If you spend enough time around people who work out, you’ll inevitably hear one of the many aphorisms about the importance of nutrition: “abs are made in the kitchen,” some might say or – in the words of Zack George – “you can’t out-train a bad diet.”
If you want to listen to anyone in this world about how to get fit, it’s probably Zack George. He is, after all, the holder of the title of the UK’s fittest man, our best CrossFit athlete and an absolute beast who smashes workouts like nobody’s business. But perhaps even more impressive than where he’s ended up is to consider where he started from: “I was a very overweight kid, very different to how I am now,” he explained. Sports he’d enjoy, but a walk or a bike ride? “I’d be like ‘nah, I’m out, I just want to eat chocolate’,” he laughed. “Anyone who knew me back then would be amazed that I’m the UK’s fittest man.”
George has made a name for himself as a one-man band: a CrossFit Box owner himself and formerly a personal trainer, he’s made the move into professional CrossFit as his own coach. But when it came to nutrition, he looked outside for a bit more support, and started working with Mike Molloy, founder of M2 Performance Nutrition. “I have complete trust and faith in Mike,” said George, “so pretty much now whatever he says goes.” If he’s good enough for Zack? Then he’s more than good enough for us.
We couldn’t imagine a better duo to ask for advice on how to eat before and after your workouts: both on the day and over longer periods of time to see great results. But neither George nor Molloy are under any illusions that what a professional athlete has to do is necessarily what someone who wants to be healthy and look good on Instagram needs to do. We discussed the techniques that have helped to up Zack George’s A-game, and also how the lessons he’s learned can be applied to anyone’s fitness regimen.
1. The importance of nutrition
ZACK GEORGE: I’ve always been quite relaxed with my nutrition. I always ate healthy, but had cheat meals. But where I think Mike [Molloy]’s going to propel me massively for next season is timings of foods, and when to tweak and change macros around certain events, like the Open.
I’ve made lots of mistakes in the past. In 2019 and 2018 I didn’t change my diet at all really for major competition. So I was competing at 100 kilos. And I still did OK, but a prime example was in 2019: there are five Open workouts, and I think I was placing first, first, second, third. And then in one of the events I was 168th in the UK, so that pretty much cost me getting the games ticket in 2019. That was because an exercise, strict handstand press-ups, came up. 50 strict handstand press-ups, and being as big as I am, being 100 kilograms, that workout just absolutely annihilated me. So that was the first occasion where I realised I can handle my body weight well, but I just need to be lighter because I can’t compete with the little guys on these movements. So…