One of the sharpest thinkers and authors in the field of high-performance, paleolithic nutrition is Robb Wolf, author of NYT bestseller The Paleo Solution and numerous other titles. Although Wolf’s personal and coaching background is more tuned to power sports as opposed to ultra-endurance sports like triathlon, his grasp of the myriad issues we face—energy for performance, power output, endurance, recovery, digestion, longevity and overall health—is hard to match.
If your diet is a mess and you’re looking to bump up your training and racing performance in 2016, check out Wolf’s free quick-start guide. “Self-control is a myth,â€ Wolf writes, introducing a five-step plan to set the conditions so that you can make make a sweeping overhaul of what you eat and how what you eat affects you 24 hours a day.
Wolf has a deep library of content offerings, both in his podcast and his blog, as well as his books.
There are several things I like about Wolf’s advice:
—If you truly want to achieve optimal athletic performance, you’re going to need to be your own scientist. Wolf’s plans offer a series of steps to pragmatically figure out what works best for you. There’s a lot to be gained but there’s some thinking and testing involved. The homework includes looking at yourself through the lens of evolutionary biology, being willing and disciplined enough to carry out significant tests to see how changes in your diet can realize benefits in body composition, athletic performance, better sleep, a healthier metabolism, optimal hormonal regulation, and more. One particular area that Wolf continues to study and report on is the gut biome and healthy digestion. This information is relevant to triathletes not only in their training, but also in racing, where issues include electrolyte balance, glycogen sparing and the critically important situation of the stomach. If throwing up and/or making frequent porta-potty stops is screwing up your quest for a PR, searching through Wolf’s books and podcasts is a good bet to help you find an answer. The central point here is that there is no one perfect diet for anyone—that we need to be open-minded, thoughtful and diligent to solve the many problems nutrition in endurance athletics can bring, as well as seize the opportunities.
—Wolf is a no-bullshit guy. Reading Wolf’s books makes it clear that during his many years as a strength and conditioning coach and lecturer, he has had to respond to the same excuses again and again, when someone holds there hand up and says, “I don’t have time to cook,â€ or “I can’t afford that kind of food,â€ or “I can’t live without my daily bowl of ice cream.â€ When faced with such excuses, Wolf generally reframes the complaint so that the “I can’tâ€ part looks ridiculous. Certain issues, like the money issue, he goes to the white board on to break down and reveal the weakness of the excuse. For example, in his “Paleo on a Budgetâ€ guide, Wolf carefully breaks down the math of how much it costs to buy crappy processed food versus making healthier selections. With a little strategizing and planning, Wolf shows, you can buy, cook and eat in a high-quality way for about the same cost as loading up a shopping cart with processed foods.
—Advice on making a dietary overhaul relatively easy and sustainable. It’s not like the average triathlete has a lot of extra time on their hands to making diet, shopping and cooking a priority. Wolf’s well of content includes a vast amount of ideas and techniques on how to make the whole thing doable. This recent post has everything a person needs to turn a few hour hours on the weekend into preparing for an entire week’s worth of good, high-performance eating.
—Reporting on a range of inter-related issues when it comes to nutrition. A contentious issue surrounding the paleolithic diet is in regards to livestock, water usage and climate change. California’s drought struggles have been on display at the Wildflower Triathlon Festival, with Lake San Antonio’s water levels dropping to 5% capacity. A common argument against the paleo diet is that it advocates meat consumption, and that raising livestock is a major contributing factor to climate change and drought. Listening to Wolf lecture last spring in Austin, he brought up the dramatic work of Allan Savory, an ecologist and farmer who has demonstrated that an exceptionally effective counter to desertification, drought and climate change is livestock itself, raising and moving livestock in a way that mimics how vast herds of animals used to graze, urinate, defecate and run from predators in such a way that soil health and grasslands thrived. Another benefit that Savory’s reverse-desertification techniques creates is the sequestration of carbon. “Watch this TED Talk by Allan Savory,â€ Wolf said. As someone who has been obsessed with the climate change debate in recent years, I found Savory’s talk to be perhaps the most valuable line of field-tested thought that should be a part of the solution.