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As a keen gym enthusiast, I have always been intrigued about the importance of great nutrition. I have also became completely miffed by some people’s attitude towards the food they eat to fuel their body.
I see gym rats absolutely smash it in the gym, pay a considerable amount of attention to their form, be methodical about the number of reps they aim for and are insanely strict regarding rest time between sets. These same people have little idea of the food that would be most beneficial for their fitness, muscle recovery and growth - The primary purpose of their training program!
‘Muscle does not grow in the gym, muscle grows in the kitchen!’.
It makes obvious sense, but the food you eat during your training programme, whether it is for strength, hypotrophy or endurance makes the largest impact on your progression.
You may be forgiven if you skip leg day, but you will never out train poor nutrition!
It has been well documented that daily consumption of meat, eggs and dairy can have a negative impact on any training program, a recent documentary called The Game Changers launched this fact into mainstream knowledge.
All the studies publicised in this documentary were cited which gave the movie a strong stance against the ‘old fashioned’ beliefs relating to the consumption of meat and other animal products.
If you haven’t watched the documentary, I highly recommend seeing it with an open mind!
‘People eat meat and think they will become strong as an ox, forgetting that the ox eats grass’
When I first started weight training, I consumed mass amounts of animal protein. I felt like my muscles would not grow if I didn’t have my daily breakfast of 5 scrambled eggs, washed down with 400ml of dairy milk and a large scoop of whey protein. I’d even boil eggs and take them to work for a quick lunch, you should have seen the horror of my fellow work colleagues who had to endure the eggy smell.
Why did I consume so many eggs?
I did what most gym beginners do and gathered my mis-information through ‘bro science’. Whether it was online or in the gym, I misguidedly learned that eggs were the perfect muscle building food as they contain all essential amino acids.
I never gave cholesterol a second thought; to me, cholesterol affected much older people with heart problems such as high blood pressure.
After personally discovering information published by the founder of NutritionFacts.org - Dr Michael Greger, I felt an urge to research my diet and find out whether I was eating the right foods for my health.
I found that an average egg only contains 6 grams of protein but a massive 186mg of cholesterol, almost double the amount of a Big Mac, whereas the maximum recommended daily allowance for both men and women is only 300mg - or 200mg for sufferers of heart conditions.
My research led me to understand more about dietary cholesterol.
Our body makes all the necessary cholesterol we need. The primary function of cholesterol within the arteries is to provide our artery walls with lubricant, allowing the blood to flow easily.
When we consume animal products, we consume dietary cholesterol which builds upon our own natural cholesterol level – the main side effect of dietary cholesterol is the narrowing of the arteries.
Our blood cells carry the essential oxygen around the body to our vital organs, but during exercise the slightest restriction to the oxygen due to the buildup of dietary cholesterol, severely hinders performance and recovery.
I asked myself, is 6g of protein worth consuming for 186mg of cholesterol? I decided hell no!
I then thought, how about throwing out the yolk and just consuming the egg white - It’s not the most enjoyable food but at least it’ll give me protein. I quickly realized that when you remove the cholesterol ridden yolk and chow down the egg white alone, the protein content dwindles down on average to a mere 4 grams. Recent studies have also shown that egg consumption is linked to a high risk of cancers, particularly prostate cancer due to the choline content contained in eggs.
Throughout my life I’ve been told that eggs are an essential part of a balanced diet, regardless of whether I’m weight training or completely sedentary. I could almost ignore the fact that eggs come from a hen’s butt, but I could not ignore these negative health implications.
I wondered why there is so much mis-leading information about eggs? It was a complete mystery until I found that major studies regarding the health benefits of eggs are funded by none other than The Egg Board (AEB).
That’s like Benson and Hedges funding a study to show the health benefits of smoking cigarettes.
If an industries’ financial success is based on self-funded studies, then surely the study would be open to manipulation.
Needless to say, I gave up eggs! I became curious of discovering an abundance of foods which provide all essential amino acids. soy, quinoa and buckwheat to name a few. I learned that when eating a variety of vegetables, beans, seeds, grains and nuts it is actually very easy to consume all essential amino acids and eat much healthier sources of protein.