This piece today is intended for some of you out there that have this notion that carbohydrates are evil and that completely eliminating them is the best way to go bar none. Also I need to just clarify what it is about some of these trendy diets that seems to always work well. It might feel like I just crushed your soul or kicked your dog. Really I’m just trying to open your eyes so you know what’s up. I might strike a few nerves or get some people shaking their head, I'm OK with that.
First off if you smoke or don’t wear your seatbelt I don’t want to hear a damn word about how carbs (or red meat) are bad for you (thanks Dan John). Next thing that’s a requirement before you try refuting what I’m about to say, pick up a little more knowledge first. Read this piece by Brian St. Pierre, hands down one of, if not the most popular nutrition article out there (Settling The Great Grain Debate). Lastly read this whole thing and don’t just try to poke holes in every little grammar error made.
OK you’ve decided enough is enough and you’re ready to get yourself down that righteous path to being awesome and fit, WOOHOO! You’ve started running or, even better, you’re going to do some resistance (re: weight) training. Bam there’s step one right there in any case. The troubled half of getting down that path to your destination, for most, is taking care of yourself outside of the 60-90 minutes you’re not in the gym (sleeping and eating).
Which trendy diet do you get yourself on? Trick question, none of them…but all of them. There are many things that Atkins, Paleo, and even the new kid on the block Keto, all have in common.
-A metric shit ton of protein (yay animal flesh). Protein isn't just the "new" thing about nutrition (diets), it's THE thing about your nutrition to pay attention to.
-Vegetables, nobody gets enough of these unless you’re really locked in, be real about this. Different colors kids and I'm sorry, but corn is not a vegetable (mostly).
-Cutting out REFINED grains and simple sugars (oh gee you mean that package of cookies isn’t good for me?). Don't get me started on all those boxes that say low calorie or use words like "fit" in the name of the product.
Did I or did I not just lay out the general building blocks for these “diets”? Assuming you’re not lying to me, can think for yourself and you know the premise of any of them, I’ll take it you answered yes.
The biggest thing that I see people posting about or hear them saying about is their “no carb” diet and then referring to one of these trends. NOOO that’s not the point fools. I have news for all of you, nobody has ever died from consuming WHOLE grain (not processed) rice, quinoa, berries or apples.
Also, seriously you’re going to tell me you won’t go nuts from cutting out your wine, beer or scotch that you like to have with your friends on Friday or Saturday night? OK fair point you probably won’t go nuts, but my point being something like a few cookies or a drink now and again (I don’t mean 3 times a week) will not put you in the grave or put you right back where you started.
We have this notion as a society, I believe, that if we don't do it to a T then we just blow the whole thing up. Listen just because you colored outside the lines just a bit, does not mean you need to light the masterpiece on fire.
I can tell you from both my own experience and observing others, no carbs, makes people real jerks. Anyone that's been on these plans, can you honestly tell me you completely cut out carbs and were able to sustain it without wanting to choke someone one unfortunate day?
My final point I'm aiming for here is don't just take these plans (or even what I'm telling you now) as the word of god. Do some digging for yourself and then do some monitoring of how you feel.
If you cut out carbs for 3 weeks, then start to drag through life and be on edge every second, is that going to be sustainable? At what point do you think you will snap and head right to the store for a carton of ice cream and a pizza? If you never reach that point then OK that seems to be a good fit for you, but this stuff isn't one size fits all. We all operate different so find what's right for you.
Let's all be humans, use our brains, seek help from a professional when needed and go about this so it can be sustained for longer than a month or 2. Hopefully this well help those about to take their first step, even just a little. That's all I got today guys, go out there and get after it!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS