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Carbs, Inc, Etc.

Food as medicine. We already know it's a drug, but how about its ability to actually make us well? What does a lifetime of having gooey putrefaction oozing sluggishly through your digestive tract do? -- feeding and breeding toxic bacteria so you can absorb their waste products. Brr.

Consider, N, a very serious athlete, working toward world-class status. He understands that diet is utterly pivotal. He's eating far fewer carbs -- by which we mean, mostly, grains. The math of his diet works out to 430 calories from carbs (almost all from fruits and vegetables) -- 22%; 500 from protein -- 28%; 970 from fat -- 50%. Total calories, 1900. Aprox.

That's A LOT of fat. A lot of protein too. And yet. And yet it's working very well. "All of my fats,” he says, “are derived from nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and occasionally flax or organic butter in smaller quantities. I don't count fish oil supplementation into my daily fat intake. If I drop my fat, I immediately feel it and am hungry. I find it impossible to eat any more carbs unless I eat a lot of fruit." Don't you wish you had that problem?

"I've been doing it for 3 weeks and have leaned out more, increased my output and my heart rate has steadily dropped. I weigh in consistently at about 183 but am as strong (actually stronger) as I was at 203. I have very strong mental clarity and focus."

Other athletes, less cognizant of diet, wake up feeling like they've slept in a cement mixer.

"I think post-workout nutrition is way overlooked in terms of recovery. When my PW nutrition is solid, I never get sore. My PW meal doesn't count towards my day blocks."

See? It's rational. It's purposeful. And most of all, it's effective. The way doctors fiddle with a patient's medication dosages? The same thing is possible with food. It's just a matter of being methodical. Problem is, nothing is as emotional as food. Might as well tell an addict to be methodical with his heroin injections. They're not called dope fiends for nothing. They are still called dope fiends, right? Donut fiends.

"Right now I have one cheat meal a week on Thursday nights. I have everything dialed in so specifically it's ridiculous; but it's so easy now -- second nature. After I eat my one little cheat meal my veins stick out like crazy. Also, since I don't binge on my cheat meals anymore, I don't have a noticeable increase in morning heart rate or the bodyweight fluctuations anymore."

Veins sticking out is a sign of metabolic stress. Why would eating stress you that much? Imbalance, of course.

N mentions a supplement called Resveretrol. It "activates the same genes that calorie restriction does [which increases longevity], only without the calorie restriction. It's taken from stressed grapes that fight off molds and fungus. In eating the stressed grape skins, we activate the genes that are responsible for survival, mimicking the benefits of calorie restriction." Could be. Calorie restriction is the only proven method of vastly increasing vital longevity. There must be genes responsible for that.

Here's the things. Animal proteins are sort of poisonous. If there is such a thing as auto-immune disease, animal products are a major factor. And they are very hard to digest -- like using your gas just to make your motor hot, rather than make it go. Indeed, we do not need protein at all. We need amino acids, the building blocks of protein. We don't need them just to make tissues -- we need them as peptides, as hormones, as neurotransmitters. If we could get that ratio right, well, it would be ideal, the way right things are ideal.

Same with carbs. All carbs break down into glucose. That's a lot of eating, just for the sugar. A lot of health problems, too. It's not the carbs. That's the wrong emphasis. It's the phytonutrients, the chemicals in plants that do all that protecting against mold and bugs and viruses and, uh, cosmic rays. Get those in the right amount, and you will be sure to get all the carbs, the glucose that you need.

Same with fats. Fats are just calories, which is just heat. Heat is, usually, the enemy of an engine. It's not about the calories. Calories are not a problem in our society -- not too few calories, anyway. It's the kind of fat. Point is, there are essential fatty acids from which your body makes hormones. If we get too much of one sort of fat, we get too much of certain kinds of hormones. We get too much omega 6 -- substrate of the inflammatory hormones. So use no vegetable oils unless you think inflammation is a really good thing for you, and use much much more omega 3 -- because anti-inflammatory hormones make you feel so good.

See? We've been propagandized, or at least miseducated, into thinking in terms of proteins and carbs and fat, when it should be amino acids and phytonutrients and omega 3. We think about calories instead of nutrients. If we think of nutrients at all, it's only as vitamins and minerals -- the stuff you can get in superscientifical formulas from the futuristic Atomic Age of the ultra modern Nineteen Fifties, when nutrition was invented and all our food was pills!

It just seems a bit unthoughtful, though, doesn't it? Think of it this way. Almost all of the nutrients that a cow eats are not available to you by eating its flesh. Yes, some of the vitamins and probably more of the minerals are transferred to you through the bloodburger, but all, all, all of the phytonutrients have been used up, burned up, by the cow to make its own flesh. Nothing left for you but the flesh, and you can't build out of ashes, if you get the point.

It’s not about being vegetarian. That’s not for everyone. Be happy. But be sensible too. A big heaping plate of spaghetti -- does this seem sensible? A thick slab of beef meat -- does this seem wise on a daily basis? It’s about the nutrients. You are made out of what you eat. If you’d like some help, getting things in order -- well, no one else can change your diet. No one can do the exercise for you. But if you’d like the information and the expertise, that’s what we do.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Wrong Theories

The Good Thing About Damage...

Gym coaches are still telling their students that the way muscles grow is that first muscles get torn down by exercise, damaged, and then they build up again, repair, only stronger. Yep. Damaging something makes it stronger. Like mutations and Evolution. Uh huh. Cuz that’s what the body does, y’see, when it gets big muscles. Something to do maybe with scar tissue.

No. It isn’t the damage that makes us stronger. The damage comes not from doing enough, or from being effective. Damage comes from doing too much, from overtraining, and from foolishness. Yes, it can accompany muscle growth, the way busted gaskets can accompany reckless driving. But jumbled in with all such associations is a profound tendency toward the post hoc logical fallacy. Correlation does not support causation. No duh.

The actual “cause” of muscle growth is hormones -- not movement, not exercise, not sets and reps and routines. None of these things could have any beneficial effect, without the hormonal signal to add protein to muscle cells -- whereas new size can be added if the hormones are there, with only a token amount of exercise. Effort stimulates hormones, but effort does not build muscle -- hormones do. Keeping it simple, of course. Steroids? The needle replaces the effort, so the same amount of work produces much bigger muscles. Smaller testicles though. An acceptable tradeoff, one must suppose.

The point is, how do we stimulate the clearest hormonal signal? Intensity. Major muscle mass engaged in powerful effort. The brain reads this as a call for more strength, and provides it. Damage? The brain reads this too, and sends out reparative hormones, to clean up the mess. The mess, however, does not make you stronger. It’s there because the workout was foolish. Coach was wrong.

So that’s one sort of wrong theory, arising from the wrong theory of isolation exercises, where doing bodybuilding, which is entirely about appearance, is supposed to make people more fit. Fit for what? In actuality, fit for standing on a stage in a thong, chemically bronzed, slathered with baby oil, glinting in the spotlight. Oooooh. The correct theory, we modestly asseverate, regarding how one might attain fitness, is that it is achieved by treating the whole body as a unit, rather than as a collection of mostly independent parts.

There's more to say of course, and perhaps it will be said. The future is such a hypothetical thing. What is certain is that under normal circumstances sensible exercise and sensible diet bring reasonable results. And who would want unreasonable results? Reasonable fitness goals, of energy and strength and weight and appearance, are not just honorable.  They're intrinsically rewarding. And personal excellence is a reasonable goal.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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