Diet and Nutrition: A Guide to How Myron Got Shredded
It can be easy to forget what an important role nutrition plays in a healthy lifestyle. One of our coaches, Myron Gaudet, had let nutrition play second fiddle for a quite a while. Now, don't misunderstand. It wasn't that he was eating poorly; he just wasn't eating optimally. He lead a very active lifestyle and generally stayed away from starchy and sugary foods, but he had an extra little layer of fat, despite all this. His plateau was at 175 lbs with about 17% body fat.
Being as active as he was, there wasn't much he could improve in the realm of exercise, so he decided to look to nutrition to improve his body composition. After a lot of research, he decided to experiment with a paleo diet combined with intermittent fasting. The paleo diet consists of cutting out processed foods, starches, carbohydrates, refined sugar, and milk in favor of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meat. Intermittent fasting involves limiting to your eating to specified time windows. You would consume the same number of calories that would normally, but only during the specified time. There are many different ways a person can schedule their fasting, but Myron chose to do an 18:6 ratio. That means, everyday, he would fast for 18 hours and choose a 6 hour window where he would consume all his calories for the day.
The hypotheses behind both of these nutritional plans are very similar. They both are based on the fact that inter-species evolution for complex mammals typically takes millions of years. However, the neolithic revolution, which introduced agriculture to our species, dramatically changed the way we, as a species, ate, and our eating habits have only changed more and more dramatically as technology has advanced. Proponents of these nutrition systems believe that our bodies have not had time to adapt to these new eating habits and are still best suited to a hunter and gatherer lifestyle, since this change only happened about 10,000 years ago.
The paleo diet reflects this by taking out all the foods we would not have had access to before the invention of farming. We are limited to foods we could gather, find, or hunt, like fruits, nuts, eggs, and meat. Intermittent fasting reflects this by setting an eating schedule similar to that of hunters and gatherers. Hunters and gatherers did not have constant access to food, the way we do today. There were no sophisticated storage methods, so for the most part, the food they found that day would be the only food they ate. The beginning of their day would be not be breakfast, but rather gathering all the food they would eat through the course of the day. Once the sun went down, with no complex light sources to spot predators or illuminate their surroundings, no more food could be gathered. This would limit their eating window to 6-8 hours a day.
So, does the science support this hypothesis? Both the ideas of the paleo diet and intermittent fasting are relatively new, so there isn't an extensive amount of research to support or refute their validity. The studies we do have, however, look promising. Studies on the paleo diet have shown not only a decrease in weight and waist circumference but also improved glycemic control and insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol, and decreased blood pressure. Studies on intermittent fasting have shown improved insulin sensitivity, elevated mood, decreased hunger, and a higher maintenance of lean muscle when calories were restricted.
Not to say that there aren't downsides to these approaches. The jury is still out on whether or not cutting carbohydrates out of your diet completely is a good idea. There haven't been long term studies on this, and there are plenty of studies that report massive benefits from including grains in your diet. As for intermittent fasting, most studies show that it is possible to maintain and improve athletic performance while training fasted; however, it has been observed that VO2 max does not improve at the rate it would if one was training fed. This would imply that intermittent fasting is not well suited for athletic endeavors where VO2 max is paramount, like sprinting or wrestling. But, for endurance or strength athletes it shouldn't have an effect on performance.
So, how did these nutrition plans work out for our coach, Myron? After just 16 weeks on this regimen, Myron had lost 20 pounds and 8% body fat! Now, remember, Myron was not overweight with poundage to spare. He was extremely active and in shape but was still able to drop from 175 lbs to 155 lbs and from 17% body fat to 9% body fat. That is incredibly impressive! Myron has reported an increase in energy and improvement in mood. He says he feels better than he has in years and has noticed no negative effects on his kickboxing performance. With such quick, extreme results at the age of 43, Myron couldn't be more pleased. If you're looking for a nutrition plan that will cut the fat without sacrificing performance, this could be just what you've been searching for!