The information presented herein is not intended for the treatment or prevention of any disease, nor as a substitute or alternative to medical treatment. This publication is presented for educational purposes only and in an effort to increase the reader’s general knowledge of nutrition and strength and conditioning. The information and program outlined within should not be adopted without a consultation with your healthcare provider. The information and program outlined within is solely intended for healthy individuals of 18 years and older. Be sure that your equipment is well-maintained prior to practicing the exercises provided within. All forms of exercise pose inherent risks. Do not take risks beyond your level of experience, aptitude, training, and fitness.
Copyright © Justin Lascek 2013 70’s Big – North Ogden – Utah This book was originally self-published on 2 February 2013.
Paleo for Lifters
PREFACE AND READING LIST
CHAPTER 1 –
CHAPTER 2 –
Nutrition Basics –
CHAPTER 3 –
Why Paleo? –
CHAPTER 4 –
CHAPTER 5 –
Tips and Such –
CHAPTER 6 –
A Final Word –
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND CONTACT –
Paleo for Lifters
Preface Thank you for purchasing this e-book. I sincerely believe that it can provide a good summary review on quality nutrition for performance, health, and longevity. I hate the idea of putting myself on the cover of this book, yet I think it’s important because I practice what I preach. I actively teach people the principles of anatomy, physiology, strength, conditioning, mobility, and nutrition to make them perform well, look good, and ideally keep doing both of those things into old age. I consistently maintain a body weight between 210 and 215 with a body fat percentage lower than 10% while remaining strong, conditioned, and athletic. Make no mistake: performance is the goal for me and 70’s Big readers. Yet I believe a man should be physically admirable, like a Greek statue, while retaining multipurpose athletic ability. It is my aim that the nutrition principles in this book will aid you in your performance, aesthetic, and health goals. The tone of this book is informal. Most of what I say is based on proven methods – whether scientifically or practically – but I infuse a lot of my own opinion throughout the book. There will be naysayers and nitpickers; they are free to disagree. But everything I say in this book is backed up with a logical argument and practical experience. I can probably curl more than the average naysayer too. This book will not include meticulous scientific information. Suggestions will not be validated with explanations of biochemical processes nor will peer reviewed research studies be cited. There are other books for that. I highly suggest that you read Dr. Loren Cordain’s “The Paleo Diet” and Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution”. Each of those books will lay out a case for why Paleo eating is optimal for health. I also suggest reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes and “The Great Cholesterol Con” by Anthony Colpo to gain an understanding of why fat is not bad and why abuse of carbohydrates is. I also highly recommend reading the following websites; Mark Sisson’s Mark’s Daily Apple and Lyle McDonald’s Body Recomposition. All of the above sources have been integral in developing my knowledge and implementation of nutrition and diet, and all of the authors are much smarter than I am. Instead, Paleo for Lifters will be mostly conceptual in nature. It will not include an exact meal plan because it aims to teach the reader autonomy. Just as with strength and conditioning programming, nutrition is dependent on the individual and benefits from creativity. This book should provide you foundational information with guidelines so that you can create your own quality nutrition plan. While you are free to skip around, I recommend reading the book straight through as each chapter builds on the previous one. Thank you again for buying this e-book. Train hard and eat well.
--Justin Lascek, January 2013 4
Paleo for Lifters
Chapter 1 – Introduction
The history of nutrition and strength training has roots in hearty caloric-dense meals – with good reason. Strength training places a toll on the body that requires adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. There are stories from strength training legends that talk about how young, hard training men would go to the local diner for cheeseburgers and milkshakes to recover from training. Other stories detail the amount of eggs, milk, cream, ice cream, and protein powder that they would throw into their shakes. This is what was believed to be necessary to get bigger and stronger, so that’s what you should do too. Right? The old school nutritional paradigm is based on the misconception that dirty foods are the only foods that can help someone gain muscle and get stronger. The mindset probably evolved from the stories told in powerlifting magazines of super heavyweights. After all, the heaviest guys are the strongest guys, so their dietary habits are naturally highlighted. While a lifter like Lamar Gant is impressive, his 688lb deadlift at 132lbs pales in comparison to Bill Kazmaier’s 886.7lb raw deadlift, albeit at a body weight of over 300lbs. Furthermore, the impressive eating stories printed in strength training literature typically highlight young men during pubescent training. Teenagers and young adults have fiery metabolisms due to their high testosterone levels and are able to convert massive amounts of calories into solid muscular gain. Every adult in Western society soon finds out that continuing their teenage eating habits will result in fat accumulation through each passing decade. As someone gets older, their metabolism slows and their body adapts to stress more slowly. “Body fat is 90% diet,” is a common phrase that has risen from trainees that are disappointed with their body composition despite hard training in the gym. Lean, athletic physiques require a lot of effort and will power. Quality food doesn’t just yield a lean physique; it plays a role in how efficiently the body works. There will always be new fad diets that claim to lose weight quickly and easily – nutrition is a habit that is extremely difficult to change and capitalizing on laziness funnels money to pseudo-nutritionists. There have been huge nutritional advances in the last two decades that are yet to permeate mainstream nutritional and fitness knowledge or even acceptance. It is possible to combine the lessons from unconventional nutrition knowledge with strength and conditioning to create an efficient dietary approach that will provide enough calories for recovery and gaining muscle without superfluous fat gain. Paleo for Lifters will show how to do this in a variety of scenarios with guidelines.
Paleo for Lifters
Chapter 2 – Nutrition Basics
Nutrition and diet are complicated things. There are thousands of different sources saying millions of different things. Every few years there is a new fad diet that claims to help drop body fat quickly. Yet despite alleged improvements in knowledge, western society continues to grow fatter every year. It’s apparent that authoritative sources are not doing their job when it comes to healthy dietary recommendations. In addition to ineffective information and authorities, diet is a habitual thing. Daily food choices aren’t made for health reasons, but convenience and taste. The last 100 years have seen amazing advances in food availability and technology. Instead of eating locally grown whole foods, most people consume processed foods from stores or restaurants. Convenient food availability also creates the concept of psychological eating; thousands of choices allow for selecting food based on comfort and how it makes a person feel. And when these people want to make a change to improve their physique or health, the available information is fair at best. If you have bought this book, then you’ve been under a barbell before. You know that grinding out heavy sets of squats is inherently hard, but you make a conscious decision to do it regularly in order to improve. Eating a healthy diet is harder. Your daily routine, psyche, habits, and convenience have created your existing diet. Making changes, especially on a grand scale, takes conscious effort and motivation. If you have been chronically eating poorly, the transition to healthy eating will be even more difficult. Your blood sugar and hormones respond to your diet, and it’s possible you have dug yourself into a hole. The longer you’ve eaten like crap, the bigger the hole. Unhealthy and fat people usually talk about “going on a diet.” Yet the term diet is derived from the Greek word diaita and later the Latin word diaeta, both meaning “way of life.” The goal of Paleo for Lifters is to give you a true diet that you can use through the rest of your life. It takes big hairy balls to immediately convert into a healthy diet indefinitely. We’ll learn that the body wants to remain in homeostasis. When big changes are made the body is confused, feels like crap, and gets lethargic and intolerable. Before we learn about how to eat a Paleo-based diet, let’s look at the basics: physiology and food.
Physiology Basics In order to understand the effect of food on the system, it’s helpful to understand the very basic, conceptual “Stress Adaptation Syndrome.” It was introduced by Dr. Hans Selye in a short article in Nature in 1936, and it basically states that all organisms have an acute response and subsequent chronic 6
Paleo for Lifters
adaptation after being exposed to sub-lethal stresses. In other words, when a person undergoes a stress that doesn’t kill them, there will be an immediate response from the body followed by a recovery and adaptation process so that the body can handle that same stress more easily in the future. The adaptation allows the body to handle a greater quantity or duration of the stress, though the quantified amount is arbitrary. Stressors can be psychological or physical, but in this book, we are focusing on the physical. Note that this process can either occur with the presence or lack of a stress. For example, loading the skeleton with a twenty pound backpack would result in an adaptation of increased bone density in an untrained individual. However, if an active untrained individual adopts a sedentary lifestyle of sitting around, they will adapt to a lack of stress by decreasing bone density and musculature since there isn’t any stress that is causing those structures to maintain or increase density or size. In other words, not doing anything makes you weaker and more fragile (and this is why exercise is important for longevity). Stressors can have an acute and systemic response. If my thighs chronically rub together, the skin friction results in the adaptation of not growing hair on the inner thigh. This is an acute response. If I perform five sets of five reps of deadlift at 85% or greater, I will experience acute soreness in the relevant structures (e.g., lower back, posterior chain, and upper back), but I will also have imparted a severe hit to my system that will result in a decreased state of readiness and recovery. If I continue pounding the body with high volume training, then I’ll prevent proper recovery and get into a recovery deficit, which results in decaying performance. The term system is used to represent the body’s comprehensive response that includes all of the body’s systems (e.g., neuroendocrine, lymphatic). It’s clear that there is a systemic response from lifting, and the same applies to nutrition. Dr. Barry Sears put it best in Enter the Zone when he said “Food is a drug.” Consuming a drug creates a chemical response that changes functioning of a given process in the body. The response from that stressor also results in side effects, regardless of whether they are benign or malignant. Taking any kind of drug alters the body’s biochemistry and potentially does so in unseen ways; there’s no way to know the domino effect of altering a single enzymatic process. Food does the same thing - every edible item you put in your mouth initiates a hormonal response. Chronically eating the wrong amounts of macronutrients in poor quality will create an unhealthy hormonal environment. This conceptual explanation is important because food is a stressor that can have good or bad acute or systemic responses. Food is the body’s fuel and will play a serious role in health, body composition, and recovery from training.
Food Basics At one point in history, “food” consisted of things that used to be alive. Nowadays, food can be synthetic. The relevant pieces of food for nutrition include macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are 7
Paleo for Lifters
proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Micronutrients include vitamins like Vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K, as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, and potassium. In general, a lifter should get his macronutrients under control before even bothering with his micronutrients. In subsequent chapters we’ll see that following a Paleo outline consisting of whole foods will satisfy most micronutrient needs.
Proteins Protein is derived from a Greek word, “proteios”, meaning “of the most important.” On average, a human body is about 18% protein. It is an essential part of all body tissues and components including muscles, hormones, antibodies, enzymes, cell membranes, and skin. In other words, protein isn’t just used for repairing and building muscle, but creating and maintaining all structures in the body. An average, nontraining person would do well to consume close to their body weight (in pounds) in grams of protein; it would significantly improve their metabolism, energy levels, immune system, and subsequently overall health. However, I typically recommend that male lifters get at least 50g more than their body weight, and that the hardest training lifters increase that to at least 100g over their body weight. For example, a 200 pound male should aim to eat at least 200 grams of protein. The first goal for women is to get their protein intake in grams closer to their body weight, and they can later titrate it up to 30 to 50g over their body weight after observing their recovery and body composition changes. Women are more sensitive to total calories, so they may not need to consume more grams of protein than their body weight. One gram of protein is four calories.
Carbohydrates Carbohydrates are compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and are therefore sometimes abbreviated as “CHO.” They are broken down into either a monosaccharide (glucose, fructose, and galactose), disaccharide (sucrose, maltose, and lactose), or polysaccharide (starch, fiber, and glycogen). All carbohydrates need to be broken down to monosaccharides before they can be used by the body (which does so during energy metabolism). Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates in animals, and it is stored in the liver and skeletal muscle (i.e., the muscle throughout your body that creates movement). Carbohydrates are a major energy source, especially during high-intensity or long duration exercise, and the nervous system relies exclusively on carbohydrates for energy. For our purposes we will think in terms of simple sugars and complex sugars; the more complex the carbohydrate, the longer it takes to digest and be of use to the system. One gram of carbohydrate is four calories.
Paleo for Lifters
Fats Fats, also known as lipids, include triglycerides, free fatty acids, phospholipids, and sterols. The body stores fat as triglycerides. Lipids make up all cell membranes and nerve fibers, are a primary source of energy, and are the building block of hormones. For our purposes they are an incredibly important caloric source and by eating a variety of quality fats we can also provide the endocrine system with supplies to make and use hormones for recovery. Animal fat promotes higher testosterone and hormone productions — fat and cholesterol are the building blocks of hormones. Eating fat also helps improve insulin sensitivity since it will usually be combined with a decrease in carbohydrate consumption and slows the absorption of carbs. Greater amounts of animal fat allow for better recovery and bulking, but they can also help a lifter become leaner by avoiding carb calories and subsequently unnecessary fat gain when trying to bulk. Aside from adequate protein, fat consumption is the best method to recover from training and stay lean. One gram of fat is nine calories.
A Word on Calories and Carbs I’m not a zealot or a diet groupie. That might sound ironic given that “Paleo” is in the book title, but I eat non-Paleo food often enough to give hardcore Paleo folks the willies. I do this primarily to fuel my training and hobbies, but generally speaking I would want trainees to be healthy and lean before clearing them to eat less healthy food items. Different types of people will require different methods, yet they funnel into a basic concept. The food choices in a Paleo diet are of the highest quality, meat is aplenty, fat intake is high, and carbs aren’t superfluous. I see it as the end goal for most people to shift into to old age with; it just makes sense that eating the most nutrient dense food sources and eliminating synthetic chemicals would yield optimal health. However, I don’t hardline the rules like a zealot and am okay with having leeway. I don’t support whining about feeling sick after eating a burger bun or making a group of people change their dinner plans because of being frightened over the potential gluten exposure. And when training hard, you’ll sometimes need something more than what a caveman scrounged up for his hairy wife. That’s because we need calories. High amounts of calories are often important for a lifter because the structural damage from training requires “stuff” to fix it. Practically, we know that protein fixes muscles, while fat supports cellular structure and hormone development. Making a point to eat calories will inevitably provide these macronutrients, but we would be more efficient if we ate an appropriate amount of each to ensure there is enough to do their specified jobs. Though we will aim to eat many calories, it would behoove us to eat the right calories. But what about carbs, specifically? They are stored in the body to be used for energy, but other than that, don’t do much.
Paleo for Lifters
There is a stigma attached to the Paleo diet that says it is a low-carb diet. Yes, if you only eat meat, veggies, and some fat, there are very few carbs in those food items. But last I checked, “Paleo” encompassed types of foods that don’t cause problems in the body. Potatoes fit into this category. Fruit, while harmful in consistently large amounts, fits into this category. Just because there are fewer choices for carbohydrates doesn’t mean Paleo is low-carb. And if there was a Paleo God who decided what the Paleo Diet was, then I’d still commit blasphemy and say: you can eat a Paleo diet that isn’t low-carb. And you do that by eating more carbs. Crazy talk! People who think a Paleo diet must be “low-carb” are the same people that need to be told exactly what to do every day in the gym; they have difficulty learning foundational information and applying it to their training. In Paleo for Lifters we aren’t going to abuse carbs, but we sure as hell aren’t going to go “lowcarb” and induce ketosis. Ketogenic diets may have utility in improving insulin sensitivity and body fat, but not for increasing performance or recovering from training (we’ll revisit this later in the chapter).
Common Food Choice Information Here is a short list of foods and their corresponding macronutrients. Knowing these basic values will give you an idea of how much of a given macro is actually in what you eat.
Protein Sources Meat – An ounce of meat has about 6 or 7 grams of protein. Each pound of meat has about 100 to 110g of protein. Fat content can vary. No carbohydrates. Eggs – Each egg has about 6g of protein, or 7g in large eggs. Half the protein is in the yolk, as well as all the fat and vitamins. The yolk will have about 4.5g of fat and 200mg of cholesterol (which will help with hormone creation). No carbohydrates. Nut Butters – Have a little bit of protein, but not enough to matter in daily estimates. Some carbs. Nuts and Seeds – Have a little bit of protein, but not enough to matter in daily estimates. Some carbs.
Carbohydrate Sources Sweet Potatoes – Each has about 25 to 40g of carbs for medium to large potatoes respectively. Minimal protein, no fat. Sweet potatoes have more Vitamin A than other potatoes.
Paleo for Lifters
White Potatoes – They have more carbs than sweet potatoes and will have more of a blood sugar and insulin response. There is about 30 to 60 grams of carbs in small to large potatoes respectively. Minimal protein, no fat. Apple – There are about 25g of carbs in a medium sized apple. Banana – Each medium banana will have about 30g of carbs. Orange – Each medium orange will have about 35g of carbs. Berries – A cup of mixed berries will have about 15 to 20g of carbs.
Fat Sources (with calories, since we will eat fat for additional calories) Coconut Oil – 14g of fat for 126 calories per tbsp. Mostly saturated fat. Olive Oil – 14g of fat for 126 calories per tbsp. Mostly unsaturated fat. Avocado – 22g of fat for 198 calories for a medium avocado. Mostly unsaturated fat. Almonds – 14g of fat and about 160 calories per ounce (carb/protein content increases total calories). Peanut Butter – About 15g of fat and about 170 calories per ounce (carb/protein content increases total calories).
Macronutrient Intake Recommendations My good friend Gant Grimes likes to repeat an old training adage: “Eat enough protein to support or increase lean body mass, eat carbohydrates to match activity levels, and eat enough fat to recover.” This is the premise behind any lifter or athlete’s diet, and the foundation for this book. Protein intake has rigid intake boundaries. I will defer to Dr. Mauro G. Di Pasquale: “…for those athletes involved in strength events such as the Olympic field and sprint events, those in football or hockey, or weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders, I recommend between 1.2 and 1.6 g of high-quality protein per pound of total body weight. That means that if you weigh 200 lb and want to put on a maximum amount of muscle mass, then you will have to take in as much as 320g of protein daily. There are several competitive weightlifters,
Paleo for Lifters
powerlifters, and bodybuilders that I know who take in 2-3 g of high-quality protein per pound of body weight. If you are trying to lose weight or body fat it is important to keep your dietary protein levels high. That is because the body oxidizes more protein on a calorie-deficient diet than it would in a diet that has adequate calories. The larger the body muscle mass, the more transamination of amino acids occurs to fulfill energy needs. Thus for those wishing to lose weight but maintain or even increase lean body mass in specific skeletal muscles, I recommend at least 1.5g of highquality protein per pound of body weight. The reduction in calories needed to lose weight should be at the expense of the fats and carbohydrates, not protein (1).”
If a male aims to get about 50g of protein more than his body weight in pounds, he will be on the low end of what Dr. Di Pasquale indicates above. But Di Pasquale's lesson is more important than pointing out protein requirements for athletes; he emphasizes the importance of a) protein over carbohydrates and fats, b) the importance of protein during body fat loss, and c) the quality of protein. Chapter 3 will discuss the importance of quality. You will notice that there are not any hard recommendations for carbohydrate or fat consumption. Intake for these macronutrients is heavily dependent on the individual and their goals. What is the trainee’s current body composition? Is the trainee trying to alter body composition or weight? What is their primary training modality? How have they been progressing? All of these things will determine carbohydrate and fat intake. Conventional wisdom dictates carbohydrate recommendations that are too high and fat recommendations that are too low. Later we’ll see how basic modifications to diet will balance this discrepancy as well as intake recommendations relative to trainee type. Carbohydrate intake is heavily dependent on the amount of endurance training a lifter includes. Lifters do not actually require a lot of carbohydrates to fuel their method of training. The misconception of lifters requiring carbohydrates probably stems from the fact that simple carbohydrates are easy to eat in mass quantities to accumulate calories. The reason carbs aren’t necessary for lifting has to do with the three energy systems. The Phosphagen (ATP-PCr) System creates energy without the use of carbohydrates or fat. This energy system is limited to about 10 seconds of work before it can no longer keep up energy production. The Glycolytic System uses carbohydrates to provide energy in activity lasting less than two minutes. Finally, the Oxidative System (AKA Aerobic System) provides energy via fat in longer, low-intensity durations.
Paleo for Lifters
In a lifter’s case, short efforts of moving a bar do not require carbohydrates as an energy source. Therefore, a lifter only needs to consume enough carbohydrates to maintain an arbitrary level of glycogen in the skeletal muscles; anything else is superfluous. However, different types of training may require greater carbohydrate intakes. For example, long, slow distance endurance will require larger amounts of carbohydrates compared to a lifter because the muscle and liver glycogen is being used as a fuel. For example, if you’ve ever seen video of an elite marathoner crapping their pants as they are struggle to finish the last mile of the race, it represents their depletion of glycogen stores (the fecal display is just ornery “marathon behavior”). Generally speaking, the more intense and/or sustained the activity is, the more carbohydrates are needed to fuel it. A lifter does not need a lot of carbohydrates, but a person who regularly does high intensity conditioning will need more. “High intensity conditioning” is a type of endurance training that consists of very high outputs of energy in short amounts of time. In addition to CrossFit, this would also apply to most sport athletes (e.g., football, basketball, volleyball) and applied fitness trainees (e.g., military, LEO, manual labor). When increasing the volume, intensity, or frequency of endurance training, a trainee must eat more carbohydrates. See Figure 2.1 below.
Carbohydate Continuum Relative to Activity Activity Lifting
Lifting + Conditioning High intensity conditioning (>2x/wk) High + Low Intensity Marathon or greater training Figure 2.1
Amount Enough to maintain or increase LBM
This point is made to a) clarify that lifters do not need to rely on carbohydrates as a source of calories and b) show that utilizing high intensity conditioning warrants more carbohydrate consumption. In this case, “carbohydrate intake” is relative. Instead of basing it on conventional endurance nutrition advice, we are deriving intake amounts from what minimum levels the body needs and what the activity level is. Though the intake will depend on activity level, there is a minimum value of carbohydrates that apply to all people. Briefly, the body does not need carbohydrates in order to survive. While glucose is important for nervous system functioning, including the brain, everything can function without consuming carbs 13
Paleo for Lifters
because the body will make glucose from “other stuff” – the specifics leave the scope of this book. 50g of carbohydrates a day is enough to stave off this “starvation mode”, yet it will still produce ketosis – a state where there is a significant amount of ketone bodies in the blood stream. Ketone bodies can be used as an alternate energy source when glucose is not available. 50g will prevent “starvation mode,” but it will take about 100g of carbohydrates to prevent small degrees of ketosis. This is a good minimum level for carbohydrate intake because some people don’t function well in ketosis; they will feel fatigued and can’t think clearly. Since we are training for the sake of performance, we don’t want to have low levels of energy as a result of our diet, so all trainees will be prescribed a minimum of around 100g of carbs. If you know you can function while in ketosis – and you are aiming to reduce body fat – then you can dip under 100g, but the rest of us will use 100 as a minimum. Keep in mind that ketosis is inherently a response to not getting enough carbohydrates – it’s called “starvation mode” because it isn’t good. 100g of carbs a day may not be enough to have an “adequate amount of glycogen saturation in the skeletal muscles.” In other words, 100g won’t keep the muscles filled with an appropriate amount of stored carbohydrate to facilitate lifting performance. The more lean body mass you have, the more carbs you’ll probably need for baseline levels. Still, this number probably won’t exceed 150g as a minimum requirement and will probably be closer to 100g. Just keep in mind that there needs to be a minimal amount of carbs stored in the muscle, and the minimum amount to prevent ketosis may not be enough. You shouldn’t have to worry about this too much because Chapter 4 will give you food requirements to prevent you from measuring everything you eat. Maximum recommended carbohydrate amount is a fuzzy topic because it is so dependent on the training modality (as described above). Chapter 4 will show us varying strategies with carbohydrates, but there are two ways to gauge intake levels: energy levels and body fat. Remember that as the sustained activity level increases in intensity or duration, the carbohydrate content will need to increase to fuel it. If you are feeling flat in your workouts, chances are that you need to bump the carbohydrate consumption up modestly. If you are primarily a lifter and fueling sustained activity is not a concern, then your body fat is the deciding factor. Would you benefit from reducing body fat? Then eat fewer carbs and more fat (assuming the protein intake is solid). Are you too lean and need to gain a bit of mass? Modestly bump the carb intake up. Be consistent with the daily intake and gauge the difference in how you feel or how much body fat you carry. For a more comprehensive look at carbohydrate needs, check out How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need? By Lyle McDonald. Fat recommendations are equally arbitrary; the amount will fit together with the protein and carbohydrate content. If protein is dependent on lean body mass, and carbohydrates are dependent on energy level or body fat, then the fat intake will provide the calories to make sure the system recovers. In practice, fat intake could approach .5 to 1g per pound of body weight. For a 200 pound man, that would mean 100 to 200 grams of fat, or 900 to 1800 calories. Fat intake is the significant difference between traditional strength training diets (that are stereotypically high in carbohydrates) and a “Paleo for Lifters” approach. If we lower the carbohydrate intake, then we must increase the fat intake to get enough total calories. 14
Paleo for Lifters
Personally, I’ve never seen anyone gain fat while using a Paleo approach and harnessing their carbohydrate intake. It is possible to gain body fat by consuming too many calories, Paleo or not, but it just doesn’t happen often. The standard trainee is usually in danger of eating too little instead of too much. Keep in mind that though these are recommendations for macronutrient intake, they should provide a guideline in your approach to daily nutrition. I do not want you counting your macronutrients or calories; I want you making good food choices that fit in with parameters that lead to your goal. Chapter 4 will help with this.
Body Composition Basics Nutrition can affect performance, health, and aesthetics, which is a part of body composition. It’s a misconception that dieting will provide the body or “figure” a person wants. Body composition is dependent on existing musculature and body fat levels. If you’re reading this book, you probably already participate in compound, full body strength movements like squats, presses, and pulls. These lifts develop the musculature of the body more effectively than isolation exercise or sitting on the couch. To display this musculature, body fat levels must be low enough to show shape. Losing body fat is very different than merely losing body weight. Weight can be lost by decreasing caloric intake and increasing caloric expenditure. However, the body’s chemistry is a complex thing. Food intake (or lack thereof), exercise or training, sleep, and stress levels all have an effect on hormones that dictate body fat levels. Since there are so many factors that can influence body fat, my recommendation is to not merely expend more calories or temporarily tweak diet. Instead, I recommend improving food quality and possibly using high intensity conditioning. There are many great sources that can help decrease body fat, but they are often complicated, require large time or effort investments, or include activity that is detrimental to someone who is training for performance. For example, I no longer recommend that people perform “fasted cardio” in the morning (e.g., waking up early to walk on a treadmill for an hour on an empty stomach). It’s a huge time commitment that not only cuts into important sleep time, but it puts a lifter on their feet for up to seven extra hours a week. Inhibiting recovery by decreasing sleep and increasing activity levels is not conducive to recovering from strength training or increasing performance. Instead of using temporary gimmicks, I prefer to use a general approach that doesn’t require calorie counting or significant changes to an already established training regime. Diet is such a habitual thing that I want to turn “body composition” improvement into a learning experience that provides good eating habits in the long-term – for decades, not just months. This book will simplify diet.
Paleo for Lifters
Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that will play the biggest role in body composition. Proteins and fat intake are necessary for the body to function, yet while the body benefits from carbohydrates, they are not an essential for survival. Keep in mind that carbohydrates are necessary to recover and improve performance when performing high intensity training. For the sake of lower intensity training and body fat, carbohydrates are the tweakable variable. Proteins shouldn’t be decreased for any reason ever, including for body fat loss. Improving body composition means losing body fat while retaining or increasing muscle mass, and protein is necessary to prevent muscular degradation. Review Dr. Di Pasquale’s quote above to see that he recommends that trainees who are trying to lose body fat should consume at least 1.5 grams of high quality protein per pound of body weight. For a 200 pound man, that would be 300 grams of protein! Fat can be slightly tweaked when trying to improve body composition, but it is still important to retain, especially for lifters. Fat is a dense source of calories and provides the building blocks of cells and hormones. A lifter who doesn’t dabble in high intensity conditioning will use fat as his primary calorie source. As mentioned above, an emphasis on fat consumption will typically result in a decrease in carbohydrate intake resulting in a body composition improvement. Improving body composition is a very difficult thing – evidenced by the alarming obesity rate in western society. It can be further complicated by an individual’s hormonal profile and any damage done to it. There is one constant in body fat loss: it requires consistent effort. Nobody can expect to get lean and jacked with short-term-dabbling in healthy nutrition. This next statement will be obvious, but profound: dropping body fat is hard, it takes time, and will be a daily struggle. There is no quick way to do it, and whether you accomplish your goal is the culmination of little choices you make throughout the day. This book will help provide guidelines for those choices. If you are an enterprising trainee and want to quantify your body fat, I only recommend a few choices. The best measure will be hydrostatic weighing (where you are submerged in a large tank of water and body density is measured), but it’s not an easily accessible option. Neither is a DEXA scan or Bod Pod. The best thing you can do is find a reliable body fat tester with a good caliper to do a 7-site skinfold test (the kind where they pinch and measure). It’s important to have a well-trained and experienced pincher because it’s very easy to do wrong. Personally, I’ve done hundreds of skinfold tests and saw many classmates butcher their measurements despite the same training. The caliper is also important; cheap calipers won’t garner exact results. A good way to gauge the quality of the person administering the test is to ask how much their caliper cost; good calipers will be several hundred dollars at the cheapest. Ignore bio-impedance body fat measures – the kind that estimate it based on you holding or standing on something with your bare skin. They are unreliable and invalid because many factors, including hydration or amount of moisture on your skin, can throw the results off. If you don’t have access to a hydrostatic weighing tank, a DEXA machine, or an experienced caliper user, then simply take pictures of yourself in your underwear. Do this from the front, back, and sides in a room that is not affected by sunlight; this 16
Paleo for Lifters
keeps the lighting constant for comparisons with later photos. This will be the most objective method to gauge body fat change because you will actually be able to see the difference. I suggest taking the photos every four weeks; anything shorter and results won’t be visible and this discourages some people. Note that losing body fat – like changing any physical attribute – fits along the “diminishing returns” graph. In this case, the rate of progress has a direct correlation with body fat. If body fat is high (>30%), then rate of progress will be high. If body fat is low (