Nutrition - Our Evolutionary Perspective:
In order to understand the the basis behind Range of Motion's position on nutrition, we must understand the situations and selective pressures during the late Paleolithic era.
So influential was this period in the scheme of human evolution, that it is believed that 95% of human biology was naturally selected during this 40,000 years (Chakravarthy and Booth, 2004). In addition, to appreciate the reason for our current physiology, it is vital to appreciate our physical environment of evolutionary adaptiveness (Danziger, 2001), for this understanding forms the basis of evolutionary medicine. Survival of pre-humans was primarily reliant on the procurement of food. Due to the nature of a hunter-gatherer population, a by-product of this food procurement was physical activity. The inconsistency of food supply led to a hunter-gatherer’s diet being characterised by periods of feast and famine, and contrasting periods of high intensity physical activity and rest (Chakravarthy and Booth, 2004). The food available to these populations (though inconsistent) comprised of animals caught via hunting, and uncultivated plant foods from gathering.
The genes selected for function and survival in the late Paleolithic are now being exposed to “…sedentary lifestyles, fat-rich and fibre-poor diets, positive caloric imbalance, and an extended lifespan, all of which result in a selective disadvantage…”(Chakravarthy and Booth, 2004), leading to silent inflammation, hypertension, atherosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia and other chronic health conditions.
Range of Motion's position on nutrition is based around the emulation of the nutritional conditions in our environment of evolutionary adaptiveness.
"Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of Evolution." Theodosius Dobzhansky
The Foods we Consume:
Based on the above study into our environmental nutritional patterns, we can surmise that a modern diet should comprise of the closest modern equivalent to "animals caught via hunting, and uncultivated plant foods from gathering".
There are three macronutrients; Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. Each of these must be present in every meal consumed. We are selective however about the types of foods that fit these categories.
Protein: Lean and unmodified animal protein.
Examples: Fish, red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs. High bioavailability varieties are preferable.
Protein is the main macronutrient responsible for repair and construction within the body. Excess protein in the body will be converted to glucose, so even levels beyond the recommended will only provide more energy to fuel activity.
Carbohydrates: Unprocessed. Nothing that comes from a packet, box or bag. Fresh sources with a short shelf life. Usually need refrigerating to keep fresh. Should all come from traditionally uncultivated sources.
Examples: Lots of vegetables. Some fruit and berries. Low Glycaemic Index varieties of each are preferrable.
The question should not be 'why carbs?', but 'why not more carbs?'. Carbohydrates cause a major hormonal effect that affects insulin levels and energy storage. Energy is stored as fat. Carbohydrates promote fat storage. Excessive carbohydrate in the diet also contribute to inflammatory markers in the body. Carbohydrates are vital in providing glucose for the brain, some metabolic processes, and some exercise - but carbs are only needed in moderation. Stick with vegetables as much as possible and you are unlikely to exceed recommended levels.
Fat: Minimally refined sources of animal and plant fat.
Example: Naturally occurring fat in meat, nuts, seeds, avocado, extra virgin olive oil.
Fats have very little impact on insulin levels. As such, eating fats actually promote the utilisation of fat as a major energy source. Fat may also play a role in increasing leptin levels. Leptin, a hormone, has been shown to down regulate two of the major appetite increasing factors. So fat increases satiety, reducing your appetite and decreasing total caloric intake.
The Foods We Avoid:
Our recommendations are as much about the foods we avoid as the foods we consume. The following foods are to be avoided:
Starchy vegetables (potatoes, legumes etc): A lot of energy without a huge amount of benefit. Eating starchy vegetables leaves less room for the important non-starchy ones.
Sugar and other refined carbohydrates: In essence, the more processed, the higher the GI. Higher GI = more propensity to increase insulin levels and increase fat storage.
Grains: We already know that excessive carbs are bad. Grains are very energy dense (read: lots of carbs), but don't really have any other good stuff. So you're loading up your carbohydrates from non-nutritious sources - taking in empty energy with no roll other than to be converted to glucose and cause insulin spikes. Insulin spikes - fat storage.
Dairy: The research is conflicted on dairy. As such, the recommendation is not to restrict it 100% if you don't want to (ideally yes, but not compulsory). The lactose in milk (like other carbohydrates but even more so) also has a major effect on insulin levels. If you do have dairy - go full fat. Remember, fat is good.
How Much to Eat?
The most important element of our plan is not portion size, but food type (see: 'The Foods We Consume'). To this end, as long as you are eating clean, volume is of no great importance. Long term, we eat as much as is needed to fuel activity and the natural metabolic processes of the body, while not consuming enough to cause the body to store excess energy as fat.
A more useable measure of volume can be given by saying that you should eat until you are satisfied, but not beyond this point. Foods with a low caloric load (especially vegetables) should be eaten in large quantities.
How Often to Eat?
Frequency of eating is determined by the desire to maintain blood glucose levels at consistent levels throughout the day. A standard prescription of three main meals and two smaller snacks, spread evenly throughout the day is recommended.
Hydration is of vital importance. Water should be consumed in it's pure state (not as part of another drink). An absolute minimum of two litres per day is advised.
Strictness of the Plan:
The aim is to maintain the recommended prescription 90% of the time. Slight deviations are not only allowable but recommended, to make long term maintenance realistic and ensure quality of life is maintained.
Although it does not conform to the 'non-processed' nature of our recommendations, an unflavoured Whey Protein Isolate protein is acceptable. We make this allowance only if protein levels are insufficient, and to take into account the difficulty of procuring sufficient protein in every meal.
A high dose of fish oil is also required, to favourably tip the Omega 3:6 ratio which is out of balance in a westernised diet. Fish oil = less inflammation.
Nutritional recommendations are an evolving science. The guidelines we provide reflect the current scientific evidence. As more becomes available, our recommendations will evolve to match them
DIRECTOR - Range of Motion
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Accredited Exercise Scientist
Level One CrossFit Coach