Author: Steve Wilson
Crossfit Typhoon (www.crossfittyphoon.com)
YOU CAN’T OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET
Can you? No. There may indeed be a few genetic freaks out there who win Olympic Titles on a diet based around chicken nuggets, but they’re in the 0.01% and if you fall into that bracket then you don’t need to be reading this, you need to be inspecting the level of sheen on your gold medals.
For the vast majority of us though, the way we eat is crucial. For the bulk of our lives we will have followed (to some degree) the old “Food Pyramid” which told us that if we base our diets on grains, flour and cereal then we won’t go far wrong. But then some of us didn’t like the results of that food pyramid.”How come I’ve got big hips?” and “Why do my pants not fit anymore?” So to compound the baseline problem of building their diets on a flawed pyramid system,they were then advised to eat ‘low fat’ and ‘cut calories’…sound familiar?
Is it unfair to blame the trio of diet fads listed above for the skyrocketing diabetes rate and the sky high obesity problem faced by the majority of the Western World?
A SYSTEM OF SYSTEMS
The body is a series of complex systems, and if they get disrupted then we are on the wrong path. If the digestive enzymes are lacking probiotics (good bacteria), and the Thyroid gland is pumping hormones at the wrong rate then we are in trouble. Compound that with a backwards Insulin response and appetite hormones that are behaving like short circuited traffic lights,then we are starting to look big time sketchy!
So what’s the quick fix? Bad news is there is no magic pill. If you fall into the above bracket then we need to gradually change the eating habits shaped through years of mis-treatment…and that takes time. You can’t just go cold turkey on day one and expect your body not to react adversely. Incubate someone in a germ free zone for 3 months then drop them into a sewer and see how they deal with all those germs…not well, I promise!
THE TRANSITION TO ‘NEW’ FROM ‘OLD’
So we’ve established the fact that the body is a process driven system of structures that take time to react to new conditions. So what does that mean in practical terms? It means that if our ‘old’ diet consisted of 80% pies then our new diet needs to reduce that 80% value,but not enough to shock the body into an adverse reaction. Over the course of 1-3 weeks (depending on the severity of the ‘old’ diet) we would look to reduce the intake of our pies from 80% to 40% to 20%…and so on until they are all but gone.
We would need to replace the calorific value of the ‘old’ diet with micro-nutrient rich foods in our ‘new’ diet. But again,we couldn’t just ‘shock’ the body system by asking it to deal with 80% broccoli and lean steak. Just as we gradually reduced the ‘old’ diet,we would gradually increase the ‘new’ diet.
TO CHEAT OR NOT TO CHEAT
Now we get to the contentious part. During the weeks of transition would it be smart to have a day where you can eat whatever you want? You’ve worked hard for 6 out of 7 days grafting through your ‘new’ diet and expelling the bad habits of the ‘old’. Wouldn’t it be nice to gain a psychological ‘pick-me-up’ on day 7 by bringing in ice cream and chocolate? Yes it would be nice, and yes we all love to be rewarded with something nice after soldiering through a ton of hard work,but lets look at the other side of the coin for just a second.
You treat yourself to a cheat day (or a cheat meal) and the other side of our psychological coin tells the brain that this ice cream is awesomeness encapsulated and that this cheat is one THOUSAND percent better than your ‘new’ diet. Then your brain forms habits which spell out sentences like,”why bother with this ‘new’ diet when the old one was so much tastier” and,”when do I get my next fix of awesomeness…tomorrow?” before long the psychological battle is lost because the body cannot learn to enjoy the ‘new’ habits that come hand in hand with the new diet.
Compound the psychological disadvantages with the obvious nutritional flaws of eating regular cheat meals during the diet transition and it doesn’t take a genius to work out which strategy is best.
This isn’t to say that you’ll never be able to eat ice cream again! Remember the body is a system of systems that learns new habits established by the user. Once the transition has taken place (can be in as little as 6 weeks) then the body can consume, digest, synthesise and use foods, even bad foods…in moderation of course!
So there you have it. Eat clean…it’s easier than you think!