In my recent podcast conversation hosted by Greg Bennett (Be with Champions - Brett Sutton, Diet discussion commencing at 1hr 08min), Greg pointed out that while in our training camp back in the late 90's, he noticed that my diet at the time was primarily based on fatty meats and cheese. Also, that I was taking flack from the 'experts', when now most experts are creating diets around the very same principle.
This blog is not about persuading anybody to follow this diet. As Greg knows, if asked by squad members I would give advice, no athletes were ordered to eat a particular way. So before we get into a discussion, I'll clarify the story then we move on.
I was taught this way of eating by an ageing professional boxer who in his heyday was an Australian title holder. During the later years of his career, he didn't want to work and thus would fight around 10 times a year. He would float between hugely different weight categories that spanned 20kg or 40+ pounds. He was viewed in those years as an alternate or bench fighter for fight promoters. Like all sports, fight cards are set in advance, and sometimes athletes get injured. Hence at short notice they would go to Clint and ask him to stand in.
Clint is not his real name as he was a full blood aboriginal who was born, bred and lived his early life in the Kimberleys in the North West Australian outback. No running water, sewerage, permanent home or guaranteed food were available for 20 years before he was introduced to what we call 'proper civilization'. As a fighter his abilities were immense, however after Clint had past his prime, he stayed, living in a room above our boxing gym, and was always ready to take a fight on short notice for money to subsist on, or to spa for a small fee in the gym with the best fighters who were preparing for their big fight day.
Clint became one of my best friends at the time, a more humble gentleman one could ever wish to meet. He would not hurt a fly, and one could debate his humanity stopped him being a world champion. Clint had the notoriety or grace that in one of his fights that I witnessed, he stopped fighting, walked back to his own corner, picked up the white towel and threw it into the ring. This in boxing means 'our man doesn't or can't fight on' thus conceding. He did this not because he was getting beaten, far from it, but the referee would not stop the fight when Clint had decided that he could no longer keep beating the daylights out of his opponent. He kept telling the referee 'he has had enough'! This is not really the mindset that most in boxing believe advantageous to being worthy of a world title fight.
However, getting back to the diet message of this blog, Clint could move up and down this 40 pound weight adjustment within a 3 week time zone. Sometimes he would drop 5kg in a 7 day period but in both cases off very little training. That's a story for another time but he could fight 8 to 12 x 3 minute rounds, and finish as strong as the first.
In my humble sport career I was a professional squash player weighing 67kg at 9% body fat. Not too shabby. However in my first boxing fight my problem was all my weight was in my lower body, because of previous sports. My friend Clint helped me get down to weighing 53.5kg in my last fight. (To be generous to readers, let's not use that figure as I did dehydrate from 55.5kg the 2 days before weigh in, then rehydrate for the fight.)
The point is I fought 10 x 3 minute rounds and didn't suffer any strength or performance loss, indeed was at my strongest in the last 3 rounds. I did this with not one carbohydrate over the last 2 weeks and very few in the proceeding 4 weeks where I was trying not to take in carbs (while strict, I wasn't insane about it and so some carbs snuck in with no intention). The 4 weeks before that, out of the protein, fat and carb consumption, the least consumed was carbs.
The explanation of this diet is simple. You now call it the 'carnivore diet', but it was more a hybrid, the last weeks moving from 'caveman diet' to the straight carnivore, with no exceptions. Clint explained his diet in his 'old life' was always the same every day:
- hunted kangaroo (one of the highest protein lowest fat meats on the planet),
- fish when rivers were running,
- witchetty grubs when found,
- yams when his mum picked some during travels.
'old life' diet - witchetty grubs, yams, fish, kangaroo
Clint did not head down to the local store to buy his food, all was tracked and hunted in the daily work routine. Thus, 'Doc, we didn't eat what you fellas call carbs at all, except the yams when we could get em'.
But I did ask the question 'you would have had natural fruits or at least berries that you could pick?'
He laughed and said 'yes, we had certain berries but we used most of them as poison to kill small animals for food. They make you very sick. You need to come with me and see for yourself', which I later did.
It's in the Sutto memory, listed under 3 categories not just one:
1) Most crazy trip thing I've done.
2) Most exciting thing I've done.
3) Most learned lectures I was ever a part of.
Indeed, they still lived the same way, give or take. However what I observed was no overweight people, they could walk literally all day with no problem, men, women and kids, all while after 3 hours in the 107F heat or 42C the then super fit Sutto was basically dead. I became the source of their amusement in nearly every situation. In these perilous times, I sometimes wonder how anyone would survive in cataclysmic times. However Clint's family wouldn't miss a beat, maybe look up at the sky at the flash of destruction and say 'the spirits are not happy' and just keep on living their everyday life.
Their eating habits were keeping them healthy, fit and more importantly happy.
As Clint had told me, we (or more specifically I), didn't see what we label a 'good or bad carb' in sight the whole trip.
We will make this Part 1 if anyone is still reading, but as I wrote I kept reflecting on my old friend that I haven't seen for over 15 years, the last time was on a huge outback property in Queensland, where he retired to be a stockman. The owner of the station, (you may call it a ranch as this part of it was 250,000 acres, while there was another 3 pieces all similar in size), had seen Clint fight and was told he fell on hard times.
So he brought him up, gave him a horse, and Clint had a new outback. I joined him for three days, each evening we looked up at the stars whilst sitting around the campfire. The guys working there said 'The ole fella is still the best horseman, the best tracker, fastest runner, best shot, but we don't know if he can fight because it's the one thing he refuses to do'.
I said I can help you there; he could beat all four of you right now, even at his age. He was the best welterweight in the country for 3 years before he was introduced to alcohol, then he was still brilliant for another 10 years. Fight anybody, any size, anywhere as long as you paid him a little. They were perplexed, 'he's been here for five years and never mentioned he was a champion, never told us he could even fight'. That's why he needs his own blog, for his diet, he deserves it!
I'll leave the last word to Clint, no money, just his horse, the saddle he used as his pillow and his cows, laying down next to me, as we looked at the stars -
'Doc, haven't we had a great life, who would of thought old Clint from the outback, would see the big cities, fight a little, had some rough times, but has now been given the best job in the world. Doc, look at us, it just couldn't get better than this.'
Just the way he saw it!
This blog may not have helped you, so I'll write the second part soon. However it helped me; I need to think of Clint Brown more often.
That's the way I see it.
Coming soon: Part 2 - Eating for Performance