Matching The Right Randomness to Life
I recently re-read Art De Vany’s – The New Evolution diet. It’s a brilliant read but what caught my attention this time round was an interesting section in the afterword by essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb. One of the ideas he suggests is that “There is a Need for Environment Randomness“.
The human body cannot be separated from its environment. We evolved in a landscape of uncertainty and unpredictability – there were no guarantees of food or pleasant weather. You had to be resourceful, physically strong and adaptable. Taleb proposes that this randomness is what the human body is designed for and that the routine of our environment removes the important variable stressors we need.
I briefly mentioned this concept in the post on Intermittent Fasting. If you skip breakfast every Monday and Wednesday for a year that’s not intermittent. To get the full benefit it needs to be more random. Skip dinner one day when you feel like, miss 3 days brekkie one week then eat every morning the following week. The same principle can be applied to training – working out by feel with no target sets or reps.
All good so far but why not extend this to other environment factors? Here’s Taleb’s list of possible variations experienced by humans in a typical ancestral environment:
- Thermal fluctuations: cold, heat, dryness, wetness, humidity
- Energy expenditure: periods of overexertion followed by long stretches of rest
- Energy intake: bouts of hunger, thirst, fasting and feasts
- Sleep duration: occasional variations (may depend on seasons, weather, noise, predators)
- Negative correlations amplifying energy deficits: A predator mammal does not eat breakfast to hunt; it hunts in the response to the need to get breakfast
The bottom line is we are designed for much more fluctuations in our environment. I’ll certainly be looking out for more areas where I can inject some randomness. In particular: more cold exposure, different running routes, varying meal times, supplement frequency. This should help keep the body guessing and increase adaptability.
image courtesy of: quattrostagioni