Friday, July 8, 2011

EAT TO GROW : Full-of-Bull Diet Don’t ..Is red meat a no-no when you’re trying to get ripped? by Jerry Brainum

The adage, Old myths die hard, could have been invented for bodybuilding. Bodybuilders continue to blindly follow erroneous advice relating to training, nutrition, food supplements and even drugs. Most athletes never bother to check the accuracy of alleged expert opinions, simply following often incorrect advice with a fervor similar to that of lemmings jumping into oceanic oblivion.

   Examples of such widely believed yet erroneous statements are that you can absorb no more than 30 grams of protein per meal; all types of dietary fat promote bodyfat; you must never eat after 6 p.m., since calories consumed at night “stay with you”; fruits and vegetables are all fattening and should be eliminated from a bodybuilding diet; and so on.

   One long-held axiom—routinely adhered to during contest preparation by many bodybuilders—is that red meat should be replaced by white meats, such as skinless chicken breasts and turkey, and lowfat fish, such as tuna or orange roughy. The thinking is that since red meat has a higher fat content than chicken, fish or turkey and since fat is the densest source of calories at nine per gram (compared to four per gram for protein and carbs), the higher calorie content of red meat mandates its elimination from a calorie-controlled diet—despite the zero carbohydrate content of all-natural red meat.

   But that doesn’t apply to lowfat or lean red meat. In fact, if you do a side-by-side caloric comparison of lean red meat and chicken, you’ll find that the differences are insignificant.

   How eating meat during a diet affects weight loss under real world conditions was the focus of several recent studies. The first one involved 61 obese women with an age range of 21 to 59 who for 12 weeks ate low-calorie diets featuring either lean beef or chicken1 and who participated in fitness walking. Both diets were designed to produce a daily deficit of 500 calories, which would lead to a bodyfat loss of one pound per week. Because a frequent criticism of red-meat consumption is that it adversely affects blood lipid, or fat, levels, the subjects’ lipids were also monitored.

   All of the red meat was the leanest available—sirloin, top round and 94 percent lean ground beef. The women in the chicken group ate skinless chicken (a bodybuilding staple) and ground chicken (made without skin). On days when the fat content of the meat and chicken differed, the chicken group got added vegetable oil to approximate the same level of fat eaten by the beef group.

   After 12 weeks both groups had lost similar amounts of bodyfat and showed similar improvements in blood lipid levels. Those improvements may have accrued from oleic acid, a type of fatty acid found in meat, and from conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which exists naturally in beef, particularly grass-fed beef.

   Another recent study confirmed that beef-, poultry- and fish-based diets all produce similar beneficial changes in blood lipid levels.2 In that study, however, fish produced the highest elevation of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a protein-based cholesterol transporter in blood that provides protection against cardiovascular disease. That effect may be related to the higher omega-3 fatty-acid content or to the protein structure of fish.

   In a study of men on reduced-calorie diets, the surprise finding was that eating 600 calories a day was no more effective for long-term weight loss than eating 1,500 calories a day.3 That’s because it’s easier to stay on a diet that contains a greater number of calories, and you can still lose considerable levels of bodyfat if your total calorie intake is less than your daily energy expenditure. The study also noted that including red meat in any type of diet does not in any way hinder fat-loss efforts—and the men in this study ate red meat five times a week.

   Besides being the richest natural source of creatine, red meat is a good source of other vital nutrients, including iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Beef contains excellent-quality protein, and the lean cuts are relatively low in saturated fat. It has a high proportion of a fatty acid called stearic acid, which doesn’t affect blood lipids or cholesterol levels. Beef also has high levels of conjugated linoleic acid, which may have beneficial effects on fat loss, along with arginine, an amino acid that’s a direct precursor of nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator that lowers blood pressure and is involved in anabolic hormone release; i.e., growth hormone.

   So as for the beef with beef: Those who continue to condemn eating red meat while dieting, are, to coin a phrase, just full of bull.


1 Melanson, K., et al. (2003). Weight-loss and total lipid profile changes in overweight women consuming beef or chicken as the primary protein source. Nutrition. 19:409-14.

2 Beauchesene-Rondeau, E., et al. (2003). Plasma lipids and lipoproteins in hypercholesterolemic men fed a lipid-lowering diet containing lean beef, lean fish or poultry. Am J Clin Nutr. 77:587-93.

3 Leslie, W.S., et al. (2002). Weight management: a comparison of existing dietary approaches in a work-site setting. Int J Obesity. 26:1469-75.

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