Monday, August 16, 2010

Eat Food

My pictures are not uploading at this time.  When they do, I'll post them up.

The last 7.5 weeks have been a pretty incredible experience for me.  I have learned so much and I feel worlds more intelligent in terms of how to properly fuel my body for how I wish to live my life. 

I went into a one-month Paleo challenge with an open mind.  I had very little in terms of support for the whole theory of Paleo, but because of so many peoples positive feedback, and seemingly great gains athletically, I figured I may as well give it a shot for myself.  I did have expectations however.  Understanding that I would be cutting my carbohydrate intake by so much (Paleo, for those of you who do not know, calls for zero consumption of grains, legumes, sugar, and dairy), I expected to lose a good deal of energy right off the bat.  From there, I expected to level out and begin to feel even more energized, while I also would see my body fat begin to plummet.  I hoped that this would last, and I hoped that I would also begin to see changes for the better in my sleep patterns, energy levels both while lifting and while resting, hunger patterns and overall feelings throughout the day.  I hoped for those last things, I expected very few of them. 

One month was the goal, and I ended up extending it to just under two.  Why did I stop you might ask?  Well, I just do not believe in it.  I did not believe in it before I went into it, and now, having given it a fair shot, I do not believe in it even more.  But let me explain this in a bit more detail.  While I continue to think of the "fact-based" nutrition program as a bit of a scam, I do not necessarily think it to be a bad program.  I think that it has its uses, and that it should actually be attempted by everyone out there.  It is a great tool for anyone to use to learn, very quickly, about what they need to properly fuel themselves.  A couple year back I did a vegetable juice detox inspired by a client of mine.  After that week of only putting vegetable juice in my body, exfoliating like crazy, and taking some probiotics, I immediately became hypersensitive to everything that went into my body.  I found that I actually had trouble dealing with and digesting soy products, gluten, shell fish, red meat and dairy.  Since then I have never touched dairy (to my knowledge), have only had red meat a few times, was completely off gluten for about 6 months and then found my way back to it after I had a piece of pumpkin bread and was rewarded with about three days of absolutely wonderful energy.  Shell fish, well, I had a bunch of shrimp a month or so ago and I promptly felt sick to my stomach and had insanely itchy eyes for the rest of the day.  So, restrict what you put in, give it time (more than a month people), and when you begin to re-introduce items back into your diet, you will most likely find out very quickly whether or not it is good for you.

But what about all the science?  Well, what about it?  If you want, you or I could easily fins all sorts of scientific research proving almost anything.  Paleo tells us that grains and legumes are flat out bad for us, as in, our bodies do not have the ability to process them well, and so, to be truly healthy, we must avoid them all.  Macrobiotics tells us that our meals must always be balanced and consist predominately of grains, beans and vegetables.  And, for arguments sake, marcrobiotics have been around for many, many, many more years than the Paleo diet.  So what the hell are WE supposed to believe, and do? 

Well it's pretty basic really.  I say go for two approaches:

1.  Research.  Look up what you are curious about, and then look into the study you are looking up.  A study showing the effects of legumes on the increase or decrease of the human metabolism will probably show a pretty specific conclusion.  But, it will also be a test on a select amount of people, who life in a select area of the world, eating a select amount and type of legumes, doing a select type and amount of physical activity and the legumes will have been produced in a select way.  I know this might sound like over-analyzing, but if you are seriously about to go around preaching to people that legumes are something that should not be eaten, you better be able to prove it.  And to be honest, there really has been not too much in terms of 100% convincing proof that this or that is the end all be all to eating properly.  So, this leads to the second point.

2.  Try it out.  The reason I tried Paleo was because I had a lot of people tell me it worked for them.  I was always skeptical about it, but, if it worked for others in their pursuit of their specific goals, perhaps it would work for me.  So I tried it.  It did not really work. So, I will try something else.  This is what I preach.  Every person is built differently, every person trains and moves differently, every person will have different reactions to foods.  Shoot, I have some friends who gorge themselves with shellfish.  Well, I just can not do this.  A great friend of mine is wants to gain weight and continue competing in powerlifting and Olympic lifting competitions.  He eats at least one red meat based meal a day.  I can not do that.  Does that make one of us right, and one of us wrong?  No, not at all.  So, to find out what works best for you, clean your diet up as best you can for at least a month, then begin to re-introduce items one at a time to see how your body reacts.  If it reacts negatively (like when I had a bowl of coconut milk ice cream, and proceeded to have severe stomach pain.  Lots of sugar apparently is not good for me!) then don't eat very much of it.  If it reacts positively, keep it in your diet.  Pretty easy.

Here is what I am doing.  And this does not mean you should do it, but perhaps you could give it a try and see what happens, maybe it will work.  The one thing I know WILL work, is if you approach it the same way that I did:

I cut a handful of major food groups out of my diet for just under to months.  I then re-introduced wheat, rice, grains, minimal added sugar, beans and legumes.  I did this one at a time, and the second I reacted negatively, I made a note of it and made the choice that I would not us those items as a staple in my diet.  I then dedicated myself to the following ideas:  I would treat my food like I do my life, I would try all sorts of things, keep it changing as often as I can, reinforce my strengths (the foods that help me), work on my weaknesses (find the ones that don't, add the ones that do help but I neglect).  I would prepare and cook my meals whenever I was at home, saving money and learning more and more about what actually goes into my body.  And I would try using a new ingredient in my cooking at least once a week.  All of this has led to my continuous fat loss, even after going off Paleo, added strength (just PR's on my squat today by 25#), better energy, sleep patterns getting better, and just feeling more confident that things are working out.

Well, I hope some of this helps.  It is, and will be a work in progress for me for the rest of my life.  I am just so excited to have learned so much in the past couple months, I want to spread what knowledge I have to anyone I can.  I am always open to arguments and suggestions of course, so speak up.  And just a head up, I will be having a nutrition page, with advice, recipes and a whole lot more on my site as I change it around over the next couple months

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage


anywherefit said...

Great honest article Josh. I am going to post it on by blog--hope you don't mind.

Ryan P said...

Thoughtful post, I would be interested to hear 'how' it did not work for you, as you only stated that it did not work. As a fellow coach and nutritional consultant, I'm constantly trying to learn as much as I can, and analyzing data from a trial like yours can do nothing but help me learn more.

Why cant you eat red meat? What parts of the paleo diet worked and what did not. What was your reactions when you added food back in after 7 weeks off? I'm looking forward to hearing your response!

JJ said...

Go to a Mat Lalonde seminar.

Josh Courage said...

@ Blair - thanks for the shout out man!

@ Ryan - Good questions, I will be doing another post tomorrow where I will get those answered, be sure to check them out.

@ JJ - Read a bunch of his stuff, very well written, researched and inspiring. I have a ton of thoughts on this, so I will be posting that up on my post tomorrow. I would say check out Mishio Kushi if you get a chance.

Anonymous said...

Great article Josh! -Cupsmary

JJ said...

I read some of his stuff this weekend. I'm gluten intolerant so eating a diet based around grains and legumes would pretty much end my life. Good to see another point of view tho.

Josh Courage said...

@JJ - I hear that man, as stated in my posts, I am getting more and more that I may be the same way. How do you compensate for the inability to eat gluten? Do you intentionally increase your intake of something else? This is something I am learning more and more about, and am very curious how others go about getting properly fueled, while not being able to have certain foods.

JJ said...

I pretty much eat a standard paleo gig but with limited nuts (probly about 8 blocks a day) and fruit limited to heavy met-con days. My food selections are grass-fed/pastured meats and eggs, organic veggies, roots and tubers (the roots and tubers are the dense CHO source) and a hell of a lot of fat from pastured butter, coconut (milk, etc), avocado, and some nuts. Speaking in zone ratios, I'm probably 16-20 blocks of protein, 4-10 blocks of carbs, and descent chunk of fat. All the amounts vary due to activity, hunger levels, programming and sleep quality. It took me quite a while to shift from running mainly on carbs to fat, and about 8 months to really get the gluten out of my body.

Jeremy said...

Josh really like your thoughts, i myself cut dairy and grains for over a year and half, because everyone said they were bad for us and legumes as well, well just 2weeks now and i am eating some peanut butter , and gluten free oats and i feel faster, stronger, better energy, go figure you have to listen to your body and not everything we read i guess...
look forward to more of your writing.