We are not nutritionists or dietitians and we have no “qualifications” in this department. All of the information we advocate and reference on this page comes from years of our own experimentation with different methods. That being said, we have seen people make ridiculous gains in a very short amount of time by genuinely sticking to the guidelines below. Take this how how you will, but be warned: if you decide to follow this way of eating, you will get stronger, drop body fat, and feel great.
The owners of CRAIC coined the term NO BREAD™ to reflect a healthy lifestyle summarized by the following quote: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no refined sugar.” If you stick with these recommendations regarding your diet at least 80% of the time, you will be well on your way to increased health and physical performance.
Nutrition is the foundation of your results. If you are not eating the correct foods then you will slow your progress and minimize your gains from our program. You are selling yourself short if you are killing yourself during the workouts but not fueling your body with the correct foods. Training is only one part of your progress. The other parts are recovery and nutrition. You need all three areas in balance if you really want to succeed with this training program.
Think closely: if you are not seeing the results you think you should be getting from busting it in the daily workouts, there is something else you are doing (or not doing) that needs to change.
What Should I Eat? Eat the NO BREAD™ way. Vegetables; especially dark leafy greens; animal protein including lean meats, fowl, eggs and fish, grass-fed, wild-caught and organic whenever possible; berries and fruit (occasionally, preferably consumed with protein), and nuts and seeds. Individual goal will affect certain food choices; for example, whether one should eat fruit or starchy root vegetables. You need to eat protein, some healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fat with every meal. This is about as simple as we can get. Real food–as noted by many to be found on the perimeter of the grocery store–is perishable and can go bad. “Food” that can sit in the middle aisle of Stop n’ Shop—or your pantry–for months without spoiling is highly suspicious and should be avoided. Fat does not make you fat. We recommend a moderate-to low-carb diet. It is healthy and effective. Ask questions, check blood lipids if you want…just do this stuff for a month! Do you see ANY processed food in this? Any sugar? Trans fats? No, no and no. It’s whole natural foods and you will thrive on it.
If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
The Caveman, Primal or NO BREAD™ Model for Nutrition
“Modern diets are ill-suited for our genetic composition. Evolution has not kept pace with advances in agriculture and food processing. This mismatch has contributed to a plague of health problems for modern man. Coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and psychological dysfunction have all been scientifically linked to diets high in substances that were not available to our primal ancestors: refined or processed carbohydrates.”
What Foods Should I Avoid? Avoid bread. At CRAIC, “bread” includes rice, bread (whole wheat, rye, what have you), candy, potatoes, beans, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar. Grains and refined sugar are processed, pro-inflammatory, high-glycemic carbohydrates and should be avoided as much as possible. ”Just don’t eat bread and watch what happens.”
What is the Problem with Processed Carbohydrates? The problem with high-glycemic carbohydrates is that they raise blood sugar too rapidly, leading to an excessive level of insulin in the blood. Insulin is an essential hormone for life, but chronic elevation of insulin (hyperinsulinism) can lead to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension, mood dysfunction and a Pandora’s box of disease and disability. Another way to think about it is this: carbohydrates control insulin, insulin controls fat storage. If you eat a lot of processed carbohydrates, your insulin levels will rise, which over time makes you fat and sick.
In addition to inappropriate insulin response, the consumption of processed carbohydrates can lead to a serious issue of inflammation within the body which can lead to health problems including coronary artery disease and gastrointestinal issues. Many of these processed foods, including most breads, also have a pro-inflammatory protein known as gluten, which is another reason to avoid refined carbohydrates. Dairy (milk and cheese) is also a food group that may need to be avoided or consumed sparingly pending your ability to tolerate lactose.
Here is a great summary explaining our stance based on the work of nutrition guru and creator of the NorCal Margarita Robb Wolf. Wolf is a former research biochemist who specialized in lipid metabolism. His curriculum vitae includes research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and graduate work with Professor Loren Cordain of Colorado State University, author of The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Robb is a co-founder of NorCal Strength and Conditioning, a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, and a co-founder of The Performance Menu. His book The Paleo Solution is a great supplement to your education regarding the NO BREAD lifestyle.
The NO BREAD™ Menu explained within the framework of Robb Wolf:
1: People do not know how to cook in general. Microwave meals and fast food seem to predominate. Sandwiches and other grab-n-go crap are the norm. Food quality matters. You need to learn how to cook. Acknowledge, accept, and move on.
2: People are “too busy.” If you are “too busy” to cook you need to re-evaluate your life. How much time do you spend watching TV [or on the computer?] Be honest and realistic, because if you legitimately do not have time to feed yourself correctly you are heading towards serious health problems.
3: People go absolutely feral if they do not have their bread, rice, pasta and all the other garbage carbs. Inevitably the question arises “How do I cook this?” It is simply a cover for “I want my comfort food.” If you want results you need to alter what you are doing…If you want to keep doing the same old thing, join a globo-gym, don’t go (most people don’t), and keep eating what you have been eating. Wasn’t that easy? Not surprisingly, you will continue to get the same results.
4: As day follows night, eating can only follow shopping. You cannot and likely should not eat out all the time. That means you need to stock your pantry and have the vitals on hand to cook nutritious, possibly even tasty meals. Hence the handy guide that follows. You CAN do this.
**And as our own Glen from Glen’s Grill recommends: Buy in Bulk, Cook in Bulk.
- Eggs: omega-3 enriched only, organic and cage free. Most major supermarkets carry these. We can tell you that this is worth the extra couple bucks per dozen. Please make these regular visitors to your fridge.
- Coconut: the milk, meat, and water of this magical food are all excellent.
- Olive oil: you get what you pay for with olive oils. Whatever you buy, try to get it in a dark-tinted glass bottle; artificial and natural light can chemically alter the oil over time, depleting its health benefits. Do your best to consume only cold-pressed olive oil and to not cook it, as heating this oil can also deplete the health benefits and actually create carcinogenic compounds.
- Spices and herbs: the more the better. Cinnamon, garlic, chili, vanilla and dill are some CRAIC favorites.
- Coffee and tea: okay, just be sure you are getting enough water, and be mindful of what you’re putting into it! Fair trade is a plus whenever this is a feasible option for you.
- Nuts and seeds, and their butters: some of our favorites include walnuts, macadamias, and almonds. Buy them raw if possible and keep them in the fridge or freezer to keep them from going rancid. Peanuts are not nuts. Peanuts are legumes (like soy). Legumes, if consumed raw and/or in copious amounts, are poisonous!
- Alcohol: As we at CRAIC say with all our No Bread challenges, “we are not your parents.” We believe that stress management and relaxation is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, and for many of us that includes relaxing with an adult beverage or two from time to time. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink responsibly and do your best to maintain a 1:1 ratio of alcohol to water when you’re indulging to prevent dehydration and hangovers. Tequila, clear liquor and wine are the best alcohols to drink because they tend to have the smallest negative impact on your insulin levels.
Much of the information presented here can be found in other publications; we highly recommend the following books as additional resources on Paleolithic and primal eating:
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet for Athletes
The Primal Blueprint
The Paleo Solution