This post is, in part, a response to a recent Power Company Climbing podcast, Common Sense Nutrition with Neely Quinn. If Neely’s name sound’s familiar, it’s probably because you’ve been all over her site Interstingly enough, I became familiar with her nutritional guidance from Paleo Plan much before I was researching training for climbing.

A Simple Question:

Neely’s big question in the podcast is: How did eating X make you feel? I believe there is also a subsequent, … and how did you perform? This is a great starting point and I like that it is also covered in the podcast that most people don’t know that the thing’s they’re eating are messing them up.

I also like the tried and true troll comment that “So and so climbs V10 and subsists on American Spirit cigarettes, skittles, and Diet Coke.” And the corresponding (intelligent) response from both Kris and Neely is: “What if they could climb V15? How much harder could they climb if they put just a little effort into nutrition?

Back to Basics:

We all know that we should:

  • Drink more water
  • Sleep more
  • Eat more protein
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Etc…

Follow through (or lack thereof) is something else entirely. Most people try to implement too many changes that are too drastic all at once. In turn, rather than adapt to the stimuli, your body view it as traumatic and rejects it. Think New Year’s Resolution… “new year, new me (and the same excuses).”

Slow and steady really does win the race. Temporary efforts yield temporary results (crash diets, weddings, vacations, competitions, etc…). Somewhere on Robb Wolf’s blog there is a post that reminds us that “If you can’t see yourself eating this way five years from now, you’re doing something wrong.”

Pick one think to change and do it until you can do it without thinking about it, then change one more thing. Make small enough changes that you will stick to them no matter what. As Tim Ferriss would say; “Stack the deck so you can’t fail.”

Good Places to Start:

I think that Tim Ferriss’s Slow Carb Diet is a more moderate “paleo-ish” type diet. However, I do think that the full on 4 Hour Body is overbearing a excessively neurotic – though it was developed for ecessively sedentary people initially.

I’m not going into the calorie thing as it’s pretty well been debunked. For instance, the US Government has been telling us to move more and eat less for 30 years and the conuntry has a whole has exponentially gotten more fat and less healthy.

Even if you’re not of the paleo / primal persuasion, some dang good building blocks can be drawn from it’s principles.

  • Don’t eat poisonous things (smoking, hydrogenated oils, refined grains, etc..)
  • Don’t eat food that makes you feel like junk: The eight most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
  • Do eat heathful, nutrient dense foods (fruit, vegetables, organic protein, natural fats)
  • Do eat things that grow, don’t eat things that don’t grow: I have a “grandma rule”: If my grandmother (both children in The Great Depression Era) couldn’t grow, kill, harvest, or procure it in the back yard I probably shouldn’t eat it.”
  • All food has calories, all calories (and nutrient sources) are not created (or used by the body) equally.

The Anderson Brothers also suggest a “5% Rule.” That is, that you should try to stay within 5% of your peak physique weight all year round. The theory is that 5% is a reasonable adjustment to make wihtout breaking you (remember the New Year’s resolution thing?).

A Good Conversation:

I have been an avid paleo adherent (plus or minus some degrees of experimetnation) for the past five years. I have also lived (peacefully) in a house full of vegans. One of my current roommates (who ascribes neither to a paleo or vegan lifestyle) is a microbiologist, the knowledge from which he uses to inform his dietary decisions.

I don’t remember the exact content of one particularly long and arduous debate about nutrition, but the summary we came was that “building blocks come first.” We both ackowledge the avoiding poison foundations (nicotine, alcohol, hydrogenated oils, white grains, processed sugar, and chemical layden crap). Next, we agreed on eating real food, (remember my Grandma Rule).

Just doing those two things are difficult enough for most people. Facetiously I concluded our discussion by saying that after, and only after, you’ve been able to do both of the above for one year am I willing to have a discussion with you about potatoes (or lecthins, gluten, beans, nightshade vegetables, sutainabliltiy – or any number of other minute details that are trivial if you aren’t taking care of the first two things).

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