Cliff Harvey knows that the best things in life should be deliciously simple. An advocate for the LCHF way of life the Auckland-based clinical nutritionist and business owner behind Holistic Performance Nutrition™ found his nutritional niche back in the 90s, when he started to research lower-carb nutrition.
Today, HPN™ has become the leading certificate in NZ based on low-carb high-fat nutrition. Cliff keeps things basic with a focus on natural, whole and unprocessed food. The nutrition guru has completely changed the game, particularly the way people see fat. Once criticised by academics for his views, he is now a leader in the field.
Read the full story below.
- First things first! Where did your interest in nutrition and health, and specifically LCHF come from?
I’m a red-blooded Kiwi bloke, so I launched into lots of self-directed study in nutrition and strength training, and lo and behold the following year, after putting on about 10kg of muscle I captained the side.
This led me to develop a fascination for the function of the human body, and especially drew me towards the nutrition sciences.
I went on to initially study fitness training at AUT. While at AUT I was struck by a massive ‘disconnect’ in what we were being taught. One the one hand we were taught that Carbohydrate is almost solely used as a fuel in the body, and yet in nutrition class we were taught that we should prescribe at least 65% of someone’s calories from carbohydrate! I asked the inevitable question: “Wouldn’t lower carbohydrate be appropriate for sedentary people?” to which the reply was “Go and see the Dean!” To cut a long story short I was kicked out of nutrition class for asking inconvenient questions and this led me to begin to research lower-carb nutrition and to start formulating the method of ‘Carb-Appropriate’ nutrition that we now teach at HPN.
Remember that this was back in the 1990s and there was practically no-one doing low-carb nutrition here, and it’s fair to say that people thought I was crazy!
- What training and education do you have?
- Diploma in Fitness Training
- Diploma in Naturopathy
- Certificate in Homeobotanical Therapies
- Psych-K (beginner and advanced)
- Reiki (Master Level)
- Currently completing Masters Degree in Philosophy (Nutrition)
- What does a LCHF way of eating mean for you?
The field of LCHF is fascinating for me though, and it’s an area that I love researching, teaching others about, and it’s really exciting to see that while I was once criticised by academics for my views, I’m now sought out as a leader in the field.
- How did you get started creating your passion into a business?
- How would you describe your philosophy about being fit and healthy?
People over complicate everything. Geez – I certainly do at times…But the thing that enables me to have consistency is to try to cut back to the essentials. Like with nutrition: If man made it, eat less of it. If it’s natural, whole and unprocessed it’s probably pretty darn good for you. Likewise for training – I typically stick to the basics: squats, deadlifts, overhead presses and pull ups. Sure – I do a bunch of other stuff but those concepts and lifts are the ‘core’ to which I can always go back.
- What does your typical workday consist of? How many hours do you work each week on average? Does your job allow for a good work/life balance?
As I write this I’m sitting at my home, on the beach, having a great day of writing interspersed with swimming, lying in the sun and playing with my dog.
But a typical day would be:
Wake up – do some brain training with Peak and Spanish study with DuoLingo (apps on my phone)
Then a bit of stretching and meditation followed by writing (I write every morning) for whatever my current project is.
I typically drink too much coffee in the morning and then hit the gym around mid-morning for a break and to clear the head!
Afternoons are for research, writing, or whatever else is on the project board for my various businesses.
- What is your response to people who say a LCHF way of eating can be detrimental to health, in particular increasing stress in the body?
In reality there is no ONE solution for everybody, and the research in this area is lacking. That’s why it is important for people who want to know more about LCHF to get advice from people who are qualified, are current with the research and who have a history of use and clinical prescription of these interventions. Nothing beats years (decades!) of experiences with self and with clients to round out your knowledge on a topic.
- Tell us about HPN. Why did you originally create it?
Since starting HPN we have continued to evolve and grow and I’m now joined by proven experts in the field, all helping to support budding and existing practitioners and those who simply want to know more about holistic nutrition and LCHF.
- What is your favourite part of your job? What are some of the drawbacks?
The drawbacks are really only that there is a significant demand on time when you’re looking to build something special, and this can drain energy and leave you at risk of burnout. That’s why always keeping a perspective on the greater picture of health and happiness (not just on getting things done) is crucial.
- What advice would you offer to an aspiring nutritionist/ health coach?
- What do you do to keep active?
- What’s your typical meal for…
Morning: Either nothing (always coffee!) or a green smoothie
Lunch: A massive salad with some type of meat or a vegetarian protein source (nuts/seeds/sprouted lentils or mung-beans)
Dinner: Same as lunch
Snacks or sweets: I don’t snack but as a treat I have dark chocolate (90%), or as a very occasional treat I have a weak spot for cookies and milk!
Favourite beverage: Full-fat milk!
- Do you have any daily tips and strategies you recommend your clients implement to keep them living at a lean, fit and healthy body composition?
- Meditate: Mindfulness is an underrated strategy for helping you to make the best choices that help you to get and stay lean
- Make too much dinner so that you have lunch for the following day, thus avoiding the temptation to buy a crappy lunch at the local!
- Have a green, low-carb, protein smoothie for breakfast: This can help to pre-load a lot of nutrients into your day, and provides a simple, effective meal so that you’re not tempted to have a typical western (high-carb) breakfast.