Review of “Diet Cults” by Matt Fitzgerald

In his book, Diet Cults, Matt Fitzgerald lumps all diets into one category — cults. These “cults” he says, are fundamentally flawed, and the evidence of their flaw is that they all assert their superiority over one another. Since they can’t all be correct, they must all be wrong. From there, his book takes us on a bizarre journey jumping from one of Matt’s pet “diet cult” peeves to another, all while cherry picking research that conforms to his own beliefs about what constitutes a healthy diet. Continue reading Review of “Diet Cults” by Matt Fitzgerald

High Intensity Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet?

My Ketogenic Experiment

In this post I will explore the theory behind a Ketogenic diet for endurance athletic performance, and tell you how I tested the idea for myself using both a Half-Marathon and 5k races as performance markers.

I will attempt to answer the following questions:

  • What is a Ketogenic diet?
  • Why might a Ketogenic diet enhance endurance performance?
  • Will a ketogenic diet work for high intensity performance such as a 5k?
  • What are the downsides of a ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic Diet: The Theory Behind It

Continue reading High Intensity Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet?

Book Review | The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman

The book, The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman, gives readers a fascinating look at human health and disease through the lens of evolution. For readers interested in our evolutionary past, Lieberman gives a thorough account of where we came from. What I found especially interesting about the book was the “mismatch” hypothesis, and how it relates to modern day health problems. I learned that some things we think of as normal, such as myopia, are really quite rare in hunter-gather societies. Humans were never meant to work at computers or spend hours reading 2D words on a page or screen.

Lieberman examines many such mismatch diseases, such as type II diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, flat feet, and shows how our current environment plays a role towards their exacerbation.

Towards the end of the book Lieberman offers solutions that might help nudge our behavior in the proper direction for better health. I cringed when Lieberman suggested that Government needs to be part of the solution towards nudging people in the right direction. 

For the past 40 years, Government has told us to eat 9-11 servings of grains a day; which is partially responsible for the obesity epidemic. What chance do we have that they will get it right the next time around? 

His other suggestions are sensible, however, such as getting more exercise, limiting high doses of fructose (sugary drinks), and using standing desks at work. 

Overall, Lieberman gives us an excellent read that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in evolutionary medicine or human evolution.

Also, Prof Lieberman has been on my podcast twice this year. You can listen to our conversations by clicking the links below:

Click here to listen to our talk about The Story of the Human Body

Click here to listen to our talk about how humans evolved as distance runners

The Cool Impossible – “Born to Run” Coach Eric Orton Teaches Us How to Run

After reading Born to Run, many of us were left wondering: just who is Eric Orton, and how do we find out more about his training methods? After all, if he could take an injured 6′ 4″ 240 lbs. guy like Chris McDougall and train him to run a 50 mile race in the Copper Canyons of Mexico, could he also help me run faster?

From the beginning, Eric challenges us to think big. He tells us that by following his methods we can take our running to a totally new level. This is The Cool Impossible. Eric asks us to imagine ourselves taking on big goals and achieving them. Not just in running, but in life. He encourages readers to go beyond what they thought possible. Stop trying to nail down exactly what you think you can do, and let you body and mind take you to a new level by listening to your inner strengths.

Whether you are injured, a beginner, or a seasoned runner, Eric says he can bring you running to a new level. For Eric, the mind follows the body, and through teaching the body to move correctly, our mind will follow in the right direction.

One of the differences between, The Cool Impossible, and other books on running, is that Eric’s approach is deeply integrated with the mind and body. He asks us to listen to our body, notice how we feel after the food we eat, take note of where our foot hits the ground, and become more in tune with our muscles as they move us through the air.

Eric’s program starts from the ground up by looking at the feet. He focuses heavily on activating muscle that most runners don’t usually think of being used when running. His strength training isn’t meant to build giant muscles, but to “bring more muscles to the running party”. He teaches the body to activate the intricate muscles of the feet, legs and core. He says that if our muscles are used correctly we shouldn’t have tightness, inflexibility or regular aches and pains that many consider part of running. The program features the use of stability disc, a slant board, and a stability ball. These can be found sold as a package at his website.

Eric’s passion for a fully integrated approach to running has even led him to design his own footwear called Born to Run Shoes. While he doesn’t mention the B2R shoes in the book, I feel it is important to note because it shows the integrated approach that Eric takes towards developing an athlete. They feature a split toe design that allows the muscles in the arch to act more naturally by allowing the big toe to act as a support.

When it comes to nutrition, Eric tells us to steer clear of processed foods. This includes processed foods like: bread, and pasta. At first this might seem strange, but really there is no such thing as a loaf bread or macaroni noodle found in nature. You really have to go to a lot of work to grind wheat flour so fine that it can be made digestible to humans. Also, no milk, no cheese, no sugar, no junk, no processed food. Is Eric a closet Paleo eater? Not really. He doesn’t like labels because he likes to experiment with different foods to see how they make him feel. Some days he even eats all vegetarian.

Most of the time he includes lean pastured meat like wild game or buffalo with lunch and dinner time meals. Corn tortillas, lean meat, eggs, nuts, fruits, veggies, and beans seem to make up the bulk of his meals. He advises us to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, only going down the aisles for a few things like olive oil, corn tortillas, beans and canned tomatoes. Only eat whole simple foods and shoot for 95% perfection. 

Eric enjoys the occasional beer or chocolate chip cookie; but by striving for 95% whole foods, we end up eliminating a lot of the crap from our shopping cart.

The Cool Impossible is a book about taking life and running to new limits. It’s about looking beyond immediate goals and listening to our body; it will take us to new limits if we listen.

I recently had the chance to interview Eric. Click podcasts at the top of the page for more interviews.