Here at the Performance Kitchen we know that it is not just athletes that are expected to 'perform'; ballerinas, dancers, acrobats, models, etc are all expected (indeed, it is necessary for their job) to stay fit & healthy. So what does a professional model eat, for example?
We spent some time with London based model James Kakonge, and asked him a few questions about his nutrition as a professional model, and how he stays in such great shape...
James, thank you for giving us a few minutes of your time. You seem to do a mix of, what I would call 'fashion' shoots, and 'sporty' shoots; before you head down to a shoot, do you eat, or is it best to have an empty stomach? "The majority of the time I don't have time for breakfast at home because I like to sleep so I go to the shoots on an empty stomach, however most shoots provide breakfast and lunch. I love to eat"
So, protein bars & shakes are huge business at the moment... as a model, do you find yourself relying on these as a snack? "No, I'm more of a crisps and coke guy"
You must get to travel to some incredible places around the world for your work; Does your diet change much depending on where you are (i.e. does the heat or weather affect your food choice)? Does your diet change between winter & summer? "Yes, it does. Generally in winter I eat more food because in summer I get less hungry. I guess that's the same whenever I travel as well because normally the places I go are hot".
As a model, you've got to stay healthy & fit... away from the gym, how do you train/what sports do you play? "I love to play basketball, cycle and roller skate".
How important is hydration to looking healthy & staying healthy as a model? "It's really important, keeps your skin looking healthy and fresh".
What is the most common meal in your household? "Rice and chicken".
Do you have a cheat meal or drink? "Yeah. I'm kind of just one of those people who just eats what they want and then works out when they can. I guess I'm kind of lucky like that"
Do you have a favourite place to train and/or model? "The basketball courts, it's a good place to train but chill with friends as well. Doesn't really make exercise feel like exercise"
Is there an model, or athlete (or anyone) you look up to or who inspires you? "LeBron James because he's always striving for greatness and pushing himself to the limit"
What is it really like behind-the-scenes? Is it all beautiful people, and beautiful sunsets, and incredible locations, and parties, or is it more shuffling in & out of hotel rooms, terrible food, and hours in the gym? "It's a bit of both really. However, the glamour doesn't count without putting in the hard work".
For a lot of athletes & models I've spoken to, the fame that comes with their success is sometimes unexpected, and often difficult to manage; how have you coped with the attention that you receive now (particularly on social media - do you get much negative attention)? "Yeah that can be true, I kind of just got dropped into this whole world. However, I've never really gotten negative attention. People have generally been really loving and supportive, even the ones who don't know me personally. Which is pretty motivating in itself, helping me push forward".
What has been your best modelling experience so far? "I guess it would have to be being flown out to Spain a couple months ago. It was good to have a change of scenery for a bit and the guys I went with were proper lads. Made work feel like a holiday"
What is the biggest challenge of being a model that most people may not be aware of (i.e. long hours, red-eye flights all the time, having to stay in shape, etc)? "From my end, it's been the social aspect. Because I was never a person that cared much for social media but it's such a big part of this industry and you have to take it seriously".
James is represented by Models1; follow him on Instagram here.