Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meat, its what's for dinner


Eat one of these and call me in the morning.

I started reading a book called The Butcher and The Vegetarian and had a realization. The author was talking about her symptoms of fatigue and inability to lose weight no matter what she did. She was a life long vegetarian and the solution: Eat Meat. The book is delightful thus far but it also made me  realize that I had been forgetting something very essential to my own success. I was writing a post on my other blog but I think the portion that follows really fits here as well...

From the delicious journey:

For the last few months of training and life, I have been working incredibly hard. I have run numerous 100+ mile weeks, ate healthy, been smart and on top of things. And yet, I have not really been feeling good. If anything, I feel like I am back to where I was in the twilight days of my veganism. Training hard, eating healthfully and tired as a corpse and not seeing results that my training and diet would indicate. I realized then that I needed to start eating meat again. I did, I felt better. Wahoo. Problem gone! Energy returned. Training gains achieved. I have the type of constitution that thrives off a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and meats (and fats) and all parts of that are necessary for me.

But somewhere over the past year, I started eating less meat again. I would eat meat when dining out or special occasions, but slowly and surely meat dropped out of my diet for the most part until I was having it only 2-3 days a week. And lo and behold, for the last few months (since November) I have been feeling like dirt. My energy is low, my body composition is not changing (for the better) and my training gains appear lack luster. Today I realized that in an effort to work towards my training goals that I have been more strict about my diet during the week and basically eliminated meat during the week. My logic was poor on this choice as somehow I decided that regular meat consumption just meant added calories to my diet, when the fact of the matter is, I eat less when I eat meat (because I am satisfied) and that is just plain dumb anyways. I eat meat on the weekends or if I dine out, but in comparison to my needs from training, it is not enough, especially in the last month. I don't think I need a lot, but I need to have a modest portion on a nearly daily basis. If that means I need to swap out something else to make room on my plate, so be it. It WILL make a huge difference. No wonder I feel so good at the beginning of the week and crap by the weekend, I have eat meat on the weekends and not during the week. Thus, I need to eat meat and be good about including it in my diet.

For those of you who aren't familiar, I was a vegan in addition to being gluten free but ended up in really poor health. I discuss this topic in previous blog postings on my food website Fast Foodie cooks, this post and this post discusses the above further. And I think they illustrate that I have not and do not make the above statements in an unconsidered way.


  1. Here's a good video on meat:

  2. Very interesting. My guess is that (muscle) meat is good during hard training since it is so full of what your muscles need for recovery (branched chain amino acids, carnosine, taurine, CoQ10, etc). What about cheese or organ meats? Do you have any favorable recovery experience with those?

    That picture looks delicious!


  3. hey devon. that is a really interesting analysis of your diet and performance. i have had this experience too. when i stopped being a vegetarian and started introducing meat back into my diet i dropped 1 minute from my 5K time within a few months.

    do you take iron supplements? i've found that if i stop taking them consistently i start to notice a significant drop in performance and an increase in general tiredness.

    hope you start to feel better more now that you have figured this out!

  4. I wanted to note in response to MHerzog (as I have discussed on my fast foodie blog), I eat only local, organic, sustainably farmed meats. In fact, I just watched Food Inc and while a lot of people were disgusted and freaked out by the content, I just felt confirmed that I already am doing the right things.

    Dr C- I don't eat enough organ meats and do eat cheese, a small amount.

    I am also taking an iron supplement because my iron is chronically low but it really hasn't made a dent.

  5. Hey Devon, interesting content in your post. It is amazing how the lack of meat does give the feeling of "sluggishness". I have been experiementing it for years to get away from all meat, but have the same tendencies and eat lean beef a couple times per month.

    Good stuff, thanks

    Wayne Kurtz

  6. Meat may have a better nutrient profile for training than dairy products, and is less insulinogenic than milk, so maybe it helps more with reaching race weight.

    The paleo community is advocating a diet similar to yours- mainly whole foods, meats plus veggies, preferably grass fed meat to get the better omega-3 to -6 ratio. They vary in the amount of dairy/grains/legumes avoidance, but it seems pretty similar to your usual diet. I've read some anecdotal stories of amazing improvements in body composition and performance (as well as health)from adherents. Unfortunately, many of them believe endurance exercise is somehow nonpaleo, that our ancestors only sprinted and lifted heavy objects for short periods of time each day, as if our ancestors never ran to hunt or just for fun. They may be coming around though (even Mark Sisson concedes you can train for endurance without chugging carbohydrates all day- he used to be an Olympic marathoner and triathlete, but got very beat up and decided the mode of exercise was at fault and not his way of eating). Anyway, if you're not following any of the blogs, you might stop in to see what Robb Wolf has to say ( or check out this post . I'd be interested in your take on their advice.

    Ultimately, though the only thing that matters is what works for you. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


  7. Devon how much poultry and fish do you eat. I eat a diet of mostly fish for my protein, some poultry but wonder if I should add red meats? Your thoughts?

  8. I am not a huge dairy person, except for butter. Cheese is an occasional tasty treat.

    I have read a lot of paleo research and diet models. I definitely differ in that I believe in fruits and vegetables first and foremost (along with nuts, seeds and healthy fats), then meat. I am never going to be a heavy eater of meat. Thanks for the links, i will check them out.

    Hopefully I will find a balance that gives me energy, speed and endurance!

  9. Rooster-
    I only eat 1-2 servings per week of ANY meat. Poultry, fish, red meat. I love fish and probably could eat it every day (I did when we were in Hawaii!)- ha maybe I should!

    I think red meat is important especially with our needs as female runners. I think red meat got a bad rep, and you can include it in a healthful and beneficial way.

  10. Only 1-2 servings a week, wow. I eat about 4-5 servings of fish or poultry a day, about 2-3 oz at each meal. :) I like red meat I just don't eat it because I like the lean element of the other. However, I would agree with you totally. I think I will add a serving of red a couple of times a week. Thanks

  11. Great post, Devon, and great comments coming out of the peanut gallery. I'd like to second the recommendation to check out - this is hands down my favorite academic nutrition blog.

    Hooray for (healthy, sustainable, local) meat!


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