It drives me nuts every time I hear a "nutrition expert" or doctor condemn fat and accuse it of being the root of all our health woes. But, if we look at different traditional diets throughout history, many are extremely high in fat. The Masai survive on the cow: Blood, meat and milk. The traditional diet of many Pacific Islanders had large amounts of saturated fat from coconut. The traditional Inuit diet was devoid of carbohydrates and insanely high (by modern standards) in fat.
Here is a basic guide to the different types of fat.
This is a short but excellent piece on saturated fat. Part 2 on saturated fat.
It is relatively easy to get plenty of good fat into your diet. But if you are trying to stick to a primal / paleo diet, it can be difficult and expensive getting descent grass-fed products. Mark's Daily Apple tackles this issue in a two-part post. Part 1. Part 2
Everyone knows that eating red meat gives you colon cancer. Apparently, Argentina never got that word. Their traditional diet is incredibly high in meat, yet they have way less colon cancer than we do. Pay particular attention to how their cattle are raised. Might that have something to do with it?
Finally, what came first the bean or mammoth tartare. This is a great rebuttal to the humans-evolved-as-vegetarians crowd. If you don't eat meat on moral grounds, then more power to you. But don't attempt to re-write biology and evolution to make yourself feel better and help you ignore the fact that you are jonesing for a big, juicy tenderloin.
It seems to my simple mind, that most doctors in this day and age will prescribe anything outside of common sense and discipline to try and keep us healthy. The front page of Monday's paper had an article about the latest and greatest study on statins (funded by the drug manufacturer of course). These magic pills will keep you from having a heart attack and keep your arteries nice and clean. A few months back, these same wonder drugs were recommended for kids as a preventative measure. It truly is sad that we are attempting to out-think Mother Nature and two-plus million years of evolution. By following a diet we are genetically pre-disposed to eat (last weeks readings), these drugs become a moot point. Unfortunately, that would put the drug companies (and big-agra) out of business. boo hoo. Here are a few of the rebuttals to the headline:
Truth versus Hype
This study on statins reiterates the point that you shouldn't blindly follow the conclusions drawn on any of these issues. Educate yourself and make your own conclusion on which diet is optimal.
Taubes strikes back
According to the government, all of us knucklehead crossfitters are doing way more work than we need to in order to be "fit"
Dumbest Headline Ever.
So, on that note: Next time just say "NO" to Tri-by-Fran.
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruits, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. -Greg Glassman
This sounds easy enough, however millions upon millions of dollars are spent trying to find that right diet and the most simplistic formula for health and weight loss. The bottom line is to eat real food. That means plants (fruits and vegetables), seeds and nuts, and unprocessed, grass-fed meats. The human genome has been evolving for 2 million years. For the vast majority of that span, our species followed that guideline unintentionally and with remarkable success. Regardless if it is low fat, low carb, Zone, Atkins, blah, blah, blah that you subscribe to, by eating real, unprocessed foods you will be well on the way to optimal health.
The "plant" portion of the above equation is easy. It is up to you to decide how much of them you eat: "Zone" parameters or lower carb than that. Fats are easy as well. Olive oil, nuts, coconut oil, avocados etc…will fit the bill nicely. The harder part is protein. I try and stick to fish in the form of sardines, herring, and wild caught salmon. They are high in Omega 3, low on the food chain so there is less of a concern about mercury, and they are relatively inexpensive. I also try to eat meat in the form of grass-fed meat. Here is one plug for it here. I know Boney's behind the gym likes to ticket cars for parking in their lot, but they do have grass-fed meat at a reasonable price. I recommend swinging by after the WOD and checking it out.
Here are some more articles for you to read through. This one is an explanation of cholesterol. As you know , I am not a fan of grains in any way, shape, or form outside of beer and single-malt scotch. This article starts to touch on why. We'll throw this one in the no sh*t category.
Let me know if there are any subjects you'd like to see covered.
I apologize for not posting anything yet for this week. I have been on the road and get back late Tuesday and haven't had the time nor adequate acces to the internet to get the site updated. However, this week has made me realize the difficulty one can have when living out of a hotel in regards to nutrition and working out. Some lessons learned:
1. If you have been hitting it hard at the gym, traveling is a perfect opportunity to take an extra day or two off and let the body recover.
2. Establish a routine immediately. Set aside time to workout and incorporate that into your daily routine.
3. Get creative in the workouts. If access to weights is limited, it is a good opportunity to work on things like handstand pushups and L-sits. Throw in a longer distance run. Tabata anything works in a hotel room or a pathetic fitness center.
4. Limit eating out and be selective. Choose high protein choices and substitute potatoes / fries / rice with more vegetables.
5. Hit up a grocery store-I happened to have a Whole Foods down the street. Walk around and explore some of the pre-packaged food products. I found an Indian Chicken Marsala that had 40gP, 30gF and 18g C for a couple of bucks. That is one meal right there and it was good as hell. Canned salmon, sardines etc…and coconut milk along with almonds work as well. It is easier to store a few pieces of fruit than vegies.
6. If you haven't experiemented with intermittent fasting (IF), a trip is a good time as well. I normally fast about 15 hours a day, but on the road with less intense workouts, I expanded that to 18-20 hours. I tried to keep caloric intake in the ballpark of my daily norm.
What is interesting is that my already low carb intake was reduced even more this past week. I kept my protein and fat intake about the same, but my carbs were way under 60 grams. The net result was that I lost 4 pounds in 6 days. If it wasn't for beer, it would have been even more. Anyone who tells you fat makes you fat is stoned. If you want or need to drop weight, high protein / high fat with low carb and IF thrown in for good measure is a damn effective way to lose weight and maintain muscle mass.
Until I get back and post some descent links, I recommend checking out Mark's Daily Apple this week. There were some interesting posts on it that are worth reading. 6 AM mugs-I'll see you Thursday.
My eye always catches articles on health and nutrition whether on the news, web, or newspaper. So much of the "healthy" advice given by the doctors and registered dieticians in these articles is total garbage. Getting on my soapbox: America is outraged at the deaths of the 4000+ volunteers who willingly and knowingly made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. There is absolutely zero outrage about the hundreds of thousands who are sick, have cancer, or CVD all from following bad advice on nutrition from the so-called experts. The Food Myths from Scott Kustes is the best summary to date that I have read which counters the crap out in the mainstream regarding nutrition. Read these two articles. Print them out. Pass them around. Give them to your soy-indulging, vegetarian friends. At the very least: Learn.
Myths of Healthy Eating Part 1 and 2
This link gives you both parts 1 and 2. Click on the link, then click on the embedded links on the site to download the pdf file.
This next link uses modern dairy production as an example of the Unhealthy Dogma that has led us to the state we are in.
Let me know if there are any particular subjects you want addressed on this site. Leave a comment or hit me up at the gym.
The subject of cholesterol came up at work the other day. One of the guys who eats a low-carb, paleo diet had his cholesterol taken. The results caused bells and whistles going off with the doctors. Of course these doctors advocate a low-fat diet and (incorrectly) assume that the lower the cholesterol, the less risk of a heart attack you have. Cholesteral Myths does a good job of debunking the conventional wisdom out there.
A few of us have been messing around with Intermittent Fasting. This article explains how to get started. The gents at Modern Forager recently covered the subject as well.This series explains the entire process of IF and why it is effective for health and longevity.
I am not a fan at all of grains. Since I gave them up (excluding the occasional beer or 4 of course), I have noticed a dramatic reduction in stomach irritation and allergies.The subject of whole grains and human evolution are discussed here.
If you have read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" then you should be familiar with Ancel Keys. In my opinion, if we wanted to put the blame on one person responsible for the incredibly disgusting health Americans are in currently, he would get my vote. Jack Lalane on the other hand has spent his life pushing the envelope and trying to get Americans healthy. Take a look for yourself and make your own educated opinion on who is more credible.
Finally, this link opens Pandora's Box regarding health and diet.
Now that I have finally gotten my act together I'm going to start posting interesting articles relating to diet, nutrition and health. It gives me something to do while my wife is engrossed in "Project Runway".
The first is an outstanding guide for healthy living. It comes from Mark's Daily Apple and is his "Primal Blueprint".
Mark's Primal Blueprint
The second article is an excellent explanation of metabolism and ketosis as it pertains to human evolution.
This article is a collection of thoughts and lessons learned from a personal trainer. It has some great points.
Health and Fitness
Finally, a great article for all the parents out there.
Getting kids started right
A lot of questions keep coming up regarding nutrition and diet. That is a good thing. The most effective way to find out what works for you is to keep a food journal. Write down what you eat and at what time. This accomplishes a few things. First, it forces you to think about what you are eating. Next, it forces you to weigh, measure, or read the labels of everything you are injesting. Finally, it will allow you to see what macronutrient breakdown gives you the best results for health and performance at the box. Try it for a couple of weeks and see what happens (For the 6 A.M. class, I'm checking them on Tuesday.). Then every month or so, write it down for a week to check yourself. Here is what I ate yesterday:
6:00 – Workout "Religious"
8:00 – 1 cup of mixed berries, 2 T of coconut oil, 4oz of calamari and 2 turkey meatballs in 1/4c marinara
22g carb / 28g fat / 35g protein
9:30 – 1/2 cup of walnuts and almonds
10g c / 35g fat / 12g p
1130 – 3 eggs with 1 chicken sausage
5g c / 22g f / 30g p
3:00 - 4 chicken wings and 1 apple
18g c / 34g f / 34g p
6:00 – 6oz steak, 100g spinach, 100g brocolli, 1/2c coconut milk, 1/4 cup berries, 2 glasses of wine
31g c / 24g f / 42g p
8:00 – 2oz beef jerky
10g c / 13g p
This breaks down as follows: 96 grams of carbohydrate or 16% of total calories (2335), 143 grams of fat or 55%, and 166 grams of protein or 28%.
This would be in the window for a typical day for me. Protein usually hovers between 30-35% and carbs around 15%. After experimenting for the past year, that ratio and the types of carbs I'm taking in provide me with the best health and performance. I only know that because I write it down and keep track. I can't recommend doing that enough.
There is a website out there called fitday.com. It will do the work for you and also give you a detailed breakdown of the nutrients you are getting (i.e. 578% of the RDA for vitamin A…).
I am continually impressed by the dedication shown by everyone at the gym. It is hard to get up at 6 AM or head to the gym at the end of the work day and subject oneself to 5 rounds of "fill in the blank with…". It is amazing seeing the improvement in everyone since the gym's opening. Some have gone from jumping pullups to knocking out 20 at a shot. Other's have gone from barely being able to touch the ground to deadlifting well over their bodyweight. That same dedication needs to be applied to diet as well.
I'd venture to guess that the reason we all go through the pain and misery of the workouts is to better ourselves. It makes us healthier, more fit. But in terms of health, diet is dramatically more important than the WOD. I come to this conclusion not only from reading on the subject, but through my own personal trial and error.
Since I was a kid, I always ate what the government, doctors and nutritionists considered the optimal diet. What that led to was low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. Once I found Crossfit, it led to a plateau in one rep maxes and benchmark workouts, a longer time to recover from a hard workout, and a lot of soreness. I was healthy, but far from my potential.
Finally, after sitting through a few certs and listening to Greg Glassman talk about Sickness-Wellness-Fitness and the role diet plays in that, I decided to give the Zone a shot. After 1 month, I noticed an immediate impact. Every benchmark, max reps or 1rm improved. I dropped to 6-8% body fat. The Zone led to a more Paleolithic model of eating. My daily diet now breaks down to 50-55% fat, 30-40% protein and 10-20% carbs; all from vegetables and some fruit…No Grains! My HDL and triglycerides have a 1 to 1 ratio, which means my HDL is high / triglycerides low. In layman's terms: I may die of a heart attack, but my diet will not be the cause (it will most assuredly be my kids). I can't remember the last time I got sick. Recovery is short. Soreness is limited. New personal records are routine.
What I am trying to get at here is that dedicating yourself to your diet should be as important as the effort you display everyday in the gym. Read the books on this site; I'll lend them to you. Check out the websites linked on this site; I'll walk you through them. Read and educate yourselves. Pick our brains. Cut out the carbs. Personal Records are great. A fast Fran time is cool. None of that can compare to waking up each day feeling good, never getting sick, and knowing you truly are fit. That feeling can only come through dedicating yourself to your diet.