Health Optimisation Coach Ryan Carter On How To Thrive, Not Just Survive
We had a chat with London-based health optimisation coach and nutritionist Ryan Carter to discuss his health and fitness philosophy
Ryan Carter is a London-based health optimisation coach and nutritionist.
We had a chat with Ryan, the man behind the popular @livevitae Instagram account, to discuss some of the key building blocks of his overall health and fitness philosophy.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background story and how you got into your role as a health coach?
My journey began with my own health issues and struggles. I went round in circles and down plenty of rabbit holes. I saw a multitude of ‘specialists’ and spent a considerable amount of money on tests and supplements – all without really moving the needle.
Eventually, I got to the bottom of what the contributing factors to my downfall were – mold, heavy metals, an overall poor metabolism and inadequate stress response.
Thankfully, I was recommended to a fellow nutritional therapist by a friend. He specialised in clients with heavy metals and energy (mitochondria) issues.
With his remarkable guidance and knowledge, he encouraged me to pursue a new career as a registered nutritional therapist. I needed to change my career regardless, because my previous work environment was mold-infested and was a big source of my problems.
What are some of the core concepts of your health and fitness philosophy and how have they changed over the years?
My core concepts for health and fitness are quite simple. It’s about our ability to thrive as an organism. This is built from our epigenetic signals, which influence our innate physiology and drive optimal health.
‘Thriving’, for me, means not just being ‘normal’ or ‘OK’. It means having the ability to withstand daily stressors both mentally and physically, be fertile and able to reproduce, have the ability for movement and performance, and be able to socialise in a community or tribe.
Over the years, my philosophy has developed alongside my education and the wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.
I used to be more dogmatic in my approach but now I’m more open to other ideas. For example, it’s probably normal for our body to have healthy fluctuations from overweight to lean on a seasonal basis, and this is an alien concept amongst those who hold the common belief that we should be ‘beach body ready’ all year round.
When you start working with a new client, what are some of the first things you focus on?
Great question. I like to start in an extremely detailed client questionnaire. This then progresses to a conversation in which we can find out more about certain stimuli or responses. I ask questions like, what particular intervention worked? Or what supplement triggered brain fog and caused constipation for a few days?
I also assess the client’s environment and circadian rhythm on an average day. We are not just humans – we are humans who are interconnected to our environment. Our environment influences the neurohormonal cascade, such as adrenals, thyroid, melatonin etc.
For someone who is looking to improve their nutrition for optimal performance, where’s a good place to start?
Awareness. Get into the habit of asking questions. Ask yourself how you feel. Be it after a meal, after spending two hours outdoors barefoot, or after taking a Magnesium Glycinate supplement.
Paying attention to patterns and the way you feel is free – and yet it’s the most underrated nutritional therapy tool when working with clients.
I could’ve easily talked about hydration, steps, sleep, artificial light, daylight etc. – but I still think the awareness of your behaviour and subjective feelings leads to long-term and sustainable optimal health.
How important is tracking health data in your opinion? For example, tracking calories in and out / macros / blood markers etc.
I think the data side of things can work both ways. You can track anything and everything. Counting calories, for me, is not a normal behaviour. It can lead to eating disorders and an unhealthy relationship with food.
Food is a by-product of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen with other trace molecules from the environment. The further your lifestyle is out of sync (for example, by eating man-made food), the more you’ll need to spend time calorie counting.
I think blood markers are still the best way of providing an insight into your health. But detail and context are needed in terms of which markers to look at, when to test, and the reports themselves.
The ‘normal’ ranges are likely to be based on figures from an unhealthy population. This goes back to the ‘OK’ mindset I mentioned previously.
Non-invasive tests such as HRV (Heart Rate Variability) are becoming popular. But is it worth geeking-out over and analysing every single piece of food which may have lowered your HRV by five per cent? Probably not.
However, HRV is a pretty good assessment of mitochondria, blood glucose management, cardiovascular health and autonomic nervous system function.
How do supplements fit into your nutritional philosophy?
They are a way to tweak and ‘supplement’ a nutrient-dense approach to food tailored to the individual. Again, context matters. More is not necessarily better when it comes to supplements.
The human body is like a car. Adding more petrol or oil is not going to work if the gearbox is jammed and the tyres need changing.
There are some great products out there, and I do take some too. However, you can get most of what you need from food when you have optimal digestion (which isn’t very common nowadays).
What’s one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self if you could go back knowing what you know now?
Find your passion as early as possible – and build your life around it.