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More re Diet

Diet. It's so hard. It just always needs reinforcing. There are so many conflicting, contradictory ideas about it. Carbs? Fats? Proteins? The correct ratios? Their effects on health and performance? Well, the health aspect of being vegetarian, or at least of having a very high proportion of the diet as vegetables, is established and beyond debate. But what about athletic performance? There are anecdotal claims that vegetarian athletes who switch to animal foods increase performance. The methodology is nonexistent at this point, but the claims are made. Are they true?

It could be that performance is enhances by the metabolic byproducts of meat -- uric acid, say, acting as a toxifying stimulant. Or by hormones, both artificial, from commercial and factory-fed beef, and also natural hormones, left in the flesh from the terror of being butchered. Yes, all that adrenaline could act as a performance enhancer -- stimulants will do that. At the expense perhaps of long term health, but if it's only about short term performance, well there you go.

Like coffee. Caffeine definitely increase the availability of fat to be used as an energy source with distance runners, and presumably other athletes. But we are reading more and more about adrenal fatigue -- the over-activity of stress hormones. It would be a counterpart to pre-diabetes, where the pancreas is forced to over-produce insulin, because of a dangerous lifestyle. It's imbalanced, it's damaging to long-term health, and it's unnatural. Stimulants, including meat, are or may be performance enhancers. Well? If that's okay, what's wrong with steroids? Extreme example. Draw the line back where you will.

It's just a theory, the stimulatory effect of meat, invented to answer the possibility, the anecdotal possibility that switching from vegetarian to meat-eating yield results. It needs to be investigated.

And let's look at protein. It is said that animal proteins are dangerous simply by being like those proteins we ourselves make. If you introduce a similar but alien protein into your bloodstream, your body produces antibodies to destroy it. All well and good. But if those alien proteins are too similar, your body learns how to attack itself. Auto-immune disease, thank you very much. It's a theory. But it makes sense.

Another problem is in the composition of the meat people eat. First, you cannot use protein. Nobody every used protein. It's useless. That why we digest it. We break it down into its constituent amino acids, and use them. Now here's the thing. If we eat meat, it's fair to suppose that the ratio of amino acids the meat yields is comparable to the meat, muscle, of our own bodies. So, yes, meat could go to make muscle. But there's a problem with the reasoning. The meat/amino acids that we might use does/do not go just to make muscle. Our bodies use amino acids for a host of other functions. Amino acids are used to build every hormone we have. They are used as peptides, as neurotransmitters, as the building blocks of bone and hair and fingernails and organs and, well, everything. Everything that gets done in your body is done by proteins. It's not about meat. Proteins are robots, that travel throughout the body and get things done. See? You are guaranteed to get exactly the WRONG ratio of amino acids, if you rely on meat.

What is the ideal proportion of essential amino acids? It's unlikely that anyone knows. But we can be sure it's not that of any meat. Milk, perhaps? Human milk? But you do not plan on doubling your weight in the next few months, do you? Because that's what milk is designed to do. So milk is the wrong ratio too, for adults. It must be, must be, some admixture of plant materials. What recipe? Who knows.

That's why we advocate eating as wide a variety of plant nutrients as is convenient. You don't know what you need, but your body needs it anyway. So give it a chance to choose. You don't need to have every nutrient at every meal. It's not about loading the stew up with absolutely everything. Indeed, that may be a bad idea. Digestion is a very very very complex thing. We know this because there are as many neurons in the gut as there are in the brain. From this we might conclude that digestion is as hard a thing to figure out as calculating the orbit of Neptune. No worries, our gut can do that. But let's not make it unnecessarily difficult.

So consider those dietary supplements, the powders that have every fruit ever heard of, all in a single tablespoon. Sounds pretty good, right? Maybe. But that's like 112 different plant families that your body has to figure out how to digest and absorb, all in one sitting. Sure, it can be done. But it seems like a strain. Like stimulants would be a strain. Like adrenal fatigue would be a strain. Like pre-diabetes would be a strain. Stress is okay. Distress is bad. How about getting all those nutrients over a few meals, or a week, or something like that. Rather than glut yourself, for all that the portions are small.

It's not about being perfect. It's about being sensible. Sensible diet, sensible exercise. Since you are made out of what you eat, it seems like starting with diet would be smart.

Be excellent.


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