Written By: Kevin Cann
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Robb’s new book, “Wired to Eat.” Robb’s first book, “The Paleo Solution” was a fantastic resource. At one point I had all of my clients read it when they came into my gym. I do not do as much nutritional counseling as I used to, as my role has changed. However, I still recommend the guidelines laid out in the first book when clients ask me for nutritional advice.
As good as the first book was, there were some shortcomings. People became cultish over what was considered paleo and what wasn’t. Everyone tolerated carbohydrates differently, even with the same exercise program, and some people swore they felt fine when they ate rice or beans. On top of those issues, the paleo diet can tend to be very restrictive depending on the source you follow.
Robb’s new book addresses these issues. My favorite chapter of the book was “Personalized Nutrition.” Robb discusses a research study that looked at how 800 people responded to carbohydrates. This may come as no surprise to most, but there was a lot of individuality in the responses. Some people even responded better to a cookie than a banana.
As a coach, guessing someone’s carbohydrate intake has always been a crapshoot. I have always recommended women start at 100g-125g/ day and men 150g-175g/day. However, these numbers were always a guess because we did not know how each person was responding to the carbohydrates that they were getting.
Robb’s recommendation of a 7 day carb test using a glucometer is genius. This can help pinpoint how much of a given carbohydrate a person can tolerate. It also will give them a good picture of their insulin sensitivity.
The carb test also allows more flexibility for the individual. It allows you to test non-traditional “paleo” foods to see how you respond. If you tolerate beans well, you can keep them in your diet. I think this is extremely important for sustainability.
This brings me to my next topic. I have been having many conversations with strength athletes lately, and these conversations even apply to those of you that are going to follow the directions that Robb lays out.
When we are discussing our strength programs or undertaking a healthier lifestyle, there is one word that cannot be overemphasized. That word is patience. We live in a world where we are always looking for fast answers and fast success. This is not the best way to go about these programs.
I was having a conversation with one of my strength athletes when we were performing deadlifts off of blocks. The block height is one that puts the bar at the sticking point for raw lifters below the knees. We worked up to 4 sets of 2 at 85%. This weight was extremely easy and she had asked if she could go up in weight.
I said no, we will stay here. The following week we increase the deadlift off blocks to 85% for 2 sets of 2 followed by 3 sets of 1 at 90%. The week after this increases to 85% 2 sets of 2 and 90% for 3 sets of 2. This position in the pull puts the most pressure on our muscles to lift the weight. That is why it is a weak spot of the lift.
I explained this to the lifter and told them that I want them to build up that tissue, in that position, over time. Why would we rush it? Rushing it can only lead to injury. Embrace and enjoy the process of getting stronger safely. A major part of success in the strength sports is attrition.
This applies to those taking up the Wired to Eat program. Don’t expect overnight results. Stick with the program for the 30 days. Robb recommends throwing away the scale and I could not agree more. Check the results after 30 days, but keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle does not end there.
30 days is enough time to see some positive changes that can be rewarding and motivating, but that is just scratching the surface. Follow it for longer, and better results will follow. Understand the consequences of eating certain foods and try to make the best choices. If your grandmother is turning 100 years old and has cake, eat a damn piece of cake. The more good choices that you make in terms of, what Robb calls the 4 pillars of health: nutrition, exercise, sleep, and community, the healthier and happier you will be.
Set short and long term goals for yourself. Don’t just try to get through the 30 days. Do the 30 days as a start to making healthier lifestyle choices. If you are a strength athlete or Crossfit competitor, embrace the process and stay patient. The elite athletes in any sport have put many years towards being elite. It is rare that it just happens overnight.
If you haven’t ordered your copy of “Wired to Eat” yet, I highly recommend that you do. It is very different from other nutritional books out there. It contains information that no other book I have ever read contains. Remember this is not a 30 day challenge and then back to neglecting your health. This is a starting point to making better health decisions. And remember to stay patient and embrace the process in all of that you take part in.