Matt Lovell is a registered Nutritionist with a wealth of experience in the Sports Nutrition industry. Matt’s past and present clients include London Wasps, London Irish, Saracens and Leicester Rugby Clubs. Matt is also developing a range of sports supplements under the trade name amino man.
Matt currently runs his own elite performance-based company aimed at elite athletes and corporations, including all levels of health related performance.
We spoke to Matt on various topics including:
– The importance of educating the consumer on nutrition
– Supplement quality vs clever marketing
– Whether PT’s should work more closely with nutritionists
– Technology for nutritionists
1) Should new brands focus more on quality than marketing?
Without the best possible ingredients, then your on a road to nothing, so I think when beginning a new product, service or anything the quality is going to dictate the longevity or success of a brand. However, you could equally have created the best thing ever and if you don’t tell anyone about it then it’s going to crash and burn in the dust. So there’s a mixture between beginning with the best innovation, science, efficacy, all that, and then telling people about it. What sometimes happens is that you get some companies, particularly in the supplement business, who create something which tastes brilliant, but might be loaded with sugar, fat and all these other things. Then they stick a really fashionable cover ripped model, male, female, drinking the lovely drink. Anyone that tastes it says it’s delicious, it’s going to get me ripped, but then what you’ve got there is a mismatch between the best marketing in the world and potentially the worst product in the world. So I think ultimately you must always be completely honest with your consumer and then do the right level of marketing to combine with that.
2) How important is taste in the supplement market?
Well there’s a phrase people sometimes say which is ‘taste is clear’, and I think certainly for the mass market then if you create a nasty tasting product, then you’re going to be struggling to get it out to a wide audience. However, efficacy and the strength of the product for me comes first, working in elite sports where people need to get quick fixes and extra, small percentages in terms of performance, and often that might mean using quite bitter herbs in quite large amounts which is quite difficult to master flavour. So I think that question relates to it being an audience specific need, but if you create strong products which work with the right amount of the types of ingredients you need to have a strong effect, and you can make it taste good, then you’ve got a match made in heaven.
2) How vital is educating consumers on nutrition
So I think if you’ve got an audience, client or someone like that, essentially, the whole reason to have a product is to fulfill a solution to a problem that a client might have. So educating a client in terms of the reasons why they might have a quick fix for say, sleep, an issue with a mineral like magnesium or if they’ve got a sticking point in achieving in their optimum body composition because their protein balance is wrong, I think more and more the consumer is discerning, the consumer is self-educating, so if you can bridge that gap by producing quality understandable information, it also shows that whatever product you are making should do exactly what is says on the tin because it’s got the clinical evidence, it’s got the case studies, and once someone starts taking that they get an immediate benefit. And if you’re providing a solution, that solution styled approach is essential to being a successful practitioner as well, probably essential to a successful business as well.
3) Should personal trainers be giving diet advice?
That’s a really good question, I think a lot of that boils down to can you get adequate insurance in order to manipulate someone’s diet, possibly recommend supplementations as a personal trainer, so the first thing is if you want to do that, make sure you’re covered and you’re giving safe advice. One of the sort of grey areas is around nutrition systems that get taught to personal trainers which also come with a heap of supplements to backup the protocols. Now in some instances, those types of protocols will use very high amounts of certain nutrients, which in fact are very dangers. I have had people come to me on a testosterone protocol, 50 milligrams of zinc every day for six months and that becomes zinc toxic, and that happens because a trainer believes what they have been told, given the person supplements, probably made some money from the supplements, but haven’t gone through the proper due diligence of, blood testing, and knowing what the safe levels of mineral supplementation are in the longer term. So train yourself as much as you possibly can, offer a holistic service as much as you can, but if there’s something you don’t know enough about then refer on to an expert. Make sure you are properly insured for all the advice you give to somebody.
4) Should nutritionists find and promote a specialism?
Well I find that whilst being a nutritionist you have to know alot about all these different systems in the body. What naturally happens is you gravitate towards areas that you either enjoy working in more, or that you’ve had particular experience fixing yourself, and therefore because of your own experience you’ve got a passion and you want to help others fix it yourself. So that basically means, you need to know a lot about a lot of different areas but do end up specialising and have your own niche areas that you’re known for being a particular expert in. The areas that I’ve gravitated toward so over the years would be anything involving improving performance sports wise and things like that, but my particular areas that I enjoy are around fatigue, over training syndrome, and all that sort of thing and fixing people that have gotten themselves in that sort of a state.
5) How can technology be useful to nutritionists?
I would say using those types of kit for one has been really helpful for clinical practice. Second thing I would say is any bit of kit comes with inherent flaws, so you just need to know that as long as you’re working with a consistent floor, then ultimately the stats will line out in the the end. The bits of kit I’ve been working for for a while, and will continue to work with are bioimpedance scales, so I know they’re hydration sensitive and they jump around, but I get people to get on them enough so it irons out the noise that might occur from being hydrated, pre-impact training and so on. I do like step counters, I have used a lot of then, I have a Fitbit, I have a Biostrap, they do a variety of things, steps, heart rate is hit and miss, sleep quality basically knows if your moving around too much or not. This one, the Biotech is a bit more detailed, it does heart rate variability I think heart rate variability is definitely something of the future. Essentially this is the interval between your heartbeats and it tells you how stressed or recovered you are in very simple terms. I have another bit of italian kit called Biotech now which is a bit more accurate on the heart rate variability. So it looks at stress parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system activation, and it does a very detailed bioimpedance, so it’s correlated really well with DEXA for bone marrow density, visceral fat of and even fat within the muscle which can interfere with glucose metabolism. So my feeling is arm yourself with as many bits of technology as you can. Non-invasively is much easier because you’re not going to a lab, you’re not drawing blood, you’re not spitting in to tubes and things like that. There’s a final bit of kit which I should mention called the Raman scanner. It shines an infrared light into the skin and gives you an antioxidant score really quickly, so it relates really well to overall fruit and vegetable intake with somebody. I find that that’s a great, quick test to do as well.