Monday, April 16, 2012

Berardi On "Paleo" And Other Topics

John Berardi started off in life as a trainer, competitive athlete and knowledge hungry nutrition geek - and from there got a PHD and became the the Chief Science Officer of his now very impressive company, Precision Nutrition.  PN is helping many thousands of people address their health and weight problems.

In the interview linked above, there's a rich trove of ideas for how to approach health and nutrition.  The article is informative and a good read for those still sorting through the intersection of health, performance, food and weight loss.  But it also provides context for what are, to me, interesting discussion points.  What I found when I read the PN text as part of a PN certification was that while I disagreed on several conceptual and factual points, the nutrition prescriptions were all aligned with what I would hope my clients would do; except for the exceptions I'll discuss in this and future posts.

First off, what does JB think of "Paleo" eating?

For most of the population – including recreational exercisers – eating fewer grains and less refined food should be a way of life. I mean, how can you go wrong eating a diet rich in lean meats, a wide diversity of dietary fat, a rich buffet of vegetables, and a host of nuts and seeds?
That’s exactly how most of us should be eating. Especially when we’re not blowing through lots of carbohydrates with high-level athletic training.
However, some exceptions do apply. When we’re not obsessively counting our calories – which most people shouldn’t do anyway – there are some folks who have a really hard time eating enough total food with only meats, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
I’ve seen it time and time again with elite athletes training 4+ hours per day. And with skinny ectomorphic guys who struggle to gain muscle. For their goals, the typical “Paleo” recommendations have to adapt a little bit.
This usually means we include more unrefined carbohydrates. Often at breakfast and during the post-workout period. We also include a protein/carb drink during training. And the rest of the day can be more protein, veggies, nuts, and seeds.

Since I don't work with a bunch of high level endurance athletes, I'll take his word on this topic.  I'd encourage any endurance athlete I was working with to get those extra kcal via fat - much like Peter Attia is doing - but I'll bet most would think that isn't possible.  What I like about this response is JB's "Paleo agnosticism".  In other words, whether or not you think the Paleolithic model of nutrition is the be all, end all of food perspective, it is still easy to see that it provides a template for health and wellness and feeling good.  Why?  Because it addresses the biggest issue in the poor health of most of us Westerners - glycemic control.  If you delete processes and industrially produced carbs (I count juice, bananas and wheat/corn products in that group), blood sugar will regulate much, much better.  If you want to take one additional step to get blood sugars under control, skip all fruit for a month or two to ensure you give your liver time to heal from what has likely been a long period of overindulgence in fructose.

Part two of JB's thoughts on the Paleo diet coming up tomorrow.

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