Just Say 'No' to Protein Shakes

I have noticed, in my path to attain some proficiency in high-level fitness, that there is an assumption that you need a lot of gimmicky science to get really good at anything. If you want to gain a lot of muscle, there best way to do it is to chug a 'specially formulated' protein shake after every workout, which itself is systematic and 'specially formulated' to give you maximum results with minimum effort. The wonders of science have enabled us to cut out all the fat and wasted effort; real food has too much wasted nutrient when all we want is one thing for getting stronger, faster, bigger, etc.

The problem with this approach is that it suggests the humans, in order to attain their greatest physical potential, require a lot of tinkering and external, artificial input. Our bodies could not do it on their own, and the normal, real food we evolved to eat is insufficient. The only problem with this theory is that plenty of extremely healthy, fit groups of people relied not a whit on fancy protein shakes or carb counting. Why is it that Australian aborigines are thought to have run faster than today's top Olympic sprinters (according to this article), given that they lacked the best scientific minds to guide their training?

There is certainly something to be said for fitness following evolutionary guidelines: move the way our ancestors did, the way our bodies evolved to move, and they should be healthy. Mark's Daily Apple posts on the health benefits of eating and moving according to these guidelines. But for those of us who care less about our health and more about our useful fitness, it seems reasonable to assume that, just because eating and moving 'naturally' might be better for us, it won't necessarily produce the strongest, fastest athlete.

I am going to argue that it actually does. I am going to argue that, barring extreme specialization athletes, you can be an exceptional athlete eating a natural, whole foods diet, and exercising less than an hour at a time. Because that's exactly what I did.

This is a development of a philosophy that suggests humans are not inherently broken. That is, we don't need props and artificial supports to achieve our potential. Physically, we have within ourselves the ability to achieve nearly Olympic-level fitness, without the use of expensive gym equipment, specially-tailored programs, or scienctifically-formulated diets. We can do it with objects as crude as rocks, trees and logs (barbells work too) and with food that is all natural and real.

The philosophy extends to psychological and emotional fields as well, though this gets more controversial, so I'll save it for later. Suffice it to say that I don't believe that most mental disorders are in fact evidence of a broken mind, but rather a healthy mind reacting to a bad situation. Everything we need to be healthy and happy is within ourselves and within our grasp. God, mother nature, the infinite intelligence, evolution, etc, didn't put us on this earth incomplete.

More to come.