A member asked a unique question recently. This question is a great question for anyone in our gym utilizing Kettlebell Training on a regular basis. Here’s the question:

“I want to be more conscientious with my meat purchases in terms of where it comes from, which makes it cost more. I would like to try a meal a week being vegetarian, but am not really sure how to do that without losing out on protein – or resorting to tofu.”

Why?  Why do you want to be more conscientious of your meat purchases?  Generally, people choose to select “better” sources of food (i.e. non-GMO, organic, local, free-range, etc.) because they feel it will improve their health or have less of an impact on the environment.  I am not going to touch the environment thing, but ill comment on the health point.

Think of a fuel gauge, except at one end put unhealthy and at the other end put healthy.  Now let’s say you start at the unhealthy end and you want to move the needle as far toward health as possible.  Then, you need:

  1. Strength training.
  2. Adequate calories.
  3. Adequate nutrients.
  4. Cardiovascular training.
  5. Self-care – yoga, meditation, adequate SLEEP, etc.
  6. A happy outlook on life.

Hitting those 6 points is going to move you 75-80% towards the healthy side.  The other 10% is the cumulative effect of those things, and the other 10% is arguably genetics and environment.  Drink town water?  Probably not great for your overall health.  Smoke?  Seriously?  That certainly won’t move the needle towards health.  In fact, lifestyle is all of these heavy drinker, chronic workaholic, poor sleeper, etc.

Food choices outside of NOT eating a standard American diet composed of processed sugars and fats and watching your overall sugar intake….ANY food choices outside of those will move the needle towards health.

Eating organic, local, free-range, non-gmo blah blah blah won’t move the needle that much.  It just won’t.  Now…I had cancer…so maybe you don’t want to listen to me. However, I don’t think that was due to my lifestyle.

And you can certainly find information to prove me wrong.  But I can find info to prove you wrong.  At the end of the day, I put eating organic, free range, non-gmo, etc. in the realm of “religious belief.”  In other words, you do something because you THINK it makes a difference. However, you can’t conclusively prove that belief will make the difference you think it will.  Some people believe in God (or a higher being) because they want something after they die.  But, we can’t conclusively prove it…i.e. that there is an afterlife.  That’s a religious belief. Ok, onto the advice.

First – shop locally.

There are a HUGE number of local farms that supply chicken, pork, lamb, beef, bison and a whole bunch of other meat choices.  However – be prepared.  You’re going to pay upwards of at least $7 per pound (that’s only if you buy in bulk) and often $10 per pound.  PRICEY!

Second – you can lose weight and be healthy.

by eating a large combination of foods and following a very diverse number of diets.  No diet HAS to include meat, however, it just so happens that meat provides us with valuable nutrients that we can’t get from other sources, or we can’t get EASILY from other sources.  One meal vegetarian is ok as long as you get the minimum grams of protein you need – roughly 100 grams for females and 125 for males (those are assuming your working out, if not then it’s more like 40 grams and 60 grams.)

Third – Beans and nuts. 

Most vegetarian meals are inherently low calories.  While they are very nutritious in terms of nutrients, they are not very energy fueling.  You ever try and eat 3 cups EACH of broccoli, onions, peppers and mushrooms.  I have.  It’s hard.  And there is only about 500 calories in those 12 cups depending on what you cook them with.  So…beans and nuts.  You’re still going to eat a huge volume of food, however, by adding the beans and nuts into the meal you’re adding in protein as well as calories.

So a vegan meal would consist of – at least 4-8 cups of different veggies of varying texture – onions, mushrooms, peppers, and broccoli, with probably 1-3 cups of beans depending on how big you want to make the meal AND probably .5 cups of some kind of nut thrown into the mix.

 

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Ben Dearman
Ben started his career in 2000 working as a student Athletic Trainer while attending Bloomsburg University. He graduated in 2004 with a B.S. in Exercise Science and a concentration in Athletic Training. After college Ben worked as an intern at Rutgers University under Shawn Windle before securing an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Bucknell University under Jerry Shreck.
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