You may have figured out by now that lots of things in the fitness/healthy living “world” irritate the crap out of me. One of those things is blanket statements about food, eating, what “works” and what doesn’t. For this reason I don’t generally read blogs or blog posts about nutrition, because what I don’t read can’t rile me. But sometimes I can’t avoid it (because I click on a link Tweeted by someone whose opinion I value, for example). And at those times I want to write a coherent, eloquent blog post about why X or Y blanket statement is misguided (or plain wrong). Sadly, coherent & eloquent blog posts don’t come to me very easily, so you get this sort of thing instead.
For starters, I don’t believe ANY food is defacto “good” or “bad”. Food is not moral, it has no moral value, we need to stop talking about food using loaded terms. Every foodstuff has its place – not necessarily in everyone’s diet, but no food is just good or just bad for everyone.
For example, if you’re doing Whole30, you might call rice “junk food”. But if you follow ETP, rice is most certainly not a junk food. Sugar is almost universally reviled, but not if you follow Dr Ray Peat’s style of eating (and many do). Is whole wheat a “clean” food? Well, it depends on whose book you read. Ditto potatoes (and seriously, how are potatoes not “clean”?) Suffer from gastroparesis or a similar gastro-intestinal affliction? Then “healthy” fibrous greens like broccoli are probably going to make you very sick indeed. And so on and so on.
Another thing. I’ve discovered – in comparing my prep for this competition vs my prep for the London Clubs, that I actually train very well on sugary carbs, thank you very much. This goes against pretty much every single nutrition blogger ever (except maybe Dr Ray Peat) but it’s what works for me. I ate cheesecake 3 times in the week running up to my last competition and felt as strong as an ox. I’ve been eating lots and lots of green veg & fatty meats in the run up to this competition and I feel…meh. My guts are a mess (still!), I don’t feel strong. In fact I really don’t feel ready for this competition full stop.
As for dairy giving a person spots? Well, it doesn’t for me. In fact I have never been so spotty as I am when I’m making weight for competition & switch from dairy milk to almond milk. As it happens, I kinda don’t really care too much about spots – I’m more concerned about wrinkles, and one thing having a high body fat percentage helps with is smoothing out your wrinkles 🙂
Nuts. Loads of people advocate eating them for fat loss. However, I avoid them completely when making weight. I haven’t eaten a single almond or cashew for the last 3 weeks, when normally I eat them every day. They just make me heavy, which is a shame. I will be back on the almond butter on Monday, though!
And the oft-repeated cry of “toss the scale”? Good lord are you crazy? If you’re making weight for a competition, then not diligently weighing yourself is shortsighted at best. OK, so most CrossFitters don’t rate things based on bodyweight, but if you’re going to move to Olympic lifting, strongman or powerlifting (or any of the combat sports) then bodyweights matter. I’m quite lucky in that weighing myself isn’t that much of a headfuck (but weighing & measuring my food really skeeves me out – go figure) so I can hop on the scale every morning with no problems. In fact, this close to competition I’m weighing myself day & night, and sometimes even pre- & post-poop. It’s all about knowing exactly how much you weigh under certain conditions, so you can manipulate your bodyweight to best advantage.
I’m not claiming to be the grand arbiter of eating – god knows I’m not. What I am is a massive skeptic, picky as fuck and less & less willing to let blanket statements slide these days. The key with so many things is to find out what works for you but BEFORE you do that, define “works”.
What does “works” mean? Does it mean fat loss? Weight loss? Weight gain? Fat percentage maintenance? Convenience? Palatability? The ability to be comfortable buying food out of the house, instead of prepping everything at home? Being able to enjoy the meal your partner and/or children are eating, instead of preparing & eating a separate meal? Being happy in your body, whether it’s a size 10 or a size 30? Fitting into last year’s swimsuit? Having a bigger butt? Having a smaller butt?
For me, right now, “works” means being <72kg at 12pm on September 20th & not being as weak as a kitten as a result.
So often I see "works" used by people who assume everyone understands it as “weight/fat loss”. Well fuck that. I like my fat (in fact, during this session of making weight I’ve been alarmed to notice my boobs deflating), I like my body and having to be <72kg is one of those necessary evils to take part in a sport I (mostly) enjoy.
So really, I guess what I'm saying is:
What works for everyone is different.
But "works" might mean something completely different for the person next to you.
Screw blanket statements.
By all means read nutrition blogs, but question e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.