20 October 2011

The Evolution Of My Diet #2- The Diet Cometh

A complete lack of testosterone.  Not pictured: Drum circle and hemp clothing.

One of the writers currently in vogue in the popular media is Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma,  In Defense of Food, and Food Rules.  The first two books are actually fairly good reads, although I don't agree with all of Pollan's opinions, and the last is essentially a Cliff's Notes version of the first two.  In essence, Pollan wants the Western world to abandon the processed foods diet that we've recently embraced and return to a more natural (paleo-esque) diet.  That's definitely a concept with which I can get, but his execution and my own vary quite a bit.  In stark contrast to my personal opinion about the true nature of the original human diet, Pollan takes the pacifistic/leftist/liberal/weaksauce point of view that humans are best served by following a near vegetarian diet.  This is of course the opinion du jour of most of the fringe elements with whom I share a marked dislike of the Establishment, but we definitely have oppositional views to food.  As I've posted previously, primitive humans were the ultimate predators, hunting a massive array of pants-shittingly vicious and humongous beasts to extinction with little more than brawny physiques and sharp sticks.
You weren't confronted with this motherfucker on your morning commute because one of your distant ancestors ate his entire family and picked their teeth with that cat's bones.

Though the old adage is that "Form Follows Function", I find that in life most things are circular, and in that very same way I think that dieting and exercise adhere to that circularity.  Thus, you need to eat to look the way you want to perform, which in turn deepens the necessity for that food and training.  As such, when I drastically alter my training or my diet in any way, I find that my appearance an performance suffer.

In spite of this fact, it's a colossal pain in the ass to train and eat the way I do when I'm being extra-serious about strength.  Though many (generally fat and weak) people will contradict this statement, I find that I am typically weaker when I'm fatter, and grow stronger as I lean out.  This is perhaps a result of the fact that I'm much more assiduous about my diet when training hard, and vice-versa, but that again returns to what I consider the circular nature of everything in life.  Thus, it's occurred to me that though Michael Pollan might be right about ditching the modern diet of processed food, he's fucking up by eating like a goddamned bunny.  I don't want to look and act like a like a bunny.  I want to look and act like like the humans of yore- a musclebound predator that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of everyone and everything around me.
A pet hyena might help, but flip flops and a skirt definitely ruin the effect.

As such, I've found that I have need of a diet that will simultaneously lean me out while providing me with the necessary energy to train extremely heavily and frequently.  This is by all accounts a tall order, and to most people is well-neigh impossible.  Conventional wisdom can go fuck itself, however.  Given that half of Americans thought the US "goes too far" in granting rights with the First Amendement, I'm inclined to do the opposite of what everyone thinks.(Paulson)  That's what I decided to do with this diet, as I think it's total horseshit that one couldn't find a way to gain muscle and lose fat if they're re willing to break their ass, do a bit of research, and diet like a crazy person.  Luckily, I'm crazy as a shithouse rat and have a hell of a lot of time on my hands.  The following is the produce of my lack of a social life and insanity.
Insanity's not always a bad thing.  This broad is crazier than a bag of wet cats.

Obviously, at the very root of my diet is Paleolithic nutrition.  As I mentioned before, the people of the Paleolithic era definitely seemed to know what was up.  They were considerably larger, had greater cranial capacities and more muscle than the modern human, and produced impressive architecture without the aid of modern machinery.  (Wiki, Hirst, Addendum)  As such, it would stand to reason that an effort to emulate those apex predators that our forebears were would be to eat like them.  There appears to be a bit of confusion about what exactly constitutes paleo however, and varies widely according to which author you read.

On the one side there are the hard-liners like Ray Audette, who advocate eating nothing but lean meats, vegetables, northern fruits, and nuts, and eschewing all else.  On the other side of the spectrum, you've got authors like S. Boyd Eaton, who basically advocated the Mediterranean Diet in 1988 with his Paleolithic Prescription.  In the middle you'd got the keto-paleo guys like Robb Wolff, Mark Sisson, and Art DeVany, and headed in the direction of Eaton you've got probably the most recognized paleo author, and the one with (in my opinion) the most polished academic credentials, Loren Cordain.
Pauline Nordin- paleo dieter and all-around bad ass hot chick.(Addendum)

The reason behind all of the apparent confusion behind the nature of the paleolithic diet are two things: money and geography.  Cordain's academic work explains the latter fairly simply:the proportions of plant and animal food in hunter gatherer diets range from a low of 26% protein and 74% plant among the Gwi of Africa to a high of 99% animal / 1% plant with the Nunamiut of Alaska.  8 out of the 13 cultures he outlined ate 68% of their calories as meat, while another 3 ate 41-48% meat and 2 ate less than 41% meat.(Ungar 368)  Throw on top of that the fact that our knowledge about the foods ate in the paleolithic change rather frequently, and you get a geographic and temporal gradient and sundry disparities in the makeup of the "diet".  As such, it's difficult to claim one universal "paleo" diet.  That's where the second issue comes in- money.  Because one can semi-rightly claim that any nonsense that happens to issue forth from their money-dirtied fingers is ostensibly paleo,  all of the aforementioned authors probably (and in Cordain's case, definitely) made concessions to what they likely considered their target audiences.  As such, Wolff went with paleo for the meatheads and Eaton went carb-crazy for the chubby housewives.  For them, it was win win, but for anyone trying to make sense of their lunacy, it's a bitch.
Who could say no to this other than Ray Audette?

As you'll recall from previous blogs, I've long been a fan of ketogenic diets (you can now search past blogs with the search bar on the right, so I no longer have to link every motherfucking thing I've ever written).  Though I've credited Bodyopus with giving me the kick in the ass I needed to start the diet, it was actually the fact that I was sick to fucking death of dieting on chicken breasts and turkey lunchmeat (in a sort of PSMF) and awoke craving the fuck out of breakfast sausage one winter day around 1997.  That's actually what got me to start my experiment.  I've had generally positive but mixed success with them over the years, and found that my previous extreme fatloss on a high calorie ketogenic diet was not easily replicated when sitting behind a desk at work.  As such, I did a bit of research.  I realized that while the calorie-festival style keto approach I had taken in the past worked while I was more active (as were people in the paleolithic era), it was not serving me well while I spent the vast majority of my waking hours chained to a desk, writing scripts in SQL and trying to explain financial accounting software to people who should already know what they're fucking doing, since that's their industry.  From this, I discovered that impotent rage is neither anabolic nor metabolically stimulating, and came to the conclusion that I was going to have to rethink my return to awesome.
Looking like an ancient tank is a fairly compelling basis for a diet, frankly.

In my musings, I mulled the concept that people have not been historically capable of finding and eating protein in regularly-spaced intervals throughout the day.  This brought me to the concept of fasting, which is currently popular in LeanGains and formerly popular in the Warrior Diet.  It occurred to me that something like the Warrior Diet might be the ticket to fatloss, provided I combined it with a ketogenic evening splurge rather than Ori's grain-filled bonanza, given my natural predisposition towards keto dieting.  In the WD, one is generally suppose to eat very little or nothing throughout the day, which ostensibly simulates the body's fight or flight response.  While I found that to be a fairly interesting concept, I was unprepared to go all in with that sort of craziness without a bit of trial run.  My trial run, I decided, would be the Velocity Diet, one of the major T-Nation products.

This trial lasted precisely three days, in which I came to but one conclusion:  not eating SUCKS.

As this is running very long, I'll stop here and hit you guys this weekend with the remainder of my experimentation and the ultimate result.

1. Cities like Göbekli Tepe and Çatalhöyük.  The latter was a 10,000 year old city that was home to as many people as lived in London in the early middle ages, but with what appears to be a much higher standard of living, and in which there is no evidence of the consumption of grains until the end of its 2000 year existence. The former, along with Nevali Cori, is over 11,000 years old and is one of the oldest man-made structures on Earth.  For those feminists out there, all of these cultures appeared to worship the Mother Goddess, and all show signs of having been egalitarian societies without gender or class differentiation.

2. Paline Nordine's diet is called the Fighter Diet and is more or less a mashup of the Dukan Diet and paleo dieting.  Check out descriptions here and here if you're interested.


CBC News.  Diets: A Primer.  CBC News Online, 5/17/2004.
Hirst, K. Kris.  Why Don't We Call Them Cro-Magnon Anymore? http://archaeology.about.com/od/earlymansites/a/cro_magnon.htm
MacDonald, Lyle.  Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.  2005.
Paulson, Ken.  Too Free?  American Journalism Review, 2002.  http://ajr.org/article.asp?id=2621
Pollan, Michael.  Food Rules.  New York:  Penguin, 2009.
Ungar, Peter S., ed.  Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Wikipedia. Çatalhöyük.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%87atalh%C3%B6y%C3%BCk
Wikipedia.  Cro-Magnon.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cro-Magnon


  1. I got the leftist part of Pollan's book, but I didn't really get the vegetarian part. (Although, I stopped reading the book about 40 pages before the end... no idea why.)
    Either way, I thought it was decent.
    Glad he devoted a section to the Industrial-Organic.

    Also, Leangains fucking works.
    I eat 3 times a day, cheat 2-3 times a week and can Oly squat double BW daily.

    1 problem with Berkhan-- his HIT fixation.

  2. Some people may disagree with you about being stronger when you're leaner, but it's definitely true for me, although only because it seems like bulking always makes me vulnerable to knee and back injuries and kills my recovery time.
    Bulking really helps me to put on muscle, but It seems like I'm not able to use it effectively, at least in squats and deadlifts until I start cutting. I don't let myself get horrendously fat, and my body fat percentage doesn't change that drastically, so I wonder if this has more to do with the amount of food I'm eating than the amount of fat I'm carrying. It almost seems like eating below maintenance (I usually do leangains style intermittent fasting) helps me to recover from workouts faster. I can't really explain this, but it seems to be the case

  3. I've found that since starting high frequency training, I've been putting on weight while simultaneously losing fat (and I already weighed 190 lean). Squats everyday will do that.

  4. "Luckily, I'm crazy as a shithouse rat..."

    Your dad's a looney. A looney up in the nuthouse in Togus. He took your ear and he put it to a stove and burnt it off.

  5. The other day I started thinking about the paleo diet, which I follow religiously with bacon, eggs, chicken, beef, veggies and nuts, and I produced several inquirements. The people of the past eat that way, I know, but that was the people of YOUR past (North America, Europe, etc.) What about South America? Should I also eat beef, which didn't exist here until the arrival of the "developed europeans". Sudamerica arrived late to evolution, that's a fact. While in the other part of the world you were with the kings and that shit, we were still some kind of savages living in a well-organized high-achieving empire. Potatoes were the staple of their diets, in addition to some alpaca meat, fish, corn, etc, foods which didn't have a lot of colesterol, as beef. I wonder if anyone have ever done some research about the paleolithic eating in sudamerica, It would be pretty interesting to read about it. The denoument is that I don't know what the fuck I should eat. If all that shit about ontogeny is true, then I am made to eat fish, potatoes, alpaca, corn and that shit that I don't like. Sudamerica has a lot of microweathers with different animals in each one of them, but nobody talks about them, I mean, all I was taught in school was that I must eat the fucking potatoes.

  6. Pollan's book "In Defense of Food" is a must read in my opinion. Sure, he eschews meat more than he probably should, but he's also not strong and probably doesn't do any serious training.

    His examples and research are the clearest, most succinct takedowns of our current dietary trends (i.e. the Western diet).

    I know an appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, but fuck it - the more people that read his books and take the time to apply the messages to their individual requirements, the fewer disgusting fatbodies America will be plagued with.

    TL;DR - eat meat and plants, don't eat packaged anything.

  7. although it is kinda simplistic, i try to eat to support the composition i want. i eat fat to support my brain and nervous system. i eat meat to support my muscles.

    it will be impossible to reproduce the diet of our pre agricultural ancestors. a lot of those plants and animals just aren't available anymore. just concentrate on eating high quality, real food.

  8. Çatalhöyük was a neolithic city. 10000 inhabitants 7500 to 5700 years ago. Paleolithic era humans didn't have time to build time resistant structures or to have 3-6 scheduled meals a day. Hunting and Gathering was a full time occupation.

    I find that in my early forties calorie-dense ketogenic diets are a lot easier and a lot less effective than they were in my early twenties. My fasting blood sugar is easily in the 100 mg/dl range after an 8 hour fast. I'm much, much stronger, more muscular and somewhat fatter. If I want to lean out I have to control portion size even in total carb restriction. I always thought that rising blood glucose and lower metabolisms were entirely lifestyle driven and not congenital or brought on by aging. Now, I'm willing to reconsider that.

    Once again...good blog. Thank you for turning me to Man Must Die (you consider that "mainstream" like Lamb of God?)

  9. The only reason Çatalhöyük is considered a neolithic city is because archaologists refuse to accept the fact that non-farmers could've built and maintained a large city without agriculture. From every source I've readon on the subject, it's only at the end of their run (the uppermost strata) that any evidence of agriculture exists. In the lower strata, it's tons of animal bones and undomesticated plant life.

    I'll agree that as much as we'd like to think it doesn't, age likely plays a factor in the effect of various diets on our physiques. Dukan made some mention of it, but I dismissed it out of hand due to the fact that he's not a strength athlete. Perhaps there's something to be learned from the couch potatoes.

    As for Man Must Die, it's certainly more mainstream than the shit to which I normally listen, but then I consider Meshuggah to be mainstream.

  10. I was introduced to half the bands listed in your blogger profile by a 14 year old girl with herpes.

  11. Hahaha. I don't even recall what's in there- that list is a couple of years old. Sounds like a pretty good story you've got brewing there. How'd you get away with fucking a 14 year old?

    Adebisi- How are you capable of quoting Stand By Me off the top of your head? Why would you watch that enough to enable you to do so?

  12. Movies...most visual media sticks in my brain after 1 or 2 viewings.
    It's a useless curse.

    I've been giving the Lean Gains shit a try.
    I kind of prefer eating this way as it is a lot less work than eating more often.
    I like eating, but it gets to the point where it becomes like a part time job preparing everything and blah blah.
    Feels good so far.

  13. I didn't, or I'd have some furious itching ahead of me right now. She was the craziest chick I've ever seen eat her own vaginal discharge, though.

    adebisi- when I can, I like preparing food ahead of time. I don't give a shit if something is hot, cold, or lukewarm, so I have no issues with that.

  14. Yeah, I do that as well, but I realized that I ate according to the lean gains method of eating throughout my entire youth by default and it seemed to work out well. With the exception of eating primarily garbage and being completely ignorant to anything weight training related I'd say I benefitted from it greatly considering I was always lean, able to sprint like a rabbit and jump small buildings.

    I also find that I tend to over think or confuse myself by reading so much shit about dieting because I'm having trouble leaning out. This method just simplifies it greatly for me as there is a clear window that I can eat during and that's it. Add to that only eating meat and vegetable and I think I may be on the road to turning myself into the white Bruce Lee as far as body fat is concerned. HIYYYYYYYYYA.

  15. Two main reasons why people say they lift better when leaner:

    1) They put the weight that was dangling from their muscles onto the bar.
    2) Their nervous system is functioning at a higher capacity (keto).

    Great post, I've been thinking and saying a lot of this before, but you actually post it.

    Your LG/WD run, btw, was too short for your body to adapt to the new frame (homeostasis). I have done fasts, and what helps is coffee, teas, lots of water, no-carb Syntrax Nectar. You are replacing old habits with new ones, so don't expect your brain to take such a drastic shift lying down. (nutshell post)

  16. I realize I didn't give it a fair shake, but when I'm already restricting the holy shit out of myself and beating the everloving shit out of myself in the gym twice a day, I have neither the time nor the patience to put up with further feelings of starvation. Additionally, all that pain was pretty unnecessary, as I'll cover in the next installment.

  17. I don't know about all of South America but while I was in Buenos Aires I had the best steak I've ever eaten in my life. It was a thick as three of your fingers and as big as probably two and a half of your hands and steaks like this are common there. The whole meal only cost me 30 American dollars.

  18. Glen: I need to find a steak like that here on the island. Baby H Christ that sounds good.

    Jamie: Valid, will be an interesting read. Looking over the first post, you sort of did fast. You cycled your fat intake and kept carbs as low as possible except on cheat days, where you went ham. You have great discipline so I'm sure you can adapt to fasting, and that will take you to the levels of lean you seem to want. I had the same thoughts when I first started fasting, and after like two failed attempts, my brain caught up to what I was doing and it finally worked. When it does, you won't even feel hungry and will actually feel more energetic, because the energy your body spends on your digestive system will be spent on other tasks, etc. Have another crack at it.

  19. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/847429-mma-exclusive-interview-part-deux-with-cult-mma-documentarist-genghis-con

    While typing the above comment, I remembered this paragraph. Alexis Vila won an Olympic bronze metalist in wrestling, is currently signed to Bellator, fights in the 135lbs. class (at the time of the interview, 125lbs), is lean and completely smashes his opponents, overpowering them:

    JS: Yes, Masvidal’s personality really shines through in the documentaries. Any random facts about any of the fighters that you have filmed which not many people know?

    GC: Well Masvidal loves his McDonalds, a Big Mac meal. I think we captured that on film. Conversely, Alexis Vila hardly eats. He’ll eat like once a day. He’ll go until midnight and then eat some chicken wings, or pizza, then he’s straight, full of energy. He fights at 125, and he only walks around 131. He’s stronger than everybody up to 155. I’ve wrestled with the dude.

    Obviously, your calorie needs are much, much different than his.

  20. Check out this tip about using straps to front squat with a clean grip even if you lack flexibility.


    I haven't read the rest of the article, so it might suck, but I figured this strap method could be useful to you.

  21. buenos aires was also a european colony and yes, they have the best steaks (it must be something with the oatmeal, which they use to feed their cows)

  22. I think it's anthropologicaly incorrect to put importance only on the paleolithic menu when talking paleolithic dieting. I think in hunting/gathering societies, particularly north of the alps, there was an extreme range in daily calorie intake, extreme seasonal range in calorie intake and extreme seasonal variation in menu. The thing that varied the least was the number of daily meals: one...including the one that lasted days when large game was killed. Of course non-europeans can interpret my beliefs and adapt them to the geographical realities of where their respective ancestors originated.

  23. Eric- That's why I think it's important to take metabolic typing into effect. Though it is generally associated with hokey bullshit, it is at its essence intended to address the concerns you just put forth.

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