Eggs – The ANTI-Health Food

Eggs – The ANTI-Health Food

I have written about eggs before and we have done a few lives talking about the various reasons why we choose not to eat them and encourage our clients not to as well. Because “common knowledge” says eggs are healthy for you and a great choice for breakfast, we thought it might be helpful for you to have a few of the top reasons eggs are not a great choice all in one place.

Eggs are the most concentrated source of cholesterol in the American diet

If you have high cholesterol or cholesterol controlled by medication the “safe” limit is 200mg of cholesterol a day. One chicken egg has about 200mg of cholesterol.

  • Keep in mind that your body makes all the cholesterol you need. Ingesting more means your body has to do the work of removing it.

Eggs increase the growth of gut bacteria that create TMA which is oxidized by the liver into TMAO. TMAO is linked to higher heart disease and cancer

Eggs have been linked to higher rates of colon, breast and prostate cancer, as well as diabetes

Eggs are full of chicken hormones (not surprising when you consider that an egg is the result of a chicken menstruating) even if they are organic and haven’t been given any extra steroid hormones to make them produce more/larger eggs.

  • The hormone balance in humans is very delicate. Ingesting animal hormones can create disruptions

Eggs are not allowed to be advertised as healthy, nutritious, nutritional, safe, good for you or well-balanced due to the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in them. They are not a “rich source of protein by definition (20% of daily value). However, there is no legal definition for “nutrient dense” so they can use that.

If you decide to eat eggs, which we STRONGLY recommend against, they should be cooked COMPLETELY hard to eliminate the risk of salmonella and bird flu.

If you have diabetes, eating eggs doubles your risk of all cause mortality (dying of any cause)

Egg whites are acidic/acid forming (cancer grows in an acidic state). This can cause fatigue, increased cortisol, increased kidney stones and increased inflammation, including eczema.

  • Your body uses calcium from your muscles and bones to keep your PH in balance when you ingest acid forming foods

Those health issues don’t apply only to the eggs many people eat for breakfast. Keep an eye out for eggs hidden in cookies, cakes, bread, fried foods, mayonnaise, frothy drinks (margaritas and cappuccinos), pasta, marshmallows, Caesar salad dressings and egg substitutes (egg substitutes by legal definition are allowed to contain egg whites but not yolks).

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Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Can You Spot Fake Food?

Can You Spot Fake Food?

What is fake food

Anything created, designed and marketed to make a company money. They are responsible to their shareholders. Your health is your problem.

  • Packaged “food”
  • Processed “food”
  • Fast “food”
  • Most restaurant “food”

Packaged to make your caveman brain think it’s healthy.

  • You can look at berries and unconsciously tell which one has the most nutrition. The darker and richer the color is, the riper it is and the more nutrition it has.
  • Walk down any cereal or candy aisle and consciously look at the colors of the packaging. It is designed and then tested to make sure it triggers your unconscious ability to believe, without realizing it, that it is good for you.

Full of chemical flavors that your caveman brain associates with nutrition and a good energy source

  • Watermelon candy tastes more “watermelon-y” than an actual watermelon. Your caveman brain thinks that means the candy (fake flavor) is better for you than the actual fruit
  • Chemical flavors create flavor combinations not found in nature that hit more than one eat-more-of-that sensor in your brain.
    • Sugar, fat and salt are separate flavors in nature and found in limited quantities. In fake food they are mixed together by scientists and tested to make sure they hit the Bliss Point and are available in unlimited quantities.

Hits your perfect Bliss Point.

  • The Bliss Point is a real thing in the food industry. It is the exact amount of sweet and flavor that will override your brain’s ability to say, “I’ve had enough.”
  • Hitting the Bliss Point turns on your “cram” instinct - “I need to eat as much of this calorie dense food as possible right now while it is available so I can survive the next famine.”

Turns on your cram instinct

  • You eat more quantity in one sitting than your body needs, then you make a mental note of where you found a “great” source of energy so you can come back for more.
    • Good for survival if you were remembering where you found a tree full of ripe fruit.
    • Bad for survival when you are remembering where to get fake food.
  • The food industry is exploiting our natural survival instincts for profit at the expense of our health
  • Good for their bottom line. Bad for our waistline.

Has all the nutrients removed

  • Nutrients spoil and are bad for shelf life

Is sometimes “fortified” or “enriched” with vitamins and minerals that the government has determined need to be added back.

  • The outbreak of pellagra in the early 1900s was caused by stripping wheat down to create white bread. It tasted great and was super easy to eat. But it created malnutrition because there was very little nutritional value left.
  • The problem was “solved” by fortifying/enriching bread. (They should have just left it alone and eaten whole wheat bread)
  • Food companies now use the fact that they fortify or enrich food for marketing. “Look at all the great vitamins and minerals we put in for your health!”
  • What they fail to tell you is they took all the good stuff out first.

There is little to no fiber

  • Fiber requires chewing. Chewing means your body has more time to realize you’ve had enough. And fiber makes your stomach feel full. Both of those things are bad for company profits.
  • Consider how quickly you can inhale a fast food burger. You barely have to chew it at all. That means you will eat another and maybe another before you “feel” full. Good for profits!
  • Lack of fiber means there is no way for toxins to hitch a ride out of your body with the trash so they get reabsorbed into your system. Your liver has to refilter them, put them back into the colon and cross its fingers that this time there is enough fiber for the toxins to leave the body.
  • Lack of fiber is linked to colon cancer because waste that is full of toxins and should be eliminated at least once a day, sits in the colon.

Fake food – GREAT for company profits. Deadly to humans who eat it.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Happy Guts Don’t Bloat

Happy Guts Don’t Bloat

Your gut microbiome is unique to you. Even identical twins have completely different gut microbiomes. While the initial bacteria you get is determined at birth, there are several things you can do that either help or hurt the health and diversity of your gut garden. Here are a few things you need to know if you want to create a happy, healthy gut that doesn’t bloat.

Things that hurt:

Antibiotics – An antibiotic does exactly what its name suggests, it kills bacteria. Taking a five-day course of antibiotics will kill up to one third of your good gut bacteria. Taking probiotic pills isn’t going to bring it back. It has to fed and grow back.

Antibiotics are extremely over prescribed in the western world. Only take an antibiotic if you have a bacterial infection that requires it. If you have a viral infection, skip the just-in-case antibiotic.

Additionally, be aware that 80% of antibiotic use is given to food animals. Conventionally produced meat and dairy products are loaded with them. If you choose to eat them, organic is the better choice. See below for why you shouldn’t choose to eat them at all.

Animal protein – The bacteria needed to digest the protein in red meat, white meat, fish, diary and eggs loves bile. Bile loving bacteria is associated with inflammation and diarrheal disease and is stronger than the bacteria needed to digest plant-based foods. If you are ingesting animal protein at every meal, you are squeezing out healthy gut flora in favor of bile loving flora that is making you feel miserable.

Lack of fiber – Animal protein has zero fiber and processed foods have had most if not all of the fiber removed. Fiber has two roles in gut health. One, it picks up waste and keeps it moving out of the system. Two, the nutrients attached to the fiber feed your good gut bacteria. Most adults get fifteen grams of fiber a day or less. Forty to sixty grams is the goal.

Artificial sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners are not digested and end up in the large intestine which negatively affects the microbiome, raising insulin. Artificially raising insulin wreaks havoc on our body’s delicate balance.

Your body knows how to process sugar. In small quantities, it’s not a problem. Ideally, use whole fruit to sweeten things.

Things that help:

Microbiota accessible carbohydrates (MACs) – That is a really complicated way of saying foods that are high in fiber and low in fat. Fiber is not digested in the stomach and makes its way into the large intestine where your gut microbiome can feast on the nutrients attached to it. Taking a fiber supplement is not the same. It doesn’t have the nutrients. Foods like quinoa, brown rice, beans (beans are amazing! Eat them every day!) and greens are good examples of MACs. But any unprocessed, plant-based foods are going to do amazing things for your gut garden.

If you are eating mostly whole plant foods you are going to hit forty to sixty grams of fiber a day without even trying. Don’t worry about counting.

Within 30 hours of replacing animal protein with whole plant-foods the health of your gut microbiome will improve dramatically. To keep that improvement going, don’t feed the unhealthy flora by eating animal protein.

Raw sauerkraut – Raw sauerkraut is both a probiotic and a prebiotic (food that probiotics eat). But you have to make sure it’s raw. Many commercially available sauerkrauts are pasteurized to kill bacteria, which of course kills the good bacteria too. If you make it yourself, you’ll know that all the good stuff is still in there.

Things that are useless

Probiotics – You can’t buy a healthy gut microbiome from the drug store. Most probiotics in a supplement are dead within twenty minutes of taking them. The acid in your stomach is designed to kill bacteria you accidently ingest so you don’t get sick. Any probiotic that happens to survive the acid bath in the stomach will find its way into the toilet in about thirty-six hours.

Yogurt – Yogurt is just a less sweet form of ice cream and the animal protein in it feeds unhealthy gut bacteria. Most of the story about yogurt being good for your gut is marketing.

It is amazing how much better life is when you have a happy gut. I know. I speak from experience. I have pictures from my pre-plant-based days where I am so bloated I looked pregnant. I used to complain to my doctor that my GI tract was broken. Little did I know, the solution was waiting at the end of my fork.

Ready to start feeling better? Join the Whole Food Muscle Club to get the support to make it happen. We have the answers. You have to take the first step.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Protein And Muscle Building

Protein And Muscle Building

If you have been anywhere near a gym or anyone who lifts weights you have likely heard that you NEED protein to build muscle. It’s an interesting fallacy that muscle can be built in the kitchen or simply by drinking protein shakes. Russ and I were believers of that story before we learned better. Snacks of cheese were great because they had protein (never mind that they are more fat and cholesterol than protein). For dinner we always made sure we ate the protein (i.e. animal flesh) first. Then the starch and veggies.

When we were young (less than 35), that worked. At least we thought it was working. I successfully played in three-day volleyball tournaments in 90+ degree heat on sand too hot to stand on. And Russ had the bulging muscles you would expect of a competitive body builder (check out the picture on our bio page if you need evidence).

What we didn’t realize is youth will allow you to get away with a world of sins. You can feed a human body just about anything for 30ish years and as long as it gets enough calories it will function. Feed it a little better and it will function better. Throw in some exercise and people will laud you for being in great shape.

Now both of us believe we could have been even better athletes if we had realized the truth about nutrition and particularly animal protein. That became painfully obvious when we no longer had youth to protect us from our less than ideal dietary choices. Too much animal protein was actually HURTING our ability to build and maintain muscle mass.

Let me say that again – Too much animal protein is counterproductive to building muscle.

There are two factors that contribute to this problem. One – your body’s need for fuel. Two – your body’s need to recover between workouts. Too much protein causes a problem in both cases.

Your body’s need for fuel
 Every cell in the human body runs on glucose. Your brain can only run on glucose. No glucose = death. Glucose comes from carbohydrates. So, carbohydrates = fuel. If you run out of carbs to burn, your body goes to your backup battery, glycogen, stored in your liver and in your muscles. When it runs out of glycogen, it switches to burning fat AND converting amino acids (protein) into a glucose-like substance to keep you alive until you find more carbohydrates (yes this is how the keto diet causes weight loss – this is supposed to be a short-term solution to avoid death, not a way of life. Using it for weight loss causes a whole host of health problems. But that is a different article).

In the process of stopping everything to create fuel to keep you alive, your body starts to steal amino acids like alanine to convert into fuel from your muscles. So now not only are you not building muscle, you are actively breaking it down.

Your body’s need to recover
In competitive athlete circles recovery time is a top priority. The sooner your body is ready to go again, the more time you can spend practicing and getting better. Down time is lost time (As a side note, as a trained sport psychologist I disagree with this at some level because mental practice is important and can be done while the body is recovering. But again – that is a different post).

The best recovery food is carbohydrates. That is important to let sink in because most people believe they need to pound a protein shake the moment they stop working out. That’s not the case. Instead, whole-food carbs are going to be your best bet. Your body’s first goal is to recharge your backup battery (glycogen). You can only do that with carbohydrates. Taking in high levels of protein right after a workout pushes the necessary carbs and other essential nutrients off of your plate. And if you eat whole-food carbs you are going to get protein because ALL whole-foods contain protein. You don’t have to actively seek it out.

This idea that we have to purposefully find and ingest lots of protein is the result of a misunderstanding of the science (see the chapter in our book about the Protein Cult) and some really good marketing and advertising campaigns.

Studies have shown that if you do resistance training and you get enough nutritional calories, you WILL build muscle. There is no two ways about it. If humans had needed some special balance of protein, carbs and fat to build muscle, we never would have made it off the Serengeti. It’s not that complicated. Eat real food, mostly plants, do appropriate resistance training and you’ll be good to go.

Have Russ create a custom-built workout plan to help you achieve your fitness goals and/or have Dr Robyn fine tune in your nutrition plan. Send us an email with your goals and let’s have a conversation about making them a reality.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Daily Green Smoothie Danger

Daily Green Smoothie Danger

Green smoothies are a common way for people to sneak in their greens every day. As you know, we recommend you always chew your food, because chewing is the first step in good digestion. But there is another risk to green smoothies that most people don’t realize – the high level of oxalates found in spinach, beet greens and swiss chard.

Oxalates are natural substances occurring in many foods. Usually they bind to calcium and leave the body with the trash in the large intestine. However, if it doesn’t bind to calcium it has to be removed from the blood by the kidneys and sent out with urine. That is where it can cause a problem. Too many oxalates and too little liquid can lead to kidney stones.

One in ten people in the US will experience kidney stones in their lifetime (Russ and I both have). The most common type is made up of oxalates (Russ’ was. Mine were protein). But people who get stones don’t eat anymore oxalates than those who don’t. Instead, it’s a matter of how much of it you absorb.

Since the human body creates oxalates as a waste product, we do have the ability to eliminate it from our system. But it requires the alkalizing affect of fruits and vegetables. So even though some greens are high in oxalates, if you remove fruits and vegetables from your diet your risk of getting kidney stones goes up.

Additionally, the acid created by eating animal products also increases the risk of kidney stones. The amount of animal protein in a single can of tuna daily increased your risk of kidney stones by 250%. And having gastric bypass surgery increases oxalate absorption and thus, kidney stone risk.

Spinach has 656mg of oxalate per cup (as compared to kale with 2mg per cup) and accounts for more than 40% of oxalate intake in the US. Oxalates are absorbed more rapidly when food is blended rather than chewed. So, the two cups of spinach you are putting in your green smoothie on a daily basis may be putting you at risk for kidney stones.

Blanching spinach will reduce oxalates by about a third and boiling by about half. But it would be wise to not eat large doses of high oxalate foods on a daily basis. Instead, switch out lower oxalate options at least a few days a week.

How much is too much?

  • More than four cups a day of rhubarb (I have no idea how anyone eats rhubarb at all. I personally can’t stand it)
  • More than one cup a day of almonds and/or cashews
  • More than 1 ¼ cup star fruit juice or 4-6 whole star fruits a day
  • Instant tea (based I what I read, any amount every day could be a problem)
  • More than a gallon of tea a day
  • More than a teaspoon of turmeric a day (we do ½ a tsp in our oatmeal)
  • More than two cups of spinach a day (apparently seven cups of spinach a day will kill you. Although it didn’t say in what timeframe)

None of that is to say you shouldn’t eat those foods. That is not the case. They are all loaded with great nutrients and are part of a healthy, nutrient dense diet. But the healthiest diets include variety. If you want to have a green smoothie every day (again, we recommend chewing your food not drinking it), vary what makes it green. And of course, always drink plenty of water.

For nutrition tips, recipes, workouts, cooking advice, ways to overcome emotional eating, fitness support and motivation on your health journey, join the Whole Food Muscle Club.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Eating Breakfast Out

Eating Breakfast Out

Creating a reasonably healthy meal from restaurant offerings is a challenge in general. But breakfast seems to be particularly daunting. Everything is either eggs, processed meat, sugar or some combination thereof. But with a little creativity, you can pull some whole food out of the hat.

Our old standby, oatmeal is usually an option. The drawback, many restaurants use instant oatmeal. That is a less than ideal choice, but better than nothing. Verify that they make it with water, not milk and order a side of fruit to go with it. Bonus options, bring your own ground flaxseed to add. It’s easy to carry, even if you’re flying.

Check out the omelet section. That’s where you’re going to learn what type of veggies they have available. A western omelet is often a good place to start. Then, ask them to sauté all the vegetables you can list in little or no oil. If they can’t understand that, order a veggie omelet asking them to hold the egg, cheese and meat. Order with toast or no-oil hash browns and you have a great meal.

Whole wheat toast or English muffin. Make sure you order it “dry” otherwise you will likely get something soaked in butter. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get some peanut butter or avocado to go on it.

Hash browns/breakfast potatoes with no oil. Yep, that is a thing. Or if your gut can handle a little oil, don’t worry about it. Double check that they don’t make their hash browns with eggs and you’re golden (see what I did there? Hehe). Add a side of salsa, some avocado or hot sauce to pump up the flavor.

Fruit. I’m a little hesitant to suggest ordering fruit in restaurants because they seem to only ever have not-quite-ripe melon and passed-their-prime grapes. But you might get lucky and get berries. It’s always worth asking.

Beans. If you are in Europe, beans on toast is easy to find. In the US, not quite so much. But it never hurts to ask the question. You might be surprised.

In places that serve all meals all the time you can also ask about potatoes or sweet potatoes. The stars might align and they’ll have one for you.

If you are in places like New York City, Seattle, Portland, Austin or San Francisco you could very likely find an amazing tofu scramble. Let’s hope that becomes the norm everywhere in the coming years.

I’ll be in southern California for my grandmother’s 90th birthday Aug 16-19. I’m going to be bringing rolled oats and ground flaxseed with me and keep my fingers crossed that the hotel will have some kind of fruit I can add. If not, I’ll be in search of a grocery story.

I’ll update you next week on how it went and what I ate!

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Are Nightshades Bad?

Are Nightshades Bad?

You might have heard that NFL quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t eat nightshades. He even has a book outlining a whole host of things he doesn’t eat and why. While I would take advice on being an NFL quarterback from him, I would decidedly NOT take nutrition advice from him. Most of what he talks about is pseudoscience at best and just silly at worst. But the idea that nightshades are bad for you seems to permeate a lot of the nutrition space. Let’s take a look at what they are and separate fact from fiction.

What are Nightshades?

There are lots of different explanations of why nightshades are called nightshades but no clear reason why they are. Just go with it. There are about 2,000 different kinds of plants in the nightshade family. Most of them are not edible. The few that are edible have been staples in the human diet for a LONG time. Among them: peppers (including the spices made from peppers such as cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika to name a few), potatoes (but not sweet potatoes), eggplants/aubergines and tomatoes.

Why are nightshades thought to be dangerous?

The logic here is a little bit circular but here goes.

You might have heard that tomato plants are poisonous. However, it’s entirely true. If you were to eat a pound and a half of tomato leaves, that would be a problem. But that is an exceptionally large amount and it would be hard to eat that much due to the bitter taste.

That bitter taste, caused by alkaloids (a nitrogen-containing substance), is designed to ward off insects and other critters that would otherwise eat the plant. Have you ever noticed that deer won’t eat a tomato plant but will gladly pluck the tomatoes off? That’s why. But plant is protected by the alkaloids. The fruit itself has very little alkaloids in it.

This idea that tomato plants are poisonous has been generalized to all nightshades. And thus, we end up with logic that says, “nightshades are poisonous because they are nightshades” with no more support to the tale than that.

Are nightshades good for you?

The short answer is, “Yes!” Nightshades have a vast variety of nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, they are loaded with fiber. That makes them a great source of nutrition with very few calories.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t eat nightshades?

There have been a few (less than five, none on humans) studies that suggest that people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis MAY have their symptoms aggravated by nightshades. Additionally, some people with autoimmune disease such as celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis have found that their symptoms are reduced when they don’t eat nightshades.

The thought in all of these cases is that the lining of the intestine is already compromised and that the small amount of alkaloids found in these food irritates it further.

How do you figure out if you shouldn’t eat nightshades?

There are some people, particularly those with arthritis, who just seem to feel better when not eating nightshades. To determine if you are someone who feels better not eating them, your best option is to do an elimination diet with A/B testing. Basically, that means you track your symptoms (A). Stop eating nightshades for a period of time to clear your system and track your symptoms (B). And then add them back one at a time while tracking your symptoms (return to A). It can be a bit tedious because you also have to be aware of any foods made with nightshades such as ketchup and pasta sauce.

If you determine you feel better not eating nightshades, it is wise to continue to track your symptoms to eliminate the placebo effect.

Bottom line
Most people are encouraged to eat nightshades for their impressive nutrition content. There are a few animal and test tube studies that suggest a small minority of people with existing health issues might benefit from avoiding some or all nightshades.

To lower the alkaloid content of nightshades, avoid eating green tomatoes, peel your potatoes (so sad since the bulk of the nutrition is in the peel), eat sweet potatoes instead and always thoroughly cook all nightshade veggies.

Get support
To discuss how Dr Robyn can help you create and track an elimination diet, please use this link to schedule a free 20-minute discovery call.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Chocolate Milk After Exercise

Chocolate Milk After Exercise

Last week I noticed the guy swimming laps in the lane next to me had a bottle of chocolate milk sitting on the edge of the pool. I always have my water bottle so that he had a beverage wasn’t what struck me. It was that it was chocolate milk. I vaguely remembered a commercial about chocolate milk being a good recovery drink for athletes. I looked at the guy a little more closely. He was pretty much what you’d expect of a middle-aged man in the US, round in the middle. What the press calls a “dad-bod.” I wouldn’t have qualified him as an athlete. But good on him for swimming.

I continued my swim and then went on my way, completely forgetting about it. Then over the weekend someone posted the commercial for chocolate milk as a recovery drink in one of the healthy eating groups I’m in. Apparently, I’m being told by the universe that I need to write about this.

I KNOW that milk, chocolate or otherwise is not a health food. The casein protein in it has been linked very strongly to cancer promotion and growth. It increases inflammation in the body and most adults can’t digest it well, which leads to GI distress. So, where did this idea that it’s good for athletes come from?

Let’s take a look at how the studies were done.

WebMD references an article from 2010. The study was on eight healthy male runners. After a 45-minute run they either drank 16 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk or a carbohydrate only sports drink.

Let’s ignore the ridiculously small sample size of only men and just focus on the comparison. Basically, what they are saying is that carbohydrates PLUS protein is better for muscle recovery than just carbohydrates. That isn’t news.

The registered dietitian they quoted said that chocolate milk is “inexpensive nutritional alternative to engineered sports beverages. And, “(T)here's no reason not to reach for fat-free chocolate milk after your next workout.”

I agree that it is an alternative and perhaps a less horrible option (in the short-term at least) than an engineered beverage. But I disagree completely on her assertion that there is no reason not to drink it. There are MANY reasons to not drink milk and why take in the empty sugar calories from chocolate flavoring when you could just have some fruit?

Another2012 study looked at the same thing (chocolate milk compared to sports drinks) and concluded that chocolate milk is “optimal for exercise recovery.”

“Optimal” suggested they studied every option you could possibly ingest after exercising and chocolate milk won out. You can’t play a single game and declare a world champion – except in sloppy science.

Naturally the press and the dairy industry were more than happy to run with that story like wildfire. And to be fair, if your ONLY goal is inexpensive, immediate muscle recovery, then chocolate milk is no big deal. If your goals include long term health and longevity – it is obviously not the best option.

The human body doesn’t need anything fancy just because it was physically active. I’m not talking about extreme athletes. They are in a different class and need to be more aware of their nutritional intake (but even they don’t need chocolate milk). For most of us, and I include Russ and myself in this camp, getting great nutrition on a daily basis is going to allow our muscles to recover just fine, no pre- or post-workout drink needed.

Instead of reaching for sugary chocolate milk or sports beverage, keep yourself hydrated with water before, during and after your workout. Replenish your body’s glycogen, nutrients and minerals by eating whole food carbs which come with the perfect balance of protein. Toss on some nuts or seeds if you want a little extra protein.

If you REALLY want chocolate milk, choose a plant milk instead of dairy. I have found that soy milk has the creaminess you’d expect. But treat it like a dessert. Not a health drink. We workout five days a week with extra bike rides or swims thrown in for good measure. If you watch our daily Facebook lives you know we eat steel cut oats with fruit and seeds every day unless we are fasting (yes we workout on fasting days). Our muscles recover nicely and are ready to go to the gym again the next morning.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Craving – Eating Things You Don’t Actually Want

Craving – Eating Things You Don’t Actually Want

When you think about it from an intellectual level it’s odd. Why do humans eat things they don’t actually want and then feel guilty about eating it, over and over and over? The cognitive dissonance (thinking/believing something different than what you do) is striking. Humans are the most intellectually advanced species on the planet. And yet, we can’t seem to manage something as simple as what we eat.  

There are a few factors to consider:

Evolution– We are designed to ingest the largest amount of energy in the most efficient way possible. The goal is to keep yourself alive long enough to procreate and take care of the next generation long enough so they can procreate.

To that end, you can feed a human just about anything, as long as it has enough calories and some basic nutrients, and they will live about forty years. Plenty long enough to have children and raise them to the point of having their own children with a few years to spare. 

If your goal is to live to be forty, you really don’t have to do anything special with your diet. You won’t thrive. I’ll likely be overweight, tired and suffer from inflammation, but you’ll live for 40-ish years.

Industry– The food industry is designed to make money creating ingestible substances (notice I did not call it food). Basic business sense says things should be made as cheaply as possible, sold at the highest price possible, to the largest masses possible. Ingestible substances made from the cheapest ingredients that are shelf stable (remove the nutrients so it won’t rot) and taste good. Great for the company bottom line. Bad for your waistline.

Easy calories. Just what humans need to live for about forty years.

Science– The food industry is REALLY good at studying humans, what we like, what we do and most importantly, what we will pay for. Enter the discovery of the Bliss Point. The exact mixture of salt, sugar and fat that makes the human brain say, “YES!” and turns off the ability to say “no.”

Put all those pieces together and you have the perfect storm for saying, “I shouldn’t but…” and digging in - cognitive dissonance personified. 

2.5 million years of evolution is telling you to eat as much as you can, as fast as you can before it disappears and you starve to death. The food industry has created cheap, fast calories that hit all the “eat more” taste centers in our brain and they package it in colors that our unconscious brain equates with nutrition.

But the more nutrition-less calories we ingest, the more calories we crave. Our evolution doesn’t have a mechanism to ask for nutrition, only calories. We end up on a hamster wheel of eating and eating and eating, but being malnourished and still hungry so we eat more.

At the end of the forty years our evolution can squeeze out of this mess, we are obese and sick, really sick. Heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. And we start to die. 

But don’t worry, modern medicine can keep you alive, sort of - hopefully. Not thriving. You’ll be tired, sick and spending insane amounts of time and money trying to keep your body plugging along. Some of us will manage to make it to 80, twice as long as 40. That will be used as evidence that things aren’t so bad. Just ignore the people who are dying and that those who are alive are sick. It’s all good.

All of that is just smoke and mirrors and excuses. Sure, that WHY things are the way they are. But that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

What if you got off the hamster wheel? What if, you didn’t let evolution, industry and their science collude to make you sick and kill you?

You deserve better than to be controlled for the benefit of corporate shareholders. You can do it and we can help. Join the Whole Food Muscle Club. Your future is worth it.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.

Athletes Are Going Plant Based. Can It Help You?

Athletes Are Going Plant Based. Can It Help You?

We are starting to hear a lot about pro-athletes moving towards or being plant based. Tennis champions like Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, several of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and of course, women’s soccer player Alex Morgan. These are people whose livelihood depends on their body being in peak condition and on gaining whatever edge they can over their competition. 

Is it possible they are succeeding in spite of not eating animal protein or are they gaining an edge BECAUSE they aren’t eating animal protein? There is a good bit of evidence it is because they aren’t eating animal protein and are eating lots of great nutrients in the form of plants. 

Here are just a few things to consider about eating less animal products and more plants:

  • Leaner body composition (less unnecessary body fat)
  • Good glycogen storage (better endurance)
  • Improved blood flow (more oxygen to the muscles and waste away from the muscles)
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation (less tissue damage, better motivation)
  • Healthy, flexible arteries (reduced fat intake = reduced arterial stiffness)
  • Strong heart (reduced cholesterol reverses plaque buildup)
  • Reduced muscle fatigue (all of the above help muscles perform at peak levels longer)
  • Quicker recovery (do more, faster)
  • Healthy carbohydrate intake (better fuel source – it’s worth noting that a 2016 study of Ironman triathletes found that less than half were getting the recommended amount of carbs for training 1-3 hours a day) 

Okay. So maybe you’re not an athlete and your livelihood doesn’t depend on your ability to do a physical activity better than 99% of the world. But your livelihood DOES depend on your ability to go to work or run your business. If your health goes, so does your income. So let’s use what we know about eating plants and peak athletic performance and apply it to everyday life.

  • Leaner body composition = Healthy body weight? ✔
  • Good glycogen storage = Function all day without being exhausted? ✔
  • Improved blood flow = Blood flow is always a good thing ✔
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation = less tissue damage ✔
  • Healthy, flexible arteries = cardiovascular health ✔
  • Strong heart = more cardio vascular health ✔
  • Reduced muscle fatigue →maybe this one doesn’t matter to you. I like it for me.✔
  • Quicker recovery = body heals itself faster, yes please ✔
  • Healthy carbohydrate intake = feed your body right and your body will take care of you ✔

I’d say that’s some pretty good data for eating plants being good for all of us, not just athletes. Here’s a few tips to get started:

  • Take note of how many times a day you are eating animal products. If you are like most, it’s likely three or more times every day.
  • Replace dairy milk with a plant milk (we like almond, oat and soy)
  • Replace meat with beans or lentils at least a few times a week
  • Eat oatmeal with fruit and seeds for breakfast
  • Join the Whole Food Muscle Club for tips, advice, recipes and support

Your health is your most valuable asset. Don’t treat it like an inconvenience

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.