Good word from DR. Harris at Panu. I don’t want to just copy and paste that piece here but I do want to throw in some observations. Dr. Harris’ Brother in Law, Jason (who is a SEAL):
1-Started doing CF and saw dramatic improvements in his work related performance. Not too surprising, swapping out flutter kicks and high volume running for OL-complexes and more variety. Makes complete sense. And there is data to support this.
2-Jason changed his food along Zone parameters, eventually getting to 3-4x fat and saw vast improvements in his body composition and performance.
3-Jason then dropped his carb intake (shifting to fruit and veggies only), ate the bulk of his carbs post work out, upped his protein and fat…started doing intermittent fasting…and crushed all his previous benchmarks.
I have almost 1300 testimonial virtually identical to the above from people in every conceivable profession and walk of life. So much for my lack of data and clinical experience! I’ve been approached by a few statisticians to analyze that data and we might tackle that at some point. The problem is I would need to harvest and organize that information from thousands of emails…unfortunately I have not been entering the data into and XL spreadsheet for the past few years…yeesh.
The take home here is “Shift the bulk of your fueling along ancestral lines and you will see optimized performance”. The only place I see this breaking down is EVENT epecific nutrition (100mile foot race, tour de France) or if we need to build a 300lb lineman for football. In the case of the former we’d likely benefit from some liquid nutrition like maltodextrin and whey protein, in the later we’d certainly benefit from a Gallon of milk per day. Other than these extreme outlies however we consistently see folks perform best on somehting akin to the ancestral diet.
Coach Glassman has a great line “The Paleo diet is compelling, but largely anecdotal…”
I just need to point out, the existence of the Universe is largeley anecdotal…
So, some kind of ancestral diet appears to fuel optimum performance for most people under most situations. Even SEAL’s. Check.
What about training? Is CrossFit better or worse than the standard PT that has traditionally been used to prep people for BUDS and then for subsequent duty? Well, despite my recent falling out with CrossFit, the truth is CF is far better than the standard PT, even when implemented in a sub-optimal fashion. I’ve seen data on this, and talked to far too many people for this not to be the case. But just becasue CF is better does not mean it is BEST. More on that later.
Right now I want to look at some thoughts Mike Caviston has on CF, nutrition and training. I think my first awareness of Mr. Caviston was when I was asked to write a rebuttal to his article that painted the Zone in a poor light. That rebuttal was supposed to go in the CrossFit Journal, but that’s another story! So, I posted it here in the form of The Zone and Athletic performance. Mr. Caviston also had this to say about CrossFit training in general. Short hand here is how I see all this:
1-Caviston thinks the Zone is inadequate to the needs ot SEALs and operators. CrossFit thinks there is nothing besides the Zone with regards to nutrition. Obviously, I think both are out to lunch. People do far better on the Zone than they do the standard high-carb chow. They do even better when they start tinkering with some kind of higher protein, higher fat paleo oriented eating. The example at Panu simply supports what I have seen now in thousands of people AND it’s a very simple experiment.
2-Caviston thinks CF is inadequate to training SEALS. CrossFit thinks a constantly randomized program ala- CF.com is the best way to train EVERYONE. Here again I disagree with both camps. CF+ some other specific work has produced better results than the previous PT incarnations. An even better approach would be something like CF Football. Agility work, short hard sprints heavy weight lifting, progressive overload, planning…this simply works better.
Is your first exposure to the deadlift better if it is under no metabolic duress, with sets of 3-5, scaled appropriately and then met-con based on movements you have aptitude in, OR is it in a 21, 15, 9 format using PVC, or weight that produces “20% slop”? I think the planned structured program is better. I’ve played both ways…you tinker and make your own conclusions.
So, perhaps you can boil the whole thing down to:
1-A planned, structured approach to training works best. There are logical progressions for various movements, and appropriate times to introduce movements. Strength is the foundation of strength-endurance. Strength & Conditioning is a balancing act between the general needs of an individual and the specific demands they will face.
2-Something approximating an ancestral diet fuels optimum performance in most situations.