Be Less Shit, Eat Less Meat: Meet Ross Clarke
Drum roll please! Meet Ross Clarke, impassioned by fitness and health, Ross runs a programme, Be Less Shit, which organises workshops on health and nutrition. In November 2018, he took on a new challenge for himself and the programme and decided to do a month of decreasing his meat intake. Ross is a connection of Paul’s through CrossFit, and as this was a big change for Ross us at BOL were honoured to help him throughout his progress with our BOL vegan ready-made meals.
At the start and end of his one-month challenge Ross had a series of physical tests done and was surprised to find that as his workouts stayed the same - he found that he was stronger. We were ecstatic to have been part of the journey. And the best part of this project is that since completing his challenge, Ross has engaged with more of a plant-based diet and loves exploring interesting ways to cook with plants.
We are delighted to share Ross’ journey with you through his own words.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your relationship with exercise
I’ve been a chef most of my life working in some of the best restaurants in the world. Since leaving kitchen full time, I opened up a consultancy and a load of restaurants for people in London. During this time, I thought that I was pretty fit. I felt I balanced a fairly boozy/foodie lifestyle with time at the gym and playing tennis at the weekend. Since then, I found CrossFit in Hammersmith. I’ve lost more than 20kg, 14% Body fat and realised what exercise actually is! I now train 12-14 hours a week and have started to compete.
2. What challenge did you give yourself in November 2018?
In November, I did 30 days of eating a plant-based diet and reduced my meat intake from twice a day to twice a week! For me, that is huge. I am a meat lover but could see it was not sustainable for me in the long run.
3. Why did you decide to do this?
Since starting BeLessShit, we've been taking 30-day challenges to share with our followers. These could be anything from learning to skip double unders, handstand walking, mobility exercises, foam rolling and all that supposedly makes you better or more competent as an athlete. In November, I decided to eat less meat to test my mentality that meat= muscle. I am really connected to food with my job, so I've started to see the impact of horrendous over-consumption of meat. At the same time, I would put my hand up and say that I was part of that problem. I wanted to change that.
4. How did you manage to achieve this type of diet?
It took a week to get used to and dial in how I was going to get enough protein in to support my training. I wanted to ensure that I didn't lose any strength. BOL helped me with this massively! With each pot carrying a good chunk of protein and the fact you can easily fit four pots in a cool bag, a decent meal was always to hand. At the beginning, I sat down with my nutrition coach and worked out that eating less but often was going to allow me to get enough food in. This gave me a lot more confidence and physically helped a lot!
5. What did you enjoy/ not enjoy about eating this way?
I really enjoyed feeling light in the mornings. My first workout of the day seemed almost easier (not that I’d let my coach know!). I also enjoyed being creative whilst cooking in trying to make things that I usually enjoy but from a more veg based product. I love bacon, so I really got into making a plant-based version from aubergine, carrots and courgettes.
What I found most difficult were my hunger levels. I would go from feeling full, then all of a sudden, I felt empty! This could happen in a meeting, mid-workout or in bed. But, I found that drinking more water helped, which is something I was not used to before.
6. What did the results say?
Over the month I was almost certain that I would lose strength, energy and the ability to train twice a day. Instead, I actually managed to get stronger! Once I worked out the volume of food I needed to consume and when to eat it, I also found my energy to be pretty good. I tested a 500m row, 1RM Deadlift, Max pull-ups and a CrossFit Benchmark workout called Grace, which is 30 clean and jerks using a 60kg weight as fast as possible. All of my numbers stayed the same, which is a big surprise as I was certain they would reduce. I also improved by Grace time!
7. How did you feel emotionally and physically during the month?
Emotionally, I found it quite hard as I panic when I’m hungry. I’ve never liked the feeling and I almost get nervous if I feel it coming. The emergency food BOL pot in my bag, along with a bag of nuts, was a lifesaver in these situations.
Physically, I felt good apart from occasional bloating from the increase in my fibre intake. I was making the mistake at the beginning of eating 2-3 pots in an hour, along with a vegan shake and some veg. This was nearly 50g of fibre in one hit, which is 10g higher than my daily intake should be in ONE meal…
8. What overall learnings can you take from the experience?
I’ve taken three big wins from this test:
- I can eat less meat and still perform well
- Being prepared with pre-made food and healthy snacks is SUPER important. BOL and nuts saved me most days!
- Water is really important to keep you hydrated and make everything work as it should
9. Do you think it’s important to eat more plants? Why?
I work in hospitality, so I see the volume of meat people consume- I am also guilty of over- consumption of meat. I think by eating more plants, you realise how good you can feel and how sluggish you felt before with a belly full of meat that takes a long time to process. I still need to eat some meat, but I think I’ll reduce it by 75% because of this test on myself – I would ask anyone to try it and tell me that they didn’t feel stronger, cleaner and more energised.
10. Did the experience change your relationship with food?
100%! I probably have a stronger relationship with food than the average person because of my job, so to say its changed is HUGE. I now look at meat as a luxury to be eaten a few times a week, whilst I look at plants as an exciting challenge because you can do so much with them and there is far more variety! Also, a note to add to my questions- I think I’m going to adjust my diet on a two-week cycle to include a week of super veg as it really has helped me.
Thank you, Ross! You can follow him and his journey on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bele...