I just watched your video about the 2 minute salad; simple, fast, and no measuring. I agree with the primal way of eating and I’m torn between the freelance style of PB and structure of The Zone. What is your opinion of The Zone?
First, let me thank Rob for his question. I’ve had a lot of conversations about The Zone and other heavily publicized diet plans. It’s fair, I think, to look at the good and the bad of the diet. Unless you’re talking about the grapefruit diet or similarly comical fad, diets generally have to have at least some positive point(s) to gain a decent following, as The Zone has. Nonetheless, what can initially look like a rational foundation begins to show cracks when you look at how the philosophy actually plays out.
For many of us, it’s the stuff of childhood dares and fraternity hazing. In many cultures around the world, however, they’re considered fine delicacies or just regular daily fare. We’re talking insects or the more vaguely inclusive “bugs”: grubs, worms, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, scorpions, beetles, termites, worms, ants, and other varieties in the vastly underappreciated gastronomic world of insects. “What could be more primal than eating insects?” you might ask. We would agree. Thanks to reader Tim for the suggestion.
Do the Math
In my recent Context of Calories post, I explained how the different macronutrients we eat at each meal (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) have different effects in the body. I suggested that, despite their raw calorie values, it’s far more important to get a lasting intuitive sense of how much of each macronutrient you need and when you need it (or not).
But how do you do that? How do you figure out the proper number of calories – and breakdown of fats, protein and carbs – to accomplish your fitness and health goals? To lose weight? Lose fat? Gain muscle? Maintain status quo? Run marathons?
In fact, most popular daily diets look at overall calories as the main factor in weight loss and weight gain. The age-old conservation of energy Conventional Wisdom says that “a calorie is a calorie.” From there most diet gurus generally prescribe some formulaic one-size-fits-all breakdown of fats, protein and carbs. A classically trained Registered Dietician will tell you that protein should be around 10-15% of calories, carbs should be 60% (and mostly from whole grains) and fat under 30%. This macronutrient breakdown stays the same regardless of how much weight you need to lose or what other goals you might have. Barry Sears has his 40/30/30 “Zone” diet. The USDA bases everything on a choice of between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. But, as I said earlier, it’s not that simple. Calories do have context.
200 Calories is 200 Calories. Right?
“What’s that in the road ahead?”
“What’s that in the road!? A head!?”
Context is important.
Many people think weight loss is simply about cutting calories. But context counts here, too. Calories do have context and that’s what I want to explore today. Is a calorie from fat the same as a calorie from protein or carbohydrate? Depends on the context. Does day-to-day calorie monitoring make any difference if your week-to-week weight and energy expenditure are dialed in? Maybe not.
I’ve been getting a slew of emails lately from marathon runners and other endurance athletes among our group, many in response to our 30-Day Primal Health Challenge. Questions have run the gamut but generally get at how to combine endurance training and Primal Blueprint methodology:
How do I combine a low carb diet with marathon training? (Hint: you generally can’t)
What would you recommend for carb refueling post-race?
Can I even do the PB challenge if I have to adapt the diet for training purposes?
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