Looking at all the fads now, at the top of the list are Cross Fit and the Paleo Diet.
Both principles go back to ‘caveman’ roots, functional training based around bodyweight and pulling and dragging exercises, and back to a meat and nuts diet.
Do we really think in all our wisdom and all advances on the past few thousand years that this is the way to go? Or is it just another quick way for a few to make some dollar?
According to Bourhenne (2001) “In 500 BC the average life expectancy was about 20 years. In 400 AD it was 35 years. In 1900 it was 47 years. In 1930 it was 59 years. By 1975 it had advanced to about 71 years, and in 1989 it had advanced to 74 years for men and 78 years for women.”
So we think it’s clever to go back diets of the past?
If we think the diet and the training of the cavemen was so advanced do we also think we should ignore modern comforts and modern medicine? Or do we have such double standards that we want to pick and choose which parts of history we want to re-live?
I’m not opposed to either principles of the diet or the training. If you have read my previous articles you’ll know I am a fan of functional based training, and I base my own training around compound exercises and replicating sport based moves in the gym.
Do we really need to ‘label’ a type of training we do and restrict it to one type because it’s been given a new name with lots of marketing?
The same goes for the diet, great in principle, meat, fruit, nuts etc…but people have been eating like this for years. Look at a bodybuilder’s diet high proteins and good fat sources so why do we have a new label for it? Also is it practical? In 400 BC yes it probably was, but on the 21st Century are we really in a position to stick to this kind of diet, I think not. We live in a time of less free time and more work “In addition, extensive downsizing by large corporations has lengthened the average workweek for many employees. The average American worker now spends additional time equivalent to six extra 40-hour weeks per year on the job, when compared with the late 1960s (Schor, 1992), and three extra 40-hour weeks compared with just five years ago (Bond et al.)” I don’t have the same stats for the UK but there will be a similar correlation.
We need to embrace technological advances especially in food. Now I am not a fan of frozen meals, processed foods or preservatives. BUT, there are some great food products out that we can eat in accordance with a good diet, which can complement our training and also fit into our busy life styles.
Here are my two favourite food products that make my life easier.
First of all, egg whites are a staple food in many of our diets, extremely high in biological value (meaning we can use a high % of the available protein.) The benefits of egg whites don’t need to be argued in this article. However, I will use this to introduce you to pasteurised liquidised egg whites. A convenient way of getting ‘whites ‘ in the morning. I add them to a few other things to make a great smoothie. Typically I use about 330ml of egg whites (equates to about 10 egg whites), add two handfuls of frozen fruit, 150g of oats, blend and enjoy!
There are various companies who supply these types of egg whites however be careful of which you choose. There are companies who claim they are safe being stored on a shelf. I have researched this and this does seem to be the case HOWEVER there is a big caveat to this. The protein source is pretty much no good once it has gone through this process. The following quote explains this a little better “ When proteins are exposed to extreme heat for long periods of time, proteins become cross-linked – the structure breaks down and becomes denatured - and the protein is rendered, biologically speaking, inferior. Not surprisingly, testing shows that up to 90% of proteins in your typical canned RTD may become denatured because of retort processing.” Retort is the same process most companies use to preserve egg whites.
There is one company that I know of in the UK who supply frozen liquid egg whites, which do not use the retort process and therefore keep nearly 100% of the eggs original nutritional value. Allowing us to benefit fully from the egg whites, this company is www.egg-nation.co.uk . They were the first company in the UK to bring liquid egg whites out and in my mind the only company to offer a credible product.
Another way to preserve food without denaturing the protein is freeze drying. Using freeze dried food is a great way of having convenient meals at any time of day where ever you are. I use meals from a company called Sport Kitchen. They provide 34g of protein, 30g carbs, and about 1g of fat per meal. Such good quality which is unrivalled at the moment. Recently a few companies have tried to realise similar meals but no one has anything as nutritionally sound or tasty as Sport Kitchen. (My favourite is chilli beef and rice). MonsterSupplements.com are an official provided of Sport Kitchen QSMs!
Drying out food is thousands of years old, Sport Kitchen use a much more advanced technique than say the ‘Incas.’
To conclude, I think we need to take some of the methods our ancestors used and compliment them with 21st century science!