Nick Mitchell talks about his diet and training over 40
Life constantly changes and evolves with the inexorable march of time, but for Nick Mitchell one thing always remains a constant – his training and diet.
Nick might no longer be attacking the weights with the sole focus of getting so huge he cracks the pavement under his feet – but that same fire and intensity from his early bodybuilding days still courses through his veins.
Diet and training is very much still at the heart of the Ultimate Performance founder’s everyday life – after all, they are the key to lifelong health and vitality.
Though the years advance and his priorities change with a young family and a global personal training business to manage, Nick is still focussed on maintaining optimum health and fitness through what he eats and how he trains.
Gone are the Tupperware boxes of chicken and veg due to hereditary health issues, but his dietary mantra of ‘eating from the land’ stands firm.
Low-carb living, alongside a 12-hour fast, ensure that bad eating habits are minimised and work productivity is maximised.
Old habits die hard where the gym is concerned and Nick still trains with the passion and intensity of his bodybuilding days, although new disciplines and training modalities like yoga and calisthenics compliment his gym work.
The key is eating well and staying active every day to optimise his health and fitness with the goal of having people say ‘he looks young for his age’.
Here’s what Nick has to say on his current diet and training regime…
What do you eat most days?
Diet is by and large very simple – eat from the land and you can’t go wrong, so I do my best to stick to this rule as often as possible.
My diet is by and large focused around work productivity which keeps any bad habits limited to later on in the evening when I am winding down from work.
Because of some specific health issues I’ve opted to have 12-hour daily (overnight) fasts and usually don’t break my fast until after I’ve done some form of exercise which is usually around 11am.
The rest of my day is usually low carb because I find this assists my concentration and work flow, and then the carbs come in during the evening in the form of oats or sweet potato if I am being good, and candy or gluten-free bread if I am being “bad”.
How has this changed over the years and why?
These days I aim for three square meals and a snack, but I don’t eat to the clock and my protein intake, because I am no longer concerned with building muscle, is probably half of what it used to be.
I actually have a fair few eating restrictions nowadays as over the past year a genetic illness has raised its head.
I have something called Mast Cell Activation Disorder which, in a nutshell, means that my mast cells overproduce chemical mediators causing a range of issues, not least a histamine intolerance that means I can’t eat anything aged (cured, fermented), seafood, tomatoes, spinach, citrus, or leftovers (I have to eat food as soon as it is cooked, so no more Tupperware meals for me).
It’s been more than a little painful at times, but the alternative to living is dying and I have to remind myself that it could be much worse.
What are your personal exercise habits at the moment?
You’ll find me lifting weights 4-5 times a week, I try to walk for at least 30 miles every week, and on non-gym days I try to do my best to go on a beach run of between 20-45 minutes.
Now I've moved to Los Angeles, I’m really looking forward to mountain biking more on the trails that are right next to where I live in Pacific Palisades.
What goals do you have?
I give myself small gym performance goals even to this day otherwise my training would get a bit boring, but overall my goals are modest and revolve around staying healthy and enjoying my exercise.
As an addendum to that, I must also note that I’ve given myself a mini goal of mastering some calisthenic/bodyweight moves.
These are things that I’ve always been historically very bad at (6ft 3ins with a bodyweight that has fluctuated between 235lbs-290lbs – I’m not ideally made for it) and now that getting jacked is no longer a goal I’d like to have a crack at improving the way my body moves.
Have you ever become bored with your training?
No, not really. I think I train too hard to ever get bored by it. Of course, my motivation does wax and wane just like everyone else, but once I am in the gym and the blood starts moving through my body I can invariably lose myself to the call of the iron!
How’s the yoga going?
Not very well, I am ashamed to say! I have not yet found a way to make it anything close to being the consistent habit that I’d like it to be.
What led you to take up yoga?
A desire to work on both my flexibility and my state of mind. Yoga for me is a mix of meditation plus stretching, something that a middle-aged Type A weight trainer is always going to benefit from!
What key lessons did you learn from bodybuilding?
You get out what you put in, and prepare to be impatiently patient.
Plus, life really isn’t fair – competitive bodybuilding is a beauty pageant in many ways, you are born with a certain look or not and no matter what you do you can’t change that.
Don’t waste time and your dreams on something that you are not cut out for, instead embrace all the positives that your hobby (bodybuilding can be all-consuming on a level that civilians just don’t understand) teaches you and channel that into other aspects of your life and work.
If all the bodybuilders in the world applied themselves to their studies and work in the way that they do to the gym and their diets then quite literally bodybuilders would rule the planet!
How has your body changed over the years, as an adult?
I feel like Canute trying to turn the tide back.
In all seriousness, because life has gotten in the way of the serious bodybuilding-focused lifestyle that I used to follow, my physique is not what it once was. I can live with that.
My job now is to stay as healthy as possible, enjoy exercise wherever and whenever I can with my young family (after answering these questions I am going for a seven-mile country walk with my eight-year-old son), and have people say “he looks amazing for his age!”
Getting older and being so immersed in the growth of my business has actually been a massive boon for my ability to empathise with UP’s personal training clients.
The problem that many have in the fitness industry is that they think N = 1, and what works for them will work for their clients.
That’s patently absurd to anyone with half a brain, but because Personal Training is a job that requires such diverse and holistic skills and knowledge it can be challenging for a 25-year-old, who has always been physically active and almost literally lives in the gym, to have the right frame of reference for his 40-year-old client who has so many competing life priorities that his head feels like it will explode if he ever had the time to sit down and think about things.
I am now that 40-year-old client, and it gives UP a big competitive advantage when we teach our team and construct our internal processes.