The Minefield of Nutrition
Nasty politics and offering a new perspective
In the "minefield" of nutrition, people are bigoted, prejudiced, opinionated, obstinate and downright nasty when the fitness topic turns to nutrition. Positions are staked out and defended to the death. Entire industries have sprung up catering to erroneous nutritional philosophies based on faux science. Fortunes have been made and are being made duping the public. When vast amounts of money are involved, ethics go flying out the window, replaced by over-promising, exaggerations and outright lies.
Institutions are equally bigoted. Governmental agencies and the mainstream medical establishment is extremely dismissive of any nutritional strategy other than the ineffectual commandments they proclaim as gospel. No counter arguments, no opposing viewpoints can be expressed. Those that protest must be demonized and destroyed. Money taints and perverts everything in nutrition. As Dylan once observed, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
A scientist is endlessly curious with a viewpoint that is always unfolding and evolving. A fundamentalist has purposefully frozen and fossilized viewpoints. Fundamentalist dogma permits no variance and opinions are not allowed. The scientist lives empirically and is intuitively flexible. The fundamentalist is intuitively inflexible and has a philosophy that must be accepted; non-believers are branded as heretics.
Science welcomes new opinions and encourages opposing viewpoints in the hope of improving the method, mode, product or philosophy. The fundamentalist silences opinions and allows no viewpoint other than the holy sacred gospel. Once the dogmatic philosophy has been formed, enshrined and deified, there is no further need for any differing opinions.
Nutritional fundamentalism is represented by the ‘settled science’ that champions low-calorie/low-fat dieting – yet allows, nay, encourages and endorses harmful carbohydrates: pasta, bread, factory foods loaded with trans-fats are allowed and recommended.
The low-cal/low-fat orthodoxy remains, for nutritional fundamentalists, unassailable and unchallengeable. This philosophy has created a billion-dollar industry catering to “lite,” “low-fat,” “low-cal” and “fat-free.” If calories are bad, if fat is bad, why not create “healthy” low-cal/low-fat industrial foods? These industrial concoctions are cooked in vats and loaded with trans-fats and artificial preservatives; chemical cesspools presented as healthy and superior.
Also recommended are refined carbs, manmade artificial foods, sugar foods and those loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, all are allowed and certified as healthy by government officials and industry heavyweights.
Nutritional heretics and rebels rudely draw attention to the inconvenient truth that low-fat/low-cal eating is NOT WORKING! It is considered inappropriate and impolite to point out that the nutritional Emperor has no freaking clothes.
Here is a nutritional fact of life: any food or drink you consume that is not a protein, a fibrous carb or a fat is undigested sugar. Name any food that is not pure protein, pure fiber or pure fat and it is destined to be broken down into glycogen, emulsified carbs. Sugar spikes insulin. While insulin is in the bloodstream there can be no fat burning. Period.
The goal of diet and exercise is not to lose body weight – the goal of diet and exercise is to lose body fat. The fundamentalists fly off the rails by championing foods that spike insulin. No matter if you are starving on 1,200 calories a day on some low-cal diet strategy, if those paltry calories are refined starch carbs insulin will spike and, ergo, there can be no fat loss. Body fat is preferentially preserved.
If you starve the body catabolism occurs: muscle cannibalism is a horrific metabolic event that occurs when the body, sensing starvation, eats itself – stripping muscle walls of amino content to cover caloric shortfall.
From a scientific viewpoint, nutrition should be fluid and flowing. Real science (rooted in empiricism and actual results) provides an alternate route, a different pathway, a radically different way of navigating through the minefield of nutritional possibilities.
The optimal fat-loss diet is formed around foods that do not spike insulin: protein, fiber and saturated fat do not spike insulin.
Fat, protein and fibrous carbs all have a dampening effect on the insulin spike associated with the consumption of starch carbs. Ergo, any carbs other than fiber carbs, need be eaten in combination with insulin-dampening foods.
For hard training athletes, protein and fiber carb intake need be kept high year-round. The wild cards, depending on the goal, is the amount of calorically-dense fat consumed or how much natural starch carbs are eaten.
Humans tend to fall into one of two categories: those that prefer carbs versus those that prefer fat. Determine which of the two categories you fall into. If you prefer natural starch carbs over saturated fat calories, then limit fat intake. If you prefer fat calories over natural starch carbs, keep carb intake to a minimum. One or the other.
Another dieting tip is beginning a weight loss (lean out) regimen with fasting. Just stop eating. Detoxify. Insulin receptor sites become clogged when continually overwhelmed. Fasting allows the impurities to be removed. The detoxing process can continue if you reintroduce foods with care, skill and patience. When eating is reintroduced, avoid foods that spike insulin.
Coming off a 3-4 day fast, two to three times a day mix a good low-carb protein powder with cold water. Add back light, clean protein (eggs, fish) and fiber carbs, broccoli, green beans, carrots, onions, spinach, salad greens. Protein and fiber go together like “peas and carrots,” to quote the Zen master Forest Gump.
Fiber has a wonderful rotor-rotor effect on our intestines. Fiber scrapes the walls of the sludge and gunk associated with digesting protein and fat. Elite competitive bodybuilders make protein and fiber the nutritional backbone of their ‘get ripped’ strategies. The IFBB pros live on lean protein and fiber as the competition approaches.
Bodybuilders will slowly reduce starch calories. Fat calories are added as starch is reduced. This switch-out trick enables hard earned muscle mass to be retained. There are variations, twists and wrinkles, yet the core nutritional fat-loss template is easy to understand and incredibly difficult to adhere to.
Detoxify by fasting. Clean out the insulin receptor sites. Do not overwhelm the system with glycogen (emulsified carbohydrate) coming off the fast. Eating moderate amounts of carbs, combined with protein, fiber and fat. Any insulin created can be delt with without issue.
An insulin-free body enables the exerciser to burn off body fat. Glycogen is the body’s favored fuel. When deprived of glycogen the body will obtain its fuel from its second choice: stored body fat. One successful trick pro bodybuilder’s use is to engage in a high intensity cardio workout first thing in the morning, before breakfast. The body, coming off the sleep-fast, is low on glycogen. A torrid, sweaty cardio session burns through residual glycogen and then starts oxidizing body fat. Any serious bodybuilding gym is packed first thing in the morning.
This is not a new perspective about nutrition and losing body fat. This approach has been obtaining real results for real people for decades. The path to leanness is well traveled - but not for the faint of heart or weak of mind.
Photo Credit: Special thanks to Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler for allowing us to use this image.
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.