Mission: Make disciples in my community. More details in my OYS each week.Stats: 40 yrs old, married 12 years, 4 kids, 6'2", 185lbs, 8% BF, Lift/CrossFit 3x week.Reading: Sidebar multiple times.
Since I owned 2 CrossFit gyms, trained thousands of athletes and compete in CrossFit, I started analyzing various diets back in 2007 on the quest for optimal performance. I began experimenting with the Paleo Diet and a guru named Robb Wolf and his friend Mark Sisson. After about 10 years of strict Paleo, I saw my performance (and my clients) increase drastically but I was always underweight so I added GOMAD (gallon of milk a day). I switched to Dr Gundry's Low-Lectin Diet because I firmly believe that lectins were disrupting my digestion and the reason I couldn't gain weight. About 2 years ago I discovered Stan Efferding's Vertical Diet which was more restrictive and helped further increase my performance. During that time I turned my friends onto the diet, many who still follow Stan's plan. About 14 days ago I went even more extreme and began the Carnivore Diet based on trusted sources who pushed me to investigate. I want to do a short review of the pro's and con's of each diet from my direct experience along with links for more information. My belief after training these athletes and myself is that diet is about 70% of your performance and body composition, and most Strength & Conditioning coaches would agree. Like the old saying, "You can't outrun a crappy diet."
Paleo or Primal Diet
Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson are two advocates for the Paleo or Primal Diet which is "Eat meat, vegetables and nuts, some starches, little fruit, no grains or sugar." This eliminates some of the inflammatory foods in your diet and is fairly restrictive although food companies now make tons of products that are "Paleo Friendly".
- Easy to follow, easy to make meals, inclusive, only have to give up a few items (grains, sugar, processed foods, etc)
- Better than the typical diet.
- Cheap to buy at the grocery store
- Still plenty of stuff that makes you fat, causes insulin resistance, and can be inflammatory.
- Lots of loopholes like honey, syrup, chocolate, etc
- Difficult to gain muscle unless you prioritize meat at the expense of veggies or supplement with whey protein.
Dr. Gundry started the Low Lectin Diet because he saw inflammatory responses to Lectins in his patient's bodies. Eliminating most veggies, nuts, and grains from your diet heals the gut, stops automimmune responses and balances the microbiome.
- Heals the gut in many people and balances microbiome.
- Can reverse autoimmune disease.
- Lower insulin response.
- Fairly inclusive and easy to follow.
- Same foods over and over.
- Still allows many foods that may be high in sugar like fruit and have insulin spikes.
- Doesn't emphasize meat or protein.
- Doesnt eliminate enough foods for most people to see drastic results.
Stan Efferding is a bodybuilder who wanted to add muscle without bodyfat which is tough to do. He created a diet that is simple, effective and very restrictive in order to allow athletes to avoid many of the common pitfalls with other diets like bloating, gas, lack of protein intake, digestive struggles, etc. It includes eating copious amounts of white rice to fuel your training and rebuild muscle glycogen after tough workouts along with large amounts of meat to get those important amino acids. The fat you consume is directly from the meat and a few eggs. He advocates for the occasional handful of spinach, 1 orange a day, and a glass of cranberry juice.
- TONS of energy
- Easy to build muscle.
- Can cook large amounts of food ahead of time.
- Cheap to follow because rice and meat is 90% of the diet.
- Lowers bodyfat!
- Very low sugar
- Heals the gut because you literally eat the same 2 things and so you have no allergic reactions to food.
- Same foods over and over.
- Become a slave to carbs as its your source of energy.
Shawn Baker , Paul Saladino , and Dr. Ken Berry are three advocates of Carnivore diet which is simply living off animal meat and other animal products. They write in their books that the healthiest cultures with the most athletic men are from hunter-gatherer tribes who eat almost 100% meat, organs, and eggs. Animals give you all the minerals and vitamins you need in order to maximize your muscle growth and lower your bodyfat and they claim you can reverse your body's age through the healing powers of meat.
- Similar to KETO and easy to follow.
- Easy to build muscle and cheap even though you buy tons of meat.
- Never hungry, always feel full, no insulin resistance.
- Higher libido, better sleep, more consistent energy
- Zero carb and zero sugar
- Heals the gut because you literally eat meat all the time.
- you can eat as much meat as you want - Steak, Fish, Hamburger, Lamb, Wagyu, Bacon, Pork, Butter, Liver, Kidneys, Eggs, Bison, Elk, Caribou, Venison, Turkey, Ham, Squirrel, etc. GO NUTS!
- Never have insane energy, just an even source of energy as you burn fat
- Have to eat at least 1:1 ratio of protein to fat, NEVER more protein than fat.
- Doesn't work well for short intense exercise like CrossFit (you have to eat a few carbs before a workout like Raw Honey).
- Snout-to-tail meaning organ meats and bone marrow are essential which can be gross to some people.
- People think you are a freak.
These diets are listed from least restrictive to most restrictive. My advice is to follow the one you think you can long-term!