Prof Grant Schofield a.k.a The Fat Professor, takes a look at an athlete profile from WTF? Sports Performance – Dr Nic Gill, the Strength & Conditioning coach for our very own All Blacks squad!


Many of you might know that we are in the final stages of preparing our new book “What The Fat? Sports Performance: Leaner, Fitter, Faster on Low Carb, Healthy Fat.” We show you how to switch on fat burning and unlock your potential to take advantage in a sporting and exercise context.

We have profiled 10 athletes – from Olympic to World champions – looking closely at what they eat and how they train. This week we want to start showing you a few of these profiles. Because we are in the middle of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we thought we’d start with the strength and conditioning coach for the NEW ZEALAND ALL BLACKS; Dr Nic Gill.

Dr Nicholas Gill is a super high achiever. He’s extremely well qualified and credentialed in applied strength and conditioning. In Southern Hemisphere professional sport it doesn’t get any bigger than All Black’s rugby. He’s been with them as world champions and as the current world number 1 ranked team for the last four years.

Not only does he have it together academically (he supervises doctoral and master’s students at AUT), and professionally, but he also gives Ironman triathlon racing a crack. He’s pretty competitive and does it all fat-adapted on LCHF.

Check out what he has to say about ‪#‎LCHF‬ working for him in the athlete world below.


Athlete profile: Nicholas Gill

Occupation(s): Strength and conditioning coach New Zealand All Blacks rugby, gym owner, Associate Professor AUT Sports Performance Research Institute.

Sports: Elite rugby strength and conditioning coaching (All Blacks), Triathlon – Ironman last two years on LCHF with added carbs during event 9.57 and 9.51 aiming to go under 9.30 next time (personal challenges).

Nic’s favourite breakfast: Poached eggs!

What Nic has to say on changing his diet:

“Two and a half years ago I started experimenting with the Warrior diet based on the book ‘The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse for High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body’ by Ori Hormekler. The book appealed to me, and it meant eating pretty much whatever I wanted but in a retracted eating window at the end of the day. It’s based on primal/paleo and anthropological principals.

“I also noticed that I was often eating not because I was hungry but because of habit. I think that’s a big one for people to understand – habit not hunger driving your eating.

“After a while I discovered that the more fat I ate at night the less hungry I felt the next day and I was able to control the cravings and just generally feel better. The warrior diet transformed into LCHF with some intermittent fasting thrown in. That’s really the best diet for me. The advantages of metabolic flexibility are huge. I’m not forced to eat because I’m hungry. And in the rush of work and life I can choose to eat when I want to, not when I need to.”

“That’s about it for me. I stay high on fat, and low on carbs pretty much the whole time, except in triathlons where I have some carbs. I eat whole healthy foods. The only thing I avoid is milk. It upsets my stomach, so I’ve replaced it with cream.”

On the All Black’s nutrition environment;

“The movie ‘The Sugar Film’ has influenced the players quite a lot I think. Most of the guys now understand that we need to get the sugar out. We’ve come a long way. I would say we are in a low-sugar environment. That’s a big change. We now have nuts on the sideline after training, not lollies. I wouldn’t say we’ve made it all the way to high fat, but we have healthy fat on hand when we need it. We (the team) go through 6-7 tins of coconut oil a week. We travel with peanut butter and nut butters for the guys to use in smoothies and wherever else it can fit in”.

“I’d say most professional sports teams are now at least low sugar, lower to low carb. That’s not always high fat, but its healthy fats. Nutrition for sport is really changing fast.”

#TopTipTuesday #WhatTheFatBook #SportsPerformance #NicGill #TheAllBlacks #ThatSugarFilm

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Carmen Slee says:

    I started eating once a day last winter, fully expecting to suffer from the cold of the winter, since on my old diet winter was always a challenge! Well, the opposite happened. I stayed warmer on the once a day eating than eating three times a day! My energy and metabolism stayed even.

  • Mike says:

    Hi – I have been relatively low carb (no starchy food and lots of veg) for 18 months or so but have been high protein rather than high fat. I strength train regularly at age 56 and my strength continues to go up. As a result of reading ‘What the fat’ I have increased my healthy fat consumption but understand that a high protein intake may mitigate against fat loss. I continue to lose body fat slowly and think that I simply need to titrate my protein intake and as long as I continue to get stronger while losing body fat I am going in the right direction. My motivation is to continue to get stronger and to remain healthy going forward! Any advice?

    • What The Fat? says:

      Hi Mike,

      You’re right that if you continue to gain strength while losing body fat you’re going in the right direction. A gain in muscle means you have a use for any extra protein you’re eating, the loss of fat means you’re not eating too much. Generally our appetite for protein is well-regulated, and we don’t think it’s as effective for people to try to increase their protein intake above their usual, as it is for them to substitute fat for carbohydrate, if they’re looking for greater satiety and blood glucose control. It’s mainly when fat loss is stalled that the effect of protein, or the calories from fat, need to be looked at more closely. It sounds like you’re doing fine as you are.

  • Brent says:

    Ive dropped sugar completely out of house as well as salt i still use it at restaurants but dont keep any at home is this the way to go ?

    • What The Fat? says:

      Hi Brent,

      Getting sugar out of your home is a great first step towards a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, we don’t recommend cutting out salt (except on strict medical advice for a specific condition) for a number of reasons. Processed food is high in salt and if you cut this out of the diet without using salt in your own cooking your salt intake may become lower than optimal. If you decide to follow the very low carb version of LCHF, this causes a loss of sodium at first which needs to be made up with extra salt to prevent side effects such as fatigue or cramps. Table salt is also a source of iodine which New Zealanders can easily become deficient in. So the reduction in salt from processed food is a good thing, but there is no reason to avoid salt in your own home if you are following the low carb diet.

  • michelle says:

    I’m following a low carb (sugar) lifestyle and by far the biggest challenge is stimulating my appetite. I know that loss of appetite is an aspect of this way of living, but any tips on what’s the best thing to eat to briefly overcome this problem? I used to snack on salami or other dried meat, cheese, nuts etc but their ubiquitousness means I’ve gone off them.

    • What The Fat? says:

      Hi Michelle,

      here are some suggestions – if you are in ketosis (low to zero carb) this can depress appetite, increasing carbs a little (e.g. some root vegetables, pumpkin, sweet potato, or fruit) should increase it. If you are using large amounts of coconut oil this can have a similar effect, using olive oil or butter instead will increase appetite. Try not snacking to build up your appetite at mealtimes. I use spices such as paprika (lots of it) or mild curry mix in my meals to keep them appetising and varied, and put a little plain yoghurt on top as a relish.

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