Occam's razor reaffirms Purposeful Primitiveness
"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem!"
(Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity)
Occam's razor is a concept attributed to a Franciscan friar called Father William of Ockham, a 14th-century English logician and theologian. Friar William’s contention was that when presented with competing scientific strategies select the simplest approach, the prescription with the fewest moving parts and least number of assumptions. Friar William’s strategy was lex parsimoniae, the law of economy, often summarized as "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." Occam’s razor is a general guiding rule in the development of theoretical models.
In the overly complex world of transformative fitness, contradictory strategies and systems compete for our attention. Modern transformative systems of exercise and diet attempt to dazzle us with their variety and complexity and mind-numbing number of potential actions offered using their approach. Meanwhile, the Purposefully Primitive approach stresses lean simplicity. Mainstream hi-tech fitness solutions are metaphorically, a mile wide and an inch deep: the Purposeful Primitive transformative solution is an inch wide and a mile deep.
No other transformative fitness solution more tightly adheres to William’s contentions than our Purposefully Primitive uber-minimalistic approach towards training, eating and strategic thinking. Occam liked his strategies pared back and stripped down and he also liked results – real results, tangible, measurable results. If everybody is getting real results, pick the simpler system. Some strength systems advocate deadlifting four times a week working up to multiple top sets using static poundage. In our approach, invented by world champions and world record holders, a man deadlifts once a week and works up to a single, all out set. Now is there any question which deadlift approach would more closely adhere to Occam’s razor?
The Purposefully Primitive strategy is lean, sparse and streamlined; stripped down and devoid of extraneous ornamentation, it is the truest and purest expression of Occam’s razor. Optimal results are achieved using the most elemental of systems and the most elemental of tools; minimalistic methods obtain maximum results with optimal efficiency – what could be a better or truer expression of lex parsimoniae?
Primal Primer: Purposefully Primitive Power Nutrition
Long before Weston A. Price or Gary Taubes exploded the faux science behind the fat-is-evil conventional wisdom, long before it was pointed out the real enemy was refined carbs, elite strength athletes understood and sought the restorative power of saturated fat. Delivering a whopping 9-calorie per gram, fat delivers double the caloric denseness of carbs and protein. When it comes to establishing anabolism (leading into a productive workout) or recovering faster (after an effective workout) organic fat calories are prized – not damned. Plus fat puts the taste back into diet foods.
In the world of fitness-related nutrition, too much attention is paid to the amount of food consumed. This overemphasis on the quantitative; we feel the emphasis should be qualitative. The overemphasis on calories consumed is rooted in the flawed ‘energy balance equation.’ Orthodox nutritional defenders would have you believe the EBE is sacrosanct, ‘settled science’ and beyond questioning. Elite bodybuilders have defied the EBE for decades, eating far in excess of their daily ‘caloric breakeven point’ yet inexplicably getting leaner by eating more. How can science be settled if a large segment (bodybuilders) of the populace is apparently exempt? For settled science to be settled science its laws have to apply to everyone.
For those for whom the EBE is sacrosanct a need arises for low calorie eating. For those that believe in the Energy Balance Equation, the answer for losing weight and body fat is always that same: eat less, exercise more. When low daily calorie consumption is paramount, saturated fat, at 9-calories per gram, is an obvious enemy. You can eat literally twice the volume of food substituting carb calories and protein calories for fat calories. Now add to this line of reasoning the equally flawed settled science that ‘saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart disease’ and it is doubly easy to hate fat.
The war on fat gives rise to an entire food industry dedicated to replacing those awful, murderous fat calories with industrial food low calorie substitutes. The ruthless purging of fat calorie from the American diet gave rise to an entirely new mega Industry: lite, low-fat, fat-free, low-cal, et al. These low-cal/low-fat/heart-healthy “foodstuffs” were heralded as ‘healthy alternatives’ to consuming deadly fat. In fact, these artificial foods were loaded with trans-fat chemical preservatives and had insulin-spiking properties that made them far worse than the fats they replaced. These frozen concoctions were industrialized artificial ‘foods,’ toxic stews of putrid chemicals passed off as heart healthy.
The Purposeful Primitive’s first nutritional priority is food quality. Nutritional potency trumps all other food considerations for the elite athlete. Elite chefs care only about flavor. The chef pays strict attention to food quality because they have discovered that the most intensely flavorful ingredients are the freshest ingredients and as it turns out the freshest ingredients are also the most potent ingredients. Intense natural taste is an indicator of potency.
Ergo, elite chef and elite athlete seek the same foodstuffs for different reasons. This opens up exciting food preparation possibilities for those that go to the time and trouble to obtain potent, flavorful raw proteins and produce. Apply chef tactics to food prep and dieting becomes effortless because the foods are delicious and enticing. Exercise results are amplified with proper eating. The human body was designed to run optimally consuming organic food. Organic food is the equivalent of high-octane racing fuel. Maximally potent nutrients are, coincidentally, maximally infused with vibrant, intense flavor.
Scheme depicting possible Insulin Receptor binding sites
There is an interim step. Most of us are toxified. We need to detox. No big deal really. The detox procedure is simple. Stop eating. Go for as long as you can without eating solid food. When you can’t hack it any longer, slowly add back raw vegetables and light proteins. Keep it clean and eat super light. In a week you will feel better and in two weeks your insulin receptor sites will become unclogged. Because you are no longer overwhelming the body with a barrage of insulin-producing foods, the body is able to keep up with the reasonable amounts of insulin you are now generating.
Before body fat can be mobilized and oxidized, the blood stream must be clear of insulin. That’s a flat freaking fact: this is why insulin control is a big deal. Potatoes, rice, flour products, pastries, manmade foods, refined carbohydrates, all spike insulin. These foods are the wrong fuels for the human body. Dietary fat from organic free-range beef, lamb, fowl or pork does not spike insulin and is nutrient-dense, restorative and beneficial.
Compare powerhouse fat from free-range animals to the saturated fat taken from a concentration camp animal, vitamin-D deprived, steroid-infused, inoculated industrial, toxic and sickly. Our approach requires the athlete obtain and prepare potent, flavorful foods using our “gourmet peasant food” approach. The best way to prepare pristine ingredients is simply and with restraint.
Be rid of the settled science of the EBE. Put the emphasis on food quality. Detox, clean out insulin receptor sites and begin anew, consume nutrient-dense potent flavorful foods, locally sourced and seasonally appropriate. Do so and you will reenergize yourself and your efforts.
Counterintuitive Dietary Strategies
“Potency and flavor: two sides of the same nutritional coin.”
Grass-fed, grain-finished locally sourced rib roast. Stacy and Marty ate all five pounds
How would Occam razor be applied to the mind-boggling subject of nutrition? Elite chefs have unknowingly invoked Occam and pointed the way for the rest of us to follow. A broad and uniform consensus has emerged from the world’s best chefs: start with the finest, freshest, locally sourced and seasonally appropriate produce and proteins. Now assemble and prepare these potent, nutrient-dense raw foods “respectfully.” Amplify these wonders of Nature, don’t overwhelm them or disguise the intense natural flavors. Make the ingredient the star of the dish, not the chef. This culinary strategy is straight Occam.
Above all else, stress nutrient purity. Obtain the good stuff and learn how to prepare raw foods simply and quickly. Be done with artificial and manmade foods, jettison pale, pallid, impotent supermarket foods in favor of those same foods found at the local butcher shop or the Farmer’s Market. Purchase from local food Artisans; avoid trendy, over-priced yuppie organic food chains. The prices paid for potent food purchased directly from those that raise it or grow it is always less than prices for those same foods sold to you via a middleman.
The insistence of the culinary elite on organic, fresh and local is actually a throwback to pre-supermarket days when all foods were organic and obtained locally. Before the supermarket revolution of the 1950s and 60s, every neighborhood had a butcher shop that sold local, free-range meat, fowl, pork and game; every neighborhood had a fruit and vegetable stand and every neighborhood had a dairy that delivered milk, eggs, cream and butter right to your doorstep.
Celebrity chefs have resurrected this insistence on food quality; wherever there is nutrient purity there is nutrient potency and wherever there is purity and potency there is intense flavor. The chef seeks out this vibrant flavor. The athlete seeks nutritional potency. These are two sides of the same nutritional coin: flavor and potency. Organic foods are maximally flavorful and promote health and accelerate recovery after a body-shattering workout. How easy it is to adhere to a sound nutritional regimen when the foods are delicious and the “dieter” looks forward in eager anticipation to the next meal.
For 100,000 years primal humans worldwide ate seasonally appropriate and organic because that was all there was. Refined carbs, grains, agriculture, alcohol, trans-fats, all lay thousands of years into the future. Primal humans lived physically taxing lives and ate organic. We reached their evolutionary final form and when we stopped evolving we were eating seasonally appropriate nutrient-dense organic food and living physically demanding lives. Let us use optimal fuel and replicate ‘taxing lives’ via intense training. This approach has us aligning with our primal nature, not defying our primal nature.
About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of numerous books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.