The words shredded and ripped have become synonymous with a youth who are obsessed with how they look; vanity has taken on a whole new extreme and people are prepared to compromise long term health to attain the aesthetics of a fantasy character, fictionalised in the latest big blockbuster movie. This look is usually (but not always) achieved through following an unbalanced diet, going from one extreme to the next and even using steroids.
We’re certainly not saying that you shouldn’t aspire to a healthy appearance, but there’s a line you should not cross when trying to achieve this. A body that shows off some nice defined lines, with the appearance of abs is a wonderous sight to behold. But it’s not something that you want to be obsessing over, especially when it means following a fad diet, or some crazy meal plan put together by some over zealous bodybuilder/PT/wannabe nutritionist. You need to be looking at the bigger picture and considering a diet or lifestyle, which will see you feeling fit and healthy well into your eighties.
Everything in life is about balance, we call this the “Goldilocks syndrome”. In order for the earth to sustain life and for that life to flourish, the conditions must be just right. If the earth were not positioned the distance from the sun it is, then life as we know it would not exist. If there were no water on the earth, then life would not exist. If Jupiter wasn’t positioned where it is, the earth would be bombarded by asteroids and life would not exist. The conditions for life must be just right and similarly the conditions for longevity must also be just right (so to speak).
We are not claiming to hold all the secrets to longevity, but common sense and life itself tell us that equilibrium is key to a long and healthy existence. If you want to have a few high fat, high protein days each week, then restore the equilibrium and balance these with a raw vegan day. Don’t hold too much credence to the studies that tell us high fat and low carb is the way forward. Similarly don’t believe the studies banded around by the tabloids, which state that high protein diets are dangerous. These studies do not and cannot give us a definitive answer!
Most studies are funded by groups and organisations, hell-bent on proving a hypothesis befitting a corporate that stand to make a lot of money along the way. Any independent studies are often way too small to have any real significance and should be viewed with a vigilant mind. Remember, there are always studies that represent both sides of the argument, so why is it that you believe one and not the other?
If study A concludes that high protein intake causes cancer and study B concludes high protein intake does not cause cancer, then which one is right? Did both studies take all the variables into account (doubtful), did they both represent a fair cross-section of the human race as a whole (nope), were enough subjects used over a long enough period of time? (quantify enough), are we talking about all protein? (surely not), is the source of protein alone the problem, or is it the source of protein in the presence of high incidence class 1A carcinogen? (the questions go on and on).
Most would probably believe the study that is marketed the best, the one which makes its way into the mainstream media, the one that the "bigwigs" stand to make a lot of money on the back of.
Studies such as these are cyclic and at best, the honest ones may only provide us with strong correlations and statistical significance, but none provide us with any 100%, money back guaranteed answers!
The best advice that we can give is to eat as clean as possible, the way nature intended, controlling your portions, embracing veggie and vegan days and cycling your supplements. This includes cycling your whey protein; we cycle between whey, egg white and hemp and even include days where no powders are used at all! We never rely entirely on any protein powders and use them responsibly, rather than adopting the “6 shake a day” mentality. Why would anyone want 6 whey protein shakes a day?? Whey is a processed product at the end of the day and a certain portion of it (beta-lactoglobulin), cannot be efficiently digested by the human body. Long term abuse of your whey protein, or any other powders, will compromise overall digestion, leave you lacking in vital nutrients and bugger your immune system.
You can read about the differences between Primal26 and common whey protein sources here.
This same principle can be applied to excess protein intake from animal sources; yes meat is awesome and yes protein bolsters growth, but it also comes with negative consequences when abused over a long period of time. The answer is balance! Have your 3 or 4 high fat, high protein days, but balance this with a carb refeed day or 2, which is clean and even vegan. Have a day a week where you go pescatarian and eat only non-predatory fish, with fresh veg. It’s also good to have a week every once in a while, where you consume only detoxifying foods and strengthen your gastrointestinal tract. Make sure your meat is hormone and chemical free, look to other sources such as wild game and don’t be afraid to embrace organ meat every once in a while. Eat greens in every way possible; raw, steamed, stir-fried, in smoothies, with meat and on their own.
The new mentality of “We can eat all the simple sugars we want, as long as it is post-workout” is also a pile of crap! We don’t care which bodybuilder or university certified nutritionist says this is fine, because in the long term it’s not! Sugar is the number one enemy of the western diet and responsible for the development of many life-threatening diseases, again the key words here are “In the long term”. Whilst you may laugh now at the tender age of twenty-something and not even consider the fact that you may be addicted to sugar, if you keep smashing those Oreos, chocolate bars, cakes and other processed junk, then you restrict the potential for a longer, healthier life. These foods have no life force whatsoever and therefore offer you nothing of value, apart from satisfaction born out of a craving which developed the day a parent gave you your first sugary treat. You are addicted.
Sure you’re training hard and yes a little treat once in a while is okay, but to think that every workout can be followed by an influx of nasty, sugary crap is just plain stupid. There seems to be a new wave of “revolutionaries” who are determined to go against the grain and pioneer new diet strategies, which include unorthodox methods designed to challenge conventional wisdom, so that they may carve themselves a name in an industry so full of misinterpretation and great exaggeration, that it’s sometimes quite embarrassing.
We are not saying for one minute that you should not challenge conventional wisdom and we are not saying that science is the be all and end all; the flat earth model believed by Pythagoras and people of his time, was eventually proven wrong and replaced by Aristotle’s spherical model, just like we now know that there are subatomic particles which travel faster than the speed of light (sorry Mr. Einstein, but you were wrong). What we are saying is nothing is written in stone and nothing is ever definite; there are far too many variables to give substance to any one answer, but by being cautious about what we put in our bodies, there is a very good chance that we can prevent and limit the diseases which we so willingly expose ourselves to each day.
Modern Day Eaters
These days when it comes to eating for vanity, there are two huge extremes at either end of the “vanity” spectrum and within these extremes there is the wrong way and the “almost” right way. At one end are the people who eat big, they eat so big that it’s almost like eating is their main occupation in life. At the other end of the spectrum are the people who eat very little, they restrict calories like they are working for the Australian immigration department.
Within both these groups of people there are those who use their common sense and those who are completely misguided. The more switched on people who eat big understand that they need to eat big on certain days (according to their training), they also know where their own personal limits lie; it’s not a competition to see who can manage a dozen eggs, 4 steaks and a whole chicken before lunch. Similarly, those who eat very little, know to at least eat nutrient dense foods and have days where they refeed.
In contrast, the truly misguided in the big eating group just think that constantly eating huge amounts (usually of the wrong food) is fine as long as they visit the gym twice a week for a half hour and lift (with bad form). These people sometimes like to use the excuse that they are “Eating like a powerlifter” but the reality is that they don’t even lift! Then you have the people in the calorie restriction group who aspire to the waif-like model look. They survive on ice pops, fags and coffee. These types are the dumbest of all.
Right in the middle of these extremes are the people who eat with balance. They have good digestion, healthy body fat percentage, a balanced hormonal system, a healthy immune system, healthy organ function, all around good level of physical fitness, faster recovery and mental clarity. These people look good, feel good and will live a longer, healthier life.
Eating at either end of the spectrum for long periods, can lead to one or more debilitating diseases over time. You might think that you’re invincible now, because you’re young and have the world at your feet. But carry on abusing your body and it will be a very different story 30-40 years down the line! (if you live that long!) Yes your body is an awesome bit of kit and very capable of coping with every kind of stressor, but over time, this complex bit of machinery will fail, unless you subscribe to the maintenance contract that is a healthy, balanced diet.
So what should we be eating? The following comprises two lists; one contains examples of foods that should be included in the diet as a whole and the other, foods that should be consumed on any detox days.
Banana, Apple, Pear, Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries Raspberries, Pomegranate arils, Cranberries, Cherries, Figs
Potatoes, Sweet potato, Carrots, Beetroot, Tomatoes, Mushrooms (especially crimini, shiitake and reishi)
Green veg (broccoli, spinach, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, celery, Chinese cabbage, spring greens, collard greens, mustard greens, cavolo nero, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, arugula, watercress)
Quinoa, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Brown rice, Wild rice, Bulgar wheat, Millet, Oats, Whole-wheat pasta (use sparingly), Whole-wheat noodles (use sparingly)
Full-fat Greek yoghurt, Full-Fat (unhomogenised) Cow Milk (not too much), Beetroot juice, Oat milk, Coconut milk, Almond milk, good quality organic honey (use sparingly)
Protein & Fat
Chicken breast, Chicken thighs, Rib-eye steak, Mince beef, T-bone steak, Porterhouse steak, Wild game (venison, duck, pheasant, boar, buffalo, partridge)
Mince lamb, Pork, Chorizo (nitrate free), Bacon (nitrate free). Other game meats, such as zebra, kangaroo, ostrich, alpaca
Lambs liver, Beef liver, Chicken liver, Beef kidney, Beef heart
Tuna, Salmon, Smoked salmon, Anchovies, Herring, Sardines, Prawns, Scallops, Mackerel, Pollock
Hen eggs, Duck eggs, Goose eggs, Turkey eggs
Mozzarella cheese, Goat’s cheese, Cottage cheese, Full fat cow’s milk (unhomogenised), Butter (raw, organic, no added salt), Clarified butter (for cooking)
Homemade guacamole, Homemade mayo, Homemade humus
Coconut oil (for cooking), Olive oil (for dressing & any other cold applications) Olives, Avocado, Avocado oil (for dressing and any other cold applications), Flax oil (for dressing and any other cold applications)
Nuts & seeds (except peanuts), nut & seed butters (almond, cashew, hemp, etc)
Dark chocolate (75%+ cocao), hemp protein, chia seed
Small, non-predatory fish (fresh not tinned) - anchovies, herring, sardines, prawns, scallops, mackerel
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, figs, grapefruit, cherries
Greens – cabbage, kale, asparagus, broccoli, sprouts, Swiss chard, rocket, romaine lettuce, spirulina, celery, watercress
Carrots, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, celery, lemons (lemon water is awesome!), limes, beetroot, avocado, garlic, parsley, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek
Hemp seed, chia seed, flax seed, maca powder, a few almonds & walnuts, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, psyllium husk, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth
Organic chicken (pastured & free range, not caged – go to butcher), Wild game (venison, partridge, mallard, boar, rabbit etc)
Almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water, spring water, green tea (NO COFFEE!!)
Detox days should really be kept as vegan as possible, but if you’re struggling to manage, then eating some small non-predatory fish (fresh not tinned) may fill a void. Fish such as anchovies, herring, sardines, prawns ad scallops are all good choices. Mackerel is also okay once over the course of the detox.
If you’re a keen meat eater and the idea of 7 days without, is killing you already, then organic pastured chicken or some wild game (venison, partridge, mallard, boar, rabbit etc), once or twice over the detox week is okay.
You may want to switch things up and push different protocols during the year but going to extremes with your diet in the pursuit of how you look will ultimately fatigue your body and it’s ability to achieve homeostasis. It’s a downhill slope from there on out.