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Celebrity Health - Karl Henry

5 steps to success

Karl Henry is the leading fitness expert on RTÉ 1’s Operation Transformation. He has written five books including Healthy Living Handbook (Penguin Ireland). He has appeared on the Panel on RTÉ 2, The Newstalk Breakfast Show, The Daily Show and The Afternoon Show. This year he celebrated over one million listens to his health and fitness podcast Real Health sponsored by Laya Healthcare. So far he has interviewed Leo Varadkar, Adam Clayton from U2, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Leinster rugby players and many others.

What sort of exercise do you do to keep in shape?

I always do one gym session per week. The rest of my exercise is outside running or biking. Every year I try something new or different because I believe it helps you to learn. At the moment I am training for the Amsterdam marathon in October. I am also doing some endurance cycling around Ireland. I take one day off a week to rest. As I get older I try to adjust my schedule so I am not over training when travelling. I played rugby for 12 years and was a lot bigger then than I am now. I tried running when I left school, even though I am not a natural runner – I started on 5Ks and built up the distances. I have done four Dublin marathons and am hoping to get a place this year. I have also done marathons in Rome, Belfast and Austria and the Connemara 100 mile run which takes space every August. I got to 86 miles the frst year and halfway the second year even though I was unwell. It’s bonkers! I have also done ultra and ironman events and a four-day continuous bike around the country.

After training I might surf or do yoga, so I am using different muscle groups and the body can replenish itself.

What sort of foods do you eat to stay healthy?

For breakfast I start with warm water and lemon, or a cup of tea. Then I might have porridge and wholewheat toast, a green salad or spinach.

I snack mid-morning on fruit and nuts such as cashew and brazils. For lunch I have a salad with protein such as chicken, turkey or fish. Then I have a snack in the afternoon.

Dinner is a protein and salad. About every two weeks I might treat myself to pizza.

I increase my carbohydrate and calorie intake by up to 1,000 calories a day if I have a big race or event coming up. On a long bike ride I would eat carbogels, jam sandwiches or homemade flapjacks to keep my energy up.

Do you take any natural supplements or drinks?

Sometimes I might take a fish oil from Eskimo or a Udo’s oil. For a big or very long race I might take multivitamins. If I need extra protein, and I don’t have time to eat it I make a shake with protein powder. I get my bloods checked every six months by my GP because I have a tendency to be B12 defcient. If I am, I would take a supplement.

Do you ever worry about your health?

When I was younger and doing ironmans I would overtrain and had a tendency to push too hard. And then I would be exhausted for days afterwards. Now I am a bit older and more experienced I can recognise the signs of overtraining sooner.

I try to have a better balance of work, life and training.

As you get older food and lifestyle become more important – you can’t do as much as you could without resting or looking after yourself.

Do you have any tips for Rude Health readers?

This is the five-step cycle of health I teach all my clients:

  • 1. Set targets and goals.
  • 2. Cook more – eat the 80-20 way. (Eat healthily and cleanly 80% of the time)
  • 3. Find an exercise you enjoy.
  • 4. Surround yourself with people who are healthier and positive.
  • 5. Treat yourself once you hit a goal.

You can listen to Real Health on the SoundCloud player; iPhone users can subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts, and Android users can subscribe and listen on Google Podcasts.


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