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The Great Diet Debate

When it comes to what you should eat to be healthy the basics are obvious. Eat natural foods that God provided for us 80 percent of the time or better and chances are you’re going to be a pretty healthy individual.

If you get caught up trying to over-analyze which natural foods are best to eat you’ll be missing the big picture. Sure, I have my opinion on the type of diet that is optimal for human performance and health but not everyone is going to agree with me.

I get it, and you know what, that’s ok. I’ve long been on record promoting a Primal Blueprint type diet that resembles what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have consumed. I’m not 100% with following a Primal Blueprint of Paleo diet but it’s the basic foundation for my daily food intake.

There are individuals who would argue we shouldn’t be eating animal proteins at all (raw vegans, vegetarians, etc) and I certainly respect their beliefs and opinions.

If that works for them great, but it simply doesn’t work for me. Therefore I tend to stay out of the senseless debates over trying to PROVE one way is better than another.

I’ve tried going without animal proteins for a while and can tell you with absolute certainty that it doesn’t work for me long-term. I lose strength and energy in a hurry when going through detoxification and rejuvenation phases of consuming only fruits, greens, juices, and the like.

This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the benefits; remember I’m doing it for a reason (detoxification and cellular rejuvenation), but to use vegetarian or raw vegan strategies from a lifestyle perspective would require me to sacrifice lean muscle, strength, and a host of other trade-off’s I’m simply not willing to make.

When I follow a slightly modified Primal Blueprint diet (sometimes consuming beans, whole grains, and dairy for example) I feel and function my best. The closer I follow the strategy the better I feel and perform with my workouts.

That’s pretty much all I need to know.

This is the best advice I can give you regarding nutrition and dietary choices…

Listen to your body and provide it with the nutrients and fuel that makes you feel best, helps you maintain your ideal bodyweight, and provides you with the energy to live the lifestyle YOU desire.

You have to decide what’s best for you and experiment a little. When someone tells you what you should or shouldn’t be eating out of an ideology or belief you need to take it for what it is….an opinion.

After hundreds of years of scientific research on nutrition and health there’s only a few blanket statements of certain truth we can hang our hats on. If you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables you’re going to improve your health, that’s number one.

There’s no denying that majority of essential phytonutrients and antioxidants our bodies need are found in foods that were created through the process of photosynthesis. The farther down the food chain we go, the less of these nutrients we end up consuming.

It’s all pretty much common sense if you think about it.

If you eat meat from an animal that consumed green foods made from photosynthesis, you’re still going to get some of the nutrients. If you eat a food that wasn’t part of that chain or better phrased was processed and refined in some way, you’re far less likely to get the essential nutrients you need.

The biggest problem with our diets today is we’re eating too much processed, refined, and altered foods.

For a lot of people they may be eating sufficient calories to provide their body with energy to go through their everyday tasks, but they’re literally starving at a cellular level.

For these people, they’re functioning and doing ok (no significant health problems), but on the inside at the smallest root level (cellular), they’re breaking down and speeding up the aging process.

Health is all about supporting your cells with BOTH the energy needed to support function and nutrients to support elimination, detoxification, and rebuilding. Whatever you eat must accomplish these functions or you’re losing in some way.

With all my years of researching and studying nutrition science, health, and human performance I can tell you it all comes down to moderation with pretty much everything except plant foods.

For years we’ve had so called experts tell us <fill in the blank> was bad for our health. The latest research often tends to contradict what we’ve been told in the past or what worked for previous generations.

For example, we’ve been told for how long that saturated fat is bad for our health and leads to heart disease? I’ve been hearing this preached for as long as I can remember. The problem is not only is the research inconclusive but it also defies the logic of past generations.

Throughout history from our hunter-gatherer ancestors all the way to our grandparents, people have been eating animal fats.

Growing up in the country I knew lots of old farmers well into their eighties who drank whole milk everyday and ate more than their fare share of animal proteins. Why weren’t they dropping dead of heart attacks but today we’ve got people in their thirties and forties doing so?

The answer in my opinion is more complex than just trying to isolate out one thing (saturated fat) and tagging it as the culprit.

What these people were NOT eating a lot of were things like processed and refined foods, genetically modified foods, and loads of starch carbohydrates.

We could drill down into this all day long but we’re likely to come to the same conclusion.

Health is more than just the foods we eat….its a reflection of how we live.

You simply can’t omit factors like physical activity and exercise, stress, moderation with toxins (alcohol for example), sleep, etc.

We love to try and pin-point out one factor like diet and say such and such way is the key to optimal health. It just doesn’t work that way.

I know several people for example who are vegetarians with pooch bellies and they’re seemingly always sick and coming down with something. Is this optimal health?

They’ll say Shane you really shouldn’t be eating animal protein (and the preaching begins), but when I ask them how do you explain I rarely get sick, have a lean and muscular physique, energy, strength, etc, I’ve yet to hear a logical explanation.

It always circles back to some sort of ideology and not something I can firmly grasp as a strategy that I’d be “better off” if I followed it.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Whatever works for you, works for you!

It doesn’t matter what anybody says, myself included, when it comes to what type of diet you should follow.

If what you’re doing works for you and your healthy and functioning in a way that allows you to live your life to the fullest, far be it from me or anybody else to tell you to do something different.

But if you’re NOT looking or feeling your best, you’ll have to decide what’s going to help you improve your health and function in a way that allows you to live the way you want to live.

That means you’ll certainly want to do your homework, but at the same time you’ll have to experiment to see what works best.

If I went 100% raw vegan for example I could rationalize that I’m giving my body the absolute best nutrients from exclusively fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to argue that fact but would it mean I’d live ten more years, or be able to live the way I wanted to live?

There’s no certainty that I’d live longer so I can put that part to rest pretty easy. The second part of the question comes down to individual preference and beliefs.

There’s little question in my mind that if I went 100% raw-vegan I’d probably drop down to under 200lbs and lose half of my lean muscle and strength. Some people may be comfortable with that kind of trade-off, I’m not.

Remember, it comes down to how do you want to live and what’s important?

For me I’m not willing to trade the hypothetical increase in longevity (and make no mistakes it is hypothetical), to be weak, thin, and void of the pleasure of eating some meat now and then.

Only you can decide what you want for your life.

The purpose of this discussion is to get you to see that individual diet choices should be a reflection of what works best for you on all levels, and not a decision that’s made based on somebody else’s opinion or beliefs.

I’ve personally found that I live and function at my optimal levels when I’m following a Primal Blueprint type diet. But then again I don’t have any internal conflicts and guilt about eating an animal either. If I did I could see how there would be a dilemma.

I’ve found that I feel better when I’m not consuming grains, milk, and a lot of starches. My body seems to thrive on fruits, veggies, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and omega-3 fats. Sure I would never have tried this dietary strategy without first believing in the science and the rationale, but I also came to this final conclusion by experimenting with it on a personal level.

I can tell you I’m far from alone in drawing the same conclusion. Experiment with a Primal Blueprint type diet and see for yourself.

If something else works better for you and allows you to live your life to the fullest, great!

In the end it’s to each his own.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a FREE, no-obligations (2) session trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs.

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Category: Shane's Commentary.