Thursday, April 15, 2010

Robb Wolf: Paleolithic Solution Seminar

Any Paleo person worth their salt knows who Robb Wolf is. For those of you who don't, he's the owner of NorCal Strength and Conditioning and the average CrossFitter's authority on the Paleo Diet. He currently runs a blog and posts podcasts that offer great information. He also used to lead CrossFit's nutrition certifications, but has since taken to the road for his own seminars. I've been following Robb's work for about two years now, so when the opportunity came up to go to one of his seminars at CrossFit Hoboken, I jumped at the chance (along with four other members of CrossFit King of Prussia: Aimee, Evan, Laura, and Dave) Robb presented the 60 or so participants with a wealth of knowledge, both scientific and real case studies and we probably could have spent a week there just asking questions. While I'm not going to steal Robb's presentation, I do want to point out two major topics that are uber important, plus a peek at what future posts will be covering.

Insulin management is huge. By controlling your insulin levels, you can basically maintain and lead a healthy lifestyle well into your 80s and 90s. Robb calls it the "master hormone." It affects major systems and parts of your body that you probably don't even realize. The first thing you probably think when you hear "insulin" is "diet" and this is certainly true. Controlling blood sugar levels by avoiding grains and sugar will help maintain your insulin levels, but there is a lot more involved. Sleep, activity level, and leptin issues can affect insulin sensitivity. At one very extreme of insulin resistance is Type II Diabetes. Some people say things like "Diabetes runs in my family" and while there is a genetic factor involved, there are also a lot of environmental factors as well. Robb gives the analogy of a sunburn. A fair skinned person will burn more easily in the sun than a dark skinned person. But what if the fair skinned person stayed indoors more? Or put on sunscreen? Some people may "tend" towards Diabetes, but there is a big difference between someone eating a ton of grains, drinking soda, and being a couch potato and someone who eats clean and stays fit. By eating clean and managing these other factors such as sleep, we can maintain proper insulin levels and avoid "fate."

Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps regulate energy levels. A little bit helps regulate blood sugar and acts as an anti-inflammatory, but too much is detrimental to your health. Normal cortisol levels are high in the morning (to get you awake and ready for the day) and low in the evening (to help you wind down and get ready for sleep.) Those who overtrain, have sleep disturbances, are emotionally stressed, or have diet problems will compromise their cortisol levels. I'm willing to bet more than a few of you have cortisol issues for one or many of these reasons. The possibility of reaching adrenal fatigue is high and dangerous. Robb gave a personal account of someone close to him reaching this breaking point and needing to go to the hospital for it.  If you find yourself exhausted, wired as you're about to go to sleep, caffeinating heavily, or just "off," see a doctor ASAP. If you want to manage your cortisol levels, be sure to get enough sleep ("as much as you can without ruining your love life or your job" - Robb), do some yoga/meditation, train smart, and watch your nutrition.

for anyone that is looking for a little less science and a little more practicality of implementing clean food in your life, check out Melissa and Dallas' Whole9 workshop, currently traveling around the country. 

topics coming soon: Neolithic vs. Paleolithic foods, how to apply these principles to performance, and more...

Robb going over some case studies

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