Monday, July 19, 2010

Nutritional Variability for the Caveman In us All

Ay my CrossFit certification, Justin, who was our nutrition lecturer posed this question to the group of students: "Would you piss in your gas tank? And, would you piss in the gas tank of your Ferrari?" this question really struck a chord with me, it makes a lot of intuitive sense. What you put in your body is the fuel your body needs to do a number of hints, not the least of which is sustain life, but also to drive physical performance of you are an athlete. So the question becomes what is the optimal diet (using the term the way animal researchers and anthropologists use it, not The way in which Dr Oz uses it) for someone who wants to take advantage of good physical performance, healthy (that is both disease free and physically fit) aging, and general well being, psychologically and physically. My venture into this has bee a long one, tracked with issues revolving around eating too much or eating too little. Over exercising, under exercising. Long periods of on and off periods of working out and eating healthy. When i decided to get certified as a CrossFit trainer, it was a decision that i was going to make some long lasting changes in my life regarding this whole issue. CF had already changed my life in so many positive ways: made me healthier, more energetic, excited about working out again, and stronger and faster! Exercise, however is the output. It's stepping on the gas pedal, and it became abundantly clear to me that if i was going to optimize any kind of physical performance and healthy living i had to also modify my diet which at that time consisted of whatever we bought at the grocery store and a few beers a week. Not a bad diet actually, compared to many, but certainly sub optimal and in need of change.

I'd known about the Paleo diet from my studies as an evolutionary neuroscientist, the plan is even outlined in Gaulin and McBunrneys text on evolutionary psychology. I'd played with it, but usually while in the company of individuals who were not very supportive of it. Thus, leaving me the odd man out and eventually succumbing toy old ways. And like an addict succumbing to those old habits is very easy and then extremely hard to break out of again. Recently, within the past year or so, I've Wally started to concentrate on dialing in my nutrition and fitness. I've even started my own gym - CrossFit Gwinnett - to help drive this effort. I have a fantastic team of athletes that make me proud every day, every WOD. I digress, i decided to dial in my nutrition. I started doing Paleo again, rather strictly. Immediately i felt better. I was sleeping better, had better performance, knocked upy wife, not that i was trying, but ;-) The benefits of eating a completely non-processed diet felt wonderful. Sure, I was still the odd bird out, but i didn't let it bother me as much, partly because i have the most supportive wife on the planet. She eats mostly Paleo too and supports me to the utmost degree. However, whey change my eating, i tend to get, well crazy. Crazed! It's all i think about. Sometimes, LOL. So i started a transition from pure unrestricted Paleo to a combined Paleo-Zone diet. Zone dieting is whee you count blocks of foods and eat regularly throughout the day, essentially you are constantly thinking about what you eat, when your next meal is and what macronutrients are present and in what quantities. Similar to weight watchers, but like a WW on steroids. It does dial in a low body fat %, and drives performance advances, but for me it does not work. Let me explain, briefly: my psychological issues do not allow me to simply eat zone diet and live a life, i get crazed about the diet. This is very unhealthy and it usually takes someone(s) else to take notice of this and set me straight. This just happened about a month ago and i decided to go back ton free, unrestricted paleo eating. I really love eating paleo and vie become quite keen on making up paleo version of common recipes (see: http://

A friend of mine reintroduced me to some literature that i had also know about for a while from my PhD studies on caloric restriction, and introduced me to a new iteration of that known as intermittent fasting (IF). So, I've been reading a bit about the nutritional, fitness, and health consequences of intermittent fasting. turns out that IF holds the same, or very similar benefits - increased longevity, reduced heart disease, reduced cancer, increased fertility and testosterone up regulation, etc- as CR. He is actively trying the IF, which consists of long periods without eating followed by periods of eating whatever you like, however he is sticking to Paleo foods, for obvious reasons and also because he reports tahr eating processed foods makes him feel bad, psychologically and physically.

I've now tried to fast 4-5 times, and it's surprisingly easy. Day 1 i went about 13-4 hrs, that was followed by two subsequent days randomly selected throat the week where i did another, similar length fast. Then i just recently did two fasts of greater than 15-16 hrs. Sure, according to what you might read on the web and in the literature these are "short" fasts, but you have to start somewhere. Furthermore, these short fasts work for me and my schedule and make me feel good. It's a hard thing to explain, but i tend to feel more focused and clean. I enjoy food more, i can control my hunger and my tendency to eat at times of the day Rather than when hungry.

Now ,lastly, most recently, within the last few days, I've turned to a new nutritional scheme. Ketogenic eating. I've been trying to reduce my carbs to low levels. The effects of this are supposedly 1) very close to those expected on Paleo and very closet o what our ancestors ate and 2) close to CR and IF, because while on keto eating, its just nearly impossible to ingest as many calories as you would with unrestricted carbohydrates. I am finding this very fun, to experiment on myself and the feelings i am getting are nice. I feel good. I will continue to utilize this space to discuss and track my progress, failures, successes, feeling about this, and perceptions others have of me.

I will also post some science on this shit as well. So, keep your eyes peeled.


  1. CrossFit Gwinnett has been a life changing experience for me as well. Combining CF with IF and Paleo, the results should be substantial (I assume). Also, trying the Ketogenic Diet is a nice new twist and if you begin to notice anything positive from it after a couple of weeks I will probably give it a try. I'm all about this self experiment thing now, lol. I feel like a mad scientist, a very healthy mad scientist.

  2. Healthy mad scientist sounds oxymoronic, but i like it!