrient intake. I had the benefit of access to nutrition analytics software through being a student with the University of Worcester. So Ben did a three day food diary for me to portray how he was currently eating. At the initial consultation Ben described that he was hungry most of the time and craved carbohydrates particularly late at night. He was concerned about it and limited his carbohydrate intake as he felt that this was closely linked to weight gain (such as the mass media report these days!). He had a dogged determination to limit it. But this seemed to be driving some significant energy slumps and possible blood sugar lows, leading to eating on some of the wrong foods in the evening after hard training sessions.
Like many athletes Ben’s drive to succeed is admirable, and when you work with people who demand excellence in their own performance this rubs off on you so I was really keen to deliver the best advice I could.
However, as I have said, sometimes the best advice is the simplest of advice.
I entered Ben’s food diary on to the software and it was clear that his consumption of carbohydrates was low when compared to the requirements of his lifestyle and training. I did some calculations for Ben to work out his Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Daily Lifestyle Activity Levels (DLAL), and Energy expenditure in training (EE), although this can never be 100% accurate, this gave me a figure for energy intake that Ben should be aiming for. This information coupled with the analysis of his current dietary intake made for really compelling evidence for the reasons for the symptoms or concerns that had caused Ben to approach me in the first place.
We saw that there was room to improve carbohydrate intake. The question was what type of carbohydrate. This was something that Ben was nervous about. So I started to do some research into carbohydrates for sports performance. Kevin Currell’s book Performance Nutrition really helped and so did Clinical Sports Nutrition by Louise Burke and Vicki Deakin. With the type of carbohydrate being a consideration we also started to look into the timing of consumption.
We implemented the plan and immediately Ben started to feel better. I think this reaction was more mental and emotional than physical, as he definitely felt comforted that he had someone looking into and recommending foods for him. With a full time job and a young family there are many demands on Ben so the piece of mind he got from having me on board supporting him was beneficial in itself.
We started working together in September 2017 and we continue to work together today.
Ben has recently come 8th at the ETU-Powerman European Championship Duathlon MD and we still see each other for general advice and more specifically when Ben needs someone to be accountable to. We set some nutritional targets in his preparation for this event, but Ben really knows what works for him, it is more accountability and maybe some insight into the detail that I offer.
I will continue to work with Ben and after I am qualified I will be able to support him in different ways, in terms of investigating testing and supplements, to a certain extent we are just scratching the surface at the moment. However, I would say that I see what I have done in terms of foods and calculations of intake will always be the mainstay of my nutritional practice. It was so powerful for Ben to see this information that he almost knew what to do himself. After that it was just guidance to get the details right.