There are five macronutrients in the diet: Carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, and water. Carbs, protein, and fat are the main three that you hear about. Proper nutrition is extremely important and vital to athletes and non-athletes alike and I am very excited to share some of my findings during my passionate endeavors for superior health. Unfortunately, there are landfill sized mounds of misleading and highly marketed so-called “medical” recommendations when it comes to certain food groups and nutrients. The government’s very own recommendations concerning protein, calcium, and cholesterol are often highly contradictory, throwing Americans into even deeper confusion. Not to mention that the government is saying to eat less meat and more milk but yet one glass of 1% milk contains over twice the calories, over a third more cholesterol, and more saturated fat than one strip of bacon!
Let’s start with some exciting facts to chew on: Plant proteins are packed full of complete protein, antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients whereas animal proteins are packed full of saturated fat, cholesterol and inflammatory cancer causing proteins - and yes, even skinless chicken breast which has about the same amount of cholesterol as steak. If you’re worried about protein (as many athletes and weight lifters are) take a look at the countless plant-based (vegan) professional sports athletes, Ironman athletes, super-marathon runners, professional triathletes, Olympians, MMA fighters, bodybuilders, etc. who are loving their superhero-like abilities. Let’s just name a few of them: Arian Foster, Dave Scott, Robert Parrish, Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, Carl Lewis, Mike Tyson, Ricky Williams, Venus and Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Jake Shields, Herschel Walker, Lizzie Armistead, Bill Pearl, Rich Roll, etc., etc… but let’s not forget the Shaolin monks and even the Tarahumara Indians who are the most extreme natural long distance runners on the planet.
It is very sad and in fact downright scary that 3 cups per day of the “Milk group” are recommended by the USDA’s guidelines. Current research and groups who are not influenced by the dairy industry are trying to straighten out the confusion and are setting the facts straight. You may have heard of Harvard University? Harvard’s response to the USDA’s ludicrous dairy recommendations was to instead consume greens, beans, and soy milk to get proper calcium intake. They also set the record straight by pointing out the unbiased and accurate scientific research which squashes the recommended dairy intake by the USDA in that it actually increases the risk of certain cancers and even bone loss! (see my blog post “Milk…Does a Body Bad” dated 11/5/12.)
It is also very unfortunate and probably very surprising for some people that some of the government’s dietary guidelines (specifically the USDA) are laced with massive subsidizing and political revolving doors. This explains the mounds of contradictory information being poured into the fabric of our society. Take a gander at the documentary Food Inc. as well as other media listed in my “Favorites” page if you want to learn more. (Also see my blog post “Agri-Business-Subsides and Lobbying for Our Money” dated 1/18/13)
Weight lifters, athletes, recreational exercisers, and yes, even the couch potatoes often go to misguided extreme lengths when it comes to protein which is unfortunate because I have worked with some who are still very young but are facing kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis due to buying into bogus industry’s marketing claims about animal protein. This is due to the fact that not only does excess unused protein convert into fat (not muscle) which is really the least of our worries, it is detrimental to the kidneys, digestive system, cardiovascular system, immune system, and the body’s inflammation factor. Protein is not even a source for fuel at all. Athletes need a high intake of carbohydrates (whole-foods, complex carbs) in order to build up their glycogen stores in their muscles. This allows the athlete to use the glycogen stores for fuel which is what gives them endurance and longevity – not protein! When an athlete or even recreational exerciser buys into a low-carb high protein diet, they will get fatigued easily and much more quickly than someone who eats about 60-70% of calories from carbs. The average person needs about .32 grams of protein per pound of body weight (about 10% of calories from protein). That equates to a 180 lb person needing only 58 grams of protein per day which is easily attainable through a whole foods plant-based diet. As for athletes, there is quite a lot of controversy and misinformation but research suggests that simply eating about 10 additional grams of protein pre and post workout is more than enough to aid in muscle maintenance.
Campbell, T. C. (2006). The China Study. Dallas: BenBella Books
Esselstyn, R. (2013). My Beef With Meat. New York: Grand Central Life & Style
Robbins, J. (2011). The Food Revolution. San Francisco: Conari Press
Take Part (2012). 18 Food Inc. facts everyone should know. Retrieved from www.takepart.com/photos/food-inc-facts/monsanto-in-1950