Son of Grok

Health Trifecta of Trifectas

March 10th, 2009

Reader Bill posted a comment the other day about how I viewed nutrition. This got me thinking a bit and so I threw together some graphics real quick to kind of show my idea of health.

Reminder: I am not a doctor or an expert… this is MY minds eye view of some of the aspects of health.

Coincidentally (or not), living by the Primal Blueprint does a pretty darn good job of addressing ALL of these things.


First is the 3 broad aspects of health in general.


Then comes 3 aspects of diet. Many people will try to focus on one being the important one… but really you need a focus on all 3 for optimal health.

- Calories ARE important. They represent the amount of fuel you consume for your body. Being in a calorie deficiency, balance or surplus does affect your weight and health.

- A calorie may be a calorie may be a calorie but that does not paint the entire picture. Some calories come accompanied with healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals while others do not. So eating 2000 calories of nutrient deficient grain is NOT equivalent to eating 2000 calories of meat, fruit and veggies. Think of it as watered down gas compared to rocket fuel. The same volume of each does not pack the same punch. The nutritional content of your food IS important. As an example… we know omega 3′s are important in relation to omega 6′s. This has nothing to do with calories but everything to do with health.

- Regulating hormones through diet is important as well. This is where we see the need for controlling insulin spikes and serotonin spikes. Hormones (insulin especially) are how your body decides what to do with the calories and nutrients you consume.


We did a pretty good job covering my idea of 3 important aspects of exercise here (#1), here(#2) and here(#3).


The last trifecta is for rest. Without rest and recovery your body will break itself down. Overtraining used to be one of my biggest problems and I see it in people day after day. The amount of work people are willing to put into something to not make any progress is sometimes astounding!

- Recover. You need active recovery time. This goes for both mental and physical. Mentally, ideally you need time to daydream or meditate… to gather your thoughts.  Physically, you need time to rest your muscles and your body. You need physically relaxing activities to give your body a chance to relax and repair.

- Sleep. This is such an important aspect that is often overlooked. Your body goes through recovery processes while you are sleeping that it can not go through any other time. This is when much of the most important recovery for your body, both physical and mental occurs. You need enough sleep and you need proper deep sleep.

- Re-fuel. This one kind of falls into diet as well. Your body needs food to repair and replentish energy stores. It needs time to digest and process this food. re-fueling is another vital part of rest and recovery. (But… so is fasting! before some of you jump on me for that one ;-) lol)

What are your thoughts. Am I leaving anything out? Am I way off base on anything? Feel free to chime in.

18 Responses to “Health Trifecta of Trifectas”

  1. emergefit

    This is extremely well done. This one I will pass along to others. Great stuff! No wonder you didn’t post anything yesterday. Great! I’m glad you referred to recovery in mental health as well.

  2. Bill

    Great post,the one thing that stuck out for me was the serotonin spike wouldnt that be good for you to get that comfort happy feelings? and iknow when i eat carbs i get a sort of a high where my serotonin spikes.I also notice when i reduce my carb intake i dream about carbs is that because iam a slave to carbs? or because my body needs that boost in serotonin?

  3. Son of Grok

    Thank you sir Actually i didn’t post yesterday because I have been so busy… sorry about that. I am trying I promise!

    The problem with the seratonin spike is that there is too much of it. Carbs do induce a seratonin spike which makes you feel warm and fuzzy but constant abuse of this system dulls the receptors. This phenomina causes a couple things. One is that people begin to only feel good when they are eating which motivates them to always eat. Your body literally becomes addicted to the carbs which is why you probably dream about the carbs and why the first 3 weeks or so of low carbing are hard. The other thing it does is dull your response the rest of the time which causes a lot of brain chemical issues like depression, bi-polar behavior, mood swings etc. In the long term, eating primal has really balanced out my emotions and made me a much happier and easier person to be around. lol

  4. Bill

    I wonder, this is strange but i am bipolar and take prozac 60mg a day and a host of other meds could this have something to do with my obsession about diet and changing my mind every day about what way of eating to follow? and i am still depressed every day about my weight so i eat and when its junk carbs i feel a relief for a little while.This is the first time i thought about my diet making me bipolar and depressed and having anxiety attacks at least once a day i take klonipin for that but it dosnt might be on to something.

  5. Son of Grok

    Its possible Bill, you may want to look into it. I used to be borderline (maybe not even borderline) bi-polar and it certainly helped me. There have been other instances and studies of treating children with behavioral disorders and even mental patients with unprocessed real food and reduction in sugar. All show extremely positive results. Still though, remember that my advice is no substitute for quilified medical advice.

  6. Bill

    I do know when i was on Atkins in 2000 and lost 70lbs i got of all my meds, and did not have any anxiety problems.I might be one of those people who can only tollerate 20 grams of carbs from veggies witch is what i ate in 2000.I even notice when i eat a piece of fruit i get nerveous thank you SoG for this post.

  7. emergefit

    To Sog and Bill: I live with a form of bi-polar disorder called cyclothymia; rapid cycling bi-polar. Lows aren’t as low, highs aren’t as high, but the cycles run much faster in-between. I take no meds, other than staying active — very active. This works well for me. SoG knows I do eat some grains — not too many though, most of my calories come from meat and fats. That said, when I have deviated and increased carb intake, even for so-called “good carbs”, my lows get very low and my highs don’t last long at all. There is no doubt in my mind, regardless of what data lay out there, the (excess) carbs have an immediate effect on mood, just as soon as the short high is over. Again, not a qualified medical person here, but have been in the fitness and exercise industry for 30+ years. Eating meat and few carbs helps me live without meds, and that is a great place to be. I wish you well Bill and keep on keeping on! Remember one thing; a carbohydrate has one job in your body above all other jobs, and that is to make you crave more carbohydrates. It really is that simple.

    Great Blog SoG.

  8. BEE

    I love these. Thanks for the reminder of all the things that makes up a healthy happy life!

    Reminds me of the primary foods that I live by (that the primary foods are relationships, physical activity, spirituality career and until those should come first to your secondary food- actual food) your trifecta’s are like like breaking down the primary foods! I think maybe it’s time to add rest as a ‘primary food’ as I don’t think it’s adequately stressed in my diagram.

    And thanks for justifying the night off tonight. Sometimes you just need the rest.

    Thanks SoG!


  9. Marc Feel Good Eating


    You’re right, you’re not a doctor. However, expert……
    in my opinion the best “experts” out there have learned from “experience”. The words come from each other right?
    You have experienced so much, that you ARE BECOMING an EXPERT.
    The above post perfectly illustrates my point. Keep sharing SOG,
    you’re providing quality information all gathered from practical “experience”.

    As my teacher in Japan used to say “GAMBATTE”. (one of the secrets in life as he would say)
    Loosely translated as “Keep going” .
    One must “keep going”


  10. lm

    Bill: I personally have never met anyone who has been on Prozac (even for a month) who has not shown an incredible weight gain. 85% of people in hospitals are there from side affects from Meds.
    Sounds like the Atkins worked for you but the over driving power of carbs once u got near them was too much.
    Alcoholism is easily identifiable as liquor is the trigger and being drunk is the result.
    If your body is craving more serotonin since you gave it a taste – does it make sense to take Prozac to feed its wild appetite
    ? Would u give a drunk more alcohol?

  11. Son of Grok

    Rest and recovery is a hard one. We are so ingrained with the idea that progress only happens while we are working!

    Thank you for all the kind words sir. It truly is appreciated.I would agree with your teacher. All one can really do is keep going ;-)

    Alchoholism is really a chemical imbalance as well isnt it? Duon’t know too much about it.

  12. Angel

    SoG – great post!

    Bill – I experienced some benefits from the Atkins diet when I tried it several years ago, but the carb cravings felt like they were killing me. When I tried low carb again (Protein Power, this time) about two years ago, I didn’t even try to go hard core – below 30g carbs/day. I stayed below 60g carbs/day and experienced a lot of benefits, including weight loss and improved sleep. After a few months, decreasing carbs even more wasn’t nearly as difficult as it had been before.

    I would suggest that you at least try lowering your carb intake to something that feels attainable to you right now, and see how that works for you. You can gradually decrease it to the point where you feel better. Research has shown that most people experience benefits when carbs are reduced, even if they are not reduced to what Atkins or Protein Power consider ideal.

    Cold turkey is the simplest way to get off a drug (including carbs) but it can be terribly painful. Good luck! I hope you keep posting here to let us know how you are doing.

  13. Angel

    One more thing re: alcoholism – when I was interning at the mental ward in the hospital, alcoholic patients were usually given injections of magnesium and B vitamins, because most alcoholics are so deficient in them. So, what came first – the deficiency or the alcoholism? I wonder if they aren’t basically the same thing.

  14. Son of Grok

    More great info and insight. Your contributions are great! Intersteing point you make about the definciencies. There has been a good amount of research linking cravings to vitamin and mineral deficiencies so it is quite possible!

  15. lm

    Bingo Angel:
    That is the basis of what the Doctor who wrote the book BRAIN ALLERGIES in the 80s found out.
    I mentioned the book here before

    He was the one who discovered that Vit B shots helped cure Schizophrenia in some patients.

  16. Carb Cycling Diet

    I reguarlly use carb cycling as im a bit of a body builder but its a good way for anyone looking to lose weight.

  17. home theater amp

    Seriously? Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, I agree with you partly, but when you say something like this you have to be prepared to defend it.

  18. Tiffany

    I just finished reading “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson. I started the primal diet a couple of months back after my girlfriend convinced me that it would help my bipolar symptoms. Wow, was she right! I’m a believer in the primal way of life. It’s not a diet or a passing fad–it’s a life-change that makes so much sense for me. Along the path of learning about the primal way, I learned that depression is an inflammatory disorder. What causes inflammation in our bodies? Carbohydrates, of course! I was poisoning myself with every piece of bread or bowl of cereal; it made no difference that they were whole grains. Eating right isn’t the only change I made. Routine exercise, meditation and regular sleep patterns have become the norm making insomnia, fatigue and stress a thing of the past. This book really does offer the tools one needs to change your life! I highly recommend it!

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