Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Barry Sears is Paleo

Interesting article by Robb Wolf about the Zone and the Paleo diet. Robb Wolf kind of pisses me off sometimes because he can't seem to write an article without attacking vegans. I just don't get his beef with vegans since they're generally vegans for moral reasons not nutritional reasons, and as an ex-vegan who still feels guilty eating meat, I kind of take offense, BUT other than that his articles are pretty good.

Barry Sears IS Paleo!!

I receive a lot of email from folks asking a variety of questions. Two questions tend to about send me over the brink: “How many blocks should I eat?” and “should I eat Paleo or Zone?” Both questions are troubling for several reasons but it’s actually the later question that just slays me and, is in fact, the causative factor FOR question number 1. You see, Barry Sears, The Zone, everything the man and the diet represent, are steeped in evolutionary biology. That folks, (Level 1 Cert crew teaching nutrition…) is paleo. For some damn reason CrossFit HQ (or elements so of it) can not wrap their minds around the concept that the basic premise of the paleo diet, that nice bit of writing from World Class Fitness in 100 Words: “…Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Some fruit, little starch, no sugar…” is in fact everything that Barry Sears talks about in the Zone! Sometime ago I received confused emails from people who attended a closed to the public gig in which the HQ lecturer, when asked “What about paleo?” responded “Paleo is pseudo science and the individuals who purport it’s methods are pseudo scientists…”

WOW! Better than half of my Crossfit Nutrition Certification is pseudo science! That’s a bummer. Strike one for CrossFit Nutritional offerings. Strike two was delivered this past weekend when Dr. Barry Sears gave a seminar to a large group of avid CrossFitters. Kelly Frankson attended the seminar and was kind enough to allow me to link to her notes. What we find is that Sears is practicing Pseudo Science just like other scientists like Cordain, Eaton, Eades and, well, me. Sears talked at length about genetics that are mismatched for our current environment, the need to return carbohydrate and essential fats BACK to Paleolithic levels. It’s a pretty serious situation if myself, Loren Cordain and Barry Sears are all practicing pseudo science! How long until Dean Ornish or John McDougal will lead the vegan charge for HQ. Those guys are definitely NOT paleo, so they must be of credible scientific pedigree…

Of Weights and Measures

There is a common bit of “wisdom” that is shot around the CrossFit world that goes something like this: “No one will ever reach elite athletic performance without weighing and measuring food…”. Interestingly however, few of the top finishers the CrossFit Games weighed and measured. Would they do better WITH weighing and measuring? Sure, I think you need to keep track of your chow at some point if you are going to affect some additional changes above what a food quality (paleo) approach will provide. But THAT is not the statement, nor the sentiment. Despite defying logic AND the actual stated nutritional hierarchy within Crossfit (don’t piss in your gas tank) the order of operations out of HQ is NOT food quality first (paleo), weighing and measuring second. It’s weigh and measure, whatever you have on hand and THAT will guarantee your ultimate success. It’s an interesting proposition that is proving itself to be completely false. Laura Demarco was an ardent Zoner (weighing and measuring) using VEGAN foods. She had ass-kicking performance but she did one simple thing (always nice in science) she shifted her food from grains to paleo carbs and her proteins all became animal based (paleo). You know what happened? She saw remarkable IMPROVEMENT in her performance. For her it mainly focused on strength (former 1RM DL was 275, current 5RM DL 285!!), but the results are stunning. The only change was a shift in food quality. I have dozens of stories like this. Apparently, food quality DOES matter.

Back to the Barry Sears seminar, Dr. Sears, the developer of the Zone…DOES NOT RECOMMEND WEIGHING AND MEASURING. HE RECOMMENDS FOOD QUALITY FIRST. He makes the point that WAM may be more trouble than it’s worth. For the vast majority of folks I work with that is absolutely the case. When we shifted AWAY from weighing and measuring in our clinical practice our clients got far better and more consistent results. Wacky things like reversing autoimmune disease, something that weighing and measuring beer, Pringles and beef jerky will not accomplish. Which reminds me, I’ve received quite a number of emails about the nutrition lecture at given Level 1 cert. The gist of the lecture is that a well-known athlete weighs and measures his beer, Pringles and beef jerky. He kicks ass (he is about 23…wait till 10 more years are on the odometer), so this is what you should do too. The best spin on this I can provide is this is a method of portion control. Being less diplomatic, I’d say people paid good money to attend that cert and the nutrition portion was a failure. We can and should do a hell of a lot better than that. As a Fitness company I cannot figure out why a general policy on eating is not “Eat the best food you possibly can, as often as you can. Slice it and dice it into the proportions that help you to reach YOUR goals”.

I’m NOT trying to make a paleo cult, I am encouraging people to TRY things and then report back what works. In the mean time I’ll be developing a t-shirt that says “Paleo Diet: Pseudo Science Since 5-million BC”.

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