This is still very much the question these days. It’s one thing to stay away from illegal muscle-enhancing substances and all that they bring with them, but in my eyes that doesn’t make you any more natural. As long as you treat your body as something you can fill up with spare parts, like an old junkyard car, you are nothing but a person without respect for his body. If you have the right genetics this will rarely hinder you in your progress but you’ll feel it later in life when you start wearing out. Being natural does not just translate in staying out of illegality, it means you have to apply a natural touch in nutrition, supplementation, and even training.
Oh, and sleep of course. The body is designed for survival against many elements. These are elements that have been natural threats for ages and evolution has supplied us with the necessary changes to survive and even overcome them. Most things in nature have such a system. But if you are going to design unnatural circumstances to test these skills and techniques, chances are your body will break. So the question is once again, how natural are you?
The body has the ability to adapt further as well, and that is what we are preying. We want the body to realize that it has to adapt to a heavier workload and has to grow to do so. If you live in a mountainous area and have to go up and down a hill a lot, it’s only normal that your leg muscles will strengthen and functionally adapt to the situation. But that doesn’t mean that laying under a bar specifically designed to add weight in a certain direction with no direct function, nor a logical regularity, that the body will adapt in the same way. It wasn’t meant to do that. Again I ask, how natural do you suppose you are?
So what is natural?
Nutrition and Supplementation
How can nutrition be unnatural? How can supplementation be natural? Well, it’s all in what your system will perceive. Nutrition can most definitely be unnatural. In today’s world, the majority of what we consume is pre-packaged, pre-treated and just short of pre-digested. Most of these things are produced in bulk and made specifically to be shelved for a period of time. Long storage has a weird habit of turning a lot of nutrients bad.
There is no such thing as clean fats from a can. Simply the fact that they are kept for such a long time turns them rancid. So it’s fairly safe to say that apart from the fat in meat, eggs, and fresh milk, you are getting next to zero healthy fats. In nature, animals will refuse to eat anything rancid unless they have no choice. Their brains are in tune with their body and the body knows that in the long run rancid food will damage the system in many ways. Denaturation is the process that decreases the bio-availability of nutrients.
Depending on the grade of denaturation that means you’ll have to eat more of it to get the same amount of absorbed nutrients you would from undenatured food. If the food in question has been denatured for 50 percent, that means you have to eat twice the amount to get the same benefit. Most foods we get are denatured over 80 percent. What causes denaturation you ask? Just about anything we use these days to process foods and keep them hygienic.
Heating, prolonged storage, prolonged freezing, additives, stuff we pack things in… you name it if its been packed and shelved odds are its undergone more than one of these processes. In plain terms, what does this mean? Well, all the food you buy that says it has 20 grams of protein will have on average 4 grams of actual absorbable protein. UHT milk stands for ultra-high temperature. You’ll need to drink about four times as much to get the same nutrients that fresh milk has. Sure it’s more hygienic, no bacteria and neatly packed.
Concretely that means you aren’t getting any nutrients AND you are pampering your immune system to a point where your unhealthy life-style is in a great position to do real damage. Why do you think Cancer is the welfare disease? Why has the rate of cancer increased twenty-fold in the past 50 years? Well, all the fake nutrients they make to repair the aforementioned damage cause growth in the body as well, but the body cannot control unnatural substances, resulting in a wild-growth of particular cells, a wild-growth indicated with a big taboo and a capital C.
I’m starting to feel it’s slowly becoming too late to repair the damage and the onslaught of cancer has proven that science is helpless against it. I’m still urging people to live more healthily, to get fresh unsprayed vegetables to eat, to buy meat in a butcher shop, attempt to get fresh milk and so on. Sure pollution has done some damage, but your immune system will function much better if you get the right foods and the right amounts of nutrients. It’s more like choosing the lesser of two evils, but it’s still a very easy and clear choice. Evolution may help us fight pollution, it will not teach us to tolerate slow but certain self-destruction.
If I’m so natural, why do I advocate the use of supplements? Well, whoever said supps cannot be natural? Most supplements are subtracted from natural, healthy foods in a way that doesn’t denature as much of the nutrients as commercial processing would. The sales of these things depend on that, so the fact is, with most supplements you can count on a quality most foods can’t surpass, and that’s why I think supplements are well worth the money.
I don’t recommend just anyone starts picking up ECA stacks and prohormones and more of these things that could do you more damage than good. It’s best to only use these things when you truly need them and treat them with the caution they deserve. But things like whey and casein (from milk), egg protein (from eggs), soy (from soybeans), dextrose (beets), maltodextrin (malt) and other things that make up MRP’s, Weight gainers and protein powders are all very natural. It’s a little shadier with macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals can be taken from natural sources but can also be made synthetically.
Synthetic versions will usually be a lot more toxic if you take too much of them and don’t supply half the benefit natural ones do. When it comes to vitamins it’s also better to choose plant forms over meat substances. There aren’t many vitamins in meats, so chances are small you’ll get too much, but with good reason. These sources are more toxic as well in large doses. Not so for minerals though.
For example, fat-soluble vitamins are stored easily and some of them can be toxic if you take too much of them. Vitamin K has not been established as toxic, not the K1 (phylloquinone, plant source) nor the K2 (menaquinone, meat source) vitamins. But then they made a synthetic derivative called K3 (menadione). In all aspects similar and behaves in the same way in the body. But the body can’t process an overdose, so too much can lead to flushing, sweating and anemia. Not pleasant, I’m sure.
What makes the difference is life. You have to look at natural food as live food. And Synthetic or overly processed sources are dead food. A fresh salad, for example, is very much alive. A Kirlian photograph is a way of showing the aura of things, in living things a rainbow of colors surrounds the subject of the photograph, but in dead subjects these colors are absent. Salads show a multitude of colors when photographed. So does meat that hasn’t been dead longer than a few days.
Do the same thing to a frozen, processed salad and a hot-dog respectively and you will see the difference. Now take a synthetic source and take a Kirlian print and it will show an eerie, dark-grey color. That is the color I have come to refer to as the color of cancer. It’s an uncontrollable copy of natural food. Each one of these synthetic copies can cause a wild-growth of cells. Someone told me that they are corpses.
A fresh corpse is exactly the same as a live human, in every aspect, with the sole difference that he is dead. It’s the same thing between natural and unnatural foods and supplements. They are basically the same in all aspects and will be seen as such by the body. The only difference… they are dead, denatured, copied, whatever.
The key to causing growth in the body isn’t the amounts you get or even the amount that is absorbed, but the amount that can actually be used constructively inside the system. I don’t care how hard a supplement company tries to get me to absorb anything, if what I end up absorbing isn’t going to functionally restore my system and make it grow, I’ll stick to my old way. Of course, denaturation isn’t going to ease absorption and that is the major problem there, but a lot of synthetic substances will be absorbed but will end up doing more damage than good.
So what’s better then? If it’s a natural nutrient and you have an extreme shortage the body will avoid disease by prioritizing the nutrient, even though it normally doesn’t. So that can’t be your reason for feeding your body crap. You need to make a conscious effort to eat and supplement healthy and geared towards your goals. Eat, eat a lot, but eat right above all.
The sad truth is that we have to eat 1000 calories more than our fellow Iron Junkies 3 decades ago to get the same benefit, but that is only one more reason to make sure you get the right things in your system, be it from food or from supplements. The last thing you want is to risk your health. Or let me rephrase that in case I was wrong, the last thing you want to risk is healthy, the continual growth of the body and its muscles.
Sleep is a time of day when the body’s system functions below maintenance level in order to gear all nutrients and hormones towards full recovery for the next day. This is a primal system, present in each and every living thing. There is a lot we don’t know about sleep yet, but we have some idea as to its anabolic properties. This has been the cause of many misinterpretations and ludicrous practices to optimize its anabolic properties.
In the early stages of sleep we produce the highest peak of Growth Hormone, and then several smaller peaks for every REM-cycle we pass. This is what allows us to recover so well. Once, there was a person who was going to try to sleep two hours, wake up, sleep two hours and so on, to get those massive GH peaks several times. I’d love to see him now: disoriented, weak, small and lots of other negative words probably apply to his body and attitude. If that really helped, do you think it wouldn’t be known by now?
Like I said, the what and how of sleep have hardly been figured out. The world’s leading scientists can’t answer this question for you, but what they have been able to tell us is that if you don’t get regular sleep and enough of it, things start going wrong. Regularity seems to be the trick to maximizing sleep potential.
That means you not only try to get the same amount of sleep every night, it means you try to go to sleep and wake up at the exact same time if at all possible even ignoring daylight savings time. The body’s clock operates near 24 hours, a little less if I’m not mistaken. So knowing you have the routine of going to bed and waking up with the sun, or at least with similar regularity, will aid the body to adapt recuperation much better since it knows what time-frame its preparing your energy sources for.
You should be getting a minimum of seven and a maximum of 10 hours of sleep a night. Less than that and count on the fact that after a while over-training WILL catch up to you. Sleep more and you risk the fact that you will have a hard time getting your body to properly wake up in time. That too will hinder your functioning. In reality who has the opportunity to stick to a sleeping schedule constantly?
I mean there is Xmas, New Year’s, birthdays, parties, late-night conferences and so on. The key is to limit the amount of these late nights and when they do occur to still wake up at the same time in the morning, keeping the routine alive and not confuse the body. It’s impossible to catch up when it comes to sleep, no matter how hard you try, but it’s easier to get a little more energy from an extra nap in the afternoon than to sleep in.
When you confuse the system you are back to step one and you will have done more damage than good. You may not feel it all at once, but a few days later you’ll regret it when you start becoming lustless and tired, despite sleeping more than enough.
Sleep and nutrition are very synergistic, together they are what allows the body to adapt to and recover from heavy stress and so on. It makes sense to sleep more if you didn’t meet nutritional demands, and it makes sense to eat more when you got a little less sleep. Nothing like a midmorning plate of pasta to get you over a hard night. That’s a little tip I’m giving you for free here.
I think I hardly have to convince you of the importance of both sleep and nutrition. If you didn’t know it before, after reading some of the previous chapters in the I.C.E. saga, you ought to know by now. But as you can see this isn’t a Nike commercial, there is a lot more to it than “Just do it”. Anyway, I designed I.C.E. as a training system that would and could give you what YOU needed.
That meant listening to what YOUR body needed specifically, but it also means listening to what THE body has to say. Staying natural in many ways helps the body to adapt. That is what it was made for. Just don’t confront the body with situations it can’t possibly handle. Don’t subject it to unusual stress and unnatural means. That is perhaps the cornerstone principle of this system.
Be sure to check the next chapter for some ideas on how you can make (or if you already have, why) your training more natural. Shock to the system can come from the inside, as we saw, but also from the outside. The body is used to shocks from the outside and can cope and grow through them, but you have to remember that an unnatural shock will do greater damage than you may be able to recover from. So read on and find out just how natural you really are…