Nutritionist, ultra-marathon runner and triathlete, Tamara Madden
knows what it takes to fuel active bodies to keep them healthy and in
Here, she chats to us about the balance between fitness and
nutrition, and shares advice for fitness professionals looking to
offer their clients something more.
The first thing that you need to consider is the balance of macro
nutrition that a person needs. I would tend to start with carbs,
because when people are active they really need carbs to fuel their energy.
To examine how many carbs a person needs you need to look at how many
hours a week they're training; the type of training they're doing; and
whether they need to gain, lose or maintain their weight.
For example, an endurance athlete is going to need a lot more carbs
than someone who is doing strength based training (they would need a
higher ratio of protein and fat).
After I have examined the carb needs, I will move onto protein and
There's no one-size-fits-all diet for people. There are guidelines in
place for athletes in terms of how many carbs, how much protein and
how much fat they need. However, at the end of the day, the diet needs
to be based around the individual.
You have to consider the athlete's body type, lifestyle, their stage
of life, metabolism, how much training they're doing, and what their
You can't design a program and then implement it for everybody.
Nutrition doesn't work that way.
If someone seriously wants to make a change for the better, as a
healthcare professional you have to address the person sitting in
front of you, rather than just implementing a template program.
Do it! Training is only part of the picture. Whether someone wants to
become healthier, lose weight, become stronger, or improve their
running time, without the nutrition to back up training they're only
less than half way there.
Also, because your clients are going to get results faster, pairing
fitness and nutrition can help you retain more clients.
If you can't take on the qualification and training that you need to
be able to provide nutrition advice, you should consider partnering
with a qualified nutritionist.
I partner with a lot of running coaches to provide nutritional
guidance to support their businesses through nutrition.
Ask around. Word of mouth is the best recommendation. Also, I think
it's good to have someone who understands the needs of your clients.
For example, I work with a lot of running and triathlon coaches
because I run and do triathlon. I understand the nutritional needs of
athletes in those particular sports.
If you are a specialist in a particular area of fitness, find a
nutritionist that understands that area as well. I stress this because
there's general nutrition and then there's sport specific nutrition.
There is a slight difference between the two.
Firstly, think about where your food has come from.
Where was your food grown and processed? Consider the origin of your
food because you want nutrient dense meals.
The chemicals and farming methods used in your food's creation, as
well as how much it is processed before it hits your plate can have a
huge impact on the levels of nutrients in your food.
Secondly, listen to what your body needs. How does
the food make you feel after you eat it? Energised? Sluggish? Bloated? Full?
As I said earlier, there is no one-size fits all diet. Some people do
better on plant-based diets, some better on paleo, while some thrive
on the Mediterranean diet. The important thing is to listen to your
own body rather than following a trend. Think about what works for you.
Lastly, consider how food fits into your lifestyle.
Don't beat yourself up if you can't be perfect. Do as best as you can
with the time allocation that you're prepared to give to your diet.
We all have the same amount of time in a day and some people
prioritise other things. It's one part of your life. If you're not
perfect do the best you can.
There does not need to be stress created around your diet. If you're
becoming obsessed with what you're putting in your body, then it's counterproductive.