Elite Sport Nutritionist Ben Coomber Discusses Elite Performance Ahead Of The Rugby Innovation Summit

The 2nd Annual Rugby Innovation Summit 2017 now less than a month away (May 3/4th) we caught up with performance nutritionist Ben Coomber who we are delighted to announce will be presenting at the event. Ben runs Body Type Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company that also runs a multi-level, online nutrition coaching and business course, the BTN Academy. Ben has the UK’s #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes ‘Ben Coomber Radio’ with regular Q&As and expert interviews.

SPORTS INNOVATION NETWORK:   Tell us more about Ben Coomber, your work within rugby, the philosophy at Body Type Nutrition and the other projects you’re involved with.

BEN COOMBER: I’m a performance nutritionist (BSc, CISSN) and I’ve played rugby ever since I was 9, so I know the game well, I’m no pro myself, but I’ve been in the rugby environment all my life working on myself, working in elite sport both as an assistant S&C/nutritionist role while I was at university, and as a consultant for a few premiership rugby teams over recent years. My philosophy as a whole is to look at the whole person and their environment. For anyone to perform at the elite level its not just about the training program and the diet, but a person’s wants, needs, beliefs and drivers. We all have character traits and personal drivers that shape us as people, and to get the most out of people we need to tap into that.

(S.I.N) Nutrition is commonly accepted as a key component in developing an elite athlete. Why exactly is it so important and in particular in such a high impact collision sport such as rugby?

(B.C) In rugby recovery is key, sleep, nutrient intake, timing, movement prep, it all adds to the athlete being able to perform at their best every day, every week, this is why a holistic approach is needed, it’s not just about an athlete’s calorie intake, but how they are sleeping, and if they are sleeping poorly why is that? it’s not good enough to say to someone to sleep more when there is an environmental or emotional reason this can’t happen. Once we can get an athlete to recover physically and mentally, then we can make them truly elite.

(S.I.N) What is best advice you would give to coaches and players transitioning from junior to senior rugby where weight gain can be so critical in making the step up?
(B.C) Firstly we need to be able to instil work ethic, they need to know what it takes to get to the top, the extra training sessions, the extra adherence to their diet, being in bed on time, all these small factors, or marginal gains, add up to an athlete getting their break or not. On top of that we need to be able to coach a young athlete to be able to live their life as a teenager while still thriving in sport, that’s why in young athletes I am a proponent of an ‘If it fits your macros” approach to nutrition, this means they can have a few pints (which they are going to do anyway) with their Nandos and it has no negative impact on their performance and body composition. Finding this balance between optimal athletic performance, maintaining body composition and living life outside of sport is key, and with the right approach all variables can be accounted for.

(S.I.N) Would your philosophy to nutrition alter dramatically dependent on playing position? e.g. front row / half back.
(B.C) Only slightly, the calorie needs might be significantly different, and how they best fuelled to perform for them might change, but ultimately, we are still looking at the individual, and one prop might be vastly different to another prop, so regardless of position we still need to be looking at that athlete and their personal needs.

(S.I.N) Nutrition is one piece of the performance jigsaw. When you coach, how do you incorporate it with all the all other variables – age/size/training load/rest etc.
(B.C) By simply taking time and a methodical approach. During this time it’s also key to record and keep as much data as possible, having reference points and data to act on is key, and both I as the coach and the athlete need to be heavily involved in this process.

(S.I.N) What are you views on genetic variation and testing and a certain athlete’s requirement for different nutritional intake to another from another ethnic background?
(B.C) We can test genetically, but genetic testing is still very much in its infancy and there is only so much data we can take from these tests. I still like to try things, implement what we see as the right approach, then tweak and change things based on the outcomes, so I don’t think this testing is ever going to replace making a plan, implementing the plan, then changing the plan based on the outcome. Genetic tests only look at genetics aka potential skill or ability, will can get an athlete very far despite genetics.


Ben also owns Awesome Supplements, a brand offering clarity in the confusing world of supplements and is a sought-after speaker selling out his own public seminars on nutrition, health and personal development alongside speaking at all major UK fitness events and some international events also.

Connect with Ben over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. For everything else visit: http://www.bencoomber.com