Dean Ornish recently published an OP-ED piece in the New York Times titled “The Myth of High-Protein Diets,” in which he extolled the virtues of a whole foods, plant-based diet.
It bears noting that Mr. Ornish is also a member of the University of California, San Francisco nonprofit, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, which promotes the belief that livestock production is the leading cause of global warming.
With this in mind, it’s not a stretch to assume that he and his colleagues have a vested interest in keeping you out of steakhouses, which further confuses an already information-weary public.
Making matters worse, on the same day MSN published a headlining article promoting the top sandwich shops in America, all of them beef intensive!
For God’s sake, get your stories straight already.
I was talking to my trainer yesterday about the latest diet trends, and he said rather matter-of factly:
“Discussions about what to eat or not to eat will be going on for the rest of our lives…”
So I asked several other trainers the same question and received similar responses. These guys spend their entire lives thinking about this stuff because they’re expected to know more than the general public, and even they’re conflicted.
With this in mind, here are some general guidelines I follow, and they seem to work:
1] Based on the way I train [powerlifting], I know that I absolutely, positively need a good source of healthy protein. Proteins are the building blocks of lean muscle tissue, and because they break down more slowly than simple carbohydrates, consumption also helps when dieting down. I avoid all processed meats. In other words, I stay out of Stop-n-Go unless I’m buying water. I buy grass-fed meats from places like Whole Foods, which are ten times the price of Wal-Mart – but in the long run – 100 times less expensive than hospital visits. Purchase only lean cuts of grass fed meat, chicken breast, egg whites, canned white fish, and salmon. My shakes, by the way, are made with whey protein.
3] Unless you’re running marathons every 5 minutes, stay away from breads, pastas, white rice and other simple carbohydrates. The spikes in sugar result in hypoglycemic crashes followed by distended bellies. If you must eat some form of bread, try Ezekiel brand, which has a lower glycemic count.
4] Hydrate. Most older men lose their sense of thirst due to reduced kidney function, so ignore your body and drink heavily.
5] I eat lost of fruits and colorful vegetables. They don’t taste as good as Southern fried chicken, but the way they make you feel is something you learn to appreciate fast.
6] A little low fat cheese is fine, but understand that the majority of your fats should come from foods like olive oil, avocados, macadamias, walnuts and pine nuts and almonds.
7] I usually have a glass of wine and fruit in the evenings. Eating is not always a pain in the ass, just most of the time. but like I said, it’s about how proper nutrition makes you look and feel.
8] Some people allow themselves “cheat” meals, but I have found that my body can no longer tolerate heavy, greasy food, so I avoid them altogether.
9] I take multivitamins, as well as supplement with omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish oil, vitamin D and one mini-aspirin [Bayer].
10] I rest and recover no matter how long that takes. I never go to the gym depleted. It’s counterproductive, and often, an injury magnet.
11] I try to avoid toxic stress at any and all costs. There’s both good and bad stress. You can Google it.
12] The moment you start weighing your food, you need psychiatric help. Just follow the basic guidelines and you’ll be fine.
Health and fitness are synonymous. You can’t have one without the other. In other words, you can’t just eat right and expect to stay healthy. You must also stay physically active to reap the rewards. Using the 12-steps above [no puns], I add 6 days of exercise to my regimen: 3 days of heavy resistance and agility training [1 hour], and 3 days of cardio, foam rolling and stretching [1 hour]. If you think this is a lot to give, ask yourself how much time you spend in front of the television and generally speaking it should answer your question.
Understand also that there will be resistance to your efforts to stay fit, most often from those who aren’t.
An older gentleman at my gym told me that his Internist asked him why he lifted weights. His exact words went something like this: “At your age, are you trying to be a bodybuilder or something?” When I asked the man to describe the physical condition of said physician, his description said it all. Projection is common amongst older physicians who should be kicking your ass to stay fit. Instead, they dispense advice based upon their own sedentary lifestyles. This means you’ll need to find a physician who gets it, along with a new healthier group of friends who will help keep you on track.
I never said it was going to be easy, but the solutions are hardly rocket science.