2

votes

Diet or Exercise?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

One of the common answers to questions about general fatigue or lack of endurance/energy during workouts is to add carbs to the diet. I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that answer. I've given it myself.

Lately, though, I've been wondering if that is appropriate, from an evolutionary perspective. Once you've arrived at a diet that you think is "optimal" (assuming it's relatively low-carb) doesn't it make more sense to adjust physical activity to the diet rather than adjusting the diet to activity?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2012
at 08:10 PM

Yeah I keep hearing about it. It sounds like a good system.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:18 PM

Well said interrobung. You clearly have a much better understanding of the metabolic processes than I do. I know I learned more from your explanation.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:14 PM

Great point about walking. Walking is excellent exercise. I personally walk/hike 4-5 times per week. It is low intensity, requires little to no recovery time, will provide cardio conditioning, and is more sustainable than other exercise activities.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:10 PM

When I strength train, I do 5x5 sets. I rest between 3-5 minutes between sets. So I roughly do 45-90 seconds of max effort followed by 3-5 minutes of recovery. So an hour long work out session is actually only 15 minutes of work spread out over equal intervals. My 5RM squat is 340, 5RM deadlift is 385, 5RM bench is 250, 5RM press is 170, 5RM pull up is 55, and 5 RM row is 190. I weight 165. Compared to the general population, I'd bet that I am far above average in functional strength. Starting Strength is the program I follow.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:33 PM

BTW the 10 RM I used above was just an example. I was failing at 10 reps on deadlifts so that seemed an easy example to show. If you want to use the weight that you would fail with at 5 reps, you would use a rep range near 30% of 5 so say either 1 or 2 reps and then do this for 10 sets or more, building up to 20 sets. Some people might want to do this system with pushups. Say they fail at 30 pushups, then they would use sets of 10 pushups for 10 sets or more.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:22 PM

Yes I know about the glycogen thing but running from predators is nothing like a workout. It would be very brief and intense. You either get away from a predator in under half a minute or you don't get away at all. There is no short rest and then another "set" of running away from the predator. You get it right first time or you are dinner. No workout only lasts 30 seconds and no running away from predators last up to an hour, with severeal rest periods. They are completely different situations. One is extremely brief, the other is spread over 15-60 mins generally speaking.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082

(1867)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:52 PM

Understood c: My point was simply that carbs are not only an appropriate, but a desirable fuel in the post-exertional state. Even (and in fact especially) from an evolutionary perspective. Ancient wo/man didn't adapt exertional output to diet, and we don't have to either. S/he evolved with dietary change over millions of yeras to the point where we have the extraordinarily adaptive metabolism we do. It feels wasteful to me to not take full advantage of that c:

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:50 PM

It is not that you 'need' to eat immediately afterwards. Think in evolutionary terms. After your body engages in intense physical activity, it will replenish the lost glycogen stores as fast as possible from the most readily available source. Never know when you have to run from a saber tooth tiger! It will break down your own muscle fiber (catabolism) before fat (more expedient). If you give your body another source such as carbohydrates which are easier than muscle and fat to convert to glycogen, you body will use that. This shortens recovery which is optimal, not necessary.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:28 PM

Yes Mark, have a read of the book. It's cheap so it's not much to lose if you don't like it. I only bought it out of curiousity because a guy on a forum was talking about it and I could't quite undertand what he was on about (It turned out that he was explaining it wrong. lol). Do you know of Herschell Walker's workouts? He gets a mention in the book because his workouts seem similar. Anyway, I thought I would give it a try and it seems to be ok so far. I don't do well with carbs so I tend to avoid them as much as possible. Working out this way means I can still workout but not need carbs.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:22 PM

Yes Mark, have a read of the book. It's cheap so it's not much to lose if you don't like it. I only bought it out of curiousity because a guy on a forum was talking about it and I could't quite undertand what he was on about (It turned out that he was explaining it wrong. lol). Do you know of Herschell Walker's workouts? He gets a mention in the book because his workouts seem similar.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:17 PM

I lift heavy objects at work every day but I don't do it as intensely as in a workout. I don't finish work desperately needing to replenish glycogen like I would do if I had just had a HIT workout. I doubt a hunter-gather often depletes a whole load of glycogen in a short space of time either.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:13 PM

"Is it unnatural to sprint, lift heavy objects, climb, swim, wrestle, and the list goes on and on". No but I can't think of any activity apart from sports or workouts, where anyone should need to have a special feed before or after it?

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:25 PM

Your body adapts to stresses placed on it. Is it unnatural to sprint, lift heavy objects, climb, swim, wrestle, and the list goes on and on. All of these activities require anaerobic pathways to meet the energy demand placed on the body. The pre and post workout nutrition is a way to hack the natural processes in your body to optimize recovery which is the most important aspect of exercise.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:18 PM

Bingo. I'm thinking that we should apply a Paleo framework to exercise as well as diet. If a training program requires an "unnatural" diet, maybe it's not a good idea.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:10 PM

That sounds more like a conditioning program than a strength. Your 10 RM works muscular endurance. Starting at around your 5 RM is where useful strength training starts. If you are truly lifting weights that are within 90% of your 1 RM, then you will deplete your energy stores and it will be necessary to quickly replace them to hasten recovery. The poster was unclear as to what types of activity he was undertaking. So I posted two recommendations. I will look into your program as it seems a great way to maintain strength while lowering risk of injury.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on April 30, 2012
at 08:32 PM

I was thinking about carbs, in particular, not extra fuel. At this point, total calories seem to be taking care of themselves.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 08:12 PM

The 30 minutes after idea is if you are eating a high carb diet. It's also based on protein powder companies advertising. If you are low carb you may find that you really don't fee like eating that soon after a workout anyway. If your body really needs the protein, it will give you the signal that it is hungry.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on April 30, 2012
at 06:45 PM

From an evolutionary perspective food resource availability (diet) and food resource acquisition (exercise) are in a constant ebb and flow. A hunter-gatherer male may exert much effort pursuing prey but ultimately fail. Gathering by female members of a tribe is usually consistently hard work but also consistently rewarding. But even this is confounded by the fact that at certain times of the year, foods may be more scarce (or at least preferred foods) requiring more effort (exercise) with even less food calories (diet).

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6 Answers

2
D290734f36a9ae03e3f60e0fa088d7ed

(1304)

on April 30, 2012
at 05:51 PM

I don't know if this helps, but I try to do both. If I'm eating optimally (for me) I feel like I have a ton of energy and I have to run or go to the gym when I get home from work. If I know that I wont be able to exercise I try and eat fewer calories.

The amount of carbs (more or less) should be tailored to what feels right to you.

1
8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082

on April 30, 2012
at 08:00 PM

From an evolutionary perspective, adding fuel during times of energy expenditure is not only NOT inappropriate, it is in fact completely appropriate. We are evolved to entertain massive shifts in both energy intake and energy expenditure on any given day, and throughout any given span of time.

@Mark is right that we need protein before and after a workout (to prevent catabolism of bodily protein stores by the increased cortisol resulting from the stress of the workout) and carbs after a workout (to replace the muscle glycogen stores the workout has depleted). While fat is a more efficient fuel source for nearly all bodily tissues, replacing glycogen stores in muscle tissue is more quickly accomplished with carbohydrate intake: the body is effectively moving toward hypoglycemia, and the introduction of carbohydrate prevents this post-exertion without creating an adverse insulin spike. To be clear, it will spike insulin (as will protein), but since muscle glucose uptake is insulin-dependent, this isn't problematic like it is in a rested state.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:18 PM

Well said interrobung. You clearly have a much better understanding of the metabolic processes than I do. I know I learned more from your explanation.

8496289baf18c2d3e210740614dc9082

(1867)

on May 01, 2012
at 01:52 PM

Understood c: My point was simply that carbs are not only an appropriate, but a desirable fuel in the post-exertional state. Even (and in fact especially) from an evolutionary perspective. Ancient wo/man didn't adapt exertional output to diet, and we don't have to either. S/he evolved with dietary change over millions of yeras to the point where we have the extraordinarily adaptive metabolism we do. It feels wasteful to me to not take full advantage of that c:

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on April 30, 2012
at 08:32 PM

I was thinking about carbs, in particular, not extra fuel. At this point, total calories seem to be taking care of themselves.

1
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 06:38 PM

Diet is by far the most important aspect of overall health. So if you have that dialed in, good for you and don't mess with it! Light to moderate activities such as walking or gardening are all that is really needed to maintain a nominal level of fitness.

If you find yourself wanting to increase your activity level but become tired or start unwanted weight loss as a result, try adding 100-200 calories 30 minutes or so before the new activity.

From a muscle building stand point, the two most important meals are before and after a strength training work out. It is important to give your body amino acids and protein 30 minutes before a work out and protein and carbohydrates 15-30 minutes after a work out. This has something to do with protein synthesis, preventing catabolism, insulin levels, and other doctoral level biochemistry I am not qualified to discuss in any detail but the various muscle head communities (strength training, body builders, athletes) which don't agree often seem to have a consensus on.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 08:12 PM

The 30 minutes after idea is if you are eating a high carb diet. It's also based on protein powder companies advertising. If you are low carb you may find that you really don't fee like eating that soon after a workout anyway. If your body really needs the protein, it will give you the signal that it is hungry.

0
6ec8d30130a6fb274871314533b5536b

(581)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:04 AM

Both are extremely important. Except, I don't necessarily think conventional exercise is the key. It's definitely an awesome and amazing thing, but even more important than contrived workout routines are physical exertion, physical activity, and play. Our ancestors did not expend their energy unnecessarily and used it for things like hunting, traveling, sex, and play (oh yeah, and escaping predators).

Likewise, if you look at people whose main mode of transportation is through walking, they are more fit compared to people whose main mode of transportation consists of sitting -- and they can be eating the same things.

However, I think it also depends on if you have metabolic and/or systemic issues. I do, and I know for a fact (through my own trials, errors, and personal experiences), that when I start to eat more grains, sugar, etc... regardless of how much I exercise, I struggle a lot more to maintain my weight and health, even if the rest of my diet is clean. Even if my weight-loss is intact, if I eat the wrong things, my actual health (inflammation, candida overgrowth, asthma, etc...) will be in jeopardy.

Great question. :)

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:14 PM

Great point about walking. Walking is excellent exercise. I personally walk/hike 4-5 times per week. It is low intensity, requires little to no recovery time, will provide cardio conditioning, and is more sustainable than other exercise activities.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 08:44 PM

A workout that uses up glycogen stores, doesn't really resemble daily activities. I think what Sam is getting at is if the diet is right then maybe the exercise system should fit the diet? Not make the diet fit the exercise.
Mini workouts where you do one or a just few sets of an exercise (not to failure) at various times throughout the day or during commercial breaks. It's volume rather than intensity. This would suit any way of eating and would not require any special eating patterns or special protein feeds. Just regular meals would do it.
The system I have been using lately, also does not require any special eating patterns. I do around 30% of the reps that it would take if I went to failure. So if it takes 10 reps to get to failure, I would only do 3 reps. Rest 30 seconds and then do another 3 reps with the same resistance. At least 10 sets of this and aim for 20 sets. No set is taken to failure or anywhere near. You can train like this every day and just take a day off from it when you don't feel up to it.
Both systems are from a really naf titled, book [http://www.amazon.com/The-Effortless-Exercise-System-ebook/dp/B005HB8PFO/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1][1] It's influenced by Pavel Tsatsouline's "Grease the Groove" and the Bulgarian Olympic team training.
I'm enjoying training this way and seem to be making progress.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:17 PM

I lift heavy objects at work every day but I don't do it as intensely as in a workout. I don't finish work desperately needing to replenish glycogen like I would do if I had just had a HIT workout. I doubt a hunter-gather often depletes a whole load of glycogen in a short space of time either.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:28 PM

Yes Mark, have a read of the book. It's cheap so it's not much to lose if you don't like it. I only bought it out of curiousity because a guy on a forum was talking about it and I could't quite undertand what he was on about (It turned out that he was explaining it wrong. lol). Do you know of Herschell Walker's workouts? He gets a mention in the book because his workouts seem similar. Anyway, I thought I would give it a try and it seems to be ok so far. I don't do well with carbs so I tend to avoid them as much as possible. Working out this way means I can still workout but not need carbs.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 11:50 PM

It is not that you 'need' to eat immediately afterwards. Think in evolutionary terms. After your body engages in intense physical activity, it will replenish the lost glycogen stores as fast as possible from the most readily available source. Never know when you have to run from a saber tooth tiger! It will break down your own muscle fiber (catabolism) before fat (more expedient). If you give your body another source such as carbohydrates which are easier than muscle and fat to convert to glycogen, you body will use that. This shortens recovery which is optimal, not necessary.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:25 PM

Your body adapts to stresses placed on it. Is it unnatural to sprint, lift heavy objects, climb, swim, wrestle, and the list goes on and on. All of these activities require anaerobic pathways to meet the energy demand placed on the body. The pre and post workout nutrition is a way to hack the natural processes in your body to optimize recovery which is the most important aspect of exercise.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:10 PM

That sounds more like a conditioning program than a strength. Your 10 RM works muscular endurance. Starting at around your 5 RM is where useful strength training starts. If you are truly lifting weights that are within 90% of your 1 RM, then you will deplete your energy stores and it will be necessary to quickly replace them to hasten recovery. The poster was unclear as to what types of activity he was undertaking. So I posted two recommendations. I will look into your program as it seems a great way to maintain strength while lowering risk of injury.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:22 PM

Yes I know about the glycogen thing but running from predators is nothing like a workout. It would be very brief and intense. You either get away from a predator in under half a minute or you don't get away at all. There is no short rest and then another "set" of running away from the predator. You get it right first time or you are dinner. No workout only lasts 30 seconds and no running away from predators last up to an hour, with severeal rest periods. They are completely different situations. One is extremely brief, the other is spread over 15-60 mins generally speaking.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:22 PM

Yes Mark, have a read of the book. It's cheap so it's not much to lose if you don't like it. I only bought it out of curiousity because a guy on a forum was talking about it and I could't quite undertand what he was on about (It turned out that he was explaining it wrong. lol). Do you know of Herschell Walker's workouts? He gets a mention in the book because his workouts seem similar.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 30, 2012
at 10:13 PM

"Is it unnatural to sprint, lift heavy objects, climb, swim, wrestle, and the list goes on and on". No but I can't think of any activity apart from sports or workouts, where anyone should need to have a special feed before or after it?

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on April 30, 2012
at 09:18 PM

Bingo. I'm thinking that we should apply a Paleo framework to exercise as well as diet. If a training program requires an "unnatural" diet, maybe it's not a good idea.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 01, 2012
at 06:10 PM

When I strength train, I do 5x5 sets. I rest between 3-5 minutes between sets. So I roughly do 45-90 seconds of max effort followed by 3-5 minutes of recovery. So an hour long work out session is actually only 15 minutes of work spread out over equal intervals. My 5RM squat is 340, 5RM deadlift is 385, 5RM bench is 250, 5RM press is 170, 5RM pull up is 55, and 5 RM row is 190. I weight 165. Compared to the general population, I'd bet that I am far above average in functional strength. Starting Strength is the program I follow.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2012
at 02:33 PM

BTW the 10 RM I used above was just an example. I was failing at 10 reps on deadlifts so that seemed an easy example to show. If you want to use the weight that you would fail with at 5 reps, you would use a rep range near 30% of 5 so say either 1 or 2 reps and then do this for 10 sets or more, building up to 20 sets. Some people might want to do this system with pushups. Say they fail at 30 pushups, then they would use sets of 10 pushups for 10 sets or more.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2012
at 08:10 PM

Yeah I keep hearing about it. It sounds like a good system.

0
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 30, 2012
at 06:19 PM

Once you've arrived at a diet that you think is "optimal" (assuming it's relatively low-carb) doesn't it make more sense to adjust physical activity to the diet rather than adjusting the diet to activity?

In this day and age, I mostly agree with this sentiment, but not entirely.

I feel that one should discover a sustainable, healthy way to eat. Then one would probably only have to modify it slightly day-to-day to support any sort of regular activity and exercise.

I feel this is splitting hairs though -- diet and exercise support each other wonderfully, regardless of changes in intensity or intake day to day. A life with poor diet and no exercise, however, is fraught with issues.

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