Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

Water Intake, Salt Intake, and Junk Science

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
May 29 2015


With summer coming on, many of you are probably worried about taking in enough water throughout the day and especially at workouts. But you shouldn’t.

The idea that you need to be drinking the recommended “at least eight glasses of water per day” for health and performance results is a) based on junk science, and b) contrary to what we’ve seen succeed for our athletes. As Mark Sisson notes, “…there is no evidence that drinking eight or more glasses prevents constipation, kidney stones, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections or that it guarantees you’ll have clear skin and a toxic-free liver….On the other hand, there are some possible health consequences of overdoing this hydration thing. Chronic over-consumption of water can cause the relative concentration of important electrolytes in the blood to drop, a condition called hyponatremia, which in turn forces water out of the bloodstream and into cells, causing them to swell. Not a big deal for a muscle cell, but catastrophic when it’s a brain cell and there’s no extra space to expand into.”

This leads us to a topic that CrossFit has taken head on: sports drink companies marketing to athletes and the net results being common issues of cramping and in more serious cases Exercise Associated Hyponatremia (which can lead to what Sisson is describing above: swelling of the brain, and possibly death).

Further, many of you have been probably told by your doctor or seen information in the media warning you about excessive salt intake. The science behind the salt is dangerous for your health has been thoroughly debunked by Gary Taubes as far back as 1998. But health professionals and media continue to promote this concept.

The combination of lowering your salt intake and raising your water intake can combine to create a dangerous results. You should drink when you’re thirsty and eat Paleo. If you begin cramping in a workout, you should NOT drink water. As Arlington starts to heat up, you may want to increase your salt intake by simply adding salt to your meals. For some of our more active members, you may want to have some Endurolytes before an especially long workout as well.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150507]

Say It or Be A Fraud

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Feb 25 2015


“If you see fraud and don’t shout fraud, you are a fraud.” -Taleb

Part of what first interested me in Paleo and what honestly continues to interest me most about reading and studying about the diet is the ethical coda above. Gary Taubes was the first person to come on my radar in his article “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” in 2002. The biggest eye opener in the piece is not that fat is good for you, but that Ancel Keys and then George McGovern manipulated data and public perceptions in order to get Americans to eat a way that dramatically aided large, government subsidized food companies and caused the death and disease of millions of Americans. Taubes went on to write “Good Calories, Bad Calories” which is a beautifully written book that expands on these themes as well as the good science and bad science done around human nutrition.

The second great body of work and someone who was willing to stand up and say “this is a fraud” is Lierre Keith in her book “The Vegetarian Myth”. Lierre was a vegan for almost 20 years. She accepted the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and paradigm as a way to be spiritually, physically, and environmentally conscientious. She had noble instincts that led her to this way of life. She said she wanted “…my life to be a battle cry, a war zone, an arrow pointed and loosed into the heart of domination“. But what she found was that while her animus was noble, her means were wrong. She finally concluded, after years of living and preaching this lifestyle, that “The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us.”

I honestly think the eating the Paleo Diet long term is pretty easy, and is summed up neatly in CrossFit’s dietary prescription “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” But what motivates me far more than abs or Fran times is first, exposing the frauds that are trying to get you to eat “whole wheat” and “fruit sugar” and claiming it’s good for you, and second, destroying the kleptocracy that makes up the US government/food industry hydra that subsidizes harmful foods and places impossible hurdles in front of healthy, natural foods.

[Originally posted Paleo Challenge 150127]


Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Feb 24 2015


I set out to write a unique and interesting blog post today about cholesterol, but once I found Robb Wolf’s post, I gave up. This sums it up too nicely for me to even try to compete. The following is reprinted from Robb Wolf’s blog. You can also tune into his Paleo Solution podcast here and purchase his books and ebooks here. Enjoy!

The basics of the diet-heart hypothesis go like this: High cholesterol leads to atherosclerotic plaques that precipitate a clot which can result in a heart attack or stroke. This whole notion grew from a disease called Familial Hypercholesterolemia and subsequent experiments that involved feeding rabbits (herbivores) oxidized cholesterol. These critters do not eat ANY cholesterol so the fact oxidized cholesterol caused problems is not surprising but also completely unhelpful when talking about people.

Anyway, 50 years to failed dietary recommendations to lower cholesterol have done nothing to alleviate the CVD epidemic. In fact, the epidemic is rolling along bigger and badder than ever before. Well This Study was pretty interesting. It indicates that most people who suffer a heart attack have…low cholesterol!

Now, everyone is in a fix to get folks on cholesterol lowering diets and statins to save them, but most heart attacks are in folks with…low cholesterol! Ok, doesn’t make any sense and it completely calls into question the notion that we need to reduce cholesterol levels…but why not give people statins and see how folks do on those. Well, interestingly, statins appear to decrease heart attack rates in people…with low cholesterol.

The mechanism? Possibly a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of systemic inflammation. Know what else reduces systemic inflammation? A paleo diet which controls insulin levels, removes gut irritating foods, balances omega-3/omega-6 fats. Add some vit-d and consistent good sleep and you have effectively turned off the type of inflammation underlying CVD, cancer and neurodegeneration.
Oh! Then there is the fact low cholesterol increases stroke rates!!
So, just to clarify:

1-Cholesterol supposedly causes CVD, But
2-Most heart attacks are actually occurring in people with low cholesterol, Yet
3-Doctors insist on cholesterol lowering protocols, including statins, Even though,
4-The benefit of statins has nothing to do with cholesterol, but rather it’s mild anti-inflammatory action, Which
5-Can be accomplished with simple dietary modifications and a few inexpensive supplements.
It would be funny if people were not dying from this stuff.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140120]

“I’m Shocked, Shocked To Hear There’s Gambling Going On Here!”

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Feb 20 2015


I probably use that line too much. But in the case of what popular “medicine” figures out, it applies.

The Atlantic recently published a story about a rheumatoid arthritis and gut health. The basic gist of this is that, shockingly, ingestion of grains and legumes can cause severe inflammation of the joints.

I’m going to use this word “shocked” one more time: I’m very not shocked that this is taking so long to get traction in the media. It’s really hard to monetize eating real food and very easy to monetize a magic pill or a dramatically subsidized package food (and hence, advertisers). Not easy to monetize pasture raised, beyond organic meats and fresh vegetables.

This tie between grain and legume ingestion and arthritis was written about as far back as 1905 in Weston A. Price’s seminal “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”: Careful inquiry regarding the presence of arthritis was made in the more isolated groups. We neither saw nor heard of a case in the isolated groups. However, at the point of contact with the foods of modern civilization many cases were found including ten bed-ridden cripples in a series of about twenty Indian homes.

Further, Loren Cordain has been publishing studies at least as far back as 2000 (that was as much googling as I had time for):“Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis”, which states that “Despite the almost universal clinical observation that inflammation of the gut is frequently associated with inflammation of the joints and vice versa, the nature of this relationship remains elusive. In the present review, we provide evidence for how the interaction of dietary lectins with enterocytes and lymphocytes may facilitate the translocation of both dietary and gut-derived pathogenic antigens to peripheral tissues, which in turn causes persistent peripheral antigenic stimulation.”

In short, grains and legumes are bad ummmkay.

[Originally posted Paleo Challenge 150121]

Focus on the Fundamentals

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Feb 18 2015


During the kick off we talked about setting up a “Paleo Framework”, which is very similar to what Andrew talked about on Monday and Tuesday’s posts.

The big system we’re trying to get you to understand is the difference between via negativa (to take away) and via positiva (to add). Lots of folks that join the gym go out and buy new shoes, new workout clothes, etc. While I see this as not necessarily a bad thing because it has a lot to do with tribal identity, which is programmed into us. But where it is bad is that we live in a complex world that we’re not designed for. Constant aerobic stressors (which we talked about during the kick off) are not something we are equipped to deal with, just like we’re not equipped to handle grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar.

So the biggest bang you get for your buck healthwise is not buying supplements or adding volume or drinking kale juice, it is taking things out of your life. As may things as you can handle.

For further reading on this social paradigm, check out Marshal Sahlins’ The Original Affluent Society.

[Originally posted Paleo Challenge “Focus on the Fundamentals”]

Elite Alcohol Fueled Performance: Part II

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Nov 05 2014


Last week we talked about the basics of why you shouldn’t drink and alluded to why you should via pop-science and 11th Century Persian poetry (PS. If you haven’t read Khayyam, you’re missing out!). This week I want to talk about how you should go about drinking:

1) Drink with people you like. We are, like ants, bees, wasps and wolves, a pack species.
2) Drink clear liquor, brown liquor and/or wine. Skip the beer, gluten is bad. Vodka fucks you up just as good.
3) Drink during the day. Eat a big meal after, then go to sleep!

Follow these simple rules of thumb and you can get all the benefits of drinking without as many negative effects. And as always, if you need more help, I’m available for personal training at either Potomac CrossFit or Clarendon Ballroom.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 141002]

Elite Alcohol Fueled Performance: Part I

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Nov 04 2014


There are a plenty of athletes in the gym that are very high performers, very strict Paleo eaters, and very admirable drunks. While I only meet two of those three criteria, I’ve still seen a lot of performance increases over my last eight years of CrossFit and living in Arlington, the day drinking capital of the world.

My advice to my nutritional consulting clients and my Paleo Challengers is simple and ripped off from Robb Wolf: “Drink as little as possible to maximize performance, and as much as necessary to maximize your sex life.”

“BUT HOW MUCH CAN I REALLY DRINK BRIAN?!?!?!?” is the question I often get. Well let’s look at why you should minimize first:

  • Alcohol blunts protein synthesis. Alcohol in your bloodstream will decrease the amount of amino acids your body can use to form complete proteins which grow and repair muscle tissue.
  • Alcohol decreases your energy levels by dehydrating you. Because alcohol is a diuretic, it will expel water from your body that’s necessary in the creating of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a key chemical compound in Kreb’s/Citric Acid Cycle, which is how the body uses food for energy.

There are plenty of other reasons to skip or reduce alcohol consumption (and there’s a longer rundown from Bill Imbo here), but hopefully that’s scared you a little bit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m with Malcolm Gladwell and Omar Khayyam on the wonderful relationship between man and booze, but we need to look at the why and how to make half way decent non-Fireball based decisions. Next week we’ll discuss the question of “how much” and “how to”. Until then either cloister thyself or enjoy drinking prior to eating the fruit of knowledge.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140925]

Starchy Carbs and Paleo/CrossFit

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 26 2014


Something that I think is an issue for a lot of athletes is carb intake. I’ve talked to a lot of clients about this, wrote about it, and talked about it during the Paleo Challenge, but dialing in the right amount of carbs still seems to be an issue for folks. I’ll give you some good rules of thumb:

1) If you are training 2x/week and have significant amounts of body fat to loose, you just want to eat starchy carbs in your post workout meals. So if you work out in the morning, eat at least a fist sized portion of starchy carbs in your post-WOD meal.

2) If you have some body fat to lose, up your starch intake to at least 2x/day with meals.

3) If you are training 4-5 days a week, and have some body fat to loose, you need to eat at least 2-3 fist sized portions of starch on your training days.

You can find info on what we consider starchy carbs here in our Paleo FAQ section.

Now if you want more clarity, we’re here to help! You can just post to comments anytime, you can post to our Facebook page (on the wall or just in the daily WOD post)or you can sign up for nutritional counseling with one of our coaches. Maria does these all the time and is a great resource. When I’m sober, I’m ok at this too.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140616]

Hydration and Electrolyte Balance

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 21 2014


Much is made in most health and fitness about proper hydration. I think that much of this is bubkis. However, getting the proper amount of what is commonly known as “electrolytes” is absolutely critical to your overall health and your CrossFit performance especially.

For most folks, simply eating Paleo and getting a good variety of foods will do the trick. I’m also a fan of adding iodized salt in the mix. For folks that are doing a good amount of hard training, some simple supplements might be necessary based on your individual biological requirements. For years, I’ve recommended Endurolyte tablets. As it’s getting hotter outside, these make more and more sense and folks report good results. There are some other more pricey options out there, but they depend on how much your working out, how much you naturally sweat, and whether or not you really want to take the time to mess around with them.

Have any of you tried Endurolytes or other supps?

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140527]

Find What’s Right For You

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 18 2014


Just like we scale workouts based on your level, we also scale our versions of the Paleo Diet. If you’ve done our Paleo Challenge, you know we take a very simple approach to this. If you’re primary goal is weight loss, then you need to take in enough starchy carbs to support your CrossFitting, but no more. This usually equates to a minimum of one fist sized portion of starch in your post-WOD meal. For folks that want weight loss and performance gains, minimum two fist sized portions with meals. One of these portions post-WOD. For folks that are primarily focused on performance, the minimum is three fist sized portions.

This is a pretty straightforward rule of thumb and one which works for a lot of people. But this is the minimum and the determiner is how well it’s working! Some of our athletes and I have been messing with a high and much more specific quantitative measure of their starchy carb intake through the Eat to Perform plan. We have all seen significant gains in our work output and energy levels and no increase in bodyfat. This is very much a diet plan that fits into the “Rxd” category of athlete, but it’s good info for all athletes as many people think that if one piece of starch a day is good for weight loss, than no starch ever must be perfect!

The key is finding what’s right for you, and we’re happy to help with this. You can talk to a coach at the WOD, you can post to comments, or you can email me or Maria or any coach you’d like to setup a nutritional consult to help dial you in.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140512]