Gold Coast-based IronMan Matt Poole stays at the top of his game by training 2-3 times a day, six days a week. So how does he make sure his body has enough fuel to keep going?
First of all – the key is simplicity.
“We do so much training at such high intensity – it’s all about calories. I try to work on getting a lot of protein in, a lot of carbs in – but mostly I’m just trying to eat clean and healthy.”
Matt sticks to the tried and true method of three meals a day, as it’s the easiest way to work around his schedule.
“I’ll do my morning swim session, then come home and eat a big breakfast. I try and keep that high in protein and carbs and get those calories up. Eggs, bacon, avocado...I’m getting my protein, my carbs from bread, and my fats from the avocado. I’ll have Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal, which is one of the highest protein cereals. A lot of mueslis and yoghurts and fruits as well. Between those three options, I mix it up each day.”
Following breakfast – you guessed it – more training. He’ll smash out his gym or run session, and then it’s time to refuel.
“My lunches are always pretty simple – anything from sandwiches through to chicken and salad or steak and veggies.
Dinner time is business time for Matt. It’s his biggest meal of the day, and a chance for him to get stuck into his favourite cuisine.
“My menu is pretty small – I’m definitely no Three Hat chef – but I love Mexican.
“I love cooking burritos, a lot of mince too, and that way I can chuck in all my avocado, jalapenos, lettuce, carrot, tomato. I try to make the healthiest version of Mexican I can.
“I love a good cattleman’s cut steak…but I don’t discriminate when it comes to food. I eat it all!”
Of course, the real question is do elite athletes treat themselves when it comes to sweets?
“100 per cent! I don’t skip dessert. I find the more you sweat – the worse the sugar cravings get…and I’m only human!
“I love ice cream and chocolate – that’s my Achilles heel. If I cut all that stuff out, I get cravings and splurge…and it ends up making you feel worse about it, whereas if you try and do it in healthy moderation…it’s a good way of using it as a reward.
“I like the Old Gold dark chocolate…the mint one is awesome.”
Snacking between meals is where many of us come off the rails. Matt likes to stick to either protein or good fats.
“A handful of nuts – cashews, almonds…they’re my favourite. Not a full meal though…something I can stomach quite easily and will tide me over until lunch.
“Sometimes I like to make protein smoothies if I’m feeling either lazy or run-down, or short of time. If I’m trying to get my body to recover faster, I might opt for a liquid breakfast or something a little bit lighter.
“I might chuck in an egg (for protein), banana, dates, cashews, and some spinach as well. If you don’t like the egg, you can add a bit of honey. I also mix it up with berry and banana smoothies.
“I probably have an iron stomach. Some people eat for taste and pleasure – I’m eating for fuel and recovery. If I know it’s going to help me, unless it’s vile…it doesn’t phase me. But the egg in the smoothie doesn’t taste that bad!”
Matt was also kind enough to lend some parting wisdom to those struggling to maintain a healthy eating plan.
“Do what works for you. I’ll always encourage people to eat clean and healthy…but the general rule of thumb is to eat what you enjoy and what works for you. You need to moderate your calorie intake to based on your training intensity.
“There’s no way one diet can suit everybody. Our bodies and DNA makeup are all vastly different…so if something’s not working, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Always listen to other advice, but you have to listen to your own body and how you feel.”