Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

Sticking to What Works

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 07 2014


“The person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself.” -Taleb

One of the most difficult things to face as an athlete or a coach is the fact that you were wrong about something. This can be broad in scope or very specific. For example, I’ve had many athletes fear a high fat diet. They refused to even try a diet high in fats, especially animal fat, and hence had to replace those calories they should be getting from fat with refined carbohydrate, leading to increased body fat. Even though this approach has never shown them any benefits, they are committed to it and don’t see nearly the same improvement from CrossFit as they would with a high fat diet.

It was also very difficult for us to fully embrace this concept as coaches. We followed the dictums of CrossFit HQ for our first several years and prescribed the Zone Diet to many of our athletes. After watching that diet never work for anyone ever, it became obvious we needed a new approach, but we were slow to try adopt the Paleo Diet in it’s stead.

We like to think that we are a nimble and rapidly adaptable gym. If something repeatedly works on a small scale (Paleo, gymnastic EMOTMs, etc) we test it on a broad scale and see if it continues to work. If something doesn’t work (Zone Diet, etc) we drop it.

What were some concepts you were wedded to before you started CrossFit? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back for you?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140331]

Butter, Bone Broth and Bacon

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 22 2014


You might think our dietary choices are out of the ordinary, and they are, but they are catching on. Some of you may have seen the recent articles about the Los Angeles Laker’s diet that mainly consists of butter, bone broth, and bacon (this sounds vaguely familiar to some other diet labels: Starts with “p”, rhymes with “R-aleo”).

The reason the Laker’s focus on these food groups are:
1) Joint health. Bone broth is one of the only sources of glycosaminoglycans. Down the processing chain that happens in the body, this compound creates hyaluronic acid, which is a key part of synovial fluid. This is the “lubricant” in your joints.
2) Energy. Fat is a hormonally neutral source of energy. While carbohydrate raises your blood sugar, which in the absence of protein intake or anaerobic activity can increase body fat stores, fat has no effect on blood sugar but significant effect on satiety (how hungry you are). So you eat fat, you get energy and you don’t feel hungry.
3) Brain function. The brain is the most sensitive organ to swings in blood sugar levels. Your brain can Run on sugar only, but the body can create it’s own form of sugar, known as ketones, from fat. You can read a great deal about ketones and brain function from Dr. Richard Veech, but bottomline: your brain really likes ketones.

For more on the L.A. Lakers diet, click here.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140121]

Cholesterol Explained by Robb Wolf

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 21 2014


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]


Manipulating Surroundings

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 16 2014


“Unless we manipulate our surroundings, we have as little control over what and whom we think about as we do over the muscles of our hearts.” -“The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

This is an important factor in and out of the gym. For folks traying Paleo for the first time, it’s critical. Nobody, contrary to popular opinion, has self control. If you have crack and hookers in your house, you’re probably going to try some crack and hookers.

Same goes for your training, and that starts with having the time to do it: if you’re job or your family is keeping you from training as much as you want, then your options are either demand more time to train or accept that your priorities are job/family and than accept there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you adjust your expectations to your training frequency.

Once you’re in the gym remove distractions. Show up on time, have all the gear you need handy, don’t bring your phone to the training floor with you, pay attention to the athletes around you, and listen to the coach.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140113]

Paleo Works

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 15 2014


The single biggest reason to join the Paleo Challenge is…..completely different for everybody. Some folks want to get #sexyasfuck, some want to live a longer and healthier life, some want to win money, some want to prove me wrong (that Paleo doesn’t work). Whatever the reason, what I’ll guarantee is that you’ll see a significant observable, measurable, and repeatable improvement in how you look, feel and perform by doing the Paleo Challenge.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140106]


No Such Thing as a Snack

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 09 2014


For folks that are looking for weight loss as their primary goal, we do a “modified” Paleo Diet. In this model, we remove all starchy carbs (think sweet potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, etc) except for a fist size portion in their post WOD meal. We encourage as much meat (especially fatty meat) as they like, and in addition to the removal of grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar, we eliminate nuts and fruit.

A lot of people get a bit peeved when they hear this. They seem to be able to deal with the new diet fairly well, but eliminating fruit and nuts pushes them over the edge. The issue with fruit and nuts is that they are both significant doses of sugar.

Usually the next question I get is “but what do I snack on?!?!?!?!” I have a few answers to this:

1) Meat and veggies. In this version of Paleo there is no such thing as a “snack”. There is just bigger meals and smaller meals. These meals include meat and veggies.

2) Don’t snack, eat more at meals. If you’re hungry between meals, eat more at your meals. #mindsplosion.

3) The reason you have a hard time giving this up is that your body currently runs on sugar and these are “Paleo Delivery Vehicles” for sugar. Progress = Compliance.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131126]

Are you spending money on bullshit?

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jun 30 2014


There’s something about spending money that makes people feel like they are going to get something in return. There’s a linearity there that’s appealing. There’s also a linearity when you say “hey, Rich Froning uses Progenex and is a great CrossFitter, so if I use Progenex, I’ll be a great CrossFitter.” However, this never works.

If I had to guess, I’d say a minimum of 50% of the folks at our gyms take something: vitamins, fish oil, protein shakes. The US as a whole spends something close to $30 billion dollars on the stuff. Here’s the rub (shockingly): it’s all bullshit. You’re pissing your money away. While there may be a tiny benefit to fish oil (if you’re not eating grass fed, pasture raised meats), everything else you can name is totally worthless.

The fundamentals of diet and training don’t really change. Nature may make understanding them somewhat complicated at the highest levels of performance, but the basics fit really well for 99% of the population and is summed up elegantly by CrossFit’s “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”: 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. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, Rope Climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to Handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, Run, swim, Row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131021]

Buy Meat from Pasture Raised Farms

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jun 26 2014


Last Tuesday I talked about the silliness involved in vegetarianism. This ties in very neatly with modern/government Run farming.

Whether it’s an accident of bureaucracy or a dedicated effort by the government/corporate kleptocracy to eliminate competition from the mass of small businesses/farms that consumers want to buy from, the result is the same: incredibly unhealthy/easy/cheap food competing with incredibly healthy/difficult/expensive food.

We all react to supply and demand through price. The massive subsidies provided to soy, corn, wheat, and drug companies funded by our taxes assures continued consumer access to unhealthy/easy/cheap food. What we try to do at Potomac CrossFit is make healthy food available to our clients as cheaply and easily as possible.

Why pasture raised meats are so much healthier than factory farmed food seems so patently obvious at this point it seems ridiculous to have to go over it again and again. But if you want to dig into the why of this, you can take a look at the following resources:

Inside a chicken factory
Food, Inc.

You can eat healthy and fight against the government/corporate kleptocracy by buying your meat from pasture raised farms like Mount Vernon Farms.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 130930]


Jumping on the Paleo Bandwagon

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jun 25 2014


What seems to make sense to me often doesn’t make sense to other folks. A few glaring examples are: vegetarianism versus Paleo, factory farmed food versus pasture raised food, and fitness as defined by magazines trying to sell you supplements because the training they prescribe doesn’t have any effect versus CrossFit.

To take the first example of vegetarianism (especially since it’s the hardest one for me to wrap my head around) I’ve deconstructed and dismantled the moralenvironmental and health reasons to do it (and this is completely due to Lierre Keith’s Vegetarian Myth which you can pick up on Amazon, paperback or Kindle).

Now if you ask many folks to just try to eat another way, they just won’t do it. Heap argument over argument, appeal to their reason, appeal to empiricism, and you get “no, I can’t do it.”

I’ve tried some silly shit in my lifetime: I used to do Body-for-Life when I was in my early 20′s, I did yoga 5x/week when I was in my mid-20′s. I think the entire reason that I’m a fairly healthy, quasi-well adjusted adult is just because I tried shit and tried to figure out if it was working or not.

CrossFit and Paleo got me far and away the best results in how I look, feel and perform, so I’m pretty sold on this stuff. However, if something better comes along, I’m certainly willing to try it.

So come on vegetarians, come on board for the big win and at least give it a try. I know I have a surprisingly high number of former vegetarians in the gym who have also seen great results by changing their diet to Paleo, so you guys can feel free to gang up aka provide a more rational argument on the benefits in the comments section. What sold you guys on at least trying Paleo?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 130924]

Sustainability and Vegetarianism

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jun 23 2014


Great post on sustainable agriculture by John Welbourne that got me thinking about this in relation to vegetarians/vegans. Vegetarians make the argument that meat eating isn’t sustainable because of factory farming. And I’m in complete agreement on this, which is why I eat about 70-80% grass fed meat.

Grass fed meat is by definition sustainable for two reasons. First because the grasslands are actually stronger, more fertile, and less prone to any kind of environmental damage because of herbivores (cows mostly) and the other wildlife that has a symbiotic relationship with the herbivore. However, the herbivores must have a carnivore (us) in order to balance their demand on the grassland. As long as this biosphere stays in balance, this is sustainable for as long as the sun keeps shining, or approximately 5 billion years.

Second, the grass fed beef “industry” (if you can call it that) and the pasture raised meat “industry” receive exactly zero subsidies from any governments. Therefore there is no price distortion to drive prices down and demand up.

On the flip side of this soyricecorn, and wheat receive billions of dollars of money from the government. If these subsidies didn’t exist, the cost of these foods would skyrocket. Price is the natural determination if something is sustainable or not. If the price of something is low, it is abundant. If the price of something is high, it is rare. However, subsidies grossly distort this very simple tool of using price to determine sustainability.

Also, soy, rice, corn and wheat are both net detractors of soil. Billions of dollars of hydro-carbon based fertilizer are used to keep the vast swaths of land blanketing much of the mid-west (which is completely “unnatural” by the way – the only [relatively] uniform areas of plant life on the planet are herbivore ingestible grasslands).

If you’re interested in learning more about this myth of sustainability and vegetarianism, Lierre Keith does a great job of dismantling the moral, environmental, and nutritional arguments in her book “The Vegetarian Myth”. Also, here’s a great article by George Will on what subsidies do to the environment.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 130917]