Ben Coomber’s personal nutrition and training plan

Posted 22-07-2019 | Updated

Ben Coomber’s personal nutrition and training plan image

Every day I get emails, tweets and messages from people asking me how I do things. What I eat for breakfast, what foods I do and don't eat, what supplements I take, how I train, how I structure my time, and how I stay motivated to do what I do.

While I would always advocate personalised approaches to everything it's always useful to know the habits of those who have succeeded in something. I'm personally a massive fan of modelling behaviour, I've probably read over 50 autobiographies and listened to over 500 podcasts and audiobooks to learn the habits, traits and techniques of others, so it does work. You've just got to take that info and apply it in your own way, for your situation and goals, and of course be critical when listening to others (there's plenty of BS on the internet!).

What I personally do is dictated by my preferences, my schedule, my business and my general situation and thus it wouldn't work for many people as a copy and paste approach. So learn from this for yourself, just as I have learnt from others and experimented with over the years to find my sweet spot

SIDE NOTE: If you want to learn more about what I do, my theories, AND the theories of others, ensure you subscribe to my #1 Rated podcast 'Ben Coomber Radio' available on all podcast platforms. Click HERE to listen, it's free learning while you're on the move, a literal no brainer!!

Now, while I'm no pro athlete I am fit, healthy, energised and strong enough for my purposes, and while I'm no Richard Branson I run multiple businesses with full time staff and so at the risk of sounding like I'm blowing my own trumpet, I suppose there may be a nugget or two of useful stuff in here for people to take away to optimise mind, body and brain.

(BTW, this blog isn't a quick read, about 10-15 minutes, so if you've taken a quick click over here, be warned, there's a lot here).

So, without further delay, here's what I do and why...

What I eat:

The majority of what I eat is 'real food', by which I mean largely unprocessed, single ingredient foods. Things that grew, swam and walked, or closely derived from. That being said the focus of my diet is increasingly plant based, aiming for as many fruit and vegetable portions per day as I can physically manage, often hitting over 10 servings per day and many of my protein sources being plant based also.

I believe that this kind of simple, stereotypically 'healthy' food should ideally make up 80-90% of your diet, and it's to this approach that I attribute the fact that I feel AWESOME 90% of the time, generally having energy all day long, have great skin, nails, hair, and generally feel like a healthy person without ailments.

Of course another positive to this kind of nutrient dense diet is that higher volume foods help regulate weight because it takes longer to eat and keeps you fuller for longer (more calorie dense, highly processed foods make it harder to stick to your daily calories goals due to being so rich in energy and also being hyper-palatable).

Salmon, avocado and egg on toast with green smoothie

I'd say 80-90% of my diet is that kind of stuff So what's the other 10-20%?

Whatever I want to be honest. It's often made up of a few ice creams, beer, gin, crisps, a pizza, that kind of thing. You know, the normal stuff people want and enjoy from time to time. This allows me to be sociable, to relax, to try new things and simply enjoy life with food, and because I keep it a small part of my diet I don't worry about my micronutrient or macronutrient intake, and because it's calorie appropriate it doesn't affect my bodyfat either.

So yes, just to clarify, I do eat 'junk food', but I don't see it as bad, just 'not ideal'. I make these foods a healthy part of my diet, a small % of my diet most of the time. Sometimes I am away and don't have access to good food all the time so more of it is 'not ideal', but I don't stress about it, I eat it, I just continue to calorie control it. Life isn't always perfect with food, no need to stress about it, control it when you can, don't stress when you can't, just be mindful and control what variables you can.

And this is essentially how I don't let it get out of control, I am always (most of the time) aware of how many calories are in foods so I can manage my weight. Too many people go 'off the rails' eating these foods, if this is you and serves you well, carry on, enjoy yourself, but if you get annoyed at the outcome the day after a cookie binge or a few too many beers, again, control the cookie binge, control how many beers you have, give yourself a rule, life without some form of self-imposed rules is only fun short term, not long term.

i.e. I'll eat 2 cookies which is 450 calories because that's my daily allowance. Or, I'll have 2 beers as that's then 450 calories and that is what I have allocated for myself, plus anymore and I'll feel sluggish tomorrow. I thus create a rule for the foods and drinks I am going to eat and stick to that rule, simply saying no when offered another (which is often the case and the time most say yes, again).

I take this approach to BOTH be healthy and manage my weight at a consistent 83kg, BUT also to enjoy my diet. I don't want to get fat, period. That's a rule for me. I'm not unhealthy with it, I don't track what I eat on holidays (but I do be sensible, and it helps that I take active holidays so I'm usually actually burning more calories when I'm on holiday than home), or I don't track my food on some days out or with my wife's mums roast which is incredible, and this is all because I value the way I look and feel. I've been obese, I've been unhealthy, I've been frustrated, now I'm at the place I am I don't want to lose it, I enjoy looking and feeling like this.

Ben Coomber, before and after progress

Are there foods I don't eat?

I don't eat cows' dairy as I'm intolerant to it, so I have goat's dairy or dairy alternatives like oat milk or soya milk or coconut milk. What symptoms do I get from cows dairy? It makes me feel a touch sluggish and it makes me retain water so I end up looking watery and essentially fat, which I don't like. In the summer it also makes my hay fever 10x worse and my hay fever brings back my childhood asthma which I hate, and makes that 10x worse too. So that's motivation enough to not eat it as hay fever and asthma symptoms suck!

I used to not eat gluten and wheat also as I had various gut issues, but I managed to work on and fix those over time and now I can eat it freely, which is awesome because I don't feel anyone should restrict their diet unnecessarily. Gluten, dairy and wheat aren't a problem for most but they are for some, and if you have chronic digestive issues then cutting out the things that cause flare ups is the logical first step from there I would always recommend working with a specialist to figure out the best plan of action for repair/rehab of those issues. I firmly believe no individual will achieve optimal health without a fully functioning and healthy gut and immune system. So if you suspect issues I would highly recommend sorting them if you want to be optimal (there are many reported long term issues with an impaired gut wall and immune system, so while the symptoms might seem ok now, it might not always be like that).

What about sports nutrition aspect of my diet?

I generally eat a balanced macronutrient diet, it's adequate in its protein content for an active male (I eat around 2g per KG of body weight of protein per day) and has a varied and flexible mix of carbohydrates and fat. If I'm trying to lose weight, I will generally cut a little of both fat and carbohydrate from my diet, generally opting for even more fruits and vegetables over starches merely to keep food volume high and overall calories lower.

But as a general rule of thumb most of my meals are a pretty even mix of carbs, protein and fat, opting for what I fancy at a meal time most of the time, staying within the boundaries of what I know works for me (this means I never make a meal too high carb as I find that makes me sleepy, so I keep it low to moderate in carbs for optimal energy production).

I eat 2800-3800 calories per day to support my general needs and my activity needs, eating around 2800 on a very sedentary day, and 3800 on a very active day. If I exercise more, I eat more, it's simple in and out. It's not necessary to do this and you could go for an even split day to day so your calories are the same every day accounting for your weeks activity, but this feels intuitive to me which helps with adherence the method that allows me to spend the least mental energy thinking about my diet possible while still getting results is a good way to look at it!

My exercise output also varies quite considerably every day, as I said 2800-3800, so if I ate the same every day I would under eat quite often and over eat quite often, and while this would have a net calorie balance over the course of the week and see me maintain my weight, there would be days I would under eat too much and impair my recovery, so I generally match what I burn that day with what I eat.

Do I count my calories every day? Yes. By a simple method with my iPhone calculator. This is so I don't over eat but also don't under eat, which can be easily done too, especially on a day I'm highly active. It's also so if I go over too much one day or over a weekend, I can account for it the following day(s). I like to maintain my weight so I keep track of myself in a simple total calorie tracking method daily. I'll often not track on Sundays as there is no way I'm accurately tracking my wife's mums roast, so I go for it and I enjoy it guilt free, but I'm not worried, its one meal that I tend to eat every week and so long as I manage the rest it'll even out, all good. Plus, we often go for a massive walk or spend all day in the garden on a Sunday, so I'm still very active.

Are there other more specific methods of tracking your diet? 100%. But this works for my needs, is simple, takes up very little of my time, and gives me enough data to correct things if needed. If you want to see my simple iPhone method, watch this video which is Day 28 of my coaching program Fat Loss for Life, where I use myself as an example:

I eat on average one meat serving per day. I used to eat a lot more but as I started to become aware of how I was eating and the impact this had on the environment I decided to drop my meat intake. Will this make a huge difference?

Maybe not if it's just me making this change, but if everyone else followed suit, if we all made an effort to buy higher quality meat, we would all contribute to and support a better future food ecosystem, and that's what I personally want for the future of food. I would personally rather eat better quality meat from well raised animals rather than more meat from poorly raised animals. If we continue to buy factory farmed meat, we support that ecosystem of farming and it grows. So we personally have to change our food buying habits if we want to eat in this way in the future. Thus I made that personal choice for myself to eat less meat. Up to you if you do the same.

I'm also enjoying eating less meat as I now have more overall food variety, which is always a good thing, I now have a much more varied protein intake.

How I often / when do I eat?

I tend to eat 4-5 meals a day with one of those being a shake after the gym:

Breakfast at 7-8am (I often wake up at 5.30am, so if I am particularly hungry when I get up I'll have something small like a protein shake or bar with a piece of fruit, something quick so I can crack on with my work, if not I'll have breakfast properly later, if I am REALLY hungry or got a big day of training I'll get a big feed in early doors, but that's rare as I'm usually working from home at a leisurely pace).

Midday will be lunch time for me, usually.

I often train between 3-6pm, so I'll train and have a shake after.

I'll have a snack before training if lunch has been at midday and I'm not training till 5 or 6pm, it's not often I leave it longer than 3 hours between eating and training, ensuring I'm fairly well fed going into training.

Then dinner around 7-9pm depending on my training time, the wife, and where I am in the world and if I'm out for food with others.

So let's hit some examples of what food looks like for me:

Get up around 5-6.30am:

Coffee. If hungry a bar or shake with a piece of fruit for convenience so I can get on and get some work done. I like starting early as it feels like I build momentum from the get-go

Breakfast:

6 egg omelet with 2 servings of veggies cooked in oil, followed by an orange

OR

Protein smoothie with 4-6 servings of fruit/veg, or a smoothie without protein and I eat some kind of protein on the side

Or

Vegan protein porridge with some toppings I fancy

Or

Green Smoothie with a plant based protein bar

There are many things I eat for breakfast, often just what's in the fridge, but that gives you a few ideas. For me food is just food, if it's in the fridge I eat it, whatever it is. This is my infamous green smoothie if you want to try it:

Ben Coomber Green Smoothie

Supplements I take with breakfast:

  • 1x serving of Awesome Performance Blend in 1 litre of water
  • 3x Awesome Fish Oils sip down with some of the above and sip the rest throughout the day

Lunch options:

Soup with bread, I often add extra pulses to the soup

Or

Big salad with various toppings

Or

A sandwich that's fully loaded, sometimes with extra veg on the side or fruit or some crisps, depends how I'm feeling.

Or

A healthy ready meal from various companies, or meals I have previously prepped. I keep lots in my freezer

Or

Tuna and sweetcorn with salad cream (mayo, meh), with toast and mixed vegetable sticks

(as you can tell I'm a pretty simple lad when it comes to meals and food, its nothing complicated)

Ben Coomber eat for function

Pre-Training:

1 scoop of Awesome Pre-Workout with 3 caffeine tabs or a strong coffee or sometimes a white monster

Intra-Training:

1 scoop of Awesome Electrolytes or Awesome Electrolytes with carbs depending on how I'm training and for how long

Post training:

Awesome Recovery Spray on the muscles I've trained, without fail, shower. Grab a shake and fruit if I'm not eating for a while, if not I'll skip the shake and I'll eat dinner when home or if I'm heading straight out for food.

Awesome Supplement product range

Evening meal options:

Jacket potato, some form of meat, veggies, corn on the cob with butter

Or

Spaghetti Bolognese

Or

Cottage pie

Or

Sausages and mash, sometimes made with vegan sausages

Or

A big curry made with chick peas and some tofu, often a Thai curry

Or

Baked salmon with lemon with mixed veggies and jacket potato

Salmon, potatoes and roasted vegetables

Dinner is the meal I have the most variety in as I or the wife often cook, I also eat out quite a bit due to working away and enjoying eating out with friends and family, so this changes a lot and are often quite classic meals that us brits eat. It's my earlier meals in the day that are often more basic and simple and do the job of giving me what I need to feel my best and be healthy.

Food for me during the day serves the purpose of fuel for energy, for my day, then food in the evening is often more for enjoyment and pleasure.

Evening supplements:

6x Awesome Daily Dose

What does my training plan look like?

I generally train to look good naked, perform well, and feel strong (strength for me is living day to day life feeling strong and being able to play sport injury free, it's not me needing or wanting to lift 200kg and push my max up continually, I generally train with weights heavy enough to feel like a resilient and strong human. I rarely lift or push my max strength as it takes a lot of training time, can often take a lot out of you, I find it quite boring gym work, and can lead to heightened injury risk in the gym, so I prefer more hypertrophy and strength endurance work. So I'll often train my strength reps around 4-6 reps and enjoy carrying heavy things in various ways as my strength work.

That means training is a broad mixture of strength work, hypertrophy work, conditioning work, cardio, and stuff that's fun and outdoors. A typical training week might be 3x gym sessions which focus on weights and conditioning, 2x runs with my dog, then some fun cardio like swimming, tennis, 20/20 cricket, long walks in the countryside, whatever I fancy really (I would usually say playing rugby alongside 2-3x gym sessions, but at the time of writing this I am teetering on the decision to retire from rugby, so my fitness work will no longer be rugby, but a mixture of stuff I enjoy to replace the buzz of playing rugby).

Ben Coomber gym training

An upper body session might look like:

Warm up: 50 calories on the assault bike, mobility work, plyometrics

A1: Single arm overhead dumbbell carry 3x20m

A2: Single arm farmers walk 3x20m

1-2 minutes rest

B1: Dumbbell chest press 4x6

B2: Weighted chin ups 4x6

2 minutes rest

C1: Clean and press 4x8

2 mins rest

D1: Chest fly 3x10

D2: Bat wing row 3x8

D3: Skull crushers 3x12

D4: Lateral raises 3x15

2 mins rest

Conditioning:

Bear crawls for 20m, max push-ups, max medicine ball sit ups, sled row, sled push, sled pull, sled push, 3 rounds with enough rest to catch my breath

DONE. Often 1 hour 15 total and often finished with a 10 minute swim if I'm at a commercial gym, or a jog with the dog if I'm at home in my garage gym.

Ben Coomber gym training with dumbbells

A lower body session might look like:

Warm up: 50 calories on the assault bike, mobility work, plyometrics

A1: lateral body weight lunges

A2: Medicine ball squat squeeze

90s rest

B1: Back squat 5x5 with 3s eccentric and pause at bottom

2 minutes rest

C1: Walking luges with plate overhead 3x8 (each leg)

90s rest

D1: Quad extension 4x12

D2: Hamstring curl machine or similar 4x8

D3: Standing calve raises with Sandbag on back 4x15

D4: Medicine ball / Swiss ball sit ups 4x10

Conditioning; 10 box jumps, 10 burpees, sled push, sled pull, kettlebell swings, plank, 15 calories on assault bike

DONE. Often 1 hour 15 total and often finished with a 10 minute swim if I'm at a commercial gym, or a jog with the dog if I'm at home in my garage gym.

I want to be an all-round athlete, so I train like one, generally 2-3x per week in the gym and 2-3x a week other stuff I enjoy or am training for.

Ben Coomber monkey bars training

Sleep:

Good sleep is essential in my personal opinion, especially if you want to be a high performing individual. If I go to bed even a bit late or have a dodgy night's sleep I am not myself. As such I go to sleep at 10-10.30pm, (though I'm often in bed before reading a book or chatting about the day to the wife). I've bought an amazing bed and comfy sheets as it makes all the difference in getting the perfect nights sleep. I literally love the moment I get in bed, love it.

When I wake the next day it's not to an alarm, just naturally when my body wants to get up and go. One of the luxuries of being a business owner is that I get to wake when I wake, but it's usually 5-6.30am. Once I'm up I'm straight on it and get straight to my office after I've made coffee, taken in some fresh cold air outside to wake the body and brain, and given the dog a tickle.

I like to get up early and seize the day and get ahead with my work; I'd much rather work 6-4 than later on in the day, which is my ideal work pattern when at home with hitting the gym mid afternoon. So for me it's often work 6-11am, dog walk, food, work 12-4, gym, do 30-45 minutes post gym while walking the do, then done for the day. That's if I'm working from home in my normal pattern.

Getting my shit together:

Organisation is really important in anyone's life in my opinion. People take the piss out of to do lists, but they are the cornerstone of getting shit done. Food shopping, family arrangements, business to do's, schedules and appointments with work, clients to contact, it all needs to be a finely tuned orchestra. If it's not organised it's just chaos, you're forever chasing your tail and your motivation disappears because you're forever frustrated. So I write and have a list and plan for everything, then I know what to do, when, and why. Including work, friends, the wife, food, training, it's all got a plan, and it all gets done, 90% of the time (after all life is never perfect, we just try aim for it).

At the end of every working day or just before I go to bed I write my business to do list; I plan who to contact, what appointments I have, what projects need my attention and the order of importance for it all in a number format (this way I always ensure the most important stuff gets done), that way I go to bed knowing the next day's plan and why, knowing I am in control and happy, while also spending a bit of time reflecting on my day and the positives its brought to my life.

So that's me, what I eat, how I supplement, how I train, and an insight into how I become a productive healthy machine.

Want more or the nitty gritty detail? Check out my books and videos HERE in my shop where I document what I do and detail plans you can follow.

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