Life

Chris McNaughton has had his 8-10 Weetabix today – and that's just his first breakfast

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Larne's Chris McNaughton, personal trainer, two times Junior Ireland Strongman champion and former contender in the British and UK Strongest Man Competitions

Larne Strongman and personal trainer Chris McNaughton
Gail Bell

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

My normal day starts at 5am and once I’m up and dressed, I’ll pop in my EarPods and listen to likes of [US motivational speaker] Les Brown or other inspiring speakers. Then, I take my supplements and have my first breakfast before my second breakfast – normally around 9am.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? I eat somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 calories a day and I split breakfast into two different dishes because I can't eat anything 'heavy' first thing in the morning. Usually, I'll have porridge and a protein shake first thing, or else eight-to-10 Weetabix and then for my second breakfast, I'll have 1kg of meat and a power-up shake.

Lunch? Around lunchtime, I'll have two more meals, heavy protein and carb-based, along with vegetables.

Evening meal? Again, I split this into two – having about a kg of meat with each meal – heavy carbs and high fats. Before bed, I'll have a protein shake and chicken and hummus.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

You can’t get strong and big without sleep and food... if you can’t eat, you can’t grow – simple. For me, I basically graze all day like a bull; it never stops and, no, it’s not fun at all. I love to train and compete, but I hate the diet! But, if I want to get better, then my nutrition has to be on point with a high-protein, high-fat diet.

4 Best meal ever?

Steak – I really love a good steak. For me, I treat myself and my boyfriend every so often to a Stix and Stones – in my mind, the best steak in Belfast.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure ?

A Krispie Kreme doughnut – I’m mad about them.

6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

Diets are short-term solutions – take control and get on top of it yourself. My clients who have achieved best results learned this.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Yes, I take Pro-form Nutrition Whey and aminos and I swear by them.

8 How do you relax?

Family time and chill time with my fiancé, Jon. I work 16-20-hour days ( this includes my training) so I cherish family time whenever I get it. Normally, we eat food or go out on Saturday night for drinks.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple, as long as it’s not a weekly thing. For me, a night out is maybe every three to four weeks, so when I go out, I go out to enjoy myself. In saying that, it’s very rare that I would get drunk and it takes a lot of alcohol to effect me that way.

10 Stairs or lift?

Stairs – I don’t always have time for cardio.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I train five days a week, with two recovery / rehab days. My training includes deadlifts and working the chest, legs, back and triceps and shoulders. My recovery days are hard too, maybe two-to-three hours stretching and recovery work, along with a sports massage.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Make it enjoyable, make it weekly and stay focused.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

At the moment, for my sport, I feel I’m a seven. It's a proud seven, though, as last year I was terribly ill and wasn’t able to walk into my gym, never mind train.

14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

Yeah, some things help in small ways, but I think the majority is a waste of money. Hard work and focus always works best.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

School sport wasn’t a great time for me, as it was filled with bullying and teasing. It wasn’t something I enjoyed, but I suppose it has helped drive me to goals later in life.

16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Yes, last year I had actually retired from Strongman competitions when I tore my calf playing sports. Unknowingly, this caused blood clots which moved into my lungs and around heart, causing me a lot of problems, so being so low and down-and-out made me wish I was fit enough to compete again. Luckily, now I’m able to do that.

17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

[Scottish strongman] Stuart Murray told me the best advice when he said, 'Chris, just concentrate on beating yourself, then one day you’ll be beating everyone else'.

18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life? It has to be [English strongman] Laurence Shahlaei, as he has been through hell with injures and has always bounced back, somehow. But, more importantly, he has always shown what a true sportsman is, remaining humble, adoring his fans and treating everyone the same way.

19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I sleep from 10pm-5am or else 11pm-6am and it works well for me. I try never to change it as I like a sleeping pattern.

20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I would say I have a healthy attitude to life – you only get one [life] and it’s in your hands. Many would say that my sport is not healthy, and nor is my lifestyle, but that’s because it’s not their sport. 'Strongman' was my calling in life and, yes, it takes its toll, but whether you have a lifespan of 50, 60, 70 or more years, you should spend them doing what you love, what makes me happy... and never, ever quit.

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