by Chloe McLeod
"I was struggling to lose body fat rather than weight. My weight goes down very easily but making sure I am losing fat and not muscle mass is something I struggled with."
What can you do when you can’t train any harder but want to keep improving?
I have been working with MX Endurance members to find workable solutions and sustainable changes in lifestyle so they can feel healthier, boost performance, and achieve their goals.
Each part of this series will highlight a member who sought help from me: what unique challenges they faced, goals they set, specific interventions I recommended, and the progress was made.
Part 1 features someone you may already be familiar with: our member Tim Ford, who is a weight-loss and triathlon inspiration in his native Australia as well as to his thousands of followers worldwide who follow his journey over Instagram (@tford14) and his website oztriathlete.com.
Tim’s initial goal was to complete a half-Ironman in 4 hours 5 minutes, which was how long it took him to finish his first Olympic distance triathlon when he was overweight. After losing 50 kg a few years ago, he wanted to learn how to manage body composition more effectively and reduce fat mass further.
“I decided to approach Chloe when I was struggling to drop body fat rather than weight,” said Tim. “My weight goes down very easily but making sure I am losing fat and not muscle mass is something that I had struggled with.
"I had thought about seeing a dietitian for a while but had been a little bit intimidated about how it would all go. In hindsight, I wish I had done it much sooner."
Name: Tim Ford
Skinfolds (Sum of 7): 31.4
Training: 15-20hrs/week – 1 strength, 1 interval, 2-3 swims, 3 run, 2-3 bike sessions
Initial Eating Habits: Generally healthy diet, however eating around and during training sessions required improvement. Often no food before long sessions, very little during.
I recommended an initial plan that involved meal planning to provide adequate nutrition day-to-day, with a particular focus around structuring meals around training for better energy availability. Due to Tim’s schedule as a full-time law student, this meal plan also allowed for differing days depending on how much training and studying would be involved.
As we continued working together throughout the season, we continued to tweak his day-to-day plans as well as flesh out other nutrition-led ways to improve his performance.
Tim revealed, “The thing I love about working with Chloe is that she really focuses on all aspects of my life. Obviously, my athletic performance is key but Chloe helps to make sure I am clear and energised when studying (trust me this can be a real struggle with law.) I have also noticed that I am sleeping much better when I am eating well.”
Focus/Outcomes of Further Sessions:
Incorporation of fasted sessions + education on importance
Race day plans
Continual tweaking of day-to-day plans
Strategies for managing/maintaining energy levels at elevated training load
Identification of over-training
Education/discussion about weight and immune system
Continual assessment of body composition
Tim has noticed that on days he’s eating more carbs, training sessions feel easier. Conversely, fasted sessions are harder, but this feels “normal.”
Along with a better day-to-day and race day nutrition plan, Tim has had significant improvement in training and race times. He has also managed to reduce body fat percentage without losing muscle mass. Tim has committed to continue working with me as he moves ever closer to his 4:05 half-ironman goal.
“I think there are different classes of people who would benefit from nutritional consulting,” mused Tim. “Firstly, people who struggle to keep their weight down in general. Following a structured plan helps.
“Then you have people who are training and struggling with their weight. Chloe will be able to make sure you are eating what you need to.”
Those at the top end of the performance spectrum who are looking for the final one percent will also benefit. “Race nutrition and recovery are so much more important than I ever realised and Chloe helped me to work out rock solid strategies around them,” concluded Tim.
Editors Note: Since working with Chloe, Tim has improved his 70.3 PB from 4:29 to 4:06.