Plant Based Nutrition

assorted vegetable store displays
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For many reasons people have a belief, a strong belief, that they need to eat animals and animal products to have a balanced diet and to fill their daily nutrient requirements. It’s just not true.

But hopefully, you are not one of those people or you are someone who is transitioning to eating more of a plant-based diet or nothing but plants. That would be fantastic because if more people ate a whole foods plant-based diet exclusively our health care system wouldn’t be as burdened, our environment would be in much better shape and we would vastly reduce the needless suffering of millions of animals.


Changing your eating habits can be difficult and knowing how to get the nutrients you need can initially be tough too. A good rule to follow is to embrace variety. The more inclusive your diet is of all the choices you have the better you will be at meeting your nutrient requirements. And the more you will enjoy eating too. Just think of having different meals every time you eat instead of the same dish every night or for lunch.

So with that in mind, you will find below some info graphics to remind you what foods have zinc, iron and so on. I hope you find these as a useful reminder on what our favorite foods contain.

Starting with the classic ‘Yeah, but where do you get your protein?’ question here is the protein info graphic. I kept this to 4 choices because all plants have protein and also contain all essential amino acids. This myth of having to mix plants and having to add animal products to ‘complete’ the protein was disproved years ago.


Zinc is needed to help fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also uses it to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in cells. The body also needs zinc to develop and grow properly.


Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that are important in preventing and managing heart disease by helping to slow the development of plaque in the arteries, lower blood pressure and reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm. And you don’t need to get your Omega 3 from fish oil. Something to keep in mind is western diets tend to be low on omega 3 and really high on Omega 6. The recommended ratio of Omega 6 to 3 is 4:1. Research has shown that western diets tend to have this ratio from 10:1 to 50:1.


Iron is one of those nutrients that people believe you have to get it from meat. Not true at all. In fact, heme iron (iron from meat) has been linked to cancer.


Potassium. Contrary to rumor, bananas are not that high in potassium compared to other options. A medium banana provides only 8% of the daily requirement compared to a large sweet potato that has almost 25% of the daily requirement. I’m not beating up on bananas or the banana lobby but why is there this association of potassium with bananas? I don’t know, maybe because they are ready to eat right out of the skin.


And finally, we have calcium. Milk does the body good, right? Wrong. Marketing at it’s best. I’m not going to write paragraph after paragraph as to why we should avoid dairy at all costs because I’ve done that already but listen to what Dr. Milton Mills has to say. And I will say this, you need milk from a cow just as much as you need milk from a cat, a dog, a rat, or a horse.


finally

I hope you enjoyed this post. It’s my first attempt at creating info graphics and I think it servers its purpose here well. Don’t believe the lies companies tell you and the lies from industry-funded studies. It’s all about the money.

Believe me when I say that if they find a way to make broccoli sexy or exuding machismo, you’ll be throwing that on the BBQ instead of steak.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Whey and the lack of protein myth

Let me ask you a question, and I want you to think about your answer, really think about it. I want you to think about your answer both in the current time frame and about 20 – 30 years from now. Think of your life now and your life in the future and everything that you’ll experience. Now, the question:

Why is health and fitness a priority for you?


photo woman bodybuilder using cable and pulley machine while facing mirror
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Thought about it? Good.

How many of you answered that the reason you are serious about health and fitness is for longevity? How many people answered that you are not happy about your body and want to change it? Maybe you have a passion to pursue such as running, biking, etc. All good reasons. And I’m positive if I asked you if you wanted to do these things for as long as you live without incident you would respond with a resounding yes. Knowing that let’s look at something I feel plays a very important role in achieving this.

too much of anything is bad

We have been lead to believe that we need to supplement our diets with protein. But wait, let me back up a bit, we have been lead to believe that we need more protein than we actually do. Ask someone what they had for dinner last night and they usually respond with the meat they ate: “I had BBQ chicken”, or “I had steak last night”, or “I had beef stew”. No one really answers that they had broccoli with rice and tofu, or they had a mix of chickpeas, greens, onions, and garlic. People generally always mention the ‘protein’ and nothing else (I put a single quote around protein to emphasize most people think only meat has protein).

raw almonds spilled out of small ceramic bowl on table
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We are obsessed with protein so much that people who are already eating animal products 3x a day are still supplementing with protein powder. Our protein intake has skyrocketed over the years. As a global average, per capita meat consumption has increased approximately 20 kilograms since 1961. Cheaper production methods, mass marketing, government subsidies, and marketing to our children through milk programs and promotions such as pizza day have led to the vast increase in consumption of dairy and meat. Then add supplementation on top of this

Most Americans are already consuming too much protein, roughly twice the recommended daily amount. We have been marketed to death that carbs are bad and protein is good. Why? Money basically. It’s much easier to market meat, dairy than it is to market plants. Which leads me to supplementation.

Therefore, I concluded that focusing on mostly whole plant foods (and very little processed foods) was a healthy and effective way to achieve fitness results.

Robert Cheeke – Two time natural body building champion

The more people buying protein powder = companies making more money. It also means the people promoting the supplements are also making money. It’s a huge industry. In 2019 an approx. 18 billion dollar industry. All built on this myth that we need more protein to be strong and healthy, and to grow!


But at what cost? What cost do you pay consuming additional protein you don’t need in the form of whey protein, or casein protein (both derived from dairy). Let’s look at the negative affects of whey and casein protein:

If this doesn’t shock you I don’t know what will.

Let’s go back to my initial question, why is health and fitness a priority for you? How can you keep doing the things you love if you suffer from any of the above effects? Health and fitness should always be looked at from the perspective of enhancing our lives, not negatively impacting them. So why do we do this? Why do the majority of people continue to destroy their bodies needlessly? I think this is why:

  • Peers: “My friends do it and man did they bulk up”. The same could be said in a sense for meth, or coke, “Man you have lost a lot of weight, you look great!”, but you wouldn’t start doing meth I hope.
  • Media: Bro science continues to promote these falsehoods and who does not like to hear what they are doing reinforced positively? If you are a Joe Rogan fan you are used to watching him with mainly one guest and most times what they say goes unrefuted. Look how this changed when Chris Kresser was challenged on the show in an open debate. But if you don’t have his guests fact-checked you will tend to believe what you hear because it’s on a highly popular podcast.
  • Lack of education: Unless you take it upon yourself to research nutrition from resources that are not funded by industry you’ll probably never know. To illustrate my point, ask people you know if excessive sugar causes type 2 diabetes and the majority of people will say yes, although almost a hundred years ago it was determined that saturated fat causes type 2 diabetes.
  • It’s not talked about: With doctors having on average less than 20 hours of nutrition training over 4 years, they are better at sick care than health care. They are more apt to prescribe drugs or have you operated on than tell you to deviate from the standard american diet. There is rarely a discussion focused on changing a diet to address disease but instead, the discussion is focused on medication, not prevention.
  • Culture and peer pressure: There is a lot of pressure to fit in, fit in with the family, and not rock the boat. Fit in with our friends and feel like we belong. Belong to a tribe. This may be more so with choosing a whole foods plant based diet but it is similar. We love to feel that we belong to a tight group, we belong in a tribe. Refuse your grandma’s cooking and be prepared to be treated like a traitor.

options

If you feel you need to supplement due to reasons such as not having access to a complete meal then supplement with a natural plant based protein such as hemp protein, or a mix of plant based proteins such as pea, brown rice, etc. Consuming the appropriate amount of calories for your lifestyle and goals is very important but always try to make it a priority to eat whole foods.

finally

Advocate for yourself by educating yourself and questioning the things you may believe or hear from others. If you haven’t already read it, I recommend reading Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study. This is the first book I read regarding the damage consuming animal products does to our body and also was the precursor to taking Cornell University’s plant based nutrition certificate course.

Continue to do the things you love, and set yourself up to continue to do these things many years from today.

Yours in health,

Darryl

We cannot improve until we know where to improve

person writing on white paper
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The difference between hearing and listening

I think most of us are into fitness for a few reasons; to stay healthy and disease free, to not be tired when climbing a level of stairs, to do the active things we love doing and some of us are into fitness as it’s a component of a passion of ours, such as martial arts.


It’s that time. I think it’s about time I write this post as a reminder. We all need reminders from time to time. As a certified personal trainer, and someone who’s been teaching martial arts for about 8 years I have seen a lot in the sense of who walks through the door. You can have people who are super eager, enthusiastic, will listen to pretty much everything you say. You have people who need an explanation for everything you ask them to do. You have people who don’t ask questions at all. And I think, I could be wrong, that almost everyone hears but doesn’t listen.


What do I mean by hearing but not listening? We all do it, everyone. We nod our head up and down when listening to someone talk but inside our head we are daydreaming, thinking of something else. We’re hearing what is being said, the noise of talking, but not taking it in and processing it. It’s not always intentional but it happens. And the consequence when this happens when you are being instructed is you miss out on the instruction and ultimately over time, you may even miss out on instruction because your instructor has come to the conclusion that you are unteachable.

I remember before my first trip to Okinawa that my Kyoshi (head of our association in North America) told all of us on the trip that it’s Japanese culture to correct you only twice. The first time they tell you what you did incorrectly. Then they watch you and if you make the same mistake again they’ll correct you again. The 3rd time? They’ll smile like everything is fine and you’ll think you did great! The reality is that they have concluded that you are too arrogant to take instruction or are too stupid. And you may never realize that because they let you save face by not calling you out.

don’t be that person

I have seen a lot of this lately. A lot of giving corrections and people doing the incorrect thing they were corrected on immediately afterwards. I’m not kidding either. I’ll tell someone when doing burpees to drop all the way down into the squat to benefit from full range of motion and do they then do that? Nope. I’ll stop them and just to make sure they do have the range of motion to drop down, I’ll have them when standing lower themselves into a squat just to see. I then tell them that is where they need to be. I’ll tell someone to change their hand position when doing hook punches and do they change? Nope. I’ll then stop them and physically change their hand position. And it’s not like they don’t hear, they nod their head up and down as I tell them. It’s something that happens too often.

the problem

The problem by not listening is you bear the results of this. Injury, not realizing full muscle development, loss of potential, not being as awesome as you should be.

Your trainers and your coaches are there to make you better, to elevate you to greatness. Really. I know this is why I do what I do. Believe me it’s not for the money. It’s because I want the people I train to be the best they can be.

so listen up

Listen up! And then put it into action. Process what you have been told through your brain over and over and analyze what it is you are doing and change it! If you have to, slow it down so you can change that muscle memory and once you have it, then you can speed back up. Don’t keep the same speed and expect the change to happen. You will end up fighting muscle memory. Slow down, change, make it permanent, then speed up.

If it’s a few things you need to change and are worried about forgetting, take notes after class so you can go home and run it through your head. The next time you have class you can review your notes beforehand so you already know what you need to fix and can put it into action.

finally

It’s a two way street. Your coach/instructor has a role to play, to coach you and give you the things you need to be better. And you have a role to play, to take those things and put them into action.

Harmony at it’s best.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Put your butt into it

Our glutes are one of the strongest muscle groups in our body. You might not know this but our glutes are made up of 3 different muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The glutes engage when we sit down or get up out of a chair, when we walk and run, and also are engaged when we externally rotate our hips


External hip rotation

So if you play golf, baseball, soccer, or any martial art you rely on external hip rotation. If you are doing things that rotate the pelvis you are executing external hip rotation.


Today I’d like to look at a simple exercise that can help build the glutes, mainly the medial glutes and provide more power in the rotation.

the how

First, you’ll need to get your plyo box if you have one. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can use a couch instead or any object that will allow you to sit with one leg up and the other foot on the ground.

Now, sit on whatever it is you have putting the right leg up on the object with your leg bent and your foot out in front of your crotch keeping your leg bent at about 80 – 90 degrees. Now, with your right hand grab underneath your right knee and try to drive that knee down using your glutes. Hold this for about 5 seconds. This is an isometric contraction of the glutes, a contraction that doesn’t use movement.

Hand underneath

The angle your knee is away from the box will vary. If you are loose in the hips and glutes your knee might be resting just above the box. If your knee is up higher, around 20 – 30 degrees this next exercise will help in getting this lower.

Keeping yourself in the same position, this time we are going to rest our hand on top of our knee and push down with our arm. Keeping the isometric contraction, resist the motion by pushing back upwards using your glutes. Hold for about 5 seconds.

Hand on top

For both exercises, do 3 – 5 sets holding for 5 seconds each time. And of course be sure to do both sides, 3 – 5 sets each side.


If your glutes are already strong, and want to challenge yourself a bit, try this. Keeping the knee close to the box, and this time put your LEFT hand on your right ankle (removing your right hand from your knee) try lifting your foot and ankle from the box straight up without moving the knee. Tough isn’t it.

Hand on top of ankle

Try these exercises and you may find that you experience pain in your butt where you might not have before. And you may also find over time that your running is better, your soccer game is better and you punches are more powerful.


I’ll give you one more reason you’ll want to do these exercises. Having strong glutes also helps in stabilizing the pelvis. And having a strong pelvis will help prevent injury from doing your favorite sports, etc.

A quick test of this is to stand on one leg. If your pelvis does not drop down on the opposite side of the leg you are standing on, then your pelvis is stable. If it does drop then start building stronger glutes for that pelvis support.

finally

Add these exercises into your routine when doing leg day since you are probably working the glutes if squats are part of leg day.

Stay tuned for an article on stretching the glutes.

Yours in health,

Darryl