Principle #1 Nutrition

 

When it comes to the topic of nutrition, we believe that the problem in today’s world is information overload. You will find conflicting information all over the internet, therefore it’s really important that we verify the sources, and try to remain neutral.  If we want to find support for organic ice-cream being part of a healthy diet, we could probably find an article to support this, but at the end of the day it’s ice-cream, which we know will not be beneficial for our health.

The purpose of this post is to offer our beliefs on nutrition. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel; we simply want to share what we believe will help you with arguably the most important factor of your health.

Coach Greg Glassman, Found of CrossFit Inc., gave the following advice on nutrition, “Eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar … keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” (Glassman, 2002)

Below is a diagram of “A Theoretical Hierarchy of Development” developed by Coach Glassman. As you will see, the foundation is nutrition, which highlights the significance of making it the starting point, before any form of exercise is considered.

(Glassman, 2002)

Preventing Metabolic Diseases

If weight control were as simple as calories in vs calories out, we wouldn’t be facing the current obesity epidemic, and there wouldn’t be any need for you to read this.

The reality is that traditional nutrition advice is failing us. Metabolic diseases are increasing exponentially, an extraordinary amount of money is being spent on healthcare every year, and millions of people are unnecessarily suffering, because metabolic diseases could be prevented through proper nutrition.

We are all unique, therefore there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, however we do believe there are universal principles that hold true. One of those is that we must restrict/limit our carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrates. At this point you may be considering stopping reading the rest of this post, however we strongly encourage you to continue reading, as the information to follow could change your life. The amount of carbohydrates you eat must be dictated by your level, and type of activity. Endurance athletes should not need much, if any carbohydrates, as they should be able to rely solely on their fat stores. High-intensity exercise will require most athletes to consume some carbohydrates, as the demands on their bodies are entirely different. For the typical person, exercising 4-6 times per week, and aiming to be healthy, we don’t believe carbohydrates to be essential.

Exercise is fantastic, but exercise alone is not enough. If you had a vehicle fueled by petrol, and repeatedly filled it with diesel instead, the vehicle’s engine would seize up, and you’d be left with a hefty repair bill. Now, imagine that the vehicle was your body, and the fuel were your nutrition. You would want to fuel your body with the correct fuel i.e nutrition, however when we eat carbohydrates (as we have traditionally been advised), particularly refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and biscuits, our body releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin is essential, however too much insulin, known as hyperinsulinemia, is potentially lethal.

“Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to carbohydrate consumption. It’s responsible for storing energy in cells and regulating blood sugar, and you need it to live. But if you produce too much insulin, cell receptors no longer respond to it, allowing blood-sugar levels to rise and setting the stage for a host of health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, organ failure and death.” (Saline, 2018)

“Whether the link between hyperinsulinism and disease states is causal or correlative will be debated for years. But the tide is dramatically shifting towards causality in many, many disease states. What cannot be debated is that reducing carbohydrate intake eliminates hyperinsulinemia in nearly every occurrence. By what logic would we not adopt an easy prevention, cure, or mitigation (with not only no side effect, but provable and dramatic side benefit) in regards to the litany of disease states linked to hyperinsulinism. We strongly counsel that you opt out of hyperinsulinemia while the scientific community continues slogging along.” (Glassman, 2003)

If you would like to read comprehensive evidence relating to the subject above, we highly recommend you read ‘Why We Get Fat’ by Gary Taubes, arguably the most influential journalist on the subject of obesity.

We sincerely hope the evidence above prompts you to reassess the quality and quantity of carbohydrates you consume in the future.

What do we believe?

Michael Pollan, an authority on nutrition, and author of several books including ‘In Defense of Food’, said the following, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Houston Chronicle, 2010)

“By food Pollan means real food, not creations of the food-industrial complex. Real food doesn’t have a long ingredient list, isn’t advertised on TV, and it doesn’t contain stuff like maltodextrin or sodium tripolyphosphate. Real food is things that your great-grandmother (or someone’s great-grandmother) would recognize.” (Houston Chronicle, 2010)

We believe in keeping nutrition super simple, and we don’t believe it gets much simpler than, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”

Let’s unpack that a little more. Eat real food. Ben Bergeron puts it this way, “That means it either grew out of the ground, or it had eyes … it was alive, and if you left it on a shelf … it would perish … really quickly.” (Bergeron, 2017) He also had the following to say about all other foods that aren’t real, “It’s an edible, man-made, food like substance, which was created by people in lab coats, in plants, with the purpose … of making money. [They do this] by making it really, really tasty, the way they do that is by putting bad stuff in it, and extending the shelf life, by taking nutrients out.” (Bergeron, 2017)

Not too much. We believe in simply eating when you are hungry, and until satiety (a feeling of fullness). No counting calories, and no weighing food required. You must adhere to the first part, which is to eat real food, and remember that fat is responsible for satiety (a feeling of fullness). Depending on your body size, you should be eating roughly between 2 – 4 meals per day, and here is Ben Bergeron’s secret to not eating too much, “No going back for seconds, and not snacking between meals.” (Bergeron, 2017)

Mostly plants. Ben Bergeron said the following, “Plants are the most nutrient dense foods there are … it’s hard to overeat on vegetables, particularly if they’re in their raw state. If they’re raw, it’s unlimited (to how much you may eat), however once they’re cooked, it should not exceed the size of your plate.” (Bergeron, 2017)

In light of the information above, our food choices should become really simple. We advise you to start slowly, don’t make drastic changes, and most importantly, be consistent with your diet.

If you’re looking for a professional coach to help you on your health & fitness journey, please do contact us by email to info@gf-fitness.co.uk or fill complete our contact form via this link.

The statements expressed in this post are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

Reference list:

Glassman, G. (2002) ‘What is Fitness?’, CrossFit Journal, 1 October. Available at: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/what-is-fitness (Accessed: 20 November 2019).

Saline, B. (2018) ‘Off the Carbs Off the Couch’, CrossFit Journal, 19 August. Available at: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/nutrition-saline (Accessed: 20 November 2019).

Glassman, G. (2003) ‘Nutrition: Avoiding Metabolic Derangement’, CrossFit Journal, 1 November. Available at: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/nutrition-avoiding-metabolic-derangement-2 (Accessed: 20 November 2019).

Houston Chronicle (2010) ‘How to Eat’, Michael Pollan, 23 January. Available at: https://michaelpollan.com/reviews/how-to-eat/ (Accessed: 20 November 2019). Simplifying Nutrition (2017) YouTube Video, added by Ben Bergeron [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gENijvBdaHQ [Accessed: 21 November 2019].

2 responses to “Principle #1 Nutrition”

  1. Ben Foulston says:

    This is really good advice! I have 2 questions:

    What would you define as the difference between endurance training and high intensity training?
    I find that with cycling for example, it’s feasible to cycle for hours at a low intensity either fasted or on no carbs, but that it would be difficult to perform well in say a 4 hour race without having really loaded up on carbs. Obviously some endurance athletes operate in ketosis, but this sounds a bit hardcore!!

    On a different note, I’ve heard it said that if you apply these general rules on the majority of days this will stand you in good stead (e.g. it’s okay to have some beer and ice-cream at the weekend) – what’s the current thinking on this?

  2. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Endurance training is dominated by the aerobic energy system, whereas the phosphagen and glycolytic energy system dominate in high intensity training. In terms of your cycling performance, we would need to have a look at your training program. For example, from a purely training perspective, if low-intensity endurance training dominates the majority of your program, you could really benefit from incorporating high-intensity training, and strength training into your program. This would help to further develop your phosphagen and glycolytic energy systems, as well your Type 1 muscle fibres, which will certainly help if it’s performance that you’re looking for.

    It takes time for your body to learn to tap into your fat stores for energy, this can only be done through consistent training in a low-carb/fasted state over an extended period of time. As the intensity increases, so does the need for carbs, but only at relatively high intensity, i.e the upper limits of your maximum heart rate. 

    We are promoting long-term health and behaviour change, therefore if the short-term sacrifice of eating some ice-cream over the weekend will help to keep you on track in the long term, then we believe it’s a worthwhile sacrifice. However, we would suggest 3 things. Firstly, we would suggest that you decide the day and quantity in advance, we do not believe in binge eating. Secondly, this is provided that this does not become a habit, or else we are promoting a negative behaviour, which is not beneficial to our long-term health. Thirdly, we would suggest choosing the healthiest option, such as making your own ice-cream instead of purchasing it.

    We hope that our answers were satisfactory, please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions.

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