Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy foodHippocrates
Nutrition is the single most important variable regarding your health and wellness. Honestly, you can significantly improve your health & quality of life by simply following these suggestions and never stepping foot in our facility.
What you eat literally builds the molecular foundation of your body. Just like an exercise program, nutrition is a process and we recommend establishing a few key principles immediately and working into the rest. Over the past 10 years we have seen tremendous success with the following prescription and the belief that 80% structure provides the opportunity for 20% flexibility.
Nutrition Basics - Start here
A few key basics of nutirtion: There are 3 main macro-nutrients; protein, carbohydrates, and fat with only protein and fat being considered essential nutrients. Most food provides a combination of each macro-nutrient, however, we “classify” the food as their primary component (except for dairy which we consider an even split). Protein provides the body with essential amino acids which are our “building blocks” of life. We get protein from animal products such as meat and organs. Carbohydrates provide the body with a variety of sugars, fiber, micro-nutrients, and vitamins. Our carbohydrate sources only come from plants. Fats provide your body a variety of triglycerides which are utilized as energy, regulation/production of our hormones, and absorption of fat soluble vitamins. We do not recommend liquid calories including, but not limited to: juice, soda, milk, protein shakes, meal replacements, and flavored coffee. Carbohydrates are measured by their propensity to raise blood sugar through glycemic load. When carbohydrates are consumed our body produces insulin, an energy storage hormone, to regulate our blood sugar. The glycemic load of our meals determines how much insulin we produce. This mechanism, consumption of carbohydrates and subsequent production of insulin, when repeated every meal for years and years is the root cause of countless chronic diseases today such as syndrome X, the Deadly quartet, the all too common Type 2 Diabetes, and many more.
What you eat and the quality of that food is our first area of focus and we believe the most important. Obviously, this could be taken out of context so we provided some fundamental serving suggestions.The first place to start is by building every meal, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, a snack, or dinner around a quality source of protein. By quality we are referring the the health of the animal. Does the animal roam free in open space with a choice of plants to eat, grown in the sun with minimal antibiotics and human interference? Next, we complement that protein with seasonal and fresh carbohydrates, I.e. plants. By choosing seasonal and locally grown food you are contributing to your local farmers and decreasing a significantly large carbon footprint associated with the American diet. Finally we top our meal off with healthy fats such as avocado, butter, coconut and coconut oil, mixed raw nuts (except peanuts and cashews), and olive oil.
In essence, the Paleo diet refers to how our ancestors ate before the agricultural revolution. We typically lived near bodies of water and consumed a variety of fish and shellfish, hunted small game in the area, harvested root veggies, tree fruit, and a variety of plants from the area. We would travel as needed to ensure quantity of fat and protein and would see significant variation in carbohydrate consumption based on the seasons.
When shopping we encourage you to stick to the perimeter of the store as this is where all the (perishable) food items are. The isles in the center, whether cereal, syrup, or cleaners, are almost all created from 3 commodity crops: wheat, corn and soy. These items are not food and should not be a staple in your diet. Real food does not have a nutrition label, is not fortified, and most importantly does not make health claims!
At this point in your journey, eating natural meats, seasonal fruits and veggies, and getting plenty of healthy fats is more important than anything else. The rest comes with time. As far as portions are concerned, we encourage our athletes to eat to satiety but track the quantities. Somewhere in the next 2 weeks to 2 months we will begin looking more closely at the quantities. In all honesty, if you consume approximately a palm sized quantity cooked protein, 3-4 times a day, 2-5 handfuls of fresh plants, an avocado, grass fed butter and a handful of mixed raw nuts, you will achieve phenomenal health.
The Zone & Macros
If your objectives are to absolutely maximize performance and learn specifically how your body reacts to certain foods we recommend spending 2-3 months weighing and measuring your meals. By controlling exactly how much protein, carbs and fat you consume you are able to regulate your bodies hormonal response to foods as well as having precision in variations to measure success. The typical Zone daily caloric intake is 40% Protein, 30% Carbohydrates and 30% Fat
We recommend utilizing The Zone principles established by Dr. Barry Sears, a biochemist from California who was working on cancer fighting drugs in the 70’s and 80’s. Through his research he determined an “optimal zone” of intake that regulates our hormones and decreases body fat and inflammation. The zone diet utilizes a unit of measurements called “blocks” to build your meals. By eating an equal number of blocks of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat you effectively regulate the hormonal response from food; specifically meaning you do not have an insulin spike. 1 Block equals 9 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat. You determine your daily block allotment based on lean body mass and activity level. A typical, moderately athletic male (4-5 hours of exercise a week), will consume 15-18 blocks a day and a similarly athletic female will range from 10-14 blocks.
There are many diets that focus on quantity of intake but it is critical to remember that not all calories are created equal. What we mean is 500 calories of asparagus and salmon have a much different impact on your body as 500 calories of soda and popcorn. If you are going to measure your intake, measure your macro nutrients not just calories. Finally, never sacrifice quality of food for quantity. we have seen many people weigh and measure fruity pebbles and ice cream thinking they can “cheat the system”, however, these short cuts will take a toll on their long term health.
Our body has an incredible ability to survive, given the opportunity. Today we are faced with challenges that our body has not adapted to, such as a sedentary lifestyle and copious amounts of carbohydrates. This consistently excessive exposure to elevated blood sugar and increased insulin production is leading to a host of ills. Ironically, our body is better adapted at surviving a caloric deficit than our current caloric excess (primarily sugar). The typical Ketogenic daily caloric intake is 20% Protein, 75% Fat and 5% Carbohydrate.
When we would live in and with nature, there would be times, days-weeks-months, where we would consume very little carbohydrates, maybe even none! In this situation we make up the difference from fats, which would be the first thing consumed from a successful hunt. When the majority of your energy comes from fat, with moderate protein and basically no carbs, you enter a state of nutritional ketosis. In this situation our body is primarily burning and consuming fat for all of its energy needs. Fat is a fabulous fuel source as it contains 7 calories per gram while, protein and carbohydrates only contain 4. There is a reason our body stores excess energy as fat; it’s a great reserve. There are countless health and performance benefits from nutritional ketosis including but not limited to: no midday crash, a consistent and level feeling of energy, prevention and cessation of uncontrolled cellular growth (I.e. cancer), a COMPLETE REVERSAL OF TYPE 2 DIABETES, and potential regulation of type 1.
We truly believe that nutritional ketosis is a very natural state for the human. Without refrigerator, freezers, preservatives, and global shipping, it is easily understood that there would be significant times without carbohydrate consumption. We can also imagine how our ancestors would need to “perform” while in ketosis, whether it be fighting off a predator or pursuing dinner, we would need consistent fuel sources and ketosis is that key. There are countless examples of endurance and CrossFit athletes performing above average while following this protocol.
Another highly recommended strategy for metabolic health and longevity is intermittent fasting. This concept involves occasionally (intermittently) extending the duration between feeding times and condensing the time in which you eat. We recommend once or twice a week eating an early dinner, around 3pm, followed by a late breakfast as close to 10am as possible. The goal is the achieve 18-22 hours without food, once or twice a week. This does not necessarily mean you are eating less, some people choose to keep the same amount of intake, just in a shorter period of time. Another very beneficial option is to conclude your fast with a long duration, lower intensity training session, such as our endurance class or an easy hike, bike ride, etc.
There are many suggestions that intermittent fasting has profound effects on cancer prevention, longevity, cardio vascular health, and provides a metabolic reset on a molecular level. Again, thinking back to our ancestors from 100 generations ago, this would be a very common occurrence which always allowed them to “perform” while following.