The Path

Nutrition and exercise.  So much conflicting information.  You get really smart people (certified experts) arguing for nutrient 'X' or exercise protocol 'Y'.  How can it be this hard?  I mean we got 'here' in ignorance of the size principle and what a macronutrient is!

1) Simplicity is the key.
2) Health, Elite Fitness or Longevity - choose any ONE!
3) The dose and response are ALWAYS moving (and independently of one another).  It is a Red Queen race.
4) What works for you probably won't work for me.
5) The underlying biology is way more complex than ANYONE can imagine and is beyond what anyone currently understands.

With this in mind, a bit of paleo re-enactment will get you to paleo ground-zero (PGZ):
  • Imagine you are a hunter gatherer on the plains of Africa or the marginal northern lands.  You are hunting large dangerous animals (herbivores), in a dangerous environment (populated by carnivores).  Meat is a prized food source, but you need cunning, skill and strength to get it.
Let this concept inform your approach to nutrition and exercise.  This is your 'paleo compass'.  Thusly armed you should be able to navigate out from PGZ.  This latter point is in part inspired by Robert Pirsig in 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' who argues that although rational thought may find truth, it may not be valid for all experiences; you need to embrace the romantic and the rational.

'Paleo' is in a fait accompli with science.  Don't dismiss scientific guidance but be cautious of both the quality of nutrition science and your ability to understand it.  Science will illuminate the mechanism underlying paleo-metabolism, but will not necessarily illuminate what constitutes an appropriate diet for you.  Once more to Pirsig "The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you don’t actually know".

Asclepius' Uncertainty Principle:  We can know the detailed mechanism underlying human metabolism and we can know the full nutrient profile of a particular food, but we can never predict each of the metabolic pathways the nutrients in a given meal will take!  Luckily evolution has given you a body capable of managing all this for you.  You do not have actuarial control.  Risk and uncertainty as it pertains to your energy demands is managed by adaptive, subconscious biological control.

With that in mind consider that our bodies and minds have evolved to respond to the properties of certain foods (and activities) that trigger hormonal, physiological and neurological responses within. We are now eating foods that have been engineered to stimulate a subset of particular responses, but do not carry the expected nutritional payload expected by the body for that particular signature. (Food engineers target those responses that translate to economic gain for the food-manufacturer.)  You can imagine how in our evolutionary past Hebbian learning would tightly bind the nutritional quality of food and palate/taste...and perhaps even activity (predators hunt when hungry, whereas we jog having carbed-up). 

Activity and lifestyle are also important factors - not to burn off energy, rather as a mechanism with which our body can understand the world - through energy expenditure and so forth.  Play is fundamental to learning about our bodies.  Train to become adaptable, not adapted.  Don't hunt yourself to death.

Whilst the dietitians espouse the virtue of  'slow release carbs', you should look to the evolutionarily more elegant phenomena of slow release (body) fat.  Dairy and exogenous carbohydrate may well have place in your diet - as will intermittent fasting.

'Optimal' is a moving target - not a top down program.  Seasons are just one cycle that drive dietary diversity and change in movement.  Run with the Red Queen.

Listen to your body.

This blog is about my path.