Friday, 24 June 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength PT 4

“When hungry eat your rice, when tired sleep. Fools may laugh at me but wise men will know what I mean.” - Lao Tzu ( Tao Te Ching)

By Coach Cj Swaby

Before we begin, let me make one thing clear, I LOVE cake. I’m prone to a bit of cheesecake, Matt and Keris at Fitter London will be the first to testify that I can do some serious damage to a carrot cake or two. This said, correct nutrition is paramount, it can make the difference between crap performance and the top spot, or simply smashing your goals or falling painfully short of the target. When it comes to nutrition I am no monk, nor do I know it all, so while I was in the early phases of training and exploring the potential minefield of performance nutrition I was pretty chuffed when Darren Brown duly handed me a copy of The Paleo Diet, and Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution. Having devoured these books, I went on to ravish another book, which initially appeared at the opposite end of the nutrition spectrum called, The PH Miracle by Dr Robert O Young. This brings us on to the topic of this week’s blog entry.

STEP 4: Eat What’s Right For You

The common premise of nutrition often revolves around the first law of thermodynamics and calorie intake, and goes something like this

• Eat more calories than you “burn off” and put on weight.
• “Burn” more calories than you eat and lose weight.

Another common nutritional premise revolves around protein and carbohydrates , the energy demand of the activity, and tissue repair. In a nutshell looks something like this

• The longer in duration the physical activity, and the greater the energy demand, the more carbohydrates are required in relation to proteins.

• The shorter the duration of the physical activity and the higher the intensity or desired muscle growth, the greater the protein requirements in relation to carbohydrates.

You will have heard some variations on this, but it’s fair to say mainstream nutrition is firmly entrenched in these two concepts. To me this is a very limited perspective, as my nutrition is based on the following premise.

My body consists of various systems working together to keep me functioning in tip top shape, and to THE BEST OF ITS ABILITY with WHAT ITS PROVIDED (also known as homeostasis). These systems include (but not limited to)

Cardiovascular System
Muscular Skeletal System
Endocrine System
Nervous System
Respiratory System

These players all have an important part in my team. They each have their individual role, but interact to win the game (great health and peak performance) and if they are not up to par, it has a knock on effect to each player in the team, and subsequently the likelihood of us winning (thriving versus illness and poor health). Nutrition is the key to making sure all the players on the pitch are match ready. The things that are important to me when considering nutrition are

• ANDI ( Aggregate Nutrient Density Index)

The ANDI relates to the QUALITY of the calories consumed. This means, does the food I consume support the demands of my body’s systems on a functional level, or adversely affect it? The ANDI scale ranges from 1 – 1000, it is evaluated by calculating the range of macornutrients and micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, photochemicals and antioxidants within a given food. The higher the concentration of these elements in a food per calorie the higher the score (closer to 1000 the better). Do I stick to it religiously? Nope. But its useful in ensuring I’m getting the good stuff in. TIMING relates to the window of opportunity pre and post workout to take advantage of your body’s mechanisms, so that you can get optimal performance, adaptations and recovery. I’ll talk more about this later on, but first let’s look at the two diets I spoke about earlier, and then HOW they affected my training.

The PH Diet

This diet revolves around the premise that the cells of your body function optimally in within the correct PH state. If your body is in an acidic state, which can be affected by nutrition, you are headed for health problems. This however is a simplistic overview. I’m not a Nutritionist, Dietician or Functional Medicine practioner , and probably not best positioned to give you the full breakdown. So have a look at the presentation below by Laurent Bannock of Guru Performance.Com. Laurent is a very knowledgable , down to earth guy, he certainly knows his stuff. He has been extremely useful and helpful .

The Paleo Solution: An Overview

This diet is based on the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors, who were hunter gathers. A lot of modern disease such as diabetes, Cardiovascular disease etc are linked to nutrition. Our Paleolithic ancestors were not subjected to the myriad of diseases that we are, plus they enjoyed an active lifestyle, robust health (in most cases). They did not consume vast amounts of grains or junk food that we see commonly today. The Paleo diet is based on a few principles, which are outlined below, this overview is taken directly from the FAQ on Robb Wolf’s website.

The Paleo diet is simple yet remarkably effective for fat loss and halting or preventing a number of degenerative diseases. To reap the benefits of the most effective nutritional strategy known, one need simply build meals from the following:

• Lean proteins (ideally) grass fed meat, free range fowl and wild caught fish
• Seasonal fruits and vegetables
• Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil

Again this is a simplistic overview, for further information read Rob Wolfs The Paleo Solution, or check out his website at

HOW Did This Affect My Training & Physique?

When I started my 5 x 5 strength training system I adopted the Paleo diet in conjunction. In a short space of time of about 3 months I managed to pack on about 4kg of solid muscle and about 15kg on my deadlift. You can see in the pictures the difference the diet combined with my training had made.

Before My Journey Into Strength

Approximately 4 Months In

The key thing was also my nutrient timing (I’ll explain more about that in a little bit). My protein source was from lean (and not so lean) meats such as venison (HUGE fan), free range chicken, organic grass fed beef, I would also consume salmon, tuna and Talapia. I eliminated dairy (but had the odd bit of cheese) and carbohydrates through grain sources. As with many newbies to the Paleo diet, I had misinterpreted the book, and initially went overboard with the protein intake, casing a net acid load, the negative effects are detailed in Laurent Bannocks presentation above ( more specifically minutes 5 – 9), I noticed after a while I became sluggish, energy levels plummeted and disrupted sleep patterns. Plus but not ensuring an adequate ratio of vegetables and fruits I was not getting the right combination of foods high on the ANDI list. Just as a side note I was not taking any Whey protein supplements at this time – only Hemp Protein.

It was about that time I came across The PH Miracle, while the book advocates less meat due to increased acidity and consequent side effects of excessive protein in the diet. However I delved deeper into the book, and re read the Paleo Solution, and noticed that the two books actually are saying similar things to a certain extent. Vegetables, fruits and good fats would form the bedrock of your diet, except with the Paleo diet you would eliminate grains and include a significantly greater RATIO of protein through lean meats, than currently recommended in the ACCEPTED FOOD PYRAMID. Not that you would exclusively eat protein at the expense of vegetables and healthy fats. I made the necessary adjustments and at any one time on my plate there was 35% - 40 % protein, 40% Carbohydrates through vegetable sources of ALL colours and variety, and 20% healthy fats. So now lets look at

WHAT is Nutrient Timing?

This is to do with WHEN you eat not just WHAT you eat as this will have a massive impact on performance and recovery. While on my journey, I came across an article in Functional Sports Nutrition (FSN) by Laurent Bannock on this very subject. Laurent describes it as

“The purpose is to support optimal performance during a training session, provide what the body needs for muscle growth, maximise glycogen replenishment after activity, and generally be a diet that promotes growth and repair 24 hours a day. Nutrient timing is based on significant research that supports variability in hormonal release throughout the day and in response to exercise.”
There are several distinct phases,

The Energy Phase

The Anabolic Phase

PHASE 3: The Growth Phase

I’m not going to go into detail about each phase here, you can contact Laurent Bannock directly and he will be able to send you the information, but Its a great read and useful guide. It helped me to structure my nutrition plan to support my training so that I was getting the results that I wanted. Combined with my tailor made “diet” informed by both the Paleo Diet and the PH Diet, I was now stacking the odds in my favour so that my team players (body’s systems) would be performing up to par and be in tip top shape. I now stick to this adopted nutrition protocol (plus throw in the odd bit of cake for good measure) and it seems to work for me.

HOW Can This Help You?

The Paleo Solution and The PH Miracle have solid scientific basis, the key thing is to be aware how you interpret the information. As with any nutritional model, do your research and modify your diet to see what fits YOU. Anymore than one training plan will yield results for everyone, no one diet is a miracle cure for all that ails you, or for giving you peak performance. Listen to your body, how you feel, what your training responses are like (hence keep a training log) then modify as appropriate, and do what is required in any given situation. While not specifically about nutrition I love the quote from the Tao Te Ching which opened this blog entry.

“When hungry eat your rice, when tired sleep. Fools may laugh at me but wise men will know what I mean.” - Lao Tzu ( Tao Te Ching)


To summarise, I like to keep things simple. I was shopping at wholefoods in Clapham Junction, London, the other day, picked up a leaflet and I thought that they managed to summarise some sound nutritional practices succinctly. Their “Four Pillars” of nutrition goes like this

• Eat Whole Foods (this might be a subliminal message - but hey!)
• Plant Strong (emphasis on plant base foods)
• Healthy Fats
• Nutrient Dense (quality of your calories – ANDI)

You can find out more about their nutritional principles at the wholefoods website. I hope you can now see HOW important nutrition is to training and WHERE you can make adjustments in your own diet for greater gains and robust health.

To find out more about the Paleo diet visit

Rob Wolff

To find out more about the Ph Diet check out The PH Miracle

If you want to know more about Functional Nutrition visit Laurent Bannock at Guru Performance ( the website is packed with useful information, I know he's got some great courses coming up to)

Want to know more about Functional Sports Nutrition? FSN Journal is a great read.

Yours in Strength

Coach Cj Swaby


John said...

Really well written article CJ have enjoyed them. Good linking of the nutrition systems.

Coach Cj Swaby said...

Appreciated John, its easy to get bogged down with all the nutrition stuff out there. I like to keep things simple and effective, and no more complicated than they need to be.