Written by Mike Woodruff of Rockwall, TX
I recently completed Robb Wolf's Nutrition Seminar. Robb is a former research biochemist specializing in lipid metabolism. He has done research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and graduate work with Prof. Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet. Robb is a co-founder of NorCal Strength & Conditioning, a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, and a co-founder of The Performance Menu. Basically, he is a really smart guy and knows a lot about nutrition (and we're talking the truth about nutrition, not what the mass media will have you believe). Following, are a few take-aways from the seminar.
The CrossFit Diet
The CrossFit diet from CrossFit in 100 Words says to “eat meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.” This is essentially the Paleo diet, which addresses food quality.
Eat Good Fat
There are three different types of fats we should be eating: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated. Of course, we don’t even want to mess with Trans fats.
The polyunsaturated fats are the omega-3’s and omega-6’s. Omega-3’s, which lower the amount of LDL cholesterol, are found in fish and fish oil, while omega-6’s are primarily found in grains. We were designed to eat about a 2:1 ratio of omega-6’s to omega-3’s, but the modern western diet provides a ratio closer to 45:1. This is way too much omega-6 and a result of all the grains and grain fed meats that we eat.
An Aside About Grains
Grains were not found in the Paleolithic diet. Lectins are proteins that are found in large amounts in grains. They destroy and irritate the gut and stomach lining. Other potentially toxic lectin-containing food groups include legumes, dairy, and nightshades (http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html), but that discussion is outside the scope of this article.
The Kitava Study was a study done on the Kitavans, who ate zero grains, had no instances of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s. Their diet consisted of yams, coconut, fish, and taro with about 60% Carbohydrates and 15-20% Proteins and Fats (not exactly the Zone diet, but definitely Paleo), in amounts of about 2200-2800 calories per day (not exactly a calorie restricted diet). Unlike in western civilization, their BMI did not increase with age. Grains were introduced to their society and people started getting cancer and diabetes, etc.
Back to Fats: The monounsaturated fats are the omega-9’s, which are found in large amounts in nuts and olive oil. Our Paleolithic ancestors received the largest percentage of their diet from this fat source.
Finally, there are 4 types of saturated fats that we eat appreciable amounts of, which differ depending only on the number of carbon atoms. These are found in meats and dairy products. Lauric acid (12 carbon atoms), Myristic acid (14 carbon atoms), and Palmitic acid (16 carbon atoms) all elevate LDL cholesterol (this is bad). Stearic acid (18 carbon atoms), which is found in red meats, like steaks, is neutral on LDL. Saturated fats accounted for relatively small amounts compared to mono and poly fats in the Paleolithic diet. This is largely because our ancestors ate wild meats that were not high in saturated fat.
Eating grain fed animals increases the amount of saturated fat. Some things we miss out on when we eat grain fed meats include:
- R-Alphalipoic acid. This acid enhances insulin sensitivity, which allows us to handle carbohydrates better.
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA improves lean muscle mass and immune function.
- Carotenoids. These provide Vitamin A and occur in grass fed meats and farm fresh or omega-3 eggs.
All of the above are only found in wild (grass fed) meat, and are not found at all in grain fed meat.
So, find a local farm, like Truth Hill Farm, start eating grass fed meats, take fish oil, and eat nuts and olive oil.
Spend too much time around our friend the endurance athlete and he will inevitably tell you that eating a “low carb” diet is bad for your liver. Like most of the medical field, he has confused ketosis with ketoacidosis. “In ketoacidosis, the body fails to adequately regulate ketone production causing such a severe accumulation of keto acids that the pH of the blood is substantially decreased” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketoacidosis). This results in insulin resistance, high blood glucose, high blood ketones, and pH level decreases. None of which you want.
Ketosis, on the other hand, is one of the normal processes for the metabolism of body fat. It is a state in metabolism when the liver converts fats into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which can be used for energy. When you eat limited carbs, fat becomes the primary energy source, and the ketone bodies are used as fuel. Your body has 2 choices for energy, glucose (sugar) and ketone bodies. Everything runs better on ketone bodies.
Robb presented a few case studies of people who trained with them at CrossFit NorCal. In general, they ate a Paleo diet during the week and took the weekends off to eat what they wanted. They trained 2 to 3 days per week for a month and saw huge body changes and strength gains, thanks to changing their diet.
30 year old Male
||Bodyweight = 165 lb, Deadlift = 185 lb|
|Ended:||Bodyweight = 131 lb, Deadlift = 315 lb
42 year old Male
||Blood Pressure = 140/90, Triglycerides* = 279|
|Ended:||Blood Pressure = 112/64; Triglycerides* = 83|
*Triglycerides are a measure of fats in the blood and high triglycerides is an indication of insulin resistance.
48 year old Female
||Alkaline-Phosphate* = 518|
|Ended:||Alkaline-Phosphate* = 42
*Alkaline-Phosphate measurements (cirrhosis of liver: ~300; normal range: 32-126)
Eat a Paleo diet, where you get as much of your protein from grass fed and free range sources as you can. Shift about half of your daily carbohydrates to the post workout meal. Your body is able to process carbohydrates much better in the post workout meal, when your glycogen stores have been depleted, than at other times of the day.