Filed under: General Health, Nutrition
As promised, some thoughts and musings on vegetarianism. The pros, the cons, the merits and the fallacies. I am going to warn you all though, this isn’t so much an outlined, cited article as it is my off-the-cuff stream of consciousness. As a matter of fact, as recently outlined in Roger’s latest blog post, I used my Dragon Naturally Speaking software (which with a little practice, is awesome!) to write the majority of this blog while driving to CP the other day. This is going to be a series, with just part 1 today.
Also, today is the last day you can get Mike Boyle’s Functional Strength Coach 3 with all of the sweet free bonuses he included only as an introductory special, check it out HERE. OK enough stalling, onto the good stuff!
Many people choose to become vegetarians, not based on a dislike for meat or animal products but because we read about the cruel and unusual treatment of our domesticated farm animals. Animals today are not raised on small family farms with wide open pastures, allowed to graze and move along as they please. Instead, they are fed and raised in what are called CAFOs, concentrated agricultural feeding operations. Not farms, concentrated feeding operations. Doesn’t that term alone turn you off?
These CAFO’s are exactly as they sound; huge vast swatches of a ruined, brown, muddy mess of a farm. They are dominated by these huge corrugated metal sheds, where animals are raised and fed in incredibly close quarters. They are force-fed corn, have their tails removed (pigs, to prevent them from biting them off each other due to the close quarters) their beaks mutilated (chickens, to prevent them from pecking each other to death due to the close quarters, see a trend?) and generally treated just well enough to provide food for us. The feeding of corn, which I have discussed here before, creates an incredibly acidic environment, especially in cows, leading to bacterial infections, and then the overuse of antibiotics. Unfortunately these antibiotics find their way into our bodies from the meat and the runoff into our waterways, and eventually help to create more antibiotic-resistant pathogens, like MRSA.
These animals are not allowed to their normal diet. They are denied fresh air and exercise. Personal space is sacrificed to maximize efficiency. Cows, pigs and chickens grow so fast with the force-feeding of corn, it is mind boggling. Cows that graze take a few years to reach slaughter size, cows fed tons of corn and grain turn 8 pounds of corn into 1 pound of mass, and are ready for slaughter within 2 years, usually much less. Chickens are incredibly efficient eating machines. They convert 2 pounds of corn into 1 pound of mass, and grow so quickly that their spindly legs can not support their mass and often break. Basically our food production is a race to see how fast we can grow our animals by slamming corn down their throat. How quickly we can get that meat from birth to a consumer’s mouth. Not to mention the growth hormone’s given in huge amounts to these animals.
This is why many vegetarians choose to no longer consume meat, because current food production methods treat animals as a commodity, not as an animal. Making animals into a commodity makes complete sense from a capitalist and pure business-based standpoint; but from an animal welfare, animal health, and therefore human health standpoint, it is utterly destructive to all. This is one of the absolute worst things ever conceived in our time, and it is just killing us slowly.
With all that info, it makes sense why people choose to not consume meat or animal products, and I didn’t even get into the correlational data linking meat and dairy to some cancers! I didn’t get into it because it is highly suspect data, and it is based on the consumption of the aforementioned conventional meat and dairy production, not pastured grass-fed meat and dairy, which is a whole different animal. Also, if you are a vegetarian due to the books Skinny Bitch or Skinny Bastard, you should read more books. Those books suck, and are pure propaganda, with very little hard evidence mixed in with some, and I stress some, actually correct info. If you want information on our food production and how this problem could be solved, check out the incredible, accurate and mesmerizing Omnivore’s Dilemma. Which I reviewed HERE.
Maybe the best nutrition book, or any book, ever
OK, that covers Part 1. In Part 2 I will get into why even with all that stuff I just covered, and all the data showing the tremendous health benefits of consuming large amounts of plant foods, why I still choose to be an omnivore, and why I think you should to. I will also cover, if you do choose to be a vegetarian, how to do it properly. Have a great weekend folks and a Happy Halloween!
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition
Here is an often-asked question that is a tough one to answer. It really can go a few different ways, and there isn’t only one “right” answer. If you want more info on why eggs kick ass, I wrote about it HERE.
Q: Hey Brian,
At my grocery store there are Omega 3 eggs that aren’t organic and organic eggs that say nothing about having omega 3′s, is one a better choice over the other?
A: Eggs are another one of those things that there isn’t one perfect answer. Ideally we would get eggs from hens allowed to pasture on grass/insects/maggots/etc. This would be awesome. I went into more detail on why this is awesome HERE. Unfortunately this isn’t how most eggs are produced.
In order for eggs to be organic they only have to be fed organic grain, which is only slightly healthier. They, like cows, are not supposed to subsist on so much corn, it is not healthy for them. Though some organic eggs are from hens that are allowed to actually go outdoors (not just have “access to”), it isn’t a requirement. The one big benefit is that these hens are not give antibiotics, hormones or fed animal byproducts like regular eggs are. They should be slightly healthier and may contain a slightly higher content of omega-3 eggs.
Omega-3 eggs are fed a diet rich in soy, rapeseed (which is what canola is made from) and/or flax. This higher consumption of omega-3′s makes its way into their eggs. They are also not necessarily treated better, and they are usually still subsisting on a lot of corn, just interspersed with the soy, rapessed or flax. Again, it is only marginally better, but better none the less. They are also usually not given hormones or antibiotics. Labels will state this to use as a selling point, and it does make a difference. I usually lean towards omega-3 eggs in stores because at least they are being fed a little something better for them, they will have a significantly higher omega-3 content for their own health, and it gets passed on to us. Organic eggs may have the same benefits, but it isn’t a given. Just remember that as much as organic can be better, it does not always equal better.
There are also some options at most stores where you can get eggs from hens that are treated a little better and provided a better diet, and are your closest bet to eggs from hens allowed to pasture and range and consume their normal diet. Azuluna eggs are blue shelled eggs from a different breed of hens that are allowed to pasture and feed on their more natural diet. They make silky and very flavorful eggs. They have a much more orange yolk, indicating a higher beta-carotene content and just a greater assimilation of nutrients. The only downfall is that these eggs are crazy expensive, so if you eat 4-5/day like myself, that number adds up really fast. Good luck!
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Recipes
I have gotten great feedback from readers when I post recipes, so I have tried to get into a habit of providing a few recipes per month. I do have one reader though who gets on my back sometimes about my recipes. My wife (it is still a little weird saying that!). Anna is often the inspiration for many of my recipes, and she likes to point out that I take credit for some of her recipes that I just slightly modify (which is true) so now I am giving her a little love.
Anna is also a pretty good cook. She makes a damn good beef stew, the Blueberry Apple Crisp was originally her recipe that we just tweaked, and today’s recipe is all her. This is one of my favorites, and I work on her to make it nearly every week.
Chili is one hell of a flavor combination. Combining meat, veggies, beans, and spices to make an aromatic and delicious explosion of awesomeness. This meal is great served anytime, and for those of you out there trying to keep carbs lower, it is great for post-training. High in protein, fiber, veggies, and flavor and delicious hot or cold, this is one that can be enjoyed by almost everybody at anytime. Ideally ingredients should be pastured/grass-fed/organic. If you only had to pick one, I would choose pastured/grass-fed meat over organic veggies any day.
Random Internet Chili Pic - Anna's looks better
Without further ado:
- 1-1.5 pounds lean ground beef (90-93%)
- 2 onions
- 2 green peppers
- 2 cans stewed or diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces each)
- 1 can tomato sauce (16 ounces)
- 1 can light red kidney beans (15-16 ounces)
- 1 can dark red kidney beans (15-16 ounces)
- 1 can chickpeas (15-16 ounces)
- 1 small can of corn (7 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons of chili powder
- Cook the beef, onion, and green pepper in large skillet, over medium heat. (lightly coat skillet with extra virgin olive oil with a Misto sprayer)
- In a large pot combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chickpeas, corn and chili powder and cook over medium heat. Do not drain canned goods.
- Once the beef, onion and green pepper mixture is cooked thoroughly, add to the large pot. Bring to a boil then stir and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
I often bring this in to work in my glass Pyrex bowl, filled to the absolute brim and enjoy after a hard lift! It is absolutely awesome.
Later this week I will writing a post answering some questions for vegetarians and muscle gain. It is going to be a good one so keep an eye out.
Filed under: Movie Review
Last night my wife and I watched a movie we have had from Netflix for over a month. Wedding planning had taken over our lives for a while and we just never got around to watching the off-beat and interesting Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang stars Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michele Monaghan. This movie was the start of the rebirth of Downey, culminating recently with Iron Man and Tropic Thunder. It was also the breakthrough for Monaghan that propelled her into Mission Impossible III and Gone Baby Gone(which I reviewed HERE).
This movie offers a very different take on a murder mystery, with Robert Downey narrating, and telling you he is narrating. It is meant to be a little off kilter, and he was the perfect guy to star in this vehicle. He provides not only great acting chops, but he can easily lighten a scene with just a little subtle delivery. It is what makes him so good. Monaghan and Kilmer were solid, as was the rest of the cast.
Though this movie is odd-ball, you really do have to pay close attention to know what is going on. It isn’t a movie you can just watch in the background and then jump in with 10 minutes left and know what is going on. The story is surprisingly good, quite clever actually, and it keeps you guessing til the end, as you never really have a solid grasp as to what exactly is going on.
There are many laugh out loud moments, and the back-and-forth between Downey and Kilmer will keep you chuckling throughout. This is one of those rare comedic murder mysteries that actually works, and doesn’t just come off sort of ham-handed. The story is good enough and the cast is talented enough to make it work beautifully.
If you are in the mood for a light-hearted but somewhat complex murder mystery, check out Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, you won’t be disappointed.
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training
For those of you who missed it, check out my previous blog with a big announcement of Leigh Peele’s incredible nutrition book Body By Eats. Yours truly was lucky enough to contribute a recipe, so be on the lookout for that! Leigh has created an incredible resource covering diet myths, tips, tricks and kick ass recipes. Whether you want to get lean or get jacked, she covers it all in evidence-based thorough detail, be sure to check out Body By Eats!
In that same vein, the great Mike Boyle, maybe the most successful strength and conditioning coach ever and certainly one of the most influential, has just released Functional Strength Coach 3. Volumes 1 & 2 were awesome and were two of the very first learning tools EC let me borrow when I was a wee bitty intern many moons ago, and Volume 3 is even better. I’ve been following (and stealing from) Mike Boyle for as long as I’ve been coaching. His information is just that good. So the fact that he’s putting out a program with his latest training concepts tells me one thing…I need to get it in my hands as soon as possible. And so do you. Whether you train athletes, regular joe’s or are just an avid fitness enthusiast, this product will take you to a whole new level. Click here to check it out.
The Problem of Overcompensation
Many of you probably read that Time magazine article about how “exercising makes you fat”. That article sucked because I think it led people to believe that vigorous exercise doesn’t provide benefits, despite the mountains of research showing otherwise, but it did shed light on one very pertinent fact. Many people do not lose weight from exercise alone because they reward themselves with too many calories after they train. Who doesn’t know someone (probably yourself!) who has eaten a huge dinner or an extra piece of dessert because “I trained today”. Exercise doesn’t justify being a glutton!
Exercise doesn't justify being a glutton!
I don’t care how hard you train, you can not out-train a poor diet. In that article the author stated how he would exercise then reward himself with some french fries, or of others who would chomp down on some muffins (or as my dad would say, glorified cake) post run. Exercise has a whole assortment of benefits. Cardiovascular benefits, endocrine response, joint health, bone density, postural improvements, cognitive improvement, etc. Proper exercise selection, intensity, duration and frequency will make you tremendously more healthy, not less so, especially if you don’t justify to yourself that you earned that 1,000 calories Starbucks latte and chocolate chip muffin. Trust me, you didn’t expend that many calories, you are not Michael Phelps.
The best way to think of it is that your diet will control your weight loss results, your exercise will maintain or help build that awesome lean mass (to help you look “toned”), improve immune function, make you smarter and increase strength and stamina.
In the end, train smart, eat well and look awesome!
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition
My good friend and colleague, and brilliant nutritionist, Leigh Peele is releasing a kickass new product called Body By Eats.
Body By Eats is a pretty comprehensive nutrition product covering a whole host topics. In this new book Leigh covers some of the myths and tricks of fat loss, which is her specialty. There aren’t many people, if any, who are better at getting people lean than Leigh. This book also covers the myths and methods to gaining muscle, and explores the truth behind many “healthy superfoods”. Leigh also provides some awesome recipes that anyone can put to use immediately. It really is a remarkable book, covering so many topics that I can’t even begin to give justice to it.
As a cool bonus she provides some free recipes from top-notch nutrition experts, and I am proud to say, features one from yours truly!
This product launches tomorrow and if you are interested in learning how to properly feed yourself in a healthy, delicious and non-OCD way, you should do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Body By Eats.
Leigh is also the author of one of my absolute favorite manuals out there, The Fat Loss Troubleshoot. In this book Leigh outlines the common mistakes that people make that inhibit their fat loss goals, things that are simple and quick to fix, but are overlooked by nearly everybody. She doesn’t overcomplicate the book with tons of complex science and jargon, she just provides easy-to-apply solutions for just about any dieting problem. Do yourself a favor and check it out here.
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Recipes
I have returned from my honeymoon and I am ready to get back to dishing out some good content. Hope you all enjoyed your long weekend as much as I did. Here we go.
At Cressey Performance (the website is being overhauled, just a little fyi) I do a lot of in-person nutrition consults. Though I would say the majority of my clientele are high school athletes, followed by the pro guys, not too far behind are just regular 9-5ers. Contrary to popular belief, places like CP and Boyle’s actually train a lot of “regular” people, we do not exclusively train athletes.
Not the world's healthiest chicken
While doing a nutrition consultation with one of our “regular” clients I came across a pretty neat idea. I was looking over his food log and he noted that he had breaded chicken for dinner. I made a mental note to possibly comment on that, depending on how he went about his breading process. I continued to read and what he did was absolutely brilliant.
As most of you know I am not a huge fan of wheat. I think some is ok, but people tend to consume to much of it, even the whole kind. It’s high gluten content could possibly be problematic for people, even if they don’t have celiacs.
He breaded his chicken cutlets with dry quinoa and shredded unsweeted coconut. Absolutely awesome. He then baked it in a pyrex dish at about 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. This is absolutely awesome. It provided some extra texture, favor, fiber and healthy fats.
After talking with yet another adult client last night who is very up on his nutrition, we came up with the idea of using quinoa flakes, as it would probably be even easier and maybe a little tastier for the breading.
Basically you would just purchase some chicken breasts, cutlets, tenders what have you (ideally pasture raised, but do the best you can within your budget). Dip into a bowl with a whipped up egg (again ideally pasture-raised), then take the lightly egg-covered chicken and press into a bowl with a mixture of the organic quinoa flakes, and some organic unsweetened shredded coconut. Cook as many as you want/need, bake in a covered pyrex at 400 for as long as needed, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Enjoy!
<a title=”Breading on Foodista” href=”http://www.foodista.com/technique/482ZKJDV/breading”><img alt=”Breading on Foodista” src=”http://dyn.foodista.com/content/embed/b2_482ZKJDV_9808a6b105533742df30e45e1e5ff334c8d7d00c.png?foodista_widget_4XTN68D8″ style=”border:none;width:300px;height:175px;” /></a>
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition
As a nutritionist I get a lot of questions from people about how to take less time to make their own meals. They love cooing for themselves, but they hate all of the time that it involves: ie. they miss the convenience.
Fortunately for them, and you, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. I will admit, these definitely are not my original ideas, I have stolen a lot (ok most) of them from John Berardi and his fantastic Precision Nutrition. If you want the most comprehensive source of nutrition info, tips, guidelines and pretty much anything else nutrition related you could think of, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. Employing just these few simple tips can save you a ton of time and effort, and can be that difference maker on whether you stick to your nutrition program or not.
Tip # 1
- Cook chicken breast in bulk.
- Purchase the large family packs of boneless, skinless breasts (especially when they are on sale). Season them however you want, (I just sprinkle a little Redmond Real Salt and some Montreal chicken seasoning on them). Then bake them in a large pyrex dish, covered in foil for about 35 minutes at 400 degrees, or until done.
- Store them in a large pyrex bowl and you have a simple, convenient and versatile protein source for the week!
Tip # 2
- Chop your veggies!
- I suggest that people do their grocery shopping on Sundays, giving you more time to get your prep work done. While your chicken is baking in the oven, take out your fresh veggies that you bought (peppers, onions, broccoli, etc.). Chop them up to desired size and either store individually as I do, or store all together in one large bin (ala Tony Gentilcore).
- Now you have pre-chopped veggies for any occasion. If you want to make an omelet, stir-fry, salad, wrap, you name it, you are now much more prepared to eat healthy in less time.
Tip # 3
- I can’t encourage you all enough to practice these tips. It takes repeated efforts to get quick at making healthy meals, but once it becomes second nature, it is a piece of cake. It may not happen overnight, but before you know it, you will be a healthy meal-making whiz!
If you check out my recent example of my personal food intake, I bring on average 3 meals to work everyday. My wrap, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese meals take me a combined 15 minutes tops to make and put into my cooler. Granted, I have mastered my methods on making those meals rapidly, but it just goes to show that it can be done. Even my breakfast omelet and oats takes me no more than 20 minutes to make and consume, and I am hardly awake! Apply just those few ideas and it could make the world of difference for you.
I also wanted to wrap this up by saying that this will be my last blog post until after I return from my honeymoon. So I will see you all sometime next week! Enjoy your holiday weekend everybody.
Filed under: General Health, Nutrition
I want to preface this blog with a note that in the next week or so my blogging might be a little erratic (like it was last week). I am getting married this Saturday, yay for me, so my attention has been on that. I promise to return with a vengeance once we get home from our Honeymoon. I already have some really good ideas lined up, so stay tuned!
OK, on to the actual blog. I get a lot of questions from people about food timing and things of that nature, especially from my recent post about an example of my actual intake. I already answered one question from that post, so here is another that I think can benefit a lot of people.
Q: What time do you go to bed? Your 9:30 late dinner seems like a lot of food since you’ll be asleep when your body is processing it. Do you have a high metabolism and this is a way to keep weight on?
It obviously works for you but I’m curious your thinking on a meal so close to bedtime.
A: I usually go to bed between 10 and 11 PM, and I am usually ravenous when I get home around 9. The point I want to address here is the part about me being asleep while my body processes the food. So what? The body still needs energy while I sleep, we still burn hundreds of calories while sleeping. Contrary to some weird popular dogma, the body doesn’t stop utilizing energy late at night. While it is true that our ability to utilize carbs is diminished near our bedtimes, it isn’t gone, and we can certainly still use protein and fat just fine.
I don’t know if this is from Oprah or something, but there is absolutely no need to stop eating after 6pm or whatever the idea is. If you consume a diet rich in high quality foods and nutrients and expend more calories than you take in, you will be just fine.
Look at it this way, lets say you need 3,000 calories to maintain your weight, but you are looking to drop a few pounds. So you do some research that says that you need to consume plenty of water, some lean protein, and not eat after 6pm, and you are golden. You eat all your meals before 6 everyday, getting plenty of lean protein and water, and yet somehow you aren’t losing the weight. If you are still consuming 3,000 calories, regardless of timing, it does not matter! Timing is important and can be utilized effectively, but only if total calories are accounted for.
That last meal of the day fits into my caloric needs to maintain my weight, and that is it. I am hungry, I want to eat, the extra cals fit into my needs, so I consume them, end of story. There is nothing fancy, no ultra-fast metabolism (trust me, I don’t have one of those), it is just a meal that satisfies all of my needs.
Now don’t take this to mean that you can eat just anything for before bed and you will magically be ok. I tried to make it very clear that my last meal fits into my dietary needs, it may not fit into yours. Know what your requirements are. This is not free reign to pound down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, no matter how tempting.
Not a bed-time snack
I hope that helped clear up another myth that drives me absolutely nuts. If you have any questions, feel free!
Filed under: General Health
The other day I was perusing the internet to help me find more local produce and I stumbled across the amazing little website called pickyourown.org. It is totally awesome. The best feature is the state list, where you can choose the state you live, pick the local county and it displays farms where you can pick your own produce, especially apples and pumpkins right now. It will even tell you if they are organic or not.
My one disclaimer is that this is not a fancy website, this is some low-budget awesomeness created by someone who just truly cares about this sort of thing, and it makes me love it that much more.
It also offers some other really neat features like crop calendars that let you know what is in season in your area. They also offers tips on picking produce, storing it, and some really delicious recipes (which might need a little modifying, but that is half the fun anyway)!
It really is an incredible and very helpful site and I am excited to share it with all of you. Happy picking!