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In the spotlight with Tim Blakey: physio, coach and nutritionist

22 October, 2018

In the spotlight with Tim Blakey

Tim Blakey is a good friend of ours at Fitty. He’s a Performance Specialist and coach with a background in sports Physiotherapy.

That makes him the go-to guy for muscle imbalances, postural issues, as well as aesthetic goals (no wonder he’s trained and treated international sports teams and even a president or two). Hit up Instagram @timblakey_pr1me to get some great tips from his videos.


Q: Give us a bit of background on you?

A: I was born and raised in New Zealand, and grew up pretty sporty. I got a few injuries playing rugby, tennis and sailing at a school level. Spending so much time at my local physio clinic led me in to physiotherapy myself. Once qualified, I did a lot of sports physio working with professional athletes and teams, and that’s where I developed a love for strength and conditioning – obviously the two go together well.

Once in London the logical next step was exploring the world of nutrition, and that’s how everything just gelled together. I thought I’d be in London just a couple of years…now it’s been 13.

Q: What kind of diet do you follow?

A: I like to use the word 'diet' only as its intent: a noun. As in ‘what an organism is designed to eat’ rather than its calorie-based verb alternative that most people are more familair with, you know: 'to diet'. Whatever it is, it has to be sustainable and at least veer towards optimal.

I’m hesitant to use the word paleo – just because it gets bastardised in the media. My issue with it, is that the whole idea of paleo was never to be a militant diet – it’s a template or a starting point. Nothing is worse than those paradigms so hung up on dogma that if you eat something unapproved you’re ‘out of the club’, you know what i mean?

The name “a common-sense approach or a nutritionally dense food diet” isn’t as catchy as ‘paleo’ is it? But that’s essentially what it is. Chris Kresser recently used the term ‘Nutrivore’ which I love. Essentially its almost identical to paleo, but without the vulnerabilities of definition that haters get hung up on.

My entry into Paleo was from discovering Chris Kresser as well as Robb Wolf. Both are doing amazing things to improve world nutrition and helping combat climate change in opposing commercial livestock farming.


Q: So what’s your version of a paleo diet?

A: I dabbled in strict paleo when it first came about because I wanted to learn, and I like doing that sort of self-experimentation. I think most coaches passionate about what they do experiment – I’ve dabbled in keto before too and I’ve tried being ‘plant-based’. That one didnt last long! So yeah, I’ve tried the strict way, and as I evolved I stick to a paleo template but i still enjoy myself when out or when i need a bigger re-feed!

I regularly eat white basmati rice – there’s nothing wrong with brown rice, but it does cause more digestive issues and bloating for most people because of the husk, and the thoughts are that it can interfere with absorption of other nutrients (due to phytic acid). White basmati rice has been used for centuries by many cultures and generally tolerated by most.

One of my biggest discoveries was removing dairy – growing up as a kiwi kid, the diary industry is endless praised as being nothing but healthy, essential even.

I always thought it was fine for me so I ate a lot of it. I started to cut it out including my whey protein – which was hard to let go off with all the bioscience floating around back then – and I noticed a biggest difference. It’s hard to explain; I'm not lactose intolerant, but omitting it generally lowered inflammation. I used to get post-shake bloat, and eczema around my elbow. Both stopped when I cut out dairy.

I still eat a little bit of butter which tends to be with my eggs or in my coffee. Because butter’s naturally fermented it’s very low in lactose, and providing it’s from grass-fed cows it’s generally pretty good as a fat.

Q: What lifestyle change has most impacted your life?

A: Intermittent fasting. I’m very casual with it – I’ll do it on days when I feel like it, and not on days when I feel like I need a bit more recovery or food. I don’t have a weight loss goal at the moment, so I don’t have to be too particular.

For me, the realisation that I don’t need a morning meal was huge. It was through Precision Nutrition that I heard about the lean-gains fasting method, back in 2008 or something, and it was revolutionary.

It turns out Kellogg’s was the creator of the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

I think the great thing about intermittent fasting is noticing how your body responds to longer periods of fasting and to foods. What I got most out of fasting, was that it made me understand carb-back loading. I found that eating all my carbs at the end of the day (called carb back loading) had a huge impact. Because having a high fat high protein breakfast – or if you fast – stabilises your blood sugar keeps you satiated, and doesnt come with a post-meal slump. Then you have your carbs to refuel in the evening, where you can slump with Netflix. And then you sleep.


Q: What’s your favourite health or biohack?

A: I hate the term biohack! Haha. But my favourite discovery in that realm was bulletproof coffee. It has to be grass-fed butter (which has to be unsalted…although I’ve got a mate who uses salted, but he’s a savage). It makes me feel good, because I can have a coffee and it has a bit of fat to satiate me, technically it is breaking a ‘fast’ but largely blood sugar and insulin stay unaffected and I'm content through to the afternoon.

Also recovery – such an underrated health hack! I used to slave away in the gym seven days a week, sometimes even double sessions on same days because I had a passion for it.

Now when I manage to discipline myself and keep my rest days fully rested and recover, I train better and my recovery is also better.  Recovery and sleep are more important than the training. It took me way too long to realise that.



Q: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

A: First thing is I have my bulletproof coffee – I’ve got a lovely view now so I drink my coffee outside looking out over London. There’s a lot of coffee-hate out there that says you shouldn’t have your coffee first thing because your cortisol (stress / awake hormone) is already spiked. Thats fake-news.

Studies have proved that it’s not the case with regular morning coffee drinkers. They found that the body’s not stupid – it’s not going to keep hiking your cortisol unnecessarily, and so a regular coffee drinker’s cortisol spike levels off and gets less and less, and is the same as those who go without coffee by 2pm. If you like your coffee first thing, have it – providing your sleep quality and quantity is on point. Coffee’s also exponentially higher in antioxidants than most other ‘superfoods'.

Sorry. I frequently go off on coffee related rants and segways. So I have coffee, Then I spend an hour or so on Pr1me Body (my clients who I train through my app). Then I go and see my first client, or work from home depending on my schedule.


Q: Is sleep important to you?

A: Yeah massively. Many of the best things are free: sleeping is free, mobility is free, exercise can be free. Sleep comes before everything else. If you haven’t recovered, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.


Q: Do you have any tips for getting more sleep?

A: If a client’s having trouble sleeping, I always tell them to cut back on caffeine – all day if needed or definitely after 12, some people are high responders. I also tell them to shut down fluorescent screens in the evenings and dim the lights, and try carb backloading too.

Me personally, I’m one of those really annoying fortunate people where I can put my head on the pillow and I’m done. Dosing L-theanine with your coffee may also help. Thats what is naturally occuring in tea and why tea caffeine is less jittery.


Q: What’s your go-to meal?

A: I’ve got a few. What I do for myself and clients, is try and have a few sets meals for different days of the week. Having a structure like that makes it more streamlined and there’s less chance of falling off the rails.

Sundays I'll usually use the slow cooker, especially in the winter, or i'll use another method to batch cook a number of meals for early in the week ahead. My favourite slowcooker tends to be beef shin (bones in) to get all the good collagen and bone matrix. Or I’ll do a big (paleo) shepherds pie, and that will give me my meal for Monday, and Monday’s tend to be pretty busy and no one wants more admin on a Monday.

I try to do pescatarian one or two days a week. Although I’ll still eat eggs at lunchtime most days when I come out of a fast. And on that note, any cafes that don’t serve eggs after 12…that should be illegal.

I’ve also got a coconut curry prawn dish which is pretty easy. And I make a pretty good courgette noodle and avocado salad – I add a really nice olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes. And you can add chicken or whatever meat to it, or just on its own.


Q: What do you eat after the gym – do you adhere to the strict ‘hour window’ rule?

A: Studies have shown your body doesn’t just suddenly waste away and lose muscle tissue if you don’t get your bro shake in within 30 minutes. It wouldn’t be a very successful evolutionary trait. However, being that protein is crucial for your training gains, there’s no detriment to having protein straight after a workout – just to ensure you hit your daily target – and so I still advocate it.

I think it’s a great time because you’re more insulin sensitive and you’ve burnt through a lot of energy stores in your muscle cells. I combine my protein with oats – really simple carbohydrate – and I have a plant based protein because I don’t tolerate whey that well. Sometimes I’ll add in creatine and collagen.


Q: Do you have a pre-workout?

A: I do. Usually I’ll have beta-alanine pills and a coffee – I’m a big coffee fan so I’ll have one in the morning and one before I workout. If I know I’m having a big session like a leg day, I’ll have breakfast in the morning. I tend to train around midday.


Q: What food couldn’t you live without?

A: probably Eggs.


Q: What's the most surprising thing in your fridge?

A: Errm….there’s a bottle of tequila, although for those that know me, that’s not a surprise! I switched to tequila a few years ago, and it really is a miscarriage of justice when tequila is blamed for people’s hangovers and bad experiences, because most people are drinking cheap tequila at 2am when they’ve had a host of other drinks.

If you drink good tequila and stay on it all night, honestly the hangovers are very minimal. And when I have it with a fist full of fresh limes and soda water  the lime acts as an electrolyte and keeps me hydrated – and I’m taking in soda water too. It’s also said to be an alcohol ‘upper’, whereas some are known to be ‘downers’ like Gin. Gross...


Q: You’re in town and you’re hungry. Where do you go?

A: Sushi. But I’m more and more paranoid about overpopulated farming and the antibiotics they’re feeding fish, so I’ll try and go somewhere that promotes good values. Eating out is always a minefield, and I’m not trying to be a buzz kill here, but everyone needs to try and do as much research as they can. But I’m a big fan of sushi.

For a treat, I might go to Nandos with the boys before movie night, but outside of that, I try to only eat meat from my local butcher or somewhere I know that supports traditional ethical farming methods. You really do need to do your research.


Q: When it comes to nutrition and fads, what’s your biggest bug bear?

A: Nutrition dogma and fake news. Media sensationalises concepts, and that sends people with ‘extremist’ nutritional views into a frenzy and preaching moral superiority.

Nutrition has become the new religion. People get into a camp and stick to it, and It doesn’t help mankind or the planet, even if you think it does. It's laughable when people try and diss something like the paleo diet. How can you argue with respecting evolution and prioritising nutritionally dense food?

Paleo is widely misunderstood, It’s not a high meat diet, it’s basically a vegan diet with a little bit of meat, prioritising food with the most nutrients, and avoiding those that don't agree with you.



Q: Who do you look up to?

A: For nutrition, Chris Kresser is a big one. I mentioned him earlier. And Robb Wolf. And Rhonda Patrick, she’s brilliant and frequently on Joe Rogan’s podcast. For training there’s a small handful of people that I really look up to on instagram.


Q: What book are you currently reading?

A: For any kind of life improvement or work related books I tend to audiobook, as it’s an effective use of time for me. At the moment I’m listening to Zero To One by Peter Thiel, the co-creator or PayPal. It’s very interesting. For please reads I just finished the third Orphan X book.


Q: What podcast do you rate most?

A: I'm going to hit you with a long list because I love hearing what other people listen to, so...most frequently probably Joe Rogan. The shear number, range and depth of his guests is unmatched. Others range from Kresser and Wolf’s nutrition ones, to Derek Woodske's Ecobolic Radio and Phil Learneys one. And then an eclectic mix including Tim Ferriss, Stuff You Should Know, 5 Live Film Review, Casefiles, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, and the list goes on. I love feeling like a fly on the wall when 2 really smart people are talking. It's a gold mine. 


Q: What’s been your best purchase of £100 or less?

A: My pull-up spheres. Easier to adapt to than rings, and are amazing for shoulder mobility and strength.


Q: What were you doing an hour ago?

A: I was training a client, who’s actually moving to Milan at the weekend to start his own gym which is exciting. I'm giving him as many insights as I can. He wasnt always interested in fitness either, so to think I may have had something to do with stoking his passion is pretty cool!


Q: How do you treat yourself?

A: I am a bit of a movie nerd. Me and my mates like to go and see a movie on a Friday night – Im always partial to a pool party during the summer too...tequila may feature. But ultimately I am a big movie buff.

Also massages – I try and get more soft tissue therapy myself. Often a treat for me is a workout, nothing feels more rewarding than that.


Q: Where’s your favourite place on earth?

A: Big fan of Ibiza, or the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. I know I’m supposed to say New Zealand, and it is beautiful, but i do love the Mediterranean. Big fan of anywhere there’s sun and a beach.


Q: What do you think everyone could benefit from doing?

A: More mobility. Even I neglected it as a physio – I love lifting. But if I could go back to my 20 something self, I would say focus on your mobility. And no guys, mobility isn’t just stretching – it’s exercising or moving your body through it’s full range of motion and joints. That’s what keeps us healthy.


Q: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?

A: Hmm. Everyone’s fighting a battle you know nothing about. Your interaction with someone might be completely not what you expected because they’ve got something else going on in their life. As a therapist that’s crucial to remember. But I also try to remember it when things maybe don't go to plan.


Q: What are you most excited about right now?

A: My training app. It’s been a labour of love. And frustration. But also the gym session we’re doing in about five minutes!


Want to contact Tim? Check out his website here.


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