Writing about nutrition is a somewhat intimidating endeavor. What is considered healthy seems to change so much it can be hard to keep up with what is current. I have always been a proponent of working with your trainer and your doctor together in coming up with any kind of modified meal plan.
Having been over a decade since I was in a nutrition class the study after study that has come fourth since constantly alters what we think about nutrition. I remember as a teenager giving my father a hard time about putting salt on his breakfast. His response was that in a few years they will say that salt is good for you. Well not too long ago I remember reading a new study suggesting that while adding salt to you diet is still not recommended. For an the average healthy adult our recommended intake may need to be rethought, and consuming more salt then the current recommended limits may be just fine for the average healthy individual not suffering from anything like hypertension.
Lewis Blacks great stand up illustrated this point quite well when he stated to his audience about the lack of knowledge of the so called experts… “is milk good or bad” to which the audience did not respond “I rest my case” he replied. Are Eggs good or bad? there is a question I have been wondering myself. Certainly they are nutritional powerhouses, full of vitamins as well as a very complete protein source in the yoke. But people still wonder about the potential cholesterol, and so do you limit eggs to the less complete but still protein rich egg white? If not how often can you eat eggs?
I have watched over the years as studies have recommended eggs can be eaten no more that once a week, then once a day, then multiple times per day, back to once or twice a week. And now I am reading articles questioning what we know of cholesterol intake and its effects. It can all be fairly overwhelming.
I don’t really have an answer for these questions, can you safely eats eggs every day if you are healthy? Probably, should you cover those eggs in salt before consuming them? No. I just try to take any studies with a grain of… um well you know. They are helpful in furthering our understanding of health and nutrition, just don’t be surprised if in a few years a new study says something a little different.
Eating for strength
Protein is something a lot of strength athletes worry about. I definitely used to be one of them. Back in my early training days I would put away anywhere from 250g to 350g of protein per day. I subscribed to an old bodybuilding idea from the 70s that if you ingest more protein than your body needed, it would always have the supply it wanted when it wanted. In theory it was not a bad idea, all be it not a particularly healthy one. My views on protein have significantly changed the they years since then. I am a firm believer your body does not need a massive supply of protein, nor is it particularly healthy to do so.
in one of my posts I talked about how study’s constantly change, and what to take into consideration when understanding these studies in regards to there scope and variables. That said I am going to just talk about my personal experience.
In regards to protein consumption I first began to scale back in my supplement intake. I knew that your body could ingest only so much protein in one sitting. but as I began to reduce and finally stop my protein supplement something interesting happened. My strength was unaffected. Now I understand the need for protein and the importance of a a wide variety of amino acids (complete proteins) but it definitely started my questioning of what does your body really need.
I have since seem many athletes train without worrying about there protein consumption. They seem to feel a well balanced diet gives them a high enough level of protein and I am becoming more and more a believer in this. Having a healthy balance of fish, poultry, moderate dairy and occasional red meat seems to be all my body requires to make the same gains I did back when I backed away multiple shakes with 40g of protein in them.
To be fair I have also known strength athletes who still consume a surprising amount of food, including protein, but these tend to be extreme athletes and not your ordinary gym iron pusher. The strength training they do is beyond intense and really extraordinary.
I know as my health has been higher on my radar as the years have past. It is worth reflecting if your high protein consumption is really worth the health implications it could potentially cause. Maybe try training for some time with a more moderate intake and see for yourself.
Nutrition can be a pain to understand, on the one hand, the simple idea of eating a well balanced meal consisting of a wide variety of healthy nutritious options seems basic enough. But developing a menu plan that is both cost effective and healthy can all of a sudden seems daunting. certainly the food industry does not always do us any favors in regards to its marketing of what is healthy. Let me give you a few examples.
Back when I was in my 2nd year of studying Kinisology, which must have been around 10 years ago by now. What I remember distinctly about that time was the low carb craze going on. I can remember reading through one of my books while the TV was on in the background. A KFC ad ran which caught my eye; it showed a woman trying to encourage her reluctant boyfriend or husband to eat healthy. The surprise healthy food she has brought home for the couple? Yup, an entire bucket of deep fried chicken, you know, it was low carb.
Before that there was of course the anti fat craze, fat was what made you fat right? so cutting it out of your diet must be good, or so many people seemed to think. Of course nutrition experts as most people today understand fat is more complicated than that. Fats can be good, depending on the type of fat, and even fats such as saturated fat in moderation is important. Tans fat is another story, one where manufactures would hide that fat inside the total fat of a product. The only way to understand the trans fat content some years back was to subtract the total fat from the labeled fat. If a product had 2g of polyunsaturated fat, 2 g of monounsaturated fat and 1 g of saturated fat, but had 10g of total fat, the product would have contained 5g of trans fat. Companies at the time did not have to label trans fat, and so could get away with this. Trans fat by the way has all the negative aspects of saturated fat without any benefits what so ever. Soon companies where marketing there new “reduced trans fat” products, the very fat they put into the product int he first place. Another example of the low fat craze being manipulated was in watching products become “low fat” while adding massive amounts of sugar in the process. This was to make the product still taste good, however in a product like peanut butter, which contains healthy fat and is a good product in moderation, it became a much less healthy alternative than it was, having lost its healthy fats to be replaced with sugar.
Needless to say there are more than a few misconceptions about nutrition out there. Fad diets, weigh loss pills, strength boosting supplements. I have to admit, as someone who has both a passion for weight training I was very much into the whole massive protein and vitamin craze years ago. Now I find myself much more balanced in my approach. Marketing health and nutrition is a tricky thing, especially when the science of healthy eating is constantly changing. I think there is a limit to what people should tolerate as a grey area in health when they are being sold 12 pieces of deep fried chicken as healthy. But that’s just me.