World Champion Kenn Forrest Interview
There is too much information out there regarding nutrition that is complete rubbish. It has never been more confusing to know what to eat or not eat these days.
There is too much focus on weight loss and fat loss and food manufacturers creating products that you “think” you need, when in fact you don’t. Low fat, low carb, no carb, high protein, calorie restriction, fasting, magic pills, meal replacement shakes etc.; the list is endless as more and more people jump on the bandwagon.
Nutrition is simple, but I find that some people find it harder than others to implement. We have become a nation of convenience and in this fast-paced world most problems are because people claim they have no time. I would argue that they have got their priorities wrong. Your health is the most important thing you could possibly have and you need to spend time looking after yourself!
The thing is, for people what want to look and feel great, health should be the main focus not fat-loss. If you get health right then fat loss happens anyway, it is a side-effect of your body not needing to store it because of the food choices you make.
There are lots of ways to lose fat, the diet and nutrition industry is full of them, making bold marketing claims, but how often do these regimes or programs, pills or shakes actually make you healthy??
Coaches and trainers are always proclaiming that they can make you lean and mean in X amount of weeks, with no obvious emphasis on health. You can look fit on the outside and be unhealthy on the inside.
Why are they not advertising that they can make people super healthy?
What if health gave you…
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Got rid of aches and pains)?
- Made you leaner?
Health means all of those things and more!
It seems people are too focussed on how they look on the outside, when in fact, if they concentrated on the inside; the outside takes care of itself including fat loss. Perhaps as long as you can fit into your skinny jeans it doesn’t matter, despite feeling tired, run down, have poor concentration, sleeping badly, no libido etc etc.
Don’t get me wrong being lean is cool and important for long term health, but I would much rather make someone AWESOME and HEALTHY than lean.
In my capacity as a performance coach, I interview everyone before I work with them on a 1 to 1 basis. For me it is essential that I understand their needs and they understand how I work and why.
One such client is none other than Kenn Forrest, multiple world kickboxing champion and winner of many other fights I couldn’t possible include here. I thought what better way than to interview my long time friend and personal training client. As you may know Kenn takes on all comers as part of Alfie Lewis’s Mushin Kai team and always provides a master class in fighting to help the Mushin Kai team.
I caught up with Kenn to go through with him how adjusting his nutrition made a huge difference to how he prepared for the Clash and all his other fights over the last 2 years.
DC: Hi Kenn, firstly, congratulations to you and the rest of Mushin Kai for the win at MAI’s Clash, it was an epic night and one I shall remember for a long time. I wanted to get right into it by asking what your regime was nutritionally before we started to work together?
KF: Thanks Dean. It was an epic night we all from Mushin Kai loved CLASH. It’s exactly as it says in the tin. I love fighting at that event. Ok then, food. That’s all it was to me before we started to work together. FOOD. Nothing more nothing less. Like most people with a sporting background you have a healthier approach to it but I used to eat when I was hungry then “treat” myself with something after I trained.
DC: I know you have been very successful before our collaboration, but how did eating as you just mentioned work for you?
KF: It worked because I made it work. Failing isn’t an option for me. I once fought a fight with a broken hand, trained and competed with it. It didn’t help me at all but I made the best of it. That’s how I view my old style of eating now when I look back on it, no help to me.
DC: There are a lot of people who think they eat healthy when in fact they don’t. It all depends on what they have been led to believe by food manufacturers and supermarkets. I think that they would be quite surprised at what actually is healthy and what isn’t. I know you were very surprised when we first sat down and outlined your nutrition programme. What was the biggest shock to you?
KF: I would say white rice and pasta was probably the thing I questioned within myself the most out of all the things I had to change. After all they were my main pre competition meals as a carb loader. Now I see I was loading poisons and it was actually detrimental to what I wanted to achieve.
DC: How easy was the transition? Was there anything that helped you change your approach?
KF: Very easy if I’m honest. As I said earlier food was just food to me but I was brought up on all home cooked food and now as a family man we bring our boys up on home cooked food. So to eliminate or change ingredients was easy. But I can see how those who eat processed food would find it hard as they are only heating what someone else has put together.
DC: You hit the nail on the head there, processed food isn’t really food at all, in fact it is a dead food, mostly devoid of any useful nutrients for the body and usually loaded full of sugar, wheat, dairy and additives. They actually rob the body of nutrients because the liver has to work extra hard eliminating the toxins. It also causes inflammation which the body has to deal with. Would you say that with the new regime in place you felt like you have more energy and had less aches and pains, things you may have put down to something else in the past?
KF: As you all well know, I’m not getting any younger. I’m coming up 38 now and still compete at a high level usually against guys in their earlier twenties. I never feel I don’t have the energy to compete against them now. Before we started to work together I was very close to going to the doctors to be tested for arthritis. My hips mainly would ache a lot; also it felt like was just getting warm as my session was ending. I don’t have that issue any more.
DC: Getting back to change, I think when someone has a solid reason for wanting to change it makes the transition easier. After 4 weeks with your new nutrition plan, you actually lost 23lb that is a staggering amount. How did you feel in yourself and what affect did it have on your training?
KF: yes that’s right 23 lb in 4 weeks. At first I thought it was just the weight loss that was making me feel great as anyone would. I was moving better, faster and for longer. But as I reached the weight I was best at and the feel good factor continued I knew then it wasn’t what I had lost which made me perform better; it was the fuel I was putting in me. To back this theory up, as you know I now do my conditioning training with you wearing a 10kg weight vest. That’s 23lb, the weight I have lost and I can still do far more for longer than I could when I didn’t have the right nutrition plan.
DC: You were certainly moving quicker. How do you maintain your nutrition? Personally it is all about experimenting with ingredients and trying new things out, making it interesting. Is there anything you do in this regard?
KF: You answered that for me there Dean. It’s all new and interesting. Don’t just eat the same old same old. I love cooking and trying new dishes. Preparing everything from scratch is a perfect way to relax for me. In this ever fast moving world its great on a weekend to just slow the pace down relax and enjoy how good life is. Taking your time preparing the food to Cook for the family and enjoy it together.
DC: I think people now see eating as a chore and something to just get out of the way, without any regard to the consequences. I know a lot of people that come to work with me have layers of excuses as to why they eat things or cannot give them up. I think going into that is an article in itself. Was there anything you felt was hard to give up?
KF: Bread was the hardest thing for me to give up.
DC: What are the biggest mindset shifts you have taken from this nutrition approach?
KF: I think the fact that you don’t have to carb load, it is very much a myth and only really would have any benefit with an endurance event such as cycling. The other thing is do not blindly accept that all sports nutrition is best for your health. Always focus on health first, concentrate on working on the inside and the outside takes care of itself.
DC: You have a great nutrition program in place, but you have to have the correct mindset first. I mentioned earlier about knowing why you want to make a change can have a massive impact on your success. It can be easy to regress back to old habits as changing how you eat can be a challenge.
How did you handle that? What did you do to make these new eating habits stick?
KF: I don’t feel like I have to work on making them stick to be honest. I feel so much healthier now I would not want to go back. It would be like giving myself a hangover every morning. But I think what did assist a lot was my wife who also trains was and is 100% behind me. We cook as a family and eat as one. It’s not like I’m the only one in the house with my labelled food or specially prepared packs other diets may push.
DC: That’s Great. Finally then Kenn, are there any tips you can give the readers with regards to changing how you think about food? Especially when you have goals such as you have?
KF: The martial arts are a passion for me. If I spend about 20 hours every week in the dojo drilling out bad habits why spend my spare time adding them. Many fighters give up alcohol for weeks before they fight; this is not normally for weight loss, it’s because it restricts your training and the amount you would train if you weren’t feeling your best. So why not look at what foods have detrimental effects on your training?
DC: Thanks very much, I cannot wait to work together for your next fight.
KF: Thank you Dean. As always it’s been a pleasure.
Remember guys. The fuel you put into your body will affect your performance. make sure you are fuelled up right to reach the levels Kenn has.
To your strength and health
(Article Reproduced from Martial Arts Illustrated magazine http://www.martialartsunltd.co.uk/martial-arts-illustrated/magazines/362-june-2013)