On the heels of No More Grains, I thought another post about how I can suddenly “eat so much meat” would be appropriate to help answer some tough questions a few of my close friends are asking and undoubtedly, many of my readers may be asking too. Although I’m a micro-green, sprout, and seed pusher at the farmers market, that doesn’t mean those things are the primary focus of my diet and some people are shocked to find out what I really eat.
Since going primal only six weeks ago, our (the Sig too) food choices have taken a 180 degree turn. We now eat a significant amount of protein – compared to before – at each meal. What I find truly fascinating about this whole experiment is that I always thought I ate better than most with a predominant emphasis on vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. In truth, I knew very little about nutrition, let alone macro or micro nutrient requirements.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on the matter because I’m floored by my body’s response to the lifestyle (I won’t be referring to it as a diet) and dumbfounded that this knowledge isn’t more mainstream. I’ll take you through the paces, so you can see how I’ve arrived at my current location. My reading list in chronological order: The Vegetarian Myth, The Evolution Diet, The Paleo Solution, The Primal Blueprint, Why We Get Fat, and currently reading Sugar Nation; supplemented by Gnolls.org and Mark’s Daily Apple.
In my random conversations, I find that many people agree with the assessment about carb reduction and some even embrace eating good fats. Where I find the most skepticism or reluctance is with ditching supposedly heart healthy grains and beans and upping the meat intake. Personally, I never had a problem eating meat besides the moral dilemma and the erroneous idea that it somehow putrefied in your gut. Once I started to piece together some very basic information, increasing my protein – by way of eggs, meat, and fish – came naturally and as-a-matter-of-fact. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, so I’ll spare you and myself the intricate details about why eating primally is a good idea. You’re obviously on the internet, use Google, and do some research.
The rationale follows like this: I’m a 42 year old woman. I don’t consider myself over weight, though I’d like to lose another 10-15 pounds. I previously considered myself a victim of aging. I know that as we age, we start to lose muscle mass. That’s a given and I was certainly feeling the effect of this process on my own body. What I didn’t know or clearly wrap my mind around was that we need to be eating a certain amount of protein to maintain that muscle mass. This is so basic, yet eludes so many of us. Of course, we know we have to eat protein and most people who don’t eat meat or dairy know they have to combine foods to get their protein, but do you really know how much protein you should be eating? I didn’t and looking back at my healthy, semi-vegetarian diet, it’s clear to me why I grew to feel so weak.
Here’s my break down on protein. As an active female, I need around .7/g of protein per lean body mass, average per day in order to keep my muscle tone. Here’s one link for reference: The If Life
I weigh 145 pounds and with a guestimated average of 25% body fat here’s the calculations:
145 x .25 = 36.25
145 – 36.25 = 108.75 lean body mass
108.75 x .7g = 76g of protein
So, I should be eating approximately 76 grams of protein per day, which averages out to 25g per meal. Once I had established this information (not in isolation because I also want to be healthy, lose weight, and increase my insulin sensitivity) I set about figuring out what in the world I was eating by using one of the many nutrient/calorie counting websites. It didn’t take me long to figure out that all those beans, grains, and veggies just didn’t compare to a nice juicy steak. Not only is the protein superior, but you would have to eat a lot more beans, grains, and veggies in some combination to achieve the same amount of protein all the while increasing your carbohydrate and calorie intake, both of which are counterproductive for weight loss and developing insulin sensitivity. Dairy and nuts can certainly get you closer, but dairy has its own health implications and I can think of no better way to develop eating fatigue faster than by eating a steady diet of nuts. Of course, eating other protein rich foods besides meat is great to break the monotony, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers. If you want to efficiently lose weight and maintain muscle mass, why would you take the route of eating something as inferior and inefficient as beans and grains?
And that is how I easily made the transition to eating more meat.