EP 92: Tom Herbert (Part 1) — Eating More to Train Harder, Protein Synthesis, and Carbohydrate Timing


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Tom Herbert is known as the usefulcoach, and is a leader in climbing sports nutrition. We talked about common themes in clients he works with, his philosophy of getting climbers to eat more calories to support a higher training volume, muscle protein synthesis, carbohydrate recommendations and timing, food quality, leucine supplementation, and much more.

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Show Notes:



5:37 – The ambiance of Boulder, CO

6:41 – Tom’s night at an outdoor club

8:39 – The ClimbSci podcast (Tom’s old podcast project)

10:23 – How Tom’s nutrition approach has changed since the ClimbSci podcast days, and seeking critique on Reddit

12:30 – How I connected with Tom via Hazel Findlay, and my goal for this conversation

15:04 – Who is Tom Herbert (@usefulcoach), and getting climbers to eat more to get more out of life

19:45 – Common themes in the clients Tom works with

22:56 – How climbers tend to eat the least amount of food they can get away with, and the weight of food and water

27:36 – Book recommendations are not real life, and Tom’s experiment with a cycling diet of very high carb

30:56 – Michael Phelps, and Tom’s central message of eating more so we can do more training

38:34 – Weight vs. lean mass and body composition

44:53 – Gaining lean body mass while training

47:45 – Progress in your training plan as a prime metric

50:53 – My experience with being stronger and lean but “fluffy around the middle”, Tom’s experience working with physique athletes, and breaking down the ideals we have in our heads as climbers

55:47 – The disconnect between looking badass and being badass, and “we tend to want to look like we climb harder than we actually climb.”

58:35 – “Is this everything I can do with my body?”, “Am I doing everything I can do to be healthy?”, and excepting our bodies

1:01:33 – Fat loss is not a linear process

1:02:24 – Aidan Roberts’ DEXA scan, and the cost of dieting

1:06:34 – Accounting for different bodies looking different at the same body fat percentage, and the selection bias of naturally lean people in pro climbing

1:10:42 – Tracking absolute strength, and focusing on improving the quality and the volume of your training over time

1:14:57 – Staying the same weight at higher calories, and reaching a new homeostasis if you do increase weight

1:17:44 – My experience with gaining weight, finding a new homeostasis, and getting stronger than ever before

1:20:20 – Energy availability, and how many calories Tom has his athletes eat on a rest day and training day (using me as an example)

1:29:17 – Protein, muscle-protein synthesis, and eating protein 4-5 times per day

1:37:57 – Tom’s thoughts on my daily protein intake

1:40:29 – Waving carb amounts, and Tom’s recommendations for me for daily carbs

1:44:21 – Saturating the climbing/training session with glucose, and the benefits of a low carb dinner

1:51:28 – Tom’s thoughts on carb backloading

1:57:08 – Two questions about carbs, and the main 2 reasons why Tom likes to wave carb amounts

2:04:20 – Summary of Tom’s carb strategy, and thoughts on skipping breakfast

2:06:28 – Food quality

2:08:12 – Patron question from Tyler: Thoughts on protein powders and artificial flavoring?

2:13:19 – Why Tom doesn’t like BCAA’s

2:15:51 – More on food quality and nutrient density

2:20:49 – Seed oils

2:22:19 – Tom’s stance on meat and animal products

2:24:34 – Beans, legumes, and anti-nutrients

2:27:06 – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

2:31:34 – Gratitude

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