This is a guest post from Joshua Wright - trainer/coach at Colaw fitness and founder of Wrightfix Nutrition. In addition to personal training, Josh has experience as a Program Director and Head Trainer of a MMA Gym. He has been involved in Crossfit since 2009. You can follow Josh on Instagram and Facebook
Crossfitters and paleo devotees love to eat Fat.
They love bacon. They add pure butter to coffee, and this flies in the face of conventional nutrition wisdom.
This might be a good thing.
Ever since the 1980’s we have been told that there are “bad” fats called LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) which are known to you and I as Saturated Fats. Now, new research has come out that says there is more to the science that what was suggested to us in the 80’s.
The good news is this may mean a truce on the war on fat.
Let’s start with the standard wisdom:
According the American Heart Association, “LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis, which means that if a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result. Another condition, called peripheral artery disease, can develop when plaque buildup narrows an artery supplying blood to the legs.
But according to a 2010 meta-analysis study conducted at Cambridge University, there was not sufficient evidence to support the idea that a low consumption of saturated fats or high consumption of polyunsaturated fats had much effect on cardiovascular disease. This meta-analysis study was compiled from 80 previous studies that tested more than half a million subjects.
Researchers now know there are two kinds of LDL particles: small, dense ones and large, fluffy ones. The Large ones seem to be mostly harmless. As for the small dense ones, these have been linked to heart disease. The dense particles seem become so by (wait for it…) Carb intake.
So while food companies were removing fat from products (based on bad science), they were also adding sugar for taste. This made products easier to sell, but it also created a recipe for disaster.
Now there is a new frontier of pro fat diet plans that have some people scratching their head while others are sticking to their low-fat granola bars.
Here are a few:
I’m sure you’ve seen the advertisement on Facebook, or read a blog about some new fat-fad-diet that celebrities are talking about. You may have even tried it yourself. The main idea is to use grass fed butter and coconut oil with your coffee to keep you deep into “ketosis.” This means extra calories keep your metabolism well fed so it won’t slack off. Some nutritionist complain that there is not sufficient nutrition in this method, but if you are eating plenty of vegetables that shouldn’t be a problem. Always eat your vegetables!
If you have trouble getting vegetables, try adding a scoop of Barlean's Chocolate Supergreens to your bulletproof coffee.
Warning: It becomes more like bullet proof hot chocolate.
This diet first showed up as a treatment for Children with Epilepsy. The Ketogenic diet uses fat for 70% of caloric intake. This could make your cardiologist have a heart attack (which is not as rare as you might think…), but it would be more from shock than the fat in their diet.
The Zone diet has been popular in the Crossfit community for awhile. This diet uses Carbs, Protein, and Fat by breaking them down into blocks of 9 grams Carb, 7 grams Protein, and 2.5 grams fat. Though that is not as fatty as the other diets, it is definitely not “low fat” (at least according to the old science). This also suggests that if athletes need more energy, they should up the Fat, not the Carbs. Here is a great video of Matt Chan giving an athlete tutorial on the Zone.
As mentioned above, the Paleo diet has been flipping the traditional food Pyramid on its head for a long time. It single-handedly got the bacon craze started (which wasn’t hard, because, well… bacon), and we know there are some major battle lines on this. (Personal opinion: those who avoid bacon die sadder even if they live longer.) The foundation of the Paleo Pyramid is meat and fat. Again here again, it’s important to eat plenty of veggies and root-based starches for the nutrients.
In my view, utilizing Ketosis is the easiest way to shed fat, even though I’ve also seen a risk for performance setbacks, mainly on just pure one rep PR’s. That being said, it clearly opens up a pretty good debate amongst scientist and dietitians.
So debate on, even a comprehensive governmental study can be wrong sometimes. After all, it is the government we’re talking about…
As for Crossfit, we have some major advantages. One is testable domains and the other is constant variation. It’s awesome to see what foods impact our performance. Different people are affected differently. And by adding constant variability we can test our nutrition more thoroughly.
I have worked with body builders, physique competitors, and treadmill warriors and it is easy to see how they could miss some easy telltale signs that their nutrition is working against them when they are doing the same thing all the time.
So test yourself, and test yourself often.
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