Wednesday, 1 October 2008

War and Feast

Ok, so in retrospect my emotions got the better of me as I waxed lyrical in my last post about the paleo-insurgency, and there was definitely a bit of steam being let off. So maybe I should let you in on the exchange that generated it!

Now everyone knows 'my enemies enemy is my friend' and to a low-fat, calorie controlled, complex carbinator (LFC4), it must horrify him that we paleo types are indeed friends of fat - and quite a lot of it. Not only that but we hold no fear of saturated fat! We not only eat it, but do so regularly!

It is also no secret that fighting the dual personal battle of bodyfat and hunger as an LFC4 must be a difficult battle to maintain whilst taking on those faddish paleo types! One of the first rules of battle is not to over stretch - and fighting your own weight and then fighting the lean guy in the corner (tucking in to steaks whilst waving some favourable scientific evidence around), is just another battle front to hold.

The thing is that you can only fight a movement if it presents a target. If you think the war is over, you have no target - there is no enemy. That my friends is where the crux of this argument lies.

The fight

Climbers take risks. They are in a weight dependent sport. Strength to weight ratio plays a significant role in the likelihood of your success on a climb - particularly when you move towards the elite grades.

Often climbing threads will appear asking for advice on how to lose weight. The usual advice appears regarding eating less or running more. Anecdotes appear in support of various weight loss strategies. Interestingly the only modern scientific papers that seem to get referenced are those which favour low carb diets - but this latter point is lost on opponents to the paleo diet.

You can read the full thread here, but I warn you it does not make pretty reading. Not least for the following....

"calorie counting has lasted the test of time". The poster quotes some 'definitive' LFC4 dietary advice from a guy named Stow, and goes on to note, " I dont diet seriously but I am more aware of what I eat and if I see it edging upwards I try to stop eating dairy products, bread and chocolate and if really pushed alcohol ....Previously I was more despairing abourt weight control which I was putting down to an inevivatable consequence of middle-age. I lack the discipline and motivation to diet as Stow recommends seriously and follow it properly. I have posted that dieting advice several times over the past couple of years and it has never been seriously challenged or should I say challenged by someone I take seriously."

The milking of money from fat people is the only part of the LFC4 model that has stood the test of time. The whole 'weight edging upwards' is a classic consequence of LFC4 eating and the poster even notes the holy trinity of the obese - bread, chocolate and alcohol (or from a paleo point of view grains, sugar and alcohol). Importantly he puts failure to diet down to a lack of "discipline and motivation". Now does this resonate with anyone who has ever followed an LFC4 diet? Of course it does - it is a diet that makes you hungry, that cannot be followed in the long term AND makes YOU the scapegoat as and when it fails.

Despite all this, the post concludes with a personal sleight about 'seriousness'. A further post notes, "I guess I am discrediting you rather than them. In the fullness of time you may be proved right but in a world of information the way you protagnise things is offputting to say the least and my gut tells me that it is not time worth researching. The Stow diet advice falls into the 'good enough for me' category and I suspect 99% of the climbing population as well so I do not feel compelled to look further as there seems to be no advantage. If I decided to follow the diet more avidly and found it wanting than I might seek info elsewhere."

So hey, my style might not be engaging, but could you put your head any further in the sand? All this despite a few references to the recent Israeli Study, and a few other tidbits (Nasim Taleb's interview on the Knackered Hack, an author whom the poster had respectfully name checked elsewhere, supporting paleo eating), some really enthusiastic anecdotal posts from a few other climbers and a few links to some articles by Gary Taubes.

The thread also drew an attack on Gary Taubes - who was described by one poster as being a 'quack' and guilty of "very low quality advocative writing". I should point out that this comment followed a recommendation to read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" - which our hapless critic inferred he had read based upon some as yet unspecified quotes that had been place elsewhere on the forum. How you can claim to have read the 450-0dd pages of GCBC based upon some quotes I do not know.

When pressed on the problems with low-carbing, the same poster wrote that he has "...not posted a detailed criticism of low carb diets on here for much the same reason that [he] wouldn't post a detailed criticism of an atlas produced by the flat earth society".

So there you have it. Two guys content to battle with their weight by following the LFC4 model and who do not feel a need to engage with ANY evidence supporting paleo eating because they just KNOW it is wrong. The diet wars are over. The LFC4 diet has won. Victory is theirs.

And yet I know one of the posters. I climb with him. He knows I am lean and reasonable good at climbing, despite following the paleo fad. Above all else, you'd think that would at least pique his curiosity to look a bit deeper at this whole concept wouldn't you? He is not risk averse so why not 'risk' an attempt at paleo nutrition?

Maybe the fight for hearts and minds is the real battle and will be the hardest. The opinions based upon LFC4 are deeply engrained in public consciousness and the bodycount of the sick and dying is rising. I won't be laying down arms just yet.....

Final Countdown

As a final thought, we paleo and primal guys and gals have kept it simple. We eat 'close to the ground', our food remains largely if not exclusively unprocessed. We are not consumers of protein mixes and power shakes, abdominator machines nor lateral thigh trainers. We come from a global pool of humanity and collectively form a broad 'church' dedicated to this way of life. I really appreciate the richness of the primal/paleo community. Although I am absolutely convinced of my hold on the 'paleo philosophy' I love reading the thoughts of others, their opinions and views on what it means to follow the primal pattern.

Sure there may be a better way out there - but I have yet to find it. Sure there may be a less complex way of getting fit and healthy out there, but I doubt it! Paleo is health and fitness made simple (and no simpler). The time is closing when this message will become the orthodoxy!

This blog was going to be an autopsy dedicated to some of the threads I have posted on in which I have had to deal with the LFC4 forces - but instead calmness has descended upon me and really, I just want to thank those of you out there who, over he years, have taken the time to thread, blog and upload guidance on the true way to fitness.

For that I salute you!

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