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Is "Diet Confusion" a Paleo Concept?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 06, 2012 at 2:31 PM

There is a theory in exercise called "muscle confusion." As the theory goes, if you stay with a single exercise routine for an extended period of time, your body adapts to it and you end up getting less than optimal results. To counteract this, you need to add variety to your exercise regimen--mix up the type of exercises and even mix up the time of day when you exercise. By keeping your body "confused" about what is coming next it forces your body to prepare for more challenges, which results in better overall conditioning. Crossfit and P90X are both built on this theory.

Is this idea applicable to paleo?

Looking at my own paleo history, I tend to eat at about the same times, I have a short-list of favorite foods that tend to dominate my meals, and my meals tend to be balanced (protein, vegetables, and fruit in some combination). My meal routine is probably a long way from a paleo person's meal routine.

I doubt paleo man ate on a regular schedule. He probably had periods when food was plentiful and periods when food was scarce.

He also probably didn't eat many balanced meals. Depending on whether he was hunting or gathering at the time, a "meal" was probably all meat or all vegetables. And, I doubt the vegetable meals were mixed salads. In fact, they were probably the opposite. If he was looking for food and came across a bunch of onions he probably sat down and ate an entire meal of noting but...onions!

Should we be emulating this eating style? Is there some benefit to eating this way that we're missing? Would keeping your body "confused" about about our eating routine result in better overall health?

I don't know the answer, and I'm not advocating one side or the other. I just think this idea hasn't been explored much by the paleo community and it would be worth discussing.

193f00d53ebcb13940c7a55afc78ad17

(1260)

on August 06, 2012
at 08:56 PM

But at the same time, were food supplies available, I'm sure they would have eaten as often as they became hungry. Starvation/(forced)fasting/food-scarcity were real concerns for paleo man, and those prevented him from eating like modern man. But I'm sure that, during times of plentiful supply, he'd eat as often as he was hungry.

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on August 06, 2012
at 05:12 PM

I think the most confusion occurs between the hours of 1 am and 5am during sleepy stated infommercial watching.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on August 06, 2012
at 04:19 PM

Also, keep in mind that most strength changes for novices come from increased efficiency in neuro pathways learning the movements. Therefore, most of the significant change to lean mass occurs after one's body has become efficient with the movement (only way to lift more is to add more muscle if efficiency is maxed out). By constantly changing exercises, you prevent yourself from becoming efficient with movements and reaching the point where the main adaptation is increases to lean mass.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on August 06, 2012
at 04:17 PM

Muscle Confusion is a misunderstood process. Yes, you need to provide constantly changing stimulus to keep your muscles adapting. If you squat 3x5 at 300#'s and never add weight or increase reps, you will never get stronger nor gain any muscular endurance beyond that point. Progressively increasing weight or changing reps is all that is required to 'confuse' the muscles. Adaptation is what we hope to achieve from exercise. Stress the body and force it to adapt to the stress.

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5 Answers

2
193f00d53ebcb13940c7a55afc78ad17

on August 06, 2012
at 04:20 PM

Muscle Confusion is a gimmick that was cooked up to sell a product. There are VOLUMES of data on the subject that show why it's not a "revolution in training". Along those lines, Diet Confusion would also, I suspect, not be a real thing.

Citing common paleo-diet supporting evidence, the Inuit peoples rarely enjoy dietary variety (in fact, the addition of new/western food stuffs has been linked with a recent rise in obesity rates). Also, if paleolithic man was only eating what he could find/seasonally, there would have been little variety for him as well (if you found a squash plant, you'd be eating that all summer).

I also think you may be running the danger of crossing two different ideas. What paleo man ate was far from optimal. The paleo diet builds on the ideas of what man evolved eating, but seeks to use modern understanding to develop an optimum nutritional base. While I agree that paleo man would have likely eaten whatever he could find, I doubt that the feast/famine unbalanced diet was ideal. Similarly, paleo man drank from streams, never washed his hands, and did not enjoy the use of medicines (all of which I will gladly embrace).

So to answer your question, no. I would not think that "diet confusion" offers any benefit to the modern person. If it's something you enjoy, by all means go for it, but I can see no solid benefits from its implementation.

1
F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on August 06, 2012
at 08:43 PM

What "Caveman Kyle" said.

The idea that one has to switch exercises in order to progress has no scientific basis. It serves to sell workout DVD's and gym memberships. You can make a pretty good case, on the other hand, that workouts shouldn't be highly regimented(DeVany, Taleb)based on the idea that complex systems (like human beings) benefit from some amount of volatility or randomness.

You could apply the same rationale to diet. As you point-out, it's unlikely that our Paleolithic ancestors ate every four or five hours day after day, and it's possible that that kind of regularity might be harmful.

193f00d53ebcb13940c7a55afc78ad17

(1260)

on August 06, 2012
at 08:56 PM

But at the same time, were food supplies available, I'm sure they would have eaten as often as they became hungry. Starvation/(forced)fasting/food-scarcity were real concerns for paleo man, and those prevented him from eating like modern man. But I'm sure that, during times of plentiful supply, he'd eat as often as he was hungry.

1
F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

on August 06, 2012
at 02:37 PM

I wouldn't say it hasn't been explored considering it's in every paleo/primal book that you may pick up.

0
Eedf46c82d0356d1d46dda5f9782ef36

(4464)

on August 06, 2012
at 03:50 PM

I don't know the scientific answer - my gut says yes. Variety is good.

0
1133603ea602c6824da56e8b596c9754

on August 06, 2012
at 03:48 PM

Isn't that what intermittent fasting is all about?

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