Swimming Upstream with Diets

bears fishing

Podcasts often make me go introspective to my daily habits. The topic du jour was diets. So here goes. (quick read? — scroll down for tips)

My body type is a mesomorph. Since I was young, I could eat whatever I wanted and still have a six-pack. I was super active and weight was never a problem. However, this also means I never learned how to eat. My grandpa lived to be 89 years old, yet he smoked, drank, and ate very poorly. When we had chili at his house, it came wrapped in butcher paper like a brick of fat. It melted in the pan as you cooked it. A slab of Colby cheese and a sleeve of crackers often accompanied it. And I loved it. I thought I had genes like his, so I could get away with eating poorly.

I think for most of us, our 30’s is when your metabolism starts to go into conservation mode. I was a Senior Army Drill Sergeant at 32 years old when I started to fall back in a run. What the heck? I was a runner and a pretty good one at that. I gained 10 pounds and it wasn’t coming off. Even when I became an ultramarathoner in my 40’s, I pretty much maintained weight and didn’t lose much. But the key that was missing was diet. I still ate like a horse.

Fast forward to years later. My ultramarathon days were starting to come to an end. I began doing CrossFit and made lots of changes in my life. But I didn’t change my diet. Not long before, my wife had her gall bladder removed. So I suppose I was next. After my diagnosis, the doctors were ready to schedule an appointment with the surgeon. I’m like “wait a minute, let’s think about this first”. I mean, I’m a scientist myself. There has to be a better way. I started doing some research and found that gall bladder disease is mostly a side effect of gluttony. It can be connected with a host of other issues from diabetes to gout to liver disease. My research led to a gastroenterologist back in the 1950’s who put together a diet with many names. It was the Diabetes Diet, Alzheimer’s Diet, Parkinson’s Diet, … In effect, they were all autoimmune diseases where autoregulation is halted. Come to find out, it is also the basis for the Paleo Diet.

So despite my mantra of “exercise all you can so you can eat what you want”, I needed to change. I went cold turkey and jumped on the Paleo bandwagon. We stripped the cupboards bare of all processed food, especially flour, pasta, and other starches. The same with sugars. Within two weeks, I was free of the painful heart-attack like symptoms that I suffered from my gall bladder. My blood lipids were completely back to normal and I was losing weight and bodyfat. It was amazing what it did for my life.

Since those days, I’ve moderated my views and overlapped other concepts into my life. I am still mostly Paleo since I pay for it when I go back to the Dark Side. I used to be the bonehead at the party who was vocal about what I “wasn’t” eating and would preach all the facts about the bad foods that were there. I’m more sociable now. I’ll graze on fun foods knowing that I’ll eat clean 98% of the time. During the work week, I’m essentially a Warrior Diet advocate. Here are some ideas that I abide by:

  • Breakfast consists of coffee with a half-teaspoon of creatine and a tablespoon of coconut oil which provides energy and muscle cell hypertrophy. I’m not very hungry anyway in the morning because of what I eat before bed.
  • I skip lunch but may snack on a protein bar, a spoonful of peanut butter, or maybe a protein shake to keep my energy, prevent muscle catabolism, and maintain low insulin levels for fat burning.
  • I usually do Olympic lifting in the morning, yoga over lunch, and a CrossFit WOD with bodybuilding after work. Then I eat dinner.
  • Dinner is the largest meal of the day. Caveman drag food home to cook and eat! I get my daily dose of calories at this time. Although, I’m usually not starving because I haven’t faced insulin spikes from what the FDA and others would recommend with small meals throughout the day. It is balanced with lots of protein, fat, and veggies.
  • Currently, my pre-bedtime ritual is to take Progenex Cocoon. It has amino acids like tryptophan to help you sleep. It also has other proteins that aids muscle building and recovery. I take creatine with this too. Your highest levels of testosterone and other growth hormones occur as you sleep. Your cortisol levels drop and serotonin increases. So you do some fat burning as well as opposed to fat storage. Your fat is being used to make new cells and aid in hormone building (which are made of fats).

So far so good. I still enjoy a few cheats along the way. I’m not perfect. If I get really hungry or if I know I am teaching an intense yoga class or hot yoga, I’ll eat lunch or a snack hours before. I still stick to a mostly Warrior/Paleo styled diet and it seems to work for me. The bonus of not planning breakfast or lunch is I never worry about what I’m going to eat. And I can really enjoy a savory dinner and a nice sleep at night. I also got to keep my gall bladder.

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